Tuesday, July 29, 2014

~ Hibiki IV - Where Modern Meets Traditional Music ~

Media Invite: While I always enjoy going for cultural events and musical shows, I was a bit worried if Hubby and the children will share the same enthusiasm and interest. Particularly when the entire performance is going to last for 2.5 hours.

The drum extravaganza - Hibiki IV,an annual performance in its 4th year running, proofs my worries were totally uncalled for as the performance put up by Hibikiya (Singapore-based music studio) was so captivating that we were awed by the performers that evening.

The show began with a series of welcoming drum items performed by Hibikiya. Not only was the thumping of the drums astounding. it was also visually entertaining. Smiles were on the faces of every individual and we can feel that they take pride, have the passion and joy in every single beat.

Namiko Sakai, founder of Hibikiya has devoted her passion towards promoting Japanese culture in Singapore. Apart from Taiko (Japanese Drums), Shinobue (Japanese bamboo flute) and Shamisen (Japanese 3 stringed instruments) were also showcased in the performance.

The show just gets better and better with Hiro Hayashida. pioneer in the Taiko world and one of the most popular Wadaiko players in Japan performing for us. Our hearts were filled with deepest respect as we watched him holding on to the stick and hammering the drum at a super fast yet rhythmic pace.

Bunta Sato, master in Shinobue, plays excellently on the flute. His musical piece brings me peace and comfort. Together with Hiro Hayashida, they put up yet another perfect piece for the audience.

T.E.A.M, lead by Hiro Hayashida, is a group of talented young Taiko drummers who have been selected from all over Japan to form the "Super Taiko Junior". Whenever they are on stage, it is filled with lots of energy and applause. All of them looked smart and cool which explains why they have a group of supporters within the audience. :)

When ZingO Festival Drum Group took the stage, I was not aware that it is a Singaporean performing arts group! A prominent leader in the local Chinese Drum scene, ZingO puts up an astonishing drum performance combined with martial arts-style choreography which is totally Awesome! It was synchronized, visually impressive and my heart was lifted up after learning that this item was professionally delivered by our local talents.

The performance overran by half an hour but there are no complains among the audience. Everyone was so immersed by the performance and loving it so much that the audience even called for encore!

We were truly impressed with the diversity in each item. Throughout the performance, there is no score and no conductor. Everyone knew exactly what and when to play, The entire ensemble felt like it was in their hearts and mind. Hibiki IV has opened our sight and view of Japanese Drums. It was an eye-opener and experience for us.

After the show, Gladys even voiced her interest in playing the drums! Currently, Hibikiya conducts workshops and classes. For more information, visit their website.

HIBIKIYA Pte Ltd (響屋)
Address: 63 Jalan Pemimpin, #01-02, Pemimpin Industrial Building, Singapore 577219

Sunday, July 27, 2014

~ Handicraft - Angry Bird Pinatas ~

Since I'm consolidating my post on a single blog, I decided to extract my previous artwork posts here. :) *Old Blog Post from Phoebediary

In celebration of Gladys' 5th birthday, I made a pinata as we will be inviting friends to the chalet. There will be a lot of children and it will be a fun activity for all to play.

The idea came only 2 days before heading to the chalet and time is very short! After googling online on how to make a pinata, I starting working through the nights...

• Balloon
• Newspaper (shredded into strips 1-2 inches long)
• Flour and Water (this will be used to make paper mache glue)
• Glue
• Scissors
• Acrylic Paint / Crepe Paper
• String


1) Blow up your balloon to the size that you wanted. (You can choose a big or small balloon depending on your design/needs).

2) Place your balloon in a bowl so that it will not move around as you are sticking layers of paper on it.

3) Prepare lots of newspaper strips (about 1-2 inches long)

4) In another bowl/container, mix 1 part of flour and 2 parts of water together to make the paper mache glue.

5) Dip the newspaper strips one at a time into the glue mixture.

6) Use your fingers or the side of the bowl to remove the excess glue mixture off from the newspaper. 

7) Apply the newspaper strip to the balloon

8) Cover the balloon with one layer of newspaper, leaving a hole on the end uncovered. Let the balloon dry for a few hours or overnight, and then add another layer of paper mache.

9) Repeat this process until you have covered the balloon with at least three layers of paper. 

*Note: Since this is my first attempt to make a pinata, I wasn't sure how many layers of paper to put. The more layers you add, the harder the pinata and it will be difficult for the children to smash it later on. As an experiment, I made one with 3 layers and the other with 4 layers. 

10) Pop the balloon when the paper mache has dry up. Poke 2 holes at the top of the pinata. Run a string through the holes so that the pinata can be hang up.

11) Decorate your Pinata! Basically you can decorate it with crepe paper by gluing strips of colourful crepe paper around the pinata. 

I decided to make an Angry bird theme pinata and hence I did a rough sketch and painted my pinata with acrylic paints. Acrylic paints is recommended as it dries up faster and gives it a shiny, glossy look compared to the normal pastel paints.

I cut out the shapes for the eyesbrows, eyes, beak and tail from a paper and painted it. Then, they are glued to the pinata to give it a finishing touch.

Instead of one, I made two Angry bird pinatas following the same procedures.

Since it was meant to be a surprise, I stayed up after the children have slept to work on this project. After two sleepless nights of hard work, the Angry Bird Pinatas are born! It was my first attempt making a pinata and I think I did a pretty good job! ^_^ With that, you can put the candies and stuffing into the pinatas and bring it to the party! Happy Whacking! :D

Saturday, July 26, 2014

~ 3D2N Johor Bahru Food Trail - Day 1 (Part 2) ~

3:30pm - After settling down at 8 Days Boutique Hotel - Premas Jaya, we were famished. It's time to have our super delayed lunch or early tea. We ventured out of the hotel, crossed the street to search for FOOD!

View of 8 Days Boutique Hotel from the overhead bridge.

 AEON is located next to the hotel. 

We decided to go for 坚's mee pok and kway teow. It was way past lunch hours and there was no crowd. Looking at the menu on the wall, something pricked my interest - 猪肉根. We had no idea what it was but we will find out soon. 

Hubby settled for his mee pok tah (dry) while I stick to my kway teow. The noodles were nicely flavoured and we like it. Apart from the springy noodles, topped with thin slices of sweet char siew and spring onions, it was nicely blended with the sauce.

猪肉根 - the special ingredient in the soup. If I am not mistaken, it  is the ligament, tendon part located on the side of the pork. It is very tender and chewy and the kids love it. 
Soup filled with fish ball, fish cake, lean meat, seaweed and vegetables. 

A very satisfactory meal at 坚  and their dishes are nicely delivered. 

Name: Restoran Kiang (十五楼阿坚面簿)
Location: Jalan Permas Sepuluh, Bandar Baru, Permas Jaya, Johor Bahru
GPS: 1.495894, 103.815487

Our food hunt continues further down the street and we spotted a Bak Kut Teh stall. Somehow, Hubby finds the name of this stall very familiar and it seems we might have patronized its other outlets before.

I adore the way the ingredients and cooked dishes were displayed. Just looking at them made our tummies growl again. The menu mounted on the wall makes it so simple and convenient to place our orders.

This pot of sizzling Claypot Sesame Chicken is my personal favourite. Why? Thanks to the sweetness of the sauce that goes perfectly well with the rice! Hubby thought it was too sweet for his liking but the kids and I LOVE it! Chicken is tender and juicy but the downside would be the bones in the chicken chunks making it less palatable.

Claypot Bak Kut Teh - We ordered for 2 pax serving and chose the ingredients to go into the pot. The soup has a stronger herbal flavour which explains why it is not my favourite pot to date since I prefer the soup base to be peppery. The meat was a bit stiff in my opinion. I'm wondering if the reason was because we arrived at the stall a little too late for our meal?

Name : Shun Fa Bak Kut Teh (顺发肉骨茶)
Location:  2-18 Jalan Permas 10/6, Taman Permas Jaya, 81750 Masai, Johor, Malaysia
GPS: 1.495916, 103.813449

It was a hot afternoon and we were perspiring as we made our way back to 8 Days Boutique Hotel. Couldn't resist stopping by U Desserts to rest our feet, enjoy the air-condition and have some nice cooling dessert. 

There are so many varieties available on the menu and we were pampered with choices just browsing through the extensive list! The Durian and Mango fruity series seems to be U Dessert's in-house recommended dessert. We decided to settle for their All-in-1 Mango set (RM 12.8) and Mango Chong Fan (RM 9.8).

Mango Chong Fan (芒果肠粉) - I thought this is a pretty creative dessert. Instead of the conventional Chee Cheong Fan that we have for dim sum, it is transformed into a dessert dish stuffed with mango.

Chunks of mango is wrapped within the thin layer of roll wrap made of coconut, topped with mango syrup.   I could not really taste the coconut flavour of the outer jelly-like layer but the mango is sweet and fresh. Mango Chong Fan has already been nicely sliced and everyone is able to savour this dessert wholly. It is very refreshing and I never thought I can enjoy a mango dessert in this fashion. Thumbs Up!

All-in-1 Mango set ('芒'里偷闲套餐) - If you are a Mango-lover and don't know what to choose, do give this all-in-1 set a try as you get to sample a variety of mango dessert at one go in one serving. Mango Hor Fun with ice-cream and mango chunks, Mango rice ball and mango served with mini rice balls. This is simply heavenly!

Sweet Ball and Sweet Potato in Ginger Soup - After a series of cold dessert, Hubby ordered a warm dessert to try. Despite having a round of sweet indulgence earlier, the ginger soup still taste sweet and good! Chunky sweet potatoes and chewy rice ball adds on to the flavour.

The children enjoyed the dessert and we promised them to be back for more. :)

Name: U Dessert (Permas Jaya Branch)
Location: 7 Jalan Permas 10/7, Bandar Baru Permas Jaya 81750 Masai, Johor, Malaysia
GPS: 1.496046, 103.815096

Thursday, July 24, 2014

~ DIY Beary Birthday Card ~

Drew a birthday card for a dear colleague earlier this week. I spent some time colouring the little bear which is the highlight of the card. The difficulty of this drawing is having minimal pencil mark and using colour pencils to create the furry effect of the bear.

Instead of the conventional colouring style, I made multiple strokes to outline and 'colour' the interior of the furry creature. Different shades of brown were used for the shading effect. The overall outcome was pretty neat and lovable. The light shades of green grass and pink flowers add on to the sweetness.

For the interior of the card, I drew the Happy Birthday greetings in a Scrabble style. Would love to enhance the effect if I had a little more time. 

I love to make DIY cards. Although it may not look as great as those available on the shelf, it brightens my day as I put my love and effort onto the little piece of paper. It brings me joy and I hope it brings happiness to the person who receives it.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

~ River Nights 2014 - Asian Civilisations Museum ~

19th July marks the official launch of Singapore Heritage Festival 2014. Singapore River took the centre stage in River Nights where there are a series of outdoor performances and activities for all ages.

We arrived in time to catch the LED Dragon Dance. I can imagine how amazingly blazing the Chinese Dragon will look when the night falls. The crowd followed the trace of the dragon path.

The children were most impressed by the heart-thumping rhythms of the drums by Hands Percussion Malaysia. Motivating by the ears and equally astonishing by their synchronized movements visually.

Denver & Gladys had their fair share of fun at KIDS Point. Quick round of fishing by the river to redeem a prize and also getting their hands messy uncovering treasures in ACM's archaeological pit.

Next, we embarked on a Duck Hunt within ACM in search for the winning duck from the first Singapore Million Dollar Duck Race. We were 'rewarded' with a free picnic mat upon completing our quest. Children love to go on treasure hunts.

Beautiful lights shining upon Asian Civilisations Museum. There was free all-night gallery tours within the museum and kudos to the friendly guides who ran tour-a-thon till late night.

Melodic tunes filled the air by Electro Erhu accompanied by Tabla. 

The children and I felt the Story Cove most entertaining. We revisited the River with personalities from the past guiding us based on the play "Sailing Past" by Jonathan Lim. We stopped at various iconic landmarks along Singapore River and immersed ourselves in the stories through the night.

The children and I took a couple of photos and we received instant photo prints simply by hashtagging our pictures on Instagram. :)

These are my greatest rewards for the night. Beautiful instant prints at Asian Civilisations Museum - River Nights 2014. ^_^

Singapore Heritage Festival 2014 runs from 18-27 July 2014. There are a lot of programmes and trails that you can engaged in. Check out SHF website on the exciting performances and interactive activities for the whole family.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

~ 3D2N Johor Bahru Food Trail - Day 1 (Part 1) ~

20th June 2014 - We embarked on our first JB food trail for the year during the June holidays. Despite frequent visits across the border, each trail just get more exciting and fun. Even our kids are so accustom that they enjoy sampling the various food as we travel around.

9:30am - Taman Pelangi

Unlike our previous trails, we set off at a later time and arrived at Johor Bahru at half past 9. Since we are heading down to KSL City later, we stopped by Taman Pelangi for breakfast.

There are a lot of nice eateries at Taman Pelangi area and a great location to source for our first meal of the day.

小李粿条 - Thanks to Johorkaki's recommendation, we decided to try out the kway teow soup at this stall because of it's interesting ingredients. Checked with the stall owner and realized fresh oysters, shark fish balls, lean meat, and fish cake are some of the ingredients that goes with their kway teow.

We ordered 2 bowls (dry and soup version) to try. Both versions are yummylicious but personally I prefer the soup version because of the richer taste and fragrant of the soup broth which compliments well with the kway teow. I love the Shark fish balls which are so sweet and tender!

It comes in 3 different sizes of serving, Large (大) - RM 10, Middle (中) - RM 7, Small (小) - RM 5. It seems to me the larger the serving, the more ingredients there will be within. I'll go for the larger bowl on my next visit.

Name: 小李粿条
Address: 53, Jalan Kuning, Taman Pelangi, Johor Bahru

GPS : 1.482699, 103.775514

Within the same coffeeshop space, there is a small stall selling home-made curry puff. It's been awhile since I saw the curry puff mould. Hubby bought a couple to taste and according to him, it wasn't too bad. 

A few stalls down the road is Fat Mom Restaurant (肥妈餐厅). The shop space is bright, airy and tidy. There aren't any customers in the shop but I guess it's no harm looking through what's there to offer on the menu. 

We asked the shop assistant to give us his recommendation and he suggested Thai Laksa and Curry Dry Noodles. Knowing that I cannot take spicy food, we ordered 2 drinks to standby.

Thai Laksa - I really need to train my taste bud to take spicier food. Hubby says this dish is not really that spicy so I guess it is my problem. The gravy has a unique flavour and sour taste which wasn't that bad. I love the abundant slices of onions and cucumber to add on to the crunchiness as I slurp the noodles down. Not sure if this is how Thai Laksa should taste like but it seems like a pretty decent dish to me.

Curry Dry Noodles - We had curry noodles before but never did we savour it in a dry fashion. Hubby could not really accustom to its unique presentation and prefers the good old curry soup noodles.

I thought it was a pretty creative dish - curry chicken with noodles in soy sauce. The bit of sweetness, saltiness, and spice all within a plate.

Name: Fat Mom Restoran (肥妈)
Location: 55, Jalan Kuning, Taman Pelangi, Johor Bahru
GPS: 1.482862, 103.775423

10:45am - KSL City Mall 

Our resting station for the morning after a heavy breakfast. We brought the kids to Go N Play Playground to burn off some calories. The prices have went up slightly from our last visit. It costs RM6 for every 30 minutes of play now. No extra charges after 2 hours (i.e Maximum RM24 for whole day). 

Hubby heads off for his massaging session while I pamper myself with a pedicure session.

1:45pm - Thanks to the heavy breakfast, we did not feel hungry. Nevertheless, I cannot resist my temptations when I see Sushi. Ozumo Sushi Take-out has a couple of outlets at various shopping malls and it offers tasty sushi conveniently at affordable prices. :)

Our Sushi set take-away at RM10.90 (~SGD 4.40) 

Name : Ozumo Sushi Take-out
Location: LG, KSL City Mall, 33 Jalan Seladang, Taman Abad, Johor Bahru 80250, Malaysia

GPS: 1.485455, 103.762462

Our food trails continues....

Sunday, July 13, 2014

~ Penang Place @ Fusionopolis (One North)~

My first visit to Penang Place was when the restaurant was still residing in International Business Park. The familiar bright green neon light banner welcomed us once again after its shift to Fusionopollis.

If you love authentic flavour of Penang food, this is the place to be where you can indulge in the buffet spread of over 30 items like Penang laksa, Lobak, Penang style Char Kway Teow, Otak, Chendol, Nasi Lemak and many more.

Some of my favourite kueh to start my meal:

Kueh Talam - This kueh has 2 layers. The bottom layer is green and is made from green pea flour flavoured with pandan. The top layer is a coated with a layer of coconut milk making it a sweet snack/dessert.

Steamed tapioca - another sweet snack topped with grated coconut.

Kueh Salat - My favourite among all because of the glutinous rice layer going perfectly well with the aroma of the pandan and coconut milk. :)

DIY fruit rojak - make your personalized rojak the way you like it to be. :)
Penang Lobak - Combination of five-spiced chicken rolls and assorted fried delights.
Salad spread
Curry Chicken - tender meat in rich curry sauce. 

Prawns and Otak Otak
Penang Prawn Mee

Nasi Lemak - Took a little bit of everything (peanut, ikan bilis, hae bee hiam, cucumber) except lady fingers. It was fragrant and nicely spiced since I did not put a lot of chili.

My personal favourite and also a hot favourite among the diners - Penang Char Kway Teow. I could not recall how many times this tray was being refilled as it is always gone in a swift! It is a Must Try and first dish that I must get before waiting for the next round.

We ended our meal with a few more rounds of kueh, chendol and ice-kachang. There were a lot more dishes that I missed due to a very full tummy. Some of the dishes may be a little too spicy for me but I enjoyed the meal and the buffet spread.

Penang Place (One-North MRT station - circle line)
Address: 1 Fusionopolis Way, Connexis #B1-20/24, Singapore 138632
Operating Hours: Monday - Saturday (Closed on Sundays)
Lunch : 11:30am - 2:30pm
Dinner: 6pm - 9:30pm

Telephone: 6467 7003, 6467 7008