Friday, February 28, 2014

Foodie Fridays - Oh we so love Cod Fish!

Photo credits
Cod fish has been our favourie fish since the day DinoBoy was able to eat solid food which was added to his porridge.  The reason for choosing cod fish above other fishes because it does not have small tiny bones in the flesh so there is no danger of him swallowing it while enjoying his bowl of porridge.  The fish is rich with Omega 3 fatty acids that is good for brain and eye development in infants. This fish does not come cheap over here, a small fillet will cost close to $10 as you can see from the photo below.
Health Benefits Of Eating Cod (taken from Lifestyle Lounge)
  • The most known health benefit of cod is that it is an excellent source of protein, while being low on calories at the same time. It also contains a variety of other essential nutrients.
  • Studies have proved cod to be very useful for people suffering from atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. People, who eat cod fish regularly, are at a much lower risk of suffering from heart diseases and heart attack. More specifically, cod fosters cardiovascular health, as the omega-3 fatty acids contained in it are a good source of blood thinning.
  • Cod is also a rich source of Vitamin B12 and B6. Both the vitamins are beneficial in keeping the homocysteine levels low in the body. Homocysteine is a molecule which is capable of damaging the walls of blood vessels in the body. High levels of homocysteine increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
  • Cod is known to bring down the cholesterol levels, because it contains Niacin, which is another B vitamin. This vitamin plays a significant role in controlling the cholesterol levels in the body.
  • The risk of arrhythmia and/or sudden death is significantly reduced by consuming the Omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, both of which are present in cod liver oil.
  • Studies have also put forward strong claims to establish that the omega 3 fatty acids present in cod can effectively treat depression. Continued consumption of cod liver oil can greatly help in mood swings associated with bipolar disorder. Sufferers of bipolar disorder, who struggle to control their moods, are suggested to consume cod liver oil.
  • A regular dose of cod liver oil helps fight rickets in children, which is a bone softening condition. It also prevents ear infections in children. It has been witnessed that babies of mothers who regularly consume cod liver oil are less prone to type-1 diabetes. 
Caution
  • Omega 3 fatty acids contained in cod can interfere with the ability of blood to clot, which increases the risk of hemorrhagic strokes.
  • While cod makes for a low cal food, cod liver oil is high on calories and therefore, its consumption needs to be moderate and well regulated. Large amount of cod consumption can prove dangerous for other reasons as well. As it is very rich in many vitamins, over-consumption can be risky.
You can read more about cod fish in details at whfoods.org

My palm size cod steak

You probably noticed from the meals I shared over the years, cod fish makes its presence onto our dining table fairly often in steamed style with a dash of steam fish sauce (蒸鱼酱青). The subtle sweetness and oily flaky flesh requires no additional marinate to enhance it's taste.  Besides that I have pan fried and baked this fish by adding butter, lemon and some herbs.  I usually buy my packet of frozen cod fish from the neighbourhood supermarket and cost between $18 - $22+ for either a big round piece or 3-4 small pieces, pricey but no choice since we love it so much.

Recently I had a craving for cod fish porridge so last weekend I bought a freshly thawed cod fish steak from the supermarket @ $9.01 to share with DinoBoy.  I cooked the porridge first in my rice cook.  I rampaged my fridge and found carrot and cabbage so I washed, cut and boil them in a pot before adding them into the rice cooker.  I added in the cod fish into the pot and let it cook for 5mins.  When I open up my rice cooker, the fish is done nicely and the porridge has a layer of oil on it.  I removed the cod fish from the porridge to remove the bones by using a tweezer, divide the fish unequally (more for him and lesser for me hehehe~), add in the porridge and we enjoyed a simply but nonetheless healthy porridge.


~ ~ ~

This linky is for anything that is FOOD related. It could be a restaurant you visited recently, meals you cook with your family or for your family or recipes you wish to share with every one.

