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Friday 31 March 2017

Outfit of the Day - cobalt blue dress

Thursday blues are ending soon because Friday is dawning in less than 24 hours. We feel the colors we don. 

Wearing a cobalt blue dress with black details and translucent top front area - suitable for work, functions and dinner dates.

Dress: Fata (SGD$89.90)
Bangle: Hermes

Stay At Home Moms, Don't Stress

There are children in the house, and it is a joyous occasion, an important stage of life and you have decided that you do not want to miss out any moment of your children's growing cycles. Either that, or it is too stressful for you to be a working mother, or there is no one available to assist with taking care of the kids at home.

So you made the big move and quitted your job - the one main stream of income that you have been depending on for years, the one role that you have worked so hard for all these years since graduation - so that you could stay at home and get pelted by spilled milk and soothe your wailing toddlers. It is no easy feat, we hear you, and we also understand that many stay-at-home mothers have complained that "it would've been easier to go out and work, like before".

You may or may not be aware that while you lovingly nurture your kids at home, devoting all your precious time to care-taking for them, a lot of odds are against you, right? We hope this article here helps you to overcome the possible issues you may have now, with your new role in life.

Disclaimers first - by "SAHMs" here we don't mean the taitais who have domestic helpers running behind them or changing babies' diapers while they get to shop or enjoy leisurely afternoon high-teas, immaculately groomed. We are referring strictly to the ladies who have to handle everything from taking care of the babies, educating them, doing the marketing and household chores etc.

From the moment you wake up at 7.00am until the moment you manage to crawl into bed, past midnight, you spend the entire day moving about. Those who choose to work or have no children do not see your physical exhaustion - they believe it is easy job lazing around at home merely keeping an eye on the kiddo and feeding them periodically. But your duty goes beyond all that - from preparing the kiddos' meals to bathing them, cleaning up after them, running after them to pry their fingers away from hot oven doors or rotating fan blades, sending them to playgroup or Elsa Shows at the malls, and then teaching them basic mathematics - yes, that is a handful, and these tasks are not always pleasant.  

Suggestions: take a breather, a chill pill sometimes, as impossible as it may sound. Do something for yourself while they are at playgroups, or catch a short shut-eye while they are napping. Talk to other parents or your spouse,  and try to work out a reasonable rest day every week where you can enjoy some "me-time", head out with friends, and recharge.  Engage a part-time domestic helper if necessary, to ease some load off your hands.

Do you find your own temper flaring up more easily, or shouting at your (sometimes naughty) kids without meaning to? Even when you are bathing them or physically attending an Elmo performance with the kiddos, your mind never stops reeling  - what to prepare for dinner? What time is your husband coming home? Did I remember to feed my son his vitamins? Which day is his swimming lesson again, and have I bought him swimming trunks?

Things never go smoothly always, do they? You plan to teach them 3 times 3 equals 9 by, say, dinnertime, but they seldom sit through the entire lesson without some tantrums or wandering attention. You may be cooking and then the kids begin a shouting match which requires your expert intervention. Before you count calmly to 10, the threatening cane is in your hand and you shut your eyes in anger, shaken by all the drama created by the kids.

Feels like too much on your plate, keeping track of their schedules and emotions. At the end of the day you are drained, both physically and mentally.

Suggestions: change your way of handling them. There are parental courses, books and support groups that teaches the various approaches to tackling kids these days. They are more brilliant, more curious and less ignorant like how kids of our generation probably were - they question when asked to do something, especially if we are caught doing the same things. It can be tiring for sure - so talk to people, like other parents. It helps as you empathise with each other and offer advice to each other on how to manage certain situations together; you can even organize activities together so you have someone else to keep your mind off house-chores for a while. Get a scheduler to pen in all the kids' activities and lessons - or simply make use of your phone's Calendar function; it saves you the pain of trying to memorize the time tables.

Between changing from your pajamas into T-shirts and changing the kids' bedsheets, you barely have time to run a brush through your hair, much less apply makeup or exercise. As the months go by, you look like you now, and nothing like the well-groomed marketing manager your husband fell in love with 8 years back. Oh, he doesn't mind? Oh, he still thinks you are beautiful?

