Alcheme Skincare: Singapore's Very Own Customised Beauty Brand

Author's Note: Before you read this review, you should know that I am not paid to write this nor does the brand know about the development of this article. I am doing it because I truly love Alcheme A LOT and have been using their products since their start about 2 years ago. Thank you Tuyen & Constance for sharing the wonders of Alcheme with me!


About 8 years back, I grumbled about the lack of an affordable customised skincare brand in Singapore – heck, we barely even had any local skincare brands! I couldn't help thinking, wouldn't it be great to have skincare products that required no experimentation and I know would definitely work for me? The bespoke skincare brands that I had seen online were all based in the States and a hefty price tag came with all of them.

Fast-forward to the present moment, I am proud to say that the beauty scene in Singapore has evolved greatly and today I will be sharing one of my favourites with you, Alcheme Skincare.

I started using Alcheme 3 years ago in 2018. They had only 2 products then, a serum and an emulsion. Today the company has evolved their product range and now has toners, cleansers, makeup removers, eye creams, sleeping masks... and I am pretty sure they have more tricks up their sleeves, waiting to be unveiled!

I love that the company never settles. They are constantly improving. It almost seems like they don't ever take a break – which trust me, is a compliment! They are always either finding ways to improve their formula, looking for a better ingredient, coming up with new products, working on the texture of their existing products, figuring out how to make their packaging more user-friendly & eco-friendly, etc etc. Ths team of busy women never stop and they are truly amazing!

Alcheme's 1st Gen Packaging
My first two bottles of Alcheme Skincare in their old packaging

Now onto the actual product itself and how I fell in love with it. I had my doubts when I started using Alcheme. The formula back then was a lot thicker and my skin was a lot oilier. I was worried that their products would cause my skin to break out and held back from using it as frequently as I should.

Then July came along... the month of the Hungry Ghost Festival. A lot of paper and joss-stick burning. It didn't help that in the same year, in the same month, haze hit Singapore. My skin went crazy! I was going through weeks of annoying acne and inflamed skin, my face was like crap.

Alcheme dropped me a text to ask how I was doing, how was the serum that they had sent me and I was honest with them. I hadn't dare to use their products because of the effed-up state of my skin. I was worried that the heavy texture and its customised skincare benefits - I had ask for more hydration because I wanted the "Korean Glow" - would do more harm than good to my skin.

Now you gotta understand that I had been fighting with my crazy face situation for days now, throwing all sorts of acne cleansers and pimple creams but nothing worked! I went through 3 range of products and the state of my skin was like a roller coaster, except that the ride never came down, it just went up, HIGHER up, down a little bit but never hitting the ground. I was incredibly sad and desperately wanted back my smooth canvas.

The team at Alcheme are my skincare guardian angels. They could have left me to figure out my skin alone and waited till it calmed down – which to be honest I had no idea how long it would take and back then, it seemed like I was doomed to live with acne for the rest of my life. Instead of all that, the team said that they would get her chemist to quickly put together a serum to combat acne/pollution issues and have the serum sent to me! THAT SERUM WAS DA BOMB!

Within 3 days, the serum cleared away all the acne that I had been fighting for weeks. My smooth canvas returned. Alcheme gained a new loyal fan. If you are wondering, that wasn't the only occasion where I used the serum. I kept and continued using the serum for months to come, especially during the week of my menstrual period when I know that my skin is more likely to break out. The serum helped to keep my acne in check and curtail the break-out.

Alcheme's Eye Serum and Mask (2nd Gen Packaging)
In 2019, they created a Personalised Eye Serum and their own Cream Mask

Alcheme also has these pre-concocted serums for those who aren’t keen in personalised ones. I was given a bottle of this pre-concocted serum at a separate event (it was in the event’s goodie bag) and because I already had my personalised serum, I decided to share the pre-concocted one with my mom.

Now here’s what you need to know about my mom. Before I became a beauty guru and forced a skincare routine upon my mom, she had no skincare routine at all. She was too lazy to do anything to her face and her “skincare routine” comprised of a facial cleanser just to wash her face... and that’s it! 😱

She had no idea of what to put on her face (she still doesn’t 😂 and so I’ll routinely check on her facial condition, prescribe her a bunch of products and she diligently follows thru with my instructions) and before my intervention amongst my mom and her seven sisters, she didn’t have the worst complexion but it wasn’t the best either. I am proud to say that my mama now has THE BEST complexion – her sisters envy her good skin and I take full credit for it! Woohoo!

Back to my story on the pre-concocted serum, so I gave my mom a bottle that was meant to combat anti-aging issues with instructions to apply every morning. One month later, her skin was glowing! The skin dullness was gone, we noticed that the fine lines were gone, and the wrinkles had faded by a little. And this is the story of how I converted my mom to become a loyal fan of Alcheme as well!

To use Alcheme, you have to be very patient. They are unlike the typical big brand products where the results appear instantaneously. Their products take a couple of days and depending on your formula and benefits, it can sometimes take up to 28 days. Alcheme uses all-natural ingredients, nothing too harsh nor too potent and that is why, the results take time to happen.

Current Alcheme Products That I'm Using

I am currently using their Gentle Cleansing Gel, Rejuvenate Me Toner, Personalised Serum and Personalised Moisturiser. I have also tried a sample size of their Exfoliating Cleansing Gel.