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Off to see our Peranakan painting @ Village Hotel Katong

Remember last year I wrote about a Peranakan painting DinoBoy did in HeART Studo for a project with Far East Organization?  The painting was handed over to Far East Organization and I thought that was the last we'll see or hear about the painting.  I was very happy when HeART Studio told me that Far East Organisation have arranged a tour in Village Hotel Katong for the kids to see their painting in the hotel rooms.

On that Saturday, we arrived on the dot and was ushered into a big function room with 8 tables, a small stage and 3 projectors showing the kids' painting in collage, I was surprised as I was not expecting such a grand reception.


I am not sure how many families attended the tour that day but I am sure the hotel has done a good job to ensure there were more then enough seatings for every one. 


Even though it's only a 2 hour tour, the hotel provided food & beverages for us; coffee for the parents, mineral water and packet drinks for the kids plus burger and fries for every one!  On top of that, a friendly and patient staff making burgers according to our requirements of more lettuce, no tomatoes, cheese or without etc.


We do not need any stationery since it is not a seminar or talk but I am surprise to see pens & writing pads on each table.  I am sure some of the parents were grateful for the stationery because while the kids were busy doodling and drawing on the writing pad they had a few peaceful moments to enjoy their coffee and burger.


Here is Mr Brett Walker, the Area General Manager of the hotel giving a welcome speech and a little introduction about Village Hotel, Katong.  With the official opening on November 2013 the hotel is consider new and located in the heart of Katong/Joo Chiat district it is within the vicinity where you will be spoilt for choices in the local food which will sure to tickle your taste buds.


Before we break into smaller groups to see the paintings in the rooms, we decided to take a group photos. While every one were getting ready DinoBoy (who was standing behind me) suddenly shouted "Mum!  Mum! You have WHITE HAIR!!!!"  And everyone laughed out loud... OMG!!! I really wished the floor would just swallow me up at that embarrassing moment.  Well, at least he did not say "Mum you hair STINK!!" or something worse along that line...

PS : Do you find the shoes painting in the group photo very familiar?  That's DinoBoy's painting~  See how DiinoBoy paint the shoes here.


We were told that we may not be able to see all the paintings as some of the rooms may be occupied.  I was expecting only to see a handful but was glad that we were able to visit a number of rooms with the beautiful Peranakan paintings in it.  (Digress - Imagine the amount of income the hotel will not be earning for a night for those rooms!)  The kids really did a remarkable job  each painting is different & unique on its own.  It's such a joy to see the kids jumping with thrill and excitement when they spotted their painting in the room. 



The kids were not the only one who's painting were spotted around the hotel, I saw Teacher Elma's 2 beautiful painting too!  This was taken on the 5th floor's lift lobby but I have forgotten which floor the other painting was, if you know where is the location please let me know.



We did not get to see DinoBoy's painting as that room was occupied, it was a little bit disappointed for us but that's ok, we are already proud that DinoBoy was given a chance to be part of this special project and have his painting displayed in the hotel room to be admired by the guests staying in the room.

Last but not least, DinoBoy has an important message to tell every one.


So if you happen to stay in Room 525 in Village Hotel Katong during your visit to Singapore or your staycation, please drop us a message either in facebook or leave a comment in this post.

Disclaimer : I am in no way affiliated to the management of HeART Studio or Far East Organization, neither were we compensated for this post.  DinoBoy is currently attending art lessons in HeART Studio.  All opinions & photographs are 100% mine.

My Friend Suhana: A Story of Friendship and Cerebral Palsy - Book Blast & Giveaway

About the Book

Title: My Friend Suhana: A Story of Friendship and Cerebral Palsy
Authors: Shaila Abdullah & Aanyah Abdullah
Publication Date: December 16, 2013
Publisher: Loving Healing Press
Pages: 17
Recommended Ages: 3+
Summary: A simple tale of love and friendship to warm your heart. Award-winning author and designer Shaila Abdullah teams up with her 10-year-old daughter Aanyah to bring you this heartwarming tale of a little girl who forms a close bond with a child with cerebral palsy.

Purchase


The Buzz

“Children with cerebral palsy, like Suhana, the special 7-year-old child in this book, might never take a first step, say their first words or even do the same things other kids can do. But, they can understand kindness, love and true friendship. This is a story about two young 7-year-old girls whose friendship will span a lifetime and whose love will never die … There are so many themes that are brought to light in this wonderfully illustrated book. Friendship, understanding, love, kindness and trust…This mother and daughter have presented a well written, special, colorfully illustrated book that is definitely a must read for children in the lower grades, read aloud in every classroom, hospital groups, book store book signings and even at centers with children who have CP who can learn that they can do anything––all they need to do is try.” ~ Fran Lewis, former Reading and Writing Staff Developer at NYC Public Schools

“Promoting friendship, respect, and support, this children’s book aides in teaching others that art can help overcome and accept the differences of physical characteristics in others. It shows the bond that a mother and daughter share caring and loving those who have physical or mental disabilities as they convey how to be a true friend.” ~ Conny Crisalli, Book Pleasures

“This heartfelt story shares what it would be like to have a friend with cerebral palsy. Parents, teachers and young readers will appreciate the stories purpose and enjoy the colorful illustrations depicting the moods of Suhana and the love and caring she receives from her friend…Both authors have done an excellent job of educating us on how to be role models by opening our minds and hearts to the possibilities.” ~ Kristi’s Book Nook

“My Friend Suhana, for which Kindle and ePub editions are also available, was inspired by the experiences of the authors. While helping her mother with a special needs class at a local community center, a seven year old girl befriends another seven year old girl named Suhana who has cerebral palsy. It is a simple tale of love and friendship that will warm everyone’s heart.” ~ Wayne Walker, Home School Book Reviews

“My Friend Suhana is a delightful read for a children’s book. Very well illustrated with respect, friendship, and advocacy all in mind at the same time.” ~ Dawn Cruzan, President, Camp Craig Allen for all abilities

“This is the story of a seven-year-old’s first attempt at unconditional love. Tough but tender, inspirational yet utterly real, this is a small gem of a tale. Highly recommended for anyone in the position of mentoring a beloved child through the hard places of life.” ~ Paula Huston, author of A Season of Mystery and A Land Without Sin


About the Authors: Shaila Abdullah & Aanyah Abdullah


Shaila Abdullah is an author and designer based in Austin, Texas. She is the author of two award-winning books: Saffron Dreams and Beyond the Cayenne Wall. The author has received several awards for her work including the Golden Quill Award, Norumbega Jury Prize for Outstanding Fiction, Patras Bukhari Award for English Language, Reader Views Award, Written Art Award, and a grant from Hobson Foundation. My Friend Suhana is Shaila’s first children’s book. In her free time, Shaila loves to run around with her children–Aanyah and Aaliyana.

Aanyah Abdullah is a creative and compassionate 10-year-old, who is drawn to children born with physical and mental disabilities. When she was in second grade, Aanyah along with her mother Shaila, started volunteering out at a local community center where they helped assist special needs children. Later Aanyah wrote an essay about her friendship with a girl in the class who had cerebral palsy. That essay is the inspiration behind My Friend Suhana. Aanyah dreams of establishing a special school for children with disabilities one day. She is known to always stand up for what is right and is-–in her parents’ and teachers’ eyes––a perfect role model for her baby sister.


* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest runs: February 12 to March 12, 11:59 pm, 2014
Open: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Shaila Abdullah & Loving Healing Press and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

Be sure to check out the My Friend Suhana Blog Tour
(coming Mar 4 to 11, 2014)


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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Special Shooting Star


"Mama, can we pretend that this is a shooting star? "
"Of course we can!"

And DinoBoy proceeds to make a wish upon his special shooting star. His expression was all serious and he made the wish wholeheartedly. I never asked him what did he wish for but whatever it is I hope it will come true. 

It does not matter that this is not a true shooting star but the trail left behind by a passing jet plane.
It does not matter that it is not late at night but early in the morning at 7.30am.

All it matter is a child with his strong believe that wishes still exist and there is a chance that it will come true.

~ ~ ~

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Polliwogs @ VivoCity

The Polliwogs opened their third play centre @ VivoCity in December 2013 and we were invited to have a first hand experience in this new place earlier this month.  Even though I was still feeling a little bit under the weather I decided to attend the event as DinoBoy fell in love with The Polliwogs after our first visit to their Robertson Walk play centre in October 2012.

When I entered The Polliwogs I immediately like it a lot because the place is so bright and cheerful!  Located at the rooftop sky park, the 5000 square feet area enjoys natural lighting from the sun beaming in which instantly light up the place.  This made the rainbow colored climbing structure looks very inviting, the minute DinoBoy saw it, he squealed with excitement and made a beeline for it.


The area is divided into 2 sections, on 1 side its the play area while on the other side its the cafe and the function rooms.  You can plan to hold your child's birthday party at The Polliwogs too.  They offer a few theme parties so simply just choose a theme and they will handle the rest.  However, not all centres have all the theme parties available, you have to call up the respective centres to check on that.

The themed Parties available are;
- Rocky's Laser Tag Party * NEW
- Tropical Paradise Hula Party
- Poco's Princess Party
- Larry's Junior Chef Party
- The True Polliwogian Super Party
- Rocky's Fun-tastica Party
- Poco's Petite Party

If you are sitting at the cozy toddler area while your toddler is having a blast of time in the ball pit or exploring the area, you can relax a little bit by watching the boats/ferries going by in the sea or the monorail going to & fro Sentosa.   


I couldn't resist and climbed into the maze too!  It is a different world up there with obstacles to crawl over and I simply adores the vibrant colors!  I would have crawled around trying to chase after DinoBoy but my bones are too old for that, the knees were screaming in protest after a short while.  Psst! There are giant wave slides somewhere in the maze too~ I am sure they will be a hit with the kids.




They also have a small rock climbing padded wall!  DinoBoy tried to climbed up but didn't made it far up as he was a little bit afraid.  Thanks to Mama Sue who showed him & Dumpling by climbing up with ease *Great Job Mama Sue!* DinoBoy follwed her and managed to reach the top!  The wall is not very big so it only allows 2 kids to climb comfortably at the same time. 


DinoBoy clearly had a blast of time, he has even forgotten about this sick Mama sitting at a corner trying not to fall asleep from the medication.  He only emerges from the maze some 30mins later when he felt thirsty and needed a drink badly.

Clockwise from the left : Dinoboy with Dumpling saying Hi! from a bubble outpost, trolley glide, spider web climbing structure, hanging ball & spinning cup @ the toddler area

And when he was not going round and round in the maze with Dumpling, he was pretending to be a dinosaur (just coz he was wearing socks with dinosaur feet print on it) with fierce loud "ROARRRR!!!" and chasing after her.  

Now here is a good news which I think most parents will like.  The Polliwogs @ VivoCity has drop off service @ additional SGD15 per hour (means you pay entrance fee + drop off service fee) you can let your kids have some fun while you shop at VivoCity at ease.

Here are some more info about the drop off service;
- the staff and child ration is 1 : 5 and there will always be at least 2 staffs around the climbing area supervising the kids.
- your child must be toilet trained.
- your child must not have any medical condition.
- If your child is hungry he can eat at the cafe and you settle the bill when you pick up your child. 

Come check out The Polliwogs @ VivoCity or the Big Playground as DinoBoy called it, soon!  I guarantee that you and your child will have a great time there!

*** *** ***
The Polliwogs @ VivoCity
#03-12 VivoCity
1 Harbourfront Walk
Singapore 098585
Tel : 6376 8097

Entrance Fees
Child below 2 years old
Weekdays - $13 unlimited time play
Weekends, Public Holiday & gazetted Singapore school holidays - $13 for first 2 hours with additional $5 for every half an hour or part thereon

Child from 2 to 12 years old
Weekdays - $25 unlimited time play
Weekends, Public Holiday & gazetted Singapore school holidays - $25 for first 2 hours with additional $5 for every half an hour or part thereon

Other charges
A sanitization fee of $30 is chargeable should your child dirty the play area because he got too engrossed in playing and forgot to visit the little boy's room

Other important information
Please note that socks are required at all time in the play centres.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Our Joyful 2014 Chinese New Year Celebration

Time really flies and 15 days of the lunar new year has come an gone.  How did you celebrate the long weekend and your Chinese New Year?  I bet some of you enjoy visiting your relatives and friends while some have flew out for a short holiday.  I was under the weather since early January, and because of this I was unable to declutter and do my spring cleaning.  Well, I sort of got away with it since I was not suppose to celebrate the Chinese New Year as Mum just passed on last November.  Despite my dripping nose and nagging cough, I manage to enjoy the gatherings with family & friends, here's what we did the 3 days.

On 1st day
We actually planned for DinoPapa to bring DinoBoy to relative's house on the 1st day of the lunar new year while I stay at home to try to make myself comfortable.  At the last minute the ladies decided to gather at my house since we either couldn't celebrate or don't feel like visiting relatives on that day. 

Sis had a sudden crave for durians and the ever resourceful Carole got us some really good ones to satisfy her cravings.  Creamy with a slight bitter taste, best durian EVER!  


These are my great company for that day, without them I will feel so lonely *sob sob*  


Of course, great company must always have good food.  Carole brought her BBQ grill while Rach brought her super duper tasty bulgogi.  After having tasting the grilled meat, DinoPapa said we must get a BBQ grill pan too, that way we do not need to go to Korean BBQ Express to settle our craving.  Not a bad idea though I am not sure if it will be difficult to scrub out the grub on the pan.  Let's see if we can find and grab some great deals some where.


On 3rd day
According to traditions, it is consider bad luck to visit friends and relatives so most people will be staying at home or going out shopping etc.  Sis wanted to bring Han to the water playground at NEX, I was hesitant to go out as I was feeling lethargic but I thought DinoBoy has missed out some Chinese New Year fun as we did not go visiting at our relatives & friends so I decided to join Sis.

The two little imps had such a great time chasing each other around the water playground, playing with the slides and the water guns that they protested when it was time to leave.  Later on we had a not so happy dinner at Fish & Co. which I wrote about it earlier, you can read about it here.


On 15th day
The 15th day of the lunar new year is celebrated as Yuanxiao Festival 元宵节 where you eat sweet glutinous rice dumpling or tang yuan 汤圆 and try to find a romantic partner *chuckles*  Incidentally, it is also the Western Valentine's day.  Two Valentine's Day on the same day, that calls for a great celebration with a nice dinner etc BUT DinoPapa have to work full shift today!  Crap!  Means he ends work at 9pm so there goes our celebration.  Double Crap!

The ladies decided to have dinner at Changi Airport Terminal 3, celebrating Valentine's and Sis birthday together.  We reached the airport around 8.30pm and we almost faint when we see long queues in most the restaurants, even the food court is packed with people!  Our choices were limited, we hunt for a restaurant that has the shortest queue and managed to find a table in Pastamania for some pasta & pizzas.

After dinner the younger kids had an hour plus of fun on the slide while, the 2 older boys went off to play with their iphones and the adults stood near the slide to watch over the younger kids and gossip.

This was the first time DinoBoy play with the slide, I was afraid that he may not want to try it out instead he jumped onto the slide without hesitation and shouted "CA-NON-BALLLLLL!!!!" all the way down.  It is really a work out for the kids as they must climb up 2 flights of stairs to go back up to the starting point for another 2 seconds of thrill sliding down the curve slide.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Imagination Play Unleashed - Fun with the red bathtub

DinoBoy love to watch BeyBlades on the cable when he was 5 and begged us to get the toy for him.  We refused and he got sad but not for long because he built a spinning top and declared it his BeyBlade, take a look here. Ingenious right!

Anyway, he finally got his small collection of BeyBlades a year plus later and he's been spinning them on the floor till DinoPapa bought the super duper expensive stadium for the Beyblades to "fight".  Since we moved house about 2 years ago, the stadium was kept in its box and stored high up in the wardrobe.  DinoBoy's been bugging me to bring it down for him but I refused.  Between leaving it around the house collecting dust after he's done and having to keep it back into the box then bring up to the wardrobe every time he's done playing, I choose none.  So the stadium sits nicely on its place in the wardrobe high up there.

Last weekend night I was at the living room surfing net when I heard some loud banging noise.  I went searching for DinoBoy to see what mischief he was up to and was surprised to see him playing with his BeyBlade in the small red bathtub.  That red tub was lying around the room and he put it into good use, just like that.  This spur of moment inspiration means having a mega great fun seeing his beyblades spinning round and round fighting it out in the small red tub.  He had so much fun that I sat down to join him.  We had an hour of fun pulling the ripcords and launching the beyblades into the tub.

video

And you think he would only use the red tub for that purpose.  He decided to flip the tub around and pretend that he is a ninja turtle with a red shell.  Hmm... friend or foe of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle?


Then another time he wants to sit in his work boat to repair his beyblades.  He gathered all his beyblades, sat in his work boat and started to dismantle them.  He switched their face bolts, energy rings, metal wheels and spin tracks around then proceed to have a fight in the red tub.


Children feels bored easily and who says their only entertainment are screen time?  With a little bit of inspiration (by themselves or by the parents) they can come up with unexpected ways of entertaining themselves, the healthier ways.

PS : For those who are unfamiliar with this red bathtub, it is part of a dowry for the the Chinese brides.  Mine came together with a potty, a basin, a soup container and a mug. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Bifrost Bridge - Book Blast & Giveaway

About the Book

Title: The Bifrost Bridge
Author: James Bradley Clarke
Illustrator: Marcus Gran
Publication Date: January, 2013
Publisher: Wynwidyn Press
Pages: 92
Recommended Ages: 8+
Summary: The Bifrost Bridge is a Viking princess fairy tale intertwined with Norse mythology. Silya, the feisty ten year old Princess of Norway, eagerly awaits the arrival of her cousin and best friend, Princess Hedda of Denmark. The princesses are both looking forward to the summer solstice celebration, but trouble lurks in their future as magical villains see the girls as being vital for their deadly conspiracy. Hedda and Silya find themselves cast into a dangerous adventure filled with fire giants, female warrior angels and the God of Thunder.

Purchase


The Buzz

"A delightful and endearing adventure that winds Norse mythology and two young girls through a whirlwind of danger, friendship and standing up to evil-doers. The Princess heroines, Silya and Hedda, engage the reader with their charming day to day life at the celebrated summer solstice festival in ancient Norway... The book moves along easily and the characters are likable at once. A fun read for the parents, and challenging enough for the children because it may have a few new words and characters they may not know. It is an adorable story that will soon become a favorite." ~ 5 Star Review, Janet, Amazon

"Bifrost Bridge is a beautiful fairytale, mixing legend and adventure and creating a wonderful reading experience for both children and adults alike. I read this to my 7 year old daughter, and my 10 year old daughter read it for herself; both of them were captivated by the story. My 7 year old loved the idea of two princesses being such close friends, and my 10 year old loved all of the action and suspense in the story. I enjoyed the Norse mythology woven into the tale. It's a wonderful family story. I will be reading it to my sons next!" ~ 5 Star Review, Rebecca F., Amazon

"When I first looked into this book, I was sure that the world of fairy tales had been overdone so many times that I wouldn't see much difference between this one & my other classic favorites that I enjoyed over the years with my children... However, I was proven wrong.. This is such a beautiful and entrancing fairy tale! Mr. Clarke takes the often repetitive world of fairy tales and adds an elegant, dramatic twist to it, producing an epic and moving adventure that children will forever cherish! My daughter and I read it together and had many nights where we just didn't want to put it down! His characters, including the feisty Silya, are memorable and seem so very real! It's a hard thing to do that with children's fairy tales and again, I commend Mr. Clarke for releasing a wonderful new fairy tale to pass on to generations to come!" ~ 5 Star Review, Vicky R., Amazon

About the Author: James Bradley Clarke

James Bradley Clarke is a graduate of Hiram College, The University of Houston, and the University of Michigan. He currently resides in Oxford, Ohio, where he works as an academic librarian for Miami University. He grew up near Ann Arbor, Michigan, and he has spent most of his life in the Great Lakes region.

The Bifrost Bridge is Clarke’s first work of fiction. The children’s book was first developed as stories Clarke started telling to his two daughters back in the summer of 2003. Both girls shared a love for classic princess fairy tales, so he invented original princess characters for both of them. As residents in Riverside, Illinois, Clarke’s family lived in walking distance of the Brookfield Zoo where the girls regularly admired the Norwegian fjord horses. When he learned this ancient breed of horse was used by the Vikings, a specific medieval setting for the stories came into focus.

As a Hiram College student, Clarke had developed a love for the epic poems of Homer and Virgil, so he chose to borrow from mythology to provide magical elements. The girls became instantly enamored with these stories and they insisted on developing new adventures for the two Nordic princess characters. The first draft of a manuscript was produced during the summer of 2005. Clarke’s daughters were delighted with the bound copy they received as a Christmas gift later that year, so he began the process of becoming an author. Clarke has a love for history and a taste for plot driven stories about extraordinary individualism. Themes of fortitude and self-determination lay at the heart of Clarke’s writing interests.


* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest runs: February 10 to March 9, 11:59 pm, 2014
Open: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, James Bradley Clarke and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Foodie Fridays - A not too satisfied dining experience at Fish & Co, Singapore

With DinoBoy starting primary school we seldom have any chance to dine in any place except for the neighbourhood food court and small eatery houses.  With the Chinese New Year break recently, me and sis decided to visit the water playground at Nex where the 2 little imps spent about an hour running around the water playground.  

We headed off to find food and ended up at Fish & Co. where we were comfortable seated almost immediately.  The kids were given a puzzle sheet each to entertain themselves, which we appreciate as this gives us some time to go through the menu and decide on the food.  However, the waitress forgot to give them color pencils, we waited for a while thinking that she will bring it to us soon but well it did not happened.  With 2 restless kids staring at the activity sheet eager to dive into it, they started to make noise.  I dug around my bag and was glad; at least for a while, to have found a pen.  2 restless kids with 1 pen... yupe you guessed it, they started to fight, each wanting to use the pen NOW. It made both me and sis very frustrated, I had to leave the table to hunt down a waitress requesting for the color pencils.

Peace was restored shortly *phew*


We were given an ipad to browse through the menu and place our order.  Maybe it's us; 2 "mountain tortise" aunties, but we find it difficult to navigate through their site.  We eventually give up and decided to order the safest food in the menu; fish & chips for the kids to share and a seafood platter for us.  We managed to put our food into the cart but got an error message when we tapped on the "Order" button and have to sort the waitress' help to placed our order electronically.

15mins later, our seafood platter was served, it was impressive and makes me hungry immediately but when I took a bite of the fish I was disappointed.  Not only the fish fillet has a strong fishy taste, it is also not hot, in fact besides the rice all the other food in the pan were lukewarm.  What a huge disappointment!  Sis mentioned that she visited their other branch (she told me but I forgot which one) and the food was not hot too.  However, I have to say that I like the calamari and the mussels in garlic lemon butter sauce very much. 


About half an hour after we placed our order, the 2 imps are getting more restless and not to mention very hungry but there were no sign of their fish & chips.  We would have share our platter with them but both were looking forward to their fish & chips.


We checked with the waiteress just to be sure that the Fish & Chips went through the system.  She went in to check with the kitchen and said "another 3 minutes more."  Well, it was served about a minute later and piping hot!

Now, it makes me wonder how they are able to serve a platter that consist of different seafood in 15mins but takes 30 mins for a single fish fillet with fries.  The logical explanation I can think at that time is that they pre-cooked the prawns, mussels, calamari and fish fillet and only heat them up when there is an order while the fish fillet for the fish & chips were done upon receiving an order for it.


Besides the above there were a few incidents that leaves me with a bad impression of the restaurant.

I have to hunt down a waitress to get ice water, an extra plate, some tomato ketchap and utensils.  I used the word "hunt down" because our table is at a corner, they failed to see our hands in the air and they are not in the restaurant when I needed them.  3 waitresses serving 6-7 tables with 2-3 customers at each table, it is not full house or crowded, I definitely do not think they are too busy.

We requested for our bill and about 10mins into waiting there were no sign that the waitress is coming to us with our bill.  Tired of waiting I went up to the cashier and you know about Murphy's Law right?  When you needed something or someone, they are always not available or not in sight.  So I waited (again) at the unattended cashier for some one to attend to me.  Again I have to mention that the restaurant is not busy, 2 disappeared and 1 of the waitress was chatting with fellow colleague (a kitchen crew) who is sitting at one of the table sorting out something, maybe its paperwork but I am not sure.  Eventually that waitress noticed me standing at the cashier.

While waiting for the waitress to print out my bill, I asked the waitress casually and out of curiosity if payment have to be settled at the cashier.  She replied confidently "Yes." without even taking her eyes off the cashier screen.  Then I expressed my dissatisfaction that the other waitress should have told us when we asked for our bill, instead of making us wait at our table for 10mins.  She looked up at me and immediately replied "Oh! You can ask for the bill to be sent to your table or pay at the cashier." before returning her attention back to the screen.  Errmm... so which is correct? 

I can think of various reasons for the level of services I received at the restaurant but why should I think of an excuse or reason for their tardy attitude?  Bottom line is I am not a happy customer because of that and they probably will not be on the top of my restaurant choice when I decide to dine out again.

Should I take this as a stand alone unpleasant experience and avoid Fish & Co. entirely?
Maybe...

Should I take this as a yardstick for my next visit to Fish & Co. (IF I ever want to)?
Definitely!

Disclaimer : I am in no way affiliated to the management of Fish & Co nor have been compensated to write about this.  All opinions are 100% based on my dining experience with them.

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Our little balcony garden

This is how Mr Sun looks like at our side since December 2013, accompanied with chilling wind blowing constantly.  Well, for a country near the Equator and enjoying the warmth of Mr Sun most of the year, January usually sees Mr Sun shining down on us fiercely and scorching hot.  Not this January, it was freezing cold!  This weird weather have caused many people to come down with flu and cough.  The DinoFamily was not spared too, I was the first one who got hit and till now I am still trying to recover from it.


Although feeling miserable and hating the weather, I am feeling happy when I stepped into our little balcony, our plants are thriving in the cool chilling weather!

Last month I cooked the baked chicken and bought a packet of sage from supermarket, after plucking the leaves to be used in the dish, I left the leafless stalk on the kitchen table.  DinoPapa saw it and decided to plant it.  Without the roots, we were not sure if it will survive or dry out a few days later, but we will never know if we never try right?  And survive it did!  Thriving too with so many leaves~  


Even our spring onions have started to grow too, though bent and slanted but I don't need to buy them from the supermarket any more.


The current pride in the little balcony garden is our pot of cherry tomato plants.  I am not sure how DinoPapa plant it but they sprout out fast and furious!  They really need a lot of water, twice daily, their leaves will go limp and dry if we forgot to water them once.   


This morning we spotted some yellow flowers on the plant~ Extremely excited about it, hoping to see some tomatos soon!


I am planning a trip to the nearby greenery to buy more pots to re-pot some of the plants and perhaps bring the cherry tomatos down to the floor before the weather turns hot and drying them out.  That has to wait till I have fully recovered and rid of both the flu and cough bugs.

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