Really? When you meet his colleagues and admire the jewellery they sport, do you ever wonder if OT hours were really OT hours? Do you have wistful flashbacks  of the past, when you could afford anything you liked, and would've looked as polished as theses office ladies if you hadn't stopped working?

Oh, he wouldn't dare, you know him very well? Oh, your role and contribution is 100% as significant as him bringing home the dough, perhaps even more? Really? Do you talk about anything else besides the bills and what the kids did at home to annoy you at home today?

Do you remember how you met and the woman he was attracted to? Do you not think he might still like that kind of women, but unfortunately you no longer look anything like that? Men are, after all, visual creatures. Or are you afraid to face your fears, and hopes he really sees your sacrifice as importantly as you view it to be? Do you fight more with him because of your paranoia, or do you fight less because you feel that you are dependent on him for livelihood - or worse yet, are you not fighting at all because you don't even talk anymore?

Finally, your kids' classmates' mothers are "gym instructors", "accountants", "doing advertising" etc, and all your kids could describe you is "My mommy stays at home." It pains you when they come running back after school to inform you of this, or you feel a little awkward when you meet the other parents.

Suggestions: spend a little effort to look good - you don't have to be drop dead beautiful. But just spend time to give yourself back more confidence, remind your partner of the woman you were and still are (just more mighty now because you have one more role to play), and remind him that you still have "market value". No kidding, darlings, men need to know that their women are still attractive and it makes them try harder to hang on.

Spend time talking to your partner, not just about household or children's issues. Imagine he is also overwrought from a hard day's work, yet still has to come home nightly to your complaints, progress reports or "let's decide on his school now" pressure. Soon it would make him dread a sit-down session with you. Instead, talk to him about his day, let him unburden and vent, and remember the reason he is working so hard for - an understanding wife who appreciates his efforts in the corporate battlefields. Surprise him sometimes with a new recipe or lacey nightie - who says married life cannot be spiced up, still?

You don't want to admit it, or are not aware that your knowledge and maybe social skills have slipped since you left the corporate workforce 4 years ago. No, you don't have to admit it right now. But if you reflect and the only conversations you have are either with your kids or about parenthood, then you might have an issue.

Needless to say, if you attend a function at your husband's company and find yourself tongue-tied or immensely bored because you have nothing to say to anyone else there, it should trigger a small alarm in you. If it doesn't, we are alarmed (unless he is in a niche industry or his colleagues are all males without partners).

Not only do you dislike the idea of socializing with office ladies and other taitais, you start to drift with your single friends as well, because it seems that the frequency of connection has shifted completely. She no longer understands your thinking, and you can't grasp her theories (when you used to easily).

Staying away from the workforce also decreases your market value, as you disassociate from the latest technology, workforce culture, updates and skills are rusting. If and when you need to return to the workforce someday - be it due to necessity, financial issues, loss of sole breadwinner, or your kids have reached schooling age - you find that you are no longer to command the same pay and position as you used to because of the gap in your resume.

Suggestions: while your kids are napping or watching cartoons during their allocated play slots, take some time to read up. You can choose to read news, business books or simply catching up on what's happening currently in your industry. Broaden your circle by taking up a hobby (i.e. cooking class, gym) etc where you meet more people other than your children's classmates' parents. Start a small home business as it is both a good learning process and helps generate some income for yourself; you would feel more empowered and more of an equal to your bread-winning spouse when you have "my own business", no doubt.

The business or freelance job approach may also be your solution to the above scenario, where your children's classmates all have mothers holding good careers and no one else stays at home full-time. Now your kids can proudly announce that "my mother is a business owner" or something along that line.

The pointers and suggestions above don't work? You have much more serious issues than that? Your husband is seldom at home or in the country, you have to take care also of sick parents, or your spouse is abusive, etc? Everything is driving you nuts and you feel like collapsing at any point in time, feel like you are going berserk soon, or just selfishly taking your life to put an end to it all?