My top favourites are their Personalised Serum, Exfoliating Cleansing Gel and toner.
I find Alcheme's serums to be incredibly effective on my skin and as mentioned in my raves above, their Personalised Serum is my go-to when my skin breaks out!

As for the Exfoliating Cleansing Gel, I would highly recommend everyone to try this. Tuyen shared with me on the story behind this creation and it is a very interesting one! We all know that typically exfoliation is an extra step in our skincare routine and this step occurs only every once a week (because our skin is delicate and we should not exfoliate on a daily basis). It is easily forgotten, especially when our week becomes crazy and we lose track of 'extra steps/things' in life during those times.

Tuyen said that she often forgets to do her once-a-week exfoliation and finally one day, she had had enough of this problem and thus turned to their in-house chemist to see if she could develop a solution to this problem! And that is how the Exfoliating Cleansing Gel came about! This baby is a facial cleansing gel with added AHA natural fruit extract to help cleanse and exfoliate the skin. It was made to be gentle enough for daily usage! This is the perfect night-time facial cleanser to use every day.

Now as for their toner, I love the texture of their toners – the one that I am using now is Rejuvenate Me Toner. Their toners are a tad more viscous than water (really just a slighttttt bit! it is barely noticeable) but still lightweight and fast to absorb into the skin. The toner is alcohol-free and makes a good first step in any skincare routine!

After reading this lengthy review, I hope it has given you more insight into Alcheme and its products.

Once again let me re-emphasise that I am not paid to write this review. I have worked with the brand on numerous collaborations and have truly enjoyed their products and felt that they deserve more recognition and good word on the internet. If you should be keen to purchase a bottle to try, here is a promo code [ SOPH20 ] for 20% off your cart. Because the prices of their personalised products are a tad steep, ease away your pre-commitment hesitation by trying out a sample of your personalised blend for just $10. Only if it works, then get the full-size bottle!

I hope you'll fall in love with Alcheme as like how I did! (Srsly, best skincare brand ever!)

MONTHLY BLOG: February and March, two months in one

Family photoshoot with Depth of Tales
Photoshoot with Depth Of Tales in February

I am really really trying to blog more, write more. I was appalled at myself when I realised that I had only published 8 blog posts last year. Well done me, shame on me.

I am seriously hoping that this writing habit would kick in again and stay. I do miss those days when I poured out my mind and well... leave to regret later on when I am 5 or 10 years older, reading back on my old blog posts. Technically I never do, because I know that I'll cringe. What usually happens is that a follower would drop me a DM and say "oh hey I read your blog post... from like 8 years ago!"

Me when I read that line:

>


Date of writing: 7 February 2020

Life has been a whirlwind for me. I have been sick half of January and the illness has now followed me thru to February. I honestly hope that I do get better soon. Ethan has skipped school for close to a week now, what started as a fever that lasted for 3 days became mouth ulcers... I seriously hope that it doesn't develop into HFMD. Keeping my fingers crossed.

My new maid should be arriving in about 2 weeks time. I told the husband that I want to go to a temple before she arrives to pray for luck because my luck has seriously been crap for the past two maids. Ok to be fair, the second one was not as terrible, she was pretty okay but I had to release her due to her hearing issues. Whereas the third one... as y'all know from my previous post, she really is shit.


Before his morning school bus!
Ethan started taking the school bus (to school) during the first week of February!

Date of writing: 11 February 2020

Good news! My new helper will be arriving in 2 weeks time. I am refraining from talking much about her, for fear of jinxing myself (AGAIN!)

Calista and I were saying about how whenever we talk about our helpers online and express our gratitude for their presence... shit happens. Shit always happens. So the best thing is to just not talk about our helper, have little to no hope/expectation – or rather we have but we just don't talk about it online – and maybe then perhaps... the helper would work out. What do y'all think about this? Rational or just superstitious?


Date of writing: 15 February 2020

Keys to our Bidadari BTO

Collected our BTO keys in end January, and nearly after half a month... we finally went to open the doors! We did the usual superstition stuff... roll pineapple (read: in our instance, it was THROW pineapple), sprinkle salt and rice, also did a check around our 3-room apartment at Bidadari. For its size... really very ex lor. $350k 🤯

Don’t even have space to put a regular fridge in the kitchen, I’m thinking that we either put the fridge outside of the kitchen or we’ll have to get those super slim fridges made for tiny new HDB apartments 🤭

The estate is incredibly dusty and messy. They are still doing finishing touches around our area and the construction for the other estates are still ongoing. We took a walk on our floor and there were so many families who have either just started renovation or if not haven’t even open doors — we can tell they haven’t opened their doors yet from the flyers that are still littering their door and doorway. I guess maybe some might have opened but never pick up? 🤷🏻‍♀️


Date of writing: 30 March 2020

Ethan's First Day Riding The School Bus Home
He started taking the school bus back home in the first week of March. Because Ethan was crying so hard on the first day, the bus uncle told me to get on the bus and ride home with Ethan, LOL. #freeridehome

It's been more than a month since my last update. Life got the better of me (again) - oops! I talked about it on IG story, but I'll share briefly about it on here again. I failed to get my new helper in the end and am currently still stuck in a "maid-less" situation.

My 3rd helper arrived in the third week of February and we were psyched. A night before the scheduled pick-up date, my agent dropped me a text to inform me that she was caught by MOM and we were not to go pick her up at the agency the next day. My heart sank. More problems? Sianz.

