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Wednesday 31 July 2019

The Mommyhood Series [i] - Receiving the News

With the end of my House Hunting Series (click here to read more), the next step should come naturally - family planning. Or rather, it has always been in the pipeline. Me being a systematic person, I needed the step-by-step of marriage, honeymoon, new home before baby(ies).

We started trying shortly after securing the new home. From friends' experiences and my own perception of our lifestyle + my body (stress resulting to irregular menses), I estimated at least 6 months before we might get any results. I prayed we didn't have to resort to Intro-vito (IVF) or TCM, etc.

So life went on a hectic pace - me studying for and taking the RES exams, us packing for moving house, us packing for a 2-week Australian trip, and my usual wine sessions with friends. The missed menses, slight weight gain and short tempers were all attributed to these hectic activities, of course.

I returned from Australia in mid-November. The trip itself was okay - I ate and drank whatever. Toward the end of the trip, I began to feel somewhat unwell. The unpleasant feeling got worse even when we returned to Singapore. I began to feel strongly adverse toward a lot of things such as Ramen, red wine (!!!), etc; and my sense of smell sharpened immensely. I even began to feel giddy or headache towards a lot of things - like smells I was adverse to, bright lights, small fonts, etc.

Hunger pangs also prevailed - in Australia I had attributed them to queasiness, but now I began to have my sneaking suspicions. Bought a couple of pregnancy test kits to satiate my own curiosity. Then went to see a doctor to ascertain that I was pregnant.

Researched for good gynaecologists and asked friends for recommendations. Settled on a seasoned doctor from Thomson Medical Centre, and made an appointment to see him.

Although we were prepared for this pregnancy, the news still took us by (pleasant) surprise. It felt surreal having a little life-form within me, its survival dependent on me wholly. I also began to worry for its health because I drank a fair bit of red wine and ate sashimi in Melbourne, when the tiny baby would have just begun to form.

Other than that, we began to wonder what to buy for the baby, what were the changes needed to be done around the house to welcome this additional member of the family, how we were going to break the happy news to our families, what kind of parents we would be, and what adjustments we needed to make to our lifestyles to accommodate this new member.

The next chapters in The Mommyhood Series will document the 9 months pregnancy journey, including gynae visits, tests to be done, changes, the delivery process itself, and the amount of shopping, etc. Stay tuned.

(i) The House-Hunting Series
(ii) The Honeymoon Series
(iii) The Nuptial Series

Wednesday 17 July 2019

The House-Hunting Series [iv] - New Home Sweet Home & House-Warming

Having walked you through the buying of home, selling of existing home, and setting up of home processes,  we have reached the exciting moment - The Big Move.

    With all our cartons ready at the HDB Flat, we awaited the guys from Prestige Movers (link here) to come. We have used them before, and liked their efficient service as well as reasonable rates, therefore it was a no-brainer that we engaged their services again. They would expertly wrap up delicate items such as large paintings, TV sets, and seal cabinets etc before loading them. They also provided cardboard boxes and Scotch tape for our packing needs before the moving day.

    To backtrack a little, this was not mentioned prior to our renovations. The moment we got the keys and opened up the door, this vital ritual was performed. We mixed some rice grains, sea salt, green beans and tea leaves together, and scattered them at all corners of the vacant home, while chanting briefly something like "be gone, ye spirits, for I am the rightful owner here."

    We also left Chinese fortune cake ("fa fao") and fruits at the stove - this is supposed to signify fortune and prosperity. Then in the middle of the entire house, we left 5 types of seeded fruits. The latter is supposed to bring about fertility and growth.

    We left these items in the house for 3 days before removing them.

    We opened up the door and rolled the Pineapple in. The common saying is, where the pineapple stops, it is the "fortune spot".  A colleague of mine rolled 8 oranges instead of pineapple because she claims pineapples has sharp edges -  therefore I suppose you can use oranges as alternatives too.

    There's also a sequence of who gets to enter the home first. If there are elderly, they should enter first, followed by the man of the house and then the woman of the house.

    Then we turned on the taps to let the water run for a short while. And turned on the stove to boil some water and some rice.  I cannot remember what these acts symbolise, but practicality prompted me to test the functionality of my gas stove and taps.

    Finally, enjoying a simple meal in the premises of the new home with family. My Mom and the Mother-in-law had followed us over to our new abode to witness the moving, so 4 of us enjoyed a simple lunch here.

    The rest of the day was spent waiting for furniture delivery, as well as delivery of our TV and Washer-Dryer, unpacking stuff, arranging and re-arranging stuff. This busy routine went on for days, a super tiring affair.

    Among the hectic-ness, we had to adjust to a fair bit of stuff in the new place as well. Such as the shift from the West to the East, familiarising ourselves with good places to buy dinner, where to get our groceries from, who our neighbours are, as well as sleeping and waking up in a new environment. New places and new furniture also come with their own smells, which we tried to get used to, as well.

    Without bamboo sticks to hang out our clothes to dry, we now had to make do with the washer's drying function very frequently. Also, the kitchen is a lot smaller, and it's an open concept linked to the living room, so we eliminated frying anything at all (pending our air-fryer to come in).

    The good thing is that I cultivated a routine where I would swim or visit the gym at least 3 times a week - something I never found time nor motivation to do in the past.

    Finally, time for friends to visit our new home! We set the house-warming on a Sunday, a week after we moved in. I believe the house-warming is a very important event as you invite people to "warm" up the home, with their energies and well wishes. It is believed to ward off all negative energies, and to "brighten" the home, something like that.

    Planning the house-warming meant booking of the function room, and sending of invites to our friends and colleagues. Then monitoring the RSVPs to see how many persons were actually turning up.  We were quite fortunate that most of the guests could make it, despite the fact that it was 2 weeks away from Chinese New Year.

    As for caterers, we had a few in mind (Stamford, Four Seasons, and Kitchen Language) - we settled on Stamford Catering (website here), selecting their Healthy Menu comprising sushi rolls, fried brown rice, fish, prawns, vegetables, etc, etc - a total of 11 courses including drinks and desserts.  The food and service were good - and I liked the CNY decor setup. We had about 55 guests and we catered for 45 pax but apparently there were way too much leftovers (think 6-7 boxes of food).

    The function room was a few blocks away from our block, so the Hubby and I took turns to bring different groups of friends up to visit our home. Thankfully our family members were around to help entertain the guests who arrived while we were upstairs conducting house tours.

    As for blessings - we were thankful to our friends and colleagues who showered us with gifts of wine, red packets, gift vouchers, etc. The market rate for Housewarming these days average at SGD$50.00, but of course there were those who gave more, and those who gave less. Like weddings, there is no fixed rules, and it all boils down to "from the heart"-  thankful for all of them taking the time to come by and share this joyous moment with us.

That pretty much sums up the House-Hunting series; we hope you find the tips useful.  I also wish to highlight that although I made recommendations to certain service providers in this series of blog posts, none of them were sponsored - all of them are honest reviews rendered for paid services by me and my Hubby. For more information, do feel free to drop me an email at cloverwish.leaf@gmail.com.

If you are looking to purchase your matrimonial home now, I wish you a fruitful and joyous hunt! For complimentary advice and consultation, you can also contact my trusted agent here at simonleow.swift@gmail.com. All the best! 👄


Tuesday 2 July 2019

The House-Hunting Series [iii] - Doing Up The New Home

After searching and buying the dream home, and selling off the existing flat, we got busy as bees working on the new place so that we could move in before Christmas. As the Condo unit was a brand new unit, there was nothing done at all. We had to engage so many different parties to make the house a home, to make it liveable.

Of course, the alternative would be to engage an interior designer,  but we did not feel that it was necessary for a small space as ours. Furthermore, we had a certain look in mind already, so all we needed was to get the furnishings to complete the look.


Our planter boxes (mini versions of a proper balcony) needed to be decked up so that we could put outdoor furniture onto them. After speaking to several contractors, we engaged a private contractor to take care of these for us. Her name is Cindy and her number is 9299 8246 - very responsive and good attitude. 

We chose the wood paneling colours and a matching set for the vinyl top for our bay window. She managed to finish the decking for us within our stipulated timeframe, and did not chase for payment (the latter was vital because we jetted off shortly for a long vacation and she totally did not rush us).

For curtains and blinds, we also chatted with a few providers before settling on Kah Huat Textile Co, located at Joo Chiat area. The ladyboss Ms Joyce Png was very friendly and helpful in assisting us to select our ideal curtains and blinds, including the dreamy white day curtains. Overall, her service was rather good except that she did not manage to do within the timeframe we had originally discussed, and one of the room's metal railings fell off within a week. She rectified immediately, and it has been fine since then - so that is good enough for us.

Had to go and open an account with Singapore Power to turn on the water and gas supply. There are many other energy providers in the market right now that seem to provide better cost-savings alternatives so by now, we may switch.

We were using SingNet for the longest time, so this time we decided to go MobileOne (M1) Broadband a try. Since both of us are existing M1 users for our mobile phones, there was a bundle discount or promo that we got to enjoy. So far, the internet connection is working well.

We hired a professional post-renovation cleaning team headed by Jeremy Yee to clean up our house before moving in. Not only did they clean up all the debris left behind, they also wiped down all doors, cabinets and the floors, of course. Service was quite impeccable, and our house was spick and span clean. The fees was about SGD$250, and totally worth it.

We decided on getting ceiling fans with lights, and considered a few brands. In the end we settled for a black Fanco model with lights kit and remote control. We also selected lights for all the rooms in the house - a combination of ceiling and wall lights. I love the ancient "gas lamp" in the front balcony the best, to be honest. Balestier Road is a great place to shop for lightings because there are 2 rows of lights shops - aplenty to choose from, and compare.  Most of these lights shop charge a fans installation fee of SGD$45 onwards,  and around SGD$10.00 for each light around the house (does not apply to chandeliers).

Furniture shopping was more a little more tricky. There was much to be compared; and some furniture pieces were harder to find. Hubby took the measuring tape everywhere we went, to ensure that the TV console and sofas we chose would not be longer than the walls.

As space is a constraint for us, we decided to do without the floor rug beneath the coffee table. Some of the immediate purchase included TV console with matching glass-topped coffee table, reclining sofa, dining table set and outdoor furniture set.

We also had to do without a slim glass cabinet that we initially wanted to place beside the TV console to display our wine collection and travel souvenirs - now with baby planning on the way, we had to choose furniture that is not made mainly of glass, or come with sharp edges.

Good places to do furniture shopping included Novena Furniture at Big Box (now defunct), IMM Jurong, Sungei Kadut area where all the furniture wholesalers are located (including brands like Picket & Rail, Star Living, Widhardja and Scanteak, etc.

We also purchased a good LG washer-dryer with anti-bacterial steam function, as well as my dream curved TV (not that we watch much TV ironically).   Courts Tampines, GainCity Megacity, and Audio House Bendemeer are good spots to shop for electrical appliances.

Finally, the nitty-gritty little essentials that make up the house. We made a list and it came up to 100 over items.

Utensils and dining sets - I got mine from Corelle @ Takashimaya - Corelle features a reasonably-priced range of plates, bowls etc that are resistant to breakage.

Floor mats - I got mine from Charles Millen @ Takashimaya - they are thick, absorbent and colors are gorgeous.

Pots and pans - WMF at Takashimaya - not that I cook often.

Other things included small storage racks, dish drainers, wash cloths, lots and lots of plastic containers from Toyogo to store things under the planter box decking, steam iron, small electric kettle, handheld vacuum cleaner, spray mop, mini potted plants from Far East Floral, towel holders, hooks, soap holders, sponge, detergents, etc, wow you name it! Good places to shop for these would be Takashimaya, Japan Home outlets, Ikea and even Lazada. Some of my friends like Taobao but my experience with them so far has been less than stellar.

Nah, not talking about the small decorative photo frames lying around the home - so we had a wedding photograph taken in Vancouver, that we liked very much. We wanted to enlarge it, maybe frame it, and hang it over the house. We wrote in to so many different photo studios who either could not assist, or charged sky high prices to do what we wanted. Until we discovered Sebastian Teh, founder of LoveInStills (check them out here) - who not only charged a good price for quality, but provided excellent service as well. He personally delivered the floating canvass to our place, and what can we say, we love it!

Finally, before officially moving in, we engaged a professional to cleanse the home. People usually cleanse the home if they buy a 2nd hand unit, but I believe that every home has energies, even if they have been left empty for months. We considered Fengshui masters, but I decided to use Shamala Tan (website here)  because she is also my life coach and personal friend, and I have seen her work miracles so I believe in her works. 

She did a round of energy cleansing at my home with incense and gave us some advice on re-arranging the bedroom furniture (we had a cabinet that was kind of blocking the Hubby's smooth entry to his side of the bed) and to get some plants and crystals etc to optimise our goals. 

All the above took months to complete, especially all the shopping which took up a fair bit of time. Other than that, we were all set and ready to step foot into the new home and claim it as rightful owners!  In the next entry of this series, I shall talk about the Moving Day and House-warming.