Suggestions: sorry then our guidelines do not help of course. You require professional help such as counselling or a solution to your family issues that perhaps only the law or mediators can settle. Please approach one before anything happens.

Remember that when there's a will, there's a way. Stay strong and hang in there!

Outfit of the Day - beige dress with yellow buttons

"The most beautiful makeup for a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy." — Yves Saint Laurent 

Don't ask what I was doing. It was one of those events. Here's my beige dress with the big yellow buttons - wishing you a gorgeous Tuesday ahead.

Dress: Bought in Bangkok (SGD$30.00)
Necklace: Tiffany and Co
Bangle: Hermes

Outfit of the Day - White off-shoulder ruffled dress with puffy sleeves

"To me, clothing is a form of self-expression – there are hints about who you are in what you wear." – Marc Jacobs 

Haven't owned a white dress for many years now. Off-shouldered white striped, ruffled dress with puffy sleeves.

Dress: COO (SGD$69.00)
Bangle: Hermes
Watch: Rado
Necklace: Tiffany and Co

[Poem] By A Feathery Kiss

By the toss of the leaves, 
By the fragrance in the air, 
A simple spell has been cast, 
I drown in your eyes' depths. 

By the songs of the breezes, 
By the dance of the light waves, 
The drop of a single tear, 
Right down into my heart's core. 

By a kiss so feathery, 
By a touch that tingles, 
It could have been a fantasy, 
And then the Moon smiles down.

Copyright © WinePoetess 2017

Thursday 30 March 2017

Lunch at Sum Yi Tai @ Raffles Place

25 Boon Tat Street, Singapore 069622
Tel: 6221 3665

The sultry Oriental settings caught my eyes each time I passed them by, and upon learning of its name, "Sum Yi Tai", which translates into '3rd Mistress' in Chinese, I knew I had to visit this charming little alcove despite the mostly unfavorable reviews.

Like a miniseries, the restaurant / bar is sectionized into 3 stories, each with a different colored theme, but characterized by the 1980s Hong Kong mafia-esque seduction. Some quirky designs include mahjong tiles and a prancing dragon at main entrance, wall of Chinese Compact Discs (CDs) and rows of roast ducks. The top is a roof top bar which makes for the perfect drinking location. Menu is mainly Cantonese / Chinese dishes, signatures are tapas items.

I visited with a friend for lunch. We didn't expect much at all, but the smiles and efficiency of the service crew had us smiling back in turn, enjoying the dining experience here. Cantonese songs fron the 80s were also playing in the background, taking us back in time, to fonder memories.

Complimentary Soup of the Day was being served, and this was refillable. On a rainy day as such, the piping hot Lotus Root Soup was especially delectable and heart-warming. More, more?

We started with Salted Egg Yolk Squid Tentacles (SGD $15.00) - since we were determined to try one of their Chinese tapas, and both love salted egg stuff. The squid was chewy and firm, lightly battered with crackling flour exterior, and subtly redolent of salted egg's taste. The curry leaves flavour obliterated, giving it a nice spicy note.

Crispy Pork Belly with Rice (SGD $8.00) was a huge portion in itself. The kurobuta pork belly had crispy skin, but I thought the porky taste was rather strong, especially surprising since I usually enjoy kurobuta pork. The homemade gravy was good, flavorful.

The Maple Honey Char Siew (SGD $8.00) was a delight - thin slices of brown BBQ pork, the exact type I like in Hong Kong. When bitten into, the maple honey layer crunched ever so gently beneath the teeth, shattering its sweetness across the palate before the smokey, savoury notes of the pork pooled in. The egg noodles were fine and springy as well, making for a good dish overall.

A glass of Merlot (SGD $10.00) accompanied the meal. Even the silver coasters they use are elegant with a retro style.

In summary, we both enjoyed dining at Sum Yi Tai because of the vintage Hong Kong gangster era settings, older Cantonese tunes, courteous service and pretty good foof, really.

I read reviews, I listen to recommendations and cautions, but ultimately I always believe in trying something out for myself because:
1. The items selected might be prepared differently on different days by different chefs
2. Everyone's taste and preferences are unique
3. The restaurant might have taken previois feedback into consideration and made improvements

So, in a nutshell, would I revisit Sum Yi Tai? You bet.