Till today, I don't know the reason of why she was caught and detained. She went through 3 rounds of interview (including a lie detector test) and was made to stay overnight at MOM's lodgings for over a week. The entire interview process took close to a month before the final verdict came out – she was to be repatriated back to her hometown. Victor and I don't think that it is a simple matter of being underage... we say so because, where got just because underage need to do lie detector test, get detained by MOM to stay at their lodging, and after they issued their conclusion they didn't release her immediately to send her home either. They continued to keep her at their lodging for almost a week more. Everything was just... so strange.

I have selected my 4th maid but because #covid19, Indonesia is under lockdown, their embassy isn't working, all paperwork has halted and my maid is stuck in Indonesia. I have no estimated deadline on when my new helper is able to arrive.

The daily cost to house in a suitable accommodation for her to serve her stay-home-notice is exorbitant... $84/day. Which amounts up to over $1000+ for 14 days. And we don't qualify for the subsidy because albeit I chose my 4th helper super early, the agency had to wait till my 3rd helper was sent home before they could send in the application for my 4th helper and Indonesia's side was taking their own sweet time to send my agent details of the maid for the application.

Thankfully our previous home hasn't been sold yet (property market in that estate isn't doing well ☹️) and so we've seeked permission from MOM to use it as a location for our 4th helper to serve her stay-home notice. Okay la, at least a bigger space for her so she will feel less confined and I'll stock up the place with sufficient Indomie, Indonesian sambal and Keropok for her to snack on 😂

I'll also be video-calling her everyday to check up on her and because she will have access to a smartphone, she can watch youtube videos all day long. So shiok hor, come Singapore to work but the first 14 days is almost (note: I used the word 'almost') like a vacation.

WEEKLY BLOG: First Month of 2020 & Life Without A Helper


We are just past the first month of the new year. Just so you know, I did make attempts on keeping up with my weekly blog — but they all ended up being half-written posts rotting away in my draft box (oops?). I should be getting rid of them soon, I will get rid of them soon. Anyhoo, let’s dive straight into today’s topic.

Date of writing: 1st January 2020

After a very long while, here I am, back again for another update. We have fast-forward to the first day of a brand new year. It's been two decades since the turn of the millennium. Tomorrow my "new" maid (let's call her 'maid #2') will be returning to the agency and be transferred to her new employer, and as my NEW helper (maid #3) has yet to arrive from Indonesia... I'll be left to look after my kiddo ALONE.

The next two weeks will be incredibly challenging because Victor will be going to the States on a work trip... a period when I have NO HELPER at home and to top things off, Ethan will be starting school in a brand new environment. Seriously, good luck to me.

Chinese New Year is in 3 weeks and my husband will be returning just slightly in time to make it for family reunion dinner, and hopefully have his jet lag adjusted back.

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Date of writing: 29th January 2020

So I started the year with a maid (let’s just skip the whole “we can’t call them maids or helpers and should appropriately address them as foreign domestic workers” sort of crap — I respect my helpers and have the utmost love for them because they have been a great help to my life, but it is the truth that they came to Singapore seeking employment as a maid) for 2 days before she transferred to her new employer* - I miss you Ah Tun! - and was left to look after Ethan alone for over a week before my new (3rd) helper arrived. Mind you, in that week of looking after Ethan alone, I was TRULY alone. My husband had left for a work trip in USA and so it was just me, Ethan and my in-law’s.

*Ah Tun was the second helper that I hired but had to transfer her due to language problems 😢 With the help of my maid agent, I managed to find her a new employer whose household speaks Malay. The last I communicated with her (which was 3 days ago), she is nicely settled in and happy with her new employment!


My 3rd helper... *groans* Three days into working at my house, she voiced out that she wanted a transfer. Reasons? I was too fierce. I scold her too much. She didn’t know why she had to be scolded.

I’ll admit. I’m fierce and yes, I did scold her. I know I know, big red flags... shouldn’t scold, should talk, they are human beings too... I tried okay. I really tried. Out of all my helpers, I was the NICEST to her and fine, since she didn’t like being scolded, no matter how freaking irritated I was by her, I didn’t scold. I swallowed my anger down. Even when she...

  • Left my son ALONE in a closed-door room (who does that?!?!?!!!)
  • Fucked up my son’s meal when I told her 3 times within 30 minutes that we are cooking noodles for him today and she doesn’t need to cook porridge (she still cooked porridge for him in the end 🤦🏻‍♀️)
  • Didn’t finish cooking his lunch when my ONLY instructions to her before I left house to pick my son from school was to put the damn meat & vegetables into the porridge at 12pm & she failed to do it BECAUSE.
  • Gave me attitude when she didn’t manage to talk to her husband on the phone for 2 days... I permitted her to bring her handphone from Indonesia but her trainer wouldn’t her bring it. I did let her call home using MY PHONE and I’m paying for her damn IDD calls. I let her try several times but her husband just didn’t pick up. What you want me to do? 🙄 I even asked my father in law to lend me his old phone to let her use, and gave WiFi access to that phone. But then she complained, no SIM card... Haven’t get work permit yet, how to apply for SIM card?!
  • Complained to my husband “I scared, I very scared, I never pack room because I scared mam scold” when she failed to do her daily duty of packing our bedroom and I noticed that and GENTLY reminded (I swear, it was damn gentle and I spoke super nicely) her to go do it. I didn’t even say shit and she went to complain to him. Wtf.
  • Lied to me during the video interview that she knows how to take care of kids because she took care of her own daughter in Indonesia. But in actual fact she has never taken care of her daughter before and the caretaking duty is done by her mother-in-law.