Outfit of the Day - black and white cotton dress with cow prints

"The hardest thing in fashion is not to be known for a logo, but to be known for a silhouette." -Giambattista Valli 

Monochromatic or just being a cow? A body-hugging black and white dress in comfortable cotton.

Dress: FATA (SGD$89.00)
Bangle: Hermes

Outfit of the Day - black flowing layers dress with beige base

"A beautiful dress may look beautiful on a hanger, but that means nothing. It must be seen on the shoulders, with the movement of the arms, the legs, and the waist." - Coco Chanel 

Black flowing layers dress with a beige / champagne base. It looks deceptively simple but trust me, it was SOOOO hard to put on. I ended up tangling myself in its layers and sleeve-holes.

Dress: Yacht 21 (SGD$109.00)
Bangle: Hermes
Heels: Pazzion

[Poem] Modern day Havisham

I miss the days when 
The winds listened to my orders; 
With a simple sweep of my arms, 
They were summoned. 
I reckoned 
I could beckon the Sun too. 

I now sit in rooms molded 
By time that stopped, 
While the world moves on, 
Dressing me in cobwebs 
Vintage wine and lace, 
A modern day Miss Havisham.

Copyright © WinePoetess 2017

Afternoon Tea at Segafredo Zanetti Espresso @ Telok Ayer

51 Telok Ayer Street #01-06 China Square Plaza, Singapore 048441
Tel: 6222 6629

A chillax cafe-bar franchise from Bologna, Italy - Segafredo is decorated in bold tones of siren red and black. With everything done strictly the Italian way, you can be sure that the brews here are terrific.

Besides coffee though, they also serve up a large variety of other drinks, including wine, so this is a place suitable for unwinding anytime of the day. Food like sandwiches and salads are available as well, and their cheery staff are so patient and courteous, it is hard not to leave them tips!

My Iced Green Tea Latte (SGD $6.50) was velvety in texture, and redolent of green tea's lightly grassy notes. Smooth and soothing on a hot day as such.

The Giandua Latte (SGD $6.70) was luscious ad indulgent creation, boosting the lovely mixed notes of chocolate and hazelnut into the coffee. It was utterly pleasurable on the palate, perking up the mind for a fresh day ahead.

I can see why my boss enjoys heading here, as he was the one who recommended us this place. I shall drop by more often too, maybe for food and wine sometime soon too.

Outfit of the Day - gray dress with roses neckline

"My fashion advice is to have a flattering mirror and then forget about it." — Vivienne Westwood 

Banking on some flower power today. Roses neckline, rose belt and gray roses earrings (hidden from view). Dress is tight-fitting and a lovely cotton-suede blend.

Dress: Bought in Hong Kong (SGD$89.00)
Belt: Author's own
Necklace: Tiffany and Co
Watch: Rado
Bangle: Hermes

Wednesday 29 March 2017

Dinner at Hua Ting Steamboat at Claymore Connect @ Orchard Hotel

442 Orchard Road, #01-08 Mezzanine Level, Claymore Connect @ Orchard Hotel, Singapore 238879
Tel: 6739 6628

Located at the new wing is Orchard Hotel is an elegant-looking Chinese steamboat restaurant, Hua Ting Steamboat, under the Millemium Hotels group. This is not to be confused with the Hua Ting Cantonese restaurant located in the same hotel.

Hua Ting Steamboat Restaurant offers an array of live seafood in its aquariums and serves up a large variety of delicious Cantonese-style quality, unique broths made from scratch daily. The settings is sophisticated, donned in Chinese decor, and comfortable. Private dining rooms are available for large groups. Service surpasses excellence, with rapt attentiveness and efficiency being at the very heart of it.

The restaurant also prepares a good assortment of own-made sauces and dips, leaving us spoilt for choice. I carefully selected only the ground chilli powder and sambal paste, as I am usually not a dips person.

Pots of Chinese Tea were also served, in gorgeous tea-ware. Some of us enjoyed glasses of Red Wine to enhance the dining experience, perfect for celebratory events.

They had a very good selection of different steamboat soup broths - divided into steamboat broths, Chef's Creations broths, hotpot broths and Yuan Yang (duo) broths. We were a large group of about 10 persons, so we shared 3 types of broths.

The Superior Fish Soup with Winter Melon and Conpoy (dried scallops), (SGD$34.00), was from the Chef's Creations list, and is easily one of their signatures. Identified by a large, jagged-edged winter melon in the middle of the rippling clear soup, this soup was simply brimming with luscious flavour of its superior ingredients.

From the Yuan Yang selections (SGD$26.00 for 2 soups), we chose Sichuan (Sze-chuan) styled Mala Seaweed Soup with Beansprouts and Shark's Bone Cartilage Soup with Fresh Beancurd Sheets -the former was spicy, flaming the palate up deliciously whereas the latter soup base was more saccharine in taste; the 2 of them made for a good contrast.

Plates of Crispy Fish Skin (SGD$4.00 for half / SGD$8.00 for full) started us on the meal, utterly addictive and appetite-whetting - shattering wonderfully in the mouth.

We also had an assortment of lots of smaller items including those from the Hand Made category - starting with Fresh Bean Curd Sheets (SGD$3.00 for half / SGD$6.00 for full), Bean Curd Sheets stuffed with Salted Egg Yolk (SGD$6.00 for half / SGD$12.00 for full), Tau Pok Stuffed with Fish Paste (SGD$7.00 for half / SGD$14.00 for full), Fresh Prawn Dumplings (SGD$8.00 for half / SGD$16.00 for full), and Luncheon Meat (SGD$3.00 for half / SGD$6.00 for full).

Vegetables consisted of Enoki Mushroom (SGD$4.00 for half / SGD$8.00 for full), Shimeiji Mushroom (SGD$4.00 for half / SGD$8.00 for full), Tianjin Cabbage (SGD$3.00 for half / SGD$6.00 for full), Baby Spinach (SGD$3.00 for half / SGD$6.00 for full), Tong Hao (SGD$3.00 for half / SGD$6.00 for full) also known as Chrysanthemum Coronarium, and Lettuce (SGD$3.00 for half / SGD$6.00 for full).

Seafood items comprised Japanese Fresh Scallops (SGD$13.00 for half / SGD$26.00 for full), Fresh Shrimp Pasta Ball stuffed with Minced Pork and Chinese Rice Wine (SGD$8.00 for half / SGD$16.00 for full), Dace Fish Paste Ball stuffed with Preserved Tangerine Peel (SGD$6.00 for half / SGD$12.00 for full), Fresh Squid (SGD$6.00 for half / SGD$12.00 for full), Sliced King Garoupa (SGD$13.00 for half / SGD$26.00 for full), and Prawns (SGD$8.00).

Finally, the meat items, which we had the most, I believe - Fresh Pig's Intestines (SGD$5.00 for half / SGD$10.00 for full), Fresh Sliced Chicken (SGD$5.00 for half / SGD$10.00 for full), Fresh Sliced Pork Neck (SGD$6.00 for half / SGD$12.00 for full), US Kurobuta Pork (SGD$6.00 for half / SGD$12.00 for full), US Kurobuta Pork Belly (SGD$7.00 for half / SGD$14.00 for full), Minced Pork Meatball with Water Chestnut (SGD$7.00 for half / SGD$14.00 for full), Sliced US Angus Beef (SGD$12.00 for half / SGD$24.00 for full) and US Prime Beef Rolled with Enoki Mushrooms (SGD$14.00 for half / SGD$28.00 for full).

We ended the extremely enjoyable meal with Seasonal Mixed Fruit Platter (SGD$6.00), made up of colorful fresh cut fruits such as grapes, rock melon, dragonfruit and water-melon served on a bed of ice, juicy and sweet.

It was a fabulous dining experience here from start to finish, from service to quality of food items as well as ambience. We would be happy to return for more, or just to enjoy some of these unique handmade delicacies again.