So many other crap that I’ve gotten from her, I’m lazy to list them all down. And this all happened within the 11 days that she worked for me... ELEVEN, just 11.

Right before CNY, before the agency closed for a week for CNY break, I decided to send her back. I didn’t want to risk tolerating her nonsense and be left without help from my agent for over a week. I would rather be exhausted than to lose sleep and go mental over my FDW.

She expressed initial shock but got over it quickly and didn’t show any signs of disappointment/upset. In fact she seemed happy to be back at the agency. So okay, it’s a win-win situation... although technically it’s considered a loss for me because I paid $800 to bring a maid that was useless to me, all the way from Indonesia. Waste of my money 🤬 Someone should do something about this, protect the employers more. There are so many groups and communities that protect the FDW but none for the employers. It is so unfair and the injustice is silently killing me and probably a ton of other employers too.

And here we are at where I am today. Back at the state of having no helper, and it’s been like this for a week now. There is no foresight as to when my next helper will be coming because I haven’t even choose yet. Husband and I decided not to rush the selection process because we don’t want another helper with a half-hearted heart and us having to waste more money on our end.

I’m currently getting help from my father in law and my mom to ferry Ethan to and from school, and that is a big help because it is nearly impossible to control my active son on a public bus and my arms are terribly sore from carrying him to the bus stop, on the bus, to school, and the cycle repeats for the journey home.

Also, with the current outbreak of Wuhan Virus / Novel Coronavirus, I find it safer to just keep him away from mass public transport if possible. The incubation period is way too long and an ill person can infect others while being in the incubation phase without displaying any symptoms – I'm still debating with my husband on this as it says that the source of this statement is unreliable, however I begged to differ as the sources are from well-established news websites. We'll wait and see how this all goes.

NEW VIDEO: Our Cruise Experience with Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas



Finally! I've uploaded the vlogs that we shot during our Royal Caribbean cruise earlier this year in February. You can find the videos on my YouTube channel here or scroll down to watch the embedded version. To be very honest, this is not a cruise that I will go for again and I would not recommend this cruise for kids below 3 years of age. Here is a quick review (in writing) of our time onboard Royal Caribbean Voyager of the seas.

I was dissatisfied in many ways, and having gone onboard Genting Dream for a 6D5N cruise last year... Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas paled so much in comparison. For starters, this is a really old ship. The rooms are in need of renovation and all the power sockets in our cabin are the US type – so please remember to bring a universal adaptor or you're royally (pun intended) screwed.

The services provided can definitely be improved upon. Free bottled water is NOT available onboard throughout the trip, like from day 1 when you enter your cabin... NO DRINKING WATER, AT ALL! This was something that really shocked me. The only way that you can get water is to either drink from the tap or buy Evian bottled water that cost US$3-4 onboard the ship.

Thankfully Victor and I are the kiasu sort who pack for all sorts of emergencies and so we purchased bottled water from RedMart – to be used for our kiddo such as for his daily intake of water, meals and milk because I really don't want to feed him water from a tap on a cruise (stomach flu or stomachache how?!) – packed them into our luggage and we lugged this heavy-ass luggage onto the ship.

Because of this, we had a delay in receiving our luggage because technically... you aren't allowed to bring bottled water onboard (think about it: one less avenue for them to force us to spend money on the darn ship). The husband had to explain to the crew that it was for our kiddo, and only then were we allowed to pull our heavy AF luggage back into our stateroom.

If you think that it is too much of a hassle to lug bottled water onboard, you can go for the option of purchasing their Water Package. I have no idea how much it costs and couldn't seem to find the price anywhere online, however you can check out this very detailed article listing all the pros & cons of the various beverage packages onboard Royal Caribbean ships.

Next thing that annoyed me, the lifeguards refused to let Ethan into the swimming pool even though he had swim diapers on. (Note: NO SWIM DIAPERS ALLOWED) The only way for a baby to be in the damn pool is for them to be fully toilet-trained. Don't even try to lie because the lifeguard will badger you on and on and on.

You should also know that their lifeguards are incredibly bias. After refusing to let Ethan into the pool, I carried my disappointed kid and dragged my feet back towards the lift. On my way there, I noticed that a family of PRCs (there are A LOT of China tourists onboard) were dipping in the jacuzzi and they had their baby with them in the hot tub. Judging based on the size, chubbiness and movements of the baby, I would say that she was about 6-8 months old? There was no way that baby was fully toilet trained and so.. how come she can go into the pool and my 15 months old cannot?! #angst

With swimming being out of the question, there was literally NOTHING for Ethan to do onboard the ship. Oh wait, there are some toys available in their chapel. However the toys are super worn-out and I noticed that some were also broken. I have no idea if the toys are ever cleaned and if yes how often – it's a matter of either an accident waiting to happen or an outbreak of HFMD.

To be fair, some of the staff were incredibly sweet. Our housekeeper made a super cute pig out of towels to entertain Ethan. The restaurant manager on our deck offered to cook a fresh batch of porridge for Ethan whenever we dine at his restaurant and we could put in a request to add fish, chicken, and any vegetables – cauliflower, broccoli, pumpkin, tomato... you name it and if they have it, they'll cook it!

This pretty much sums up my memory of our cruise onboard Royal Caribbean Voyager of The Seas. Like I mentioned in the beginning, this wasn't a very pleasant cruise experience and if I had to choose between Voyager of the Seas and Genting Dream, I would DEFINITELY go for the latter.

Cruising with Royal Caribbean Voyager of The Seas - Part 1

Cruising with Royal Caribbean Voyager of The Seas - Part 2

WEEKLY BLOG: Reclaiming My Blog

I am taking back my blog.

Not that I've ever lost it, but rather I lost the meaning of it. This used to be a space for me to record the events of my life & my thoughts. For a couple of years, it became an information platform filled with food reviews, travel guides, makeup swatches, parenting advices... I don't regret any of those articles – they were after all still events that occurred in my life.

What I am thinking of right now is to update this space more often with candid photos that are not edited to perfection, real-life 'boring' chronicles of my life and deep thoughts that pop up in my mind at 3am in the night. So without any further ado, let's begin with the happenings of last week.

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Daily Kisses For My Happy Puff

Still suffering from a burnt out from the previous week and also affected by the haze, I decided to take my week chill. I spent most of my days at home with Ethan, fetching him back from school, catching up on my sleep and... FINALLY I booked the plane tickets for our anniversary trip!

Victor and I (or rather just me because I puppy-faced him to bring me on a vacation 🤭) have been thinking on going for a just-us vacation for awhile now. We've never gone abroad without Ethan because my son glues himself to me at night and the stickiness level is like elephant glue. It was only until 2 weeks back when Ethan had a sudden change of heart and decided to go sleep with his grandparents for the night.

Oh, how the husband and I rejoiced! No kid sneaking into our bed in the middle of the night, turning 90-degrees to sleep horizontally while the rest of us slept vertically, kicking the living hell out of our backs and head-butting our abdomen... srsly not a joke to co-sleep with this toddler.

Anyway back to my story on our anniversary trip, this is the most impromptu trip that we've ever been on. Other than deciding that we will be travelling in the week of 10th October (because that's the date he asked me to be his girlfriend ☺️ and also he baked me my fav blueberry muffins for the first & last time... 😑), we had no idea what are our exact travelling dates nor where to.

I went onto skyscanner, saw that Phuket was the cheapest city in Thailand to travel to during that week and tadah! That's how we settled on our destination.

Due to the rising prices of budget airlines, I've always had this suspicion that normal airlines might be cheaper on some flights. 'Lo & behold, for our upcoming trip to Phuket, prices for a normal airline were indeed cheaper!! Significantly cheaper.

I had already pulled out my credit card and was about to make payment on Scoot ($450++ not inclusive of credit card fees & taxes) for 2 return tickets to Phuket, when I thought to myself... 'Why not check the prices on SQ or Thai Airways?' And luckily I did!!!! I checked multiple times on Skyscanner, Google Flights – all the flight comparison websites said that budget airlines were the cheapest.

I went onto SQ's website and not only were the prices cheaper at $370, the flight timings were also better! Obviously I went with SQ. Hot meals and 60kgs of luggage included... can also accumulate Krisflyer miles, I didn't think twice.


So yes, I'll be heading to Phuket from 9-12 October!

I also met up with Lauren from The Fragrance Group for a quick catch-up. She brought me a new perfume each from Banana Republic & Christian Siriano.

Banana Republic & Christian Siriano new perfumes
*NEW* perfumes from Banana Republic (Gardenia & Cardamom) and Christian Siriano (Silhouette Intimate)

I'll be bringing these 2 new perfumes to Phuket to shoot, and hopefully I can transcend these scents into my visuals!

On the same day, I also met up with the lovely folks from L'Occitane together with the other girls (and boy) from our Beauty school! We got a sneak peek of their upcoming Christmas 2019 collection!

Loccitane Christmas 2019 Sneak Peek
Heavily mosaic-ed photo because this new is still under embargo, so y'all will have to makedo with just their logo for now 🤫

There was Chloe's wedding on Saturday night!

Chloe's Wedding
Chloe's Wedding


Hands down, the BEST wedding that I've ever attended! It was even better than my wedding. There was so much effort poured into their wedding, the amount of details, activities, the menu... I love every bit of their wedding! So fun & so memorable.

We did a one-take wedding dance video and it was surprisingly exhausting dancing to Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" for so long (sorry la, I old liao 🤣). In all of our heads, we were thinking... "How come the song is still going on ah? Not ending yet ah?" And because it was for our dearest Chloe, we hung in there and shook our booties off!

And if only... the week ended on such a high note. Later that night when I returned home, Ethan was sleeping with my parents in law for the night. At around 2.30am, my MIL rapped on my bedroom door and thankfully I wasn't asleep yet. She said that Ethan seemed to be having a fever & told me to go check. I carried my lil fatty back into our bedroom to continue his care for the rest of the night, tending to his fever and needs... and from then on, it translated to a couple more sleepless nights...

Ethan High Fever

We woke up on Sunday morning with Ethan's fever reaching 39°C, and that was with paracetamol and ibuprofen in his system. Ethan refused to drink any water and rejected his breakfast as well – the latter being the rarest occurrence because no matter how sick he was in the past, he would NEVER reject his meals.

The husband decided that this wouldn't do, and so we rushed the kiddo off to KK's Children Emergency room. His fever came down while we were in the Emergency room but the doctor insisted that we collect a urine sample so that they could rule out UTI as the cause of his fever.

Us at KK Women's & Children's Hospital
At KK Women's and Children's Hospital

Collecting a urine sample from a baby is a nightmare. What they do is to stick a urine bag on the kid, in hopes that when the kid does pee, the bag would help to collect sufficient urine to do a test. Now this collection method is often a hit-or-miss thing, because the kid is constantly moving about and the pee might spill out. If not, the urine bag might fail to collect any pee at all and the urine gets absorbed all into the diaper.

We waited for hours to collect the urine sample, going into the toilet multiple times to check if he had peed already or not. It was to the extent that Ethan started screaming his head off when we took down his pants and made hand motions that he wants us to remove the darn urine bag – trust me baby, WE WANT TO but only if you would just pee! We suspected that Ethan held onto his pee due to the presence of the urine bag, which was foreign and uncomfortable and so Ethan tensed up and refused to

We fed him with all sorts of liquid (water, electrolyte solution, fruit juice) anything that would increase his fluid intake, fill up his bladder and get him to pee sooner. Finally just as we were about to give up and requested for the doctor to remove his urine bag, the kiddo peed!!!!! All credits for the kid's pee goes to Victor, who at the last minute, did everything that he could to make our son laugh. He believed that 1) laughing would relax the kid, 2) laughing would cause the diaphragm to contract thus pushing downwards on the bladder and cause him to pee.

I don't know if the laughing really caused Ethan to pee, but the main point was... HE FINALLY PEED!!! The nurses tested and he was ruled out from having UTI and we could make our way back home. Things did not end there though. As the day progressed on, Ethan's fever came back and damn was it stubborn. It spiked to 40.3°C.

His fever refused to subside and we were giving him the exact same medication as what was fed to him at KK's Emergency Room... with the exception of oral rehydration salt solution.

Hydralyte (oral rehydration salts)
Hydralyte! You can purchase these from Watsons/Guardian/Unity pharmacies

Fortunately the doctor gave us some to bring home and I told Victor to quickly prepare it and have the liquid fed to Ethan. And it worked!!! I don't know how, but the combination of the medicine and these oral rehydration salts brought his fever down. That night Ethan's fever broke but a new symptom came up.

Ethan woke up for his usual midnight milk feed, but this time he had difficulty drinking. After the first two sucks, he would wince as though in pain, throw the milk bottle away in anger and cry very loudly. This went on for another 2 more times throughout the night.

When he woke up the next morning, again he refused to drink water and take his breakfast. Everytime he took a sip of water, he winced in pain and cried. We thought... "Perhaps he might be teething? Maybe it is his molar teeth?" We noticed that he was drooling a lot and it's been almost a year since he drooled! But Ethan refused all of his chilled teethers and had a preference to drink cold water that was fed from a spoon.

Ethan down with Herpangina
30 Oct: Ethan gets diagnosed with Herpangina

We made a quick decision and brought Ethan to see a pediatrician who was located near our house. A quick check from the doctor and he was diagnosed with Herpangina, a virus similar to Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease ('HFMD' for short). Ethan's doctor showed us all of the tiny ulcers that had formed at the back of his mouth... ouch! It looked painful. No wonder my baby boy wouldn't drink nor eat anything at all 😔

It's been 3 days since the diagnosis and Ethan is definitely much better. He was initially listless, always wanted to be carried, stuck to me like a magnet... but today he is back to his happy self and up to mischief!

Baymax's "Falalala"

More updates next week. By then I should be in Phuket! Wheeeee ~

Baby Birthday Party Guide: How I Planned Ethan's 1st Birthday Party


Ethan is my firstborn and this was his FIRST birthday celebration! I felt that I had to throw a party to celebrate the one year that we have been through with him since the day he was born – it was kinda like the husband and I shouting out loud in joy "WE SURVIVED!"

As you know from my pregnancy story, he wasn't a planned baby and so his arrival caught us off-guard. We weren't in the right mindset to be parents but we did the best that we could and well.. things turned out pretty great after all!

I didn't have a baby shower and I didn't organise a baby's first month party either. So this was the first baby party that I had ever planned. It was nerve-wrecking because I had all these thoughts in my head about what could possibly go wrong, what if it clashes with his nap time, how to make the party baby-friendly, how to keep both adults and kids entertained?

All in all, without saying, the party went well. We didn't have a very big party. The venue could fit about 100 pax but we chose to keep it small and cozy, so we invited about 60 of our close friends, colleagues and family. It was a great idea because I had the opportunity to mingle and speak to everyone. People who were there, we knew them well and we wanted them to BE THERE to share our happiness – we didn't invite acquaintances, so no awkward small talks (YES!).

Due to the nature of my work, I was lucky to have a few clients who were willing to collaborate with me. There were of course some items which we had to pull out our wallets and pay for on our own. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining about having expenses. I am sharing about this point because I want to talk about budget in this guide as well.

As parents, money is a BIG factor. Kids are expensive. We found ways to cut corners while planning for this party and I am going to show you how we did it in this post!



#1 | Venue

Venue, venue, venue. It's all about the venue. A venue can make or break a party. If your house has the space to host a party, then do it in your house! It is free, more flexibility, no rules and regulations... although, the after-party cleaning process can be quite a bitch.

I spent quite some time searching for a suitable venue. It didn't help that I started my search pretty late and most places were already snagged up by weddings. I did look at hotels, but damn... they were pricey. I did like the idea of having a "free" hotel room if we did book a function room for the birthday party – but the husband wasn't game for it.

Leow + Chew Family

In the end, I went with Civil Service Club @ Tessensohn and NO REGRETS BABY! The location was the most centralised that I could find, pricing was reasonable and the space was exactly what I wanted! I have this thing against pillars and low ceilings because they don't look nice in photos and they make me feel claustrophobic. I booked two function rooms to fit 8 round tables and it cost me about $780++ (not including table cloth).

The booking included tables, chairs, sound system, mic and projectors. You'd be amazed by how some venues charge extra for these items and the bill can go WAY UP THERE.

They do not have a standard list of caterers that you have to get your food from, so you are free to chose and cater from whomever you like!

OT Friends

SQUAD

There is an additional point about CSC @ Tessensohn that I would like to add. I LOVE my coordinator, Jacqueline Tang. As some of you might know, I had to postpone Ethan's birthday party because my husband's grandmother passed away just a few days before the party. Jacqueline went above and beyond to help me find a new available date so that I could host the birthday party in December, and for that I am eternally grateful.

I have had my fair share of horror stories with event coordinators, hence when I am able to meet and work with such a nice and dedicated professional, she deserves a mighty good praise!

Did I mention about how caterers are allowed to enter the venue an hour prior to the actual booking time just to set-up? And how I arrived an hour and a half earlier than my booking time to check and decorate the place and I was AMAZED to see that everything was already done and set in place! The air-con was already turned on, the room was cool, the tables were placed and arranged, chairs organised and table cloths laid. They also gave me two rectangle tables for administrative purposes and the mic was already set up and neatly placed on those tables. Damn, good job you guys! I was seriously impressed.




#2 | Decorations

Happy Birthday

We did the decorations all by ourselves. We just did a little bit so that the venue wouldn't look too bare. The husband and I bought some balloons, a portable helium tank from Lazada, some ribbons, and then we blew them up on our own.

So here is how you cut cost. You would be shocked to find out how expensive balloons can be. We bought these "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" foil balloons from a value-dollar shop in our local neighbourhood. It cost us about $5.90? The same set of balloons can be found in Kiddy Palace for TRIPLE of that price. I shit you not. We also bought two packs of varied colour balloons from the value dollar shop for $2.90 per pack – we only picked out the blue and silver ones to blow up because we wanted to fit the party's colour theme!

We did drop by a SKP store at Chinatown to pick up some party supplies. Mind you, their party supplies are nice but also pretty expensive. I bought a pack of 5 blue balloons (YES, FIVE) that had gold confetti inside. This pack cost $6.50. Each balloon was about $1+... expensive. They did look very pretty though when they were blown up. If you have some free time on your hand, you might want to consider DIY-ing these confetti balloons yourselves. You can definitely save on the cost and get a whole lot more confetti balloons than just five.

Helium balloons

As mentioned earlier, we bought a portable helium tank from Lazada. I got this idea from my friend's husband who planned a surprise birthday party for her! He knew her love for helium balloons so he bought a helium tank, a couple of balloons and decorated the house with the blown-up helium balloons! He bought his from Qoo10 and well, I am not a frequent customer of Qoo10 and so I wondered... could Lazada have it too? (They practically have EVERYTHING and thus Lazada is one of my all-time favourite shopping sites!)

On Lazada, they have portable helium tanks of different size and different price (ranges from $30 - $60) from different sellers. You should have a rough idea of how many balloons that you intend to blow up and do keep in mind that you might lose some helium in the process of blowing the balloons so do cater for the loss!

I am so happy that we had helium balloons during the party because 1) it looked pretty, 2) it kept the kids (and some adults) entertained!

Hot Air Theory

I was very fortunate to be sent a Hot-Air Balloon by The Hot Air Theory (T.H.A.T) and I had requested for the special balloon to be delivered on the day of the party.

It played a great part as a decorative piece during the party – some friends came forward to take pictures of the pretty balloon/floral arrangement! The best part about it was that I could carry it home as a momento of the birthday party, and that was exactly what I did.

Happy Birthday Hot Air Balloon Floral Arrangement

You would be amazed by the longevity of this "hot-air" balloon! It lasted for almost a month and could probably have lasted longer if my cheeky son hadn't burst it. Because they gave me baby breaths – which are essentially dried flowers – this arrangement is one that can last for a really really long time!




#3 | Birthday Cake – Bob The Baker Boy

The star of any birthday party, the cake. I hesitated for a long time on this one. I have never been a fan of cakes and don't have the best impressions of tiered cakes – owing to the reason that over the course of my 26 years, I have had my fair share of tiered cakes that looked great but did not taste so great.

Bob The Baker Boy (Baby Shark Cake)

So, when I did my research on birthday cakes, I came across Bob The Baker Boy. Now this bakery caught me by surprise because 1) their buttercream cakes look so darn pretty, 2) they had an amazing amount of positive reviews with many moms raving about how delicious their cakes were. I reached out to BTBB and to my surprise, they agreed to collaborate with me and sponsor Ethan's birthday cake!

The theme for Ethan's party was Baby Shark and so naturally, the birthday cake was designed around the theme as well. They created some baby shark & pinkfong figurines with fondants... and sheesh, would you just look at that amazing artwork!

Bob The Baker Boy (Baby Shark Cake)

Bob The Baker Boy (Baby Shark Fondants)

I had seen so many baby shark birthday cakes online but this artwork by BTBB is a whole new level and the best that I have seen so far! So many of my guests walked up to take a closer look at the tiered cake, were impressed by the realistic artwork, wow-ed in amazement and snapped a few photos with their phones. I gotta admit, it felt great seeing all of the positive impressions that the cake made on my guests and I was glad for having found and chosen Bob The Baker Boy.

Bob The Baker Boy (Belgian Chocolate Cake)

Moving onto the cake flavour, I went with their best-seller "Belgian Chocolate" and oh my gosh, as a non-chocolate lover, IT IS SO GOOD. Everybody at the party was surprised at how delicious it was and loved the cake – my best friend went for second helpings. The chocolate cake wasn't too sweet, sufficiently rich in cocoa, moist and fluffy.

The only thing that I wish I could change was for one of the cake tier flavours to be "Strawberries & Cream" – a diabetic-friendly option. Yes! You can make the request for a double flavour and so guests can have a choice between two cake flavours. I have already made a mental note to myself that the next birthday cake (which I am definitely ordering from BTBB) to have Strawberries & Cream and another one of their custom cake flavours!




#4 | Food & Drinks

A happy guest is one who goes home with a full & satisfied tummy. For my buffet catering, I went with Manna Pot, a catering service that has over 16 years of experience in the industry. Manna Pot offers catering for birthday parties, baby showers, weddings, corporate events and more.

Buffet Table Layout

Buffet Table

Buffet Table

For birthday parties, the buffet catering comes with a thematic styling of your choice. They will offer you FOUR themes: Nautical (which is what I chose), Barnyard, Hot Air Balloon and Jungle.

As for the food, you can choose between a standard menu, high tea or mini buffet (note: this option does not come with a set-up). I went for their high tea menu as the timing for my party was from 2-6pm. Here is a look at the food and drink that I chose:

Fried Rice
Yang Chow Fried Rice

Mee Siam Goreng
Mee Siam Goreng

Chicken Wings
Honey Glazed Mid Wing

Siew Mai
Siew Mai

Honey Prawn Dumplings
Honey Prawn Dumplings with Chilli Dip


Prawn Fritters
Tempura Prawn with Wasabi Dip

Quiche
Quiche Lorraine

Muffins
Mini Muffin

Nachos with Cheese
Nacho with Cheese Dip

Dessert
Ice Jelly With Peach & Lychee

Bird Nest Cordial

Overall thoughts, the food was well-received! Before the halfway mark of the party, we ran out of Siew Mai and only one-third of the Honey Prawn Dumplings were left. Manna Pot was generous with the food portion, especially for the carbs. The Mee Siam Goreng was so good, I went back for it THREE times!

Everybody loved the Nacho with Cheese Dip (movies, anyone?), it is a brilliant snack to have at a party! As for dessert, we went with the safe option of Ice Jelly With Peach & Lychee. It was very obvious that there were no complaints about it because when the party ended, that bowl of dessert was empty LOL.

The husband and I decided that we can be a little adventurous with the drinks option hence we chose Bird Nest Cordial. I think everyone enjoyed this small change – my sister raised an eyebrow when she saw it, she went "Hmm. Bird's Nest. Interesting." She poured herself a cup, took a sip and commented "Nice" with a nod of approval and walked away happy. :)




#5 | Dessert Table


Happy Birthday MiniChew

I don't mean to boast, but the dessert table that I got from Divine Artisan was pretty damn awesome. My Baby Shark Dessert Table looks GREAT – probably the best Baby Shark dessert table that I have ever seen – and the dessert was super yummy too! I was so surprised by how well it was taken!

Dessert Table

I chope the dessert table for awhile because it was so pretty and worked great as a backdrop for photo-taking LOL, but the moment that I opened it for consumption, my guests flocked towards it, took a couple of desserts that they fancied, went back to their table to eat and CAME BACK AGAIN for second rounds!!

By the time that the cake-cutting ceremony was supposed to happen, my dessert table was actually pretty bare LOL! You can scroll back up and look closely at the photos! Desserts that were well-received are the Earl Grey Macarons, Fruit Tarts and Tiramisu Shooters.

Shortbread Cookies
Shortbread Cookies

Tiramisu
Tiramisu Shooters

Oreo Cheesecake
Oreo Cheesecake Squares

Meringues
Meringue

Early Grey Lavender Macaroons
Earl Grey & Lavender Macarons

Fruit Tart
Fruit Tarts

Cupcakes
Fondant Cupcakes




#6 | Goodie Bags

I hate for my guests to go home empty-handed, hence in collaboration with Yolky Chips, all of my guests got to go home with a pack of Yolky Chips! If you've never tried Yolky Chips before... YOU SHOULD. I fell in love with their potato chips at first try. Available in 3 flavours - truffle, spicy and salted egg yolk.

Yolky Chips + Hot Air Theory

I LOVE ANYTHING TRUFFLE, and for the longest time ever I wondered why there were an abundant of truffle fries available (like seriously, so many cafés! Even Mac had their own rendition of truffle shaker fries for awhile) but no truffle chips in the market. Yolky Chips filled the gaping hole with their yummilicious truffle chips.

Because I had three flavours to give out, I came out with a little game for my guests. As part of the pre-party preparation, I cut out small squares of red, yellow and green paper and chucked them into a black cloth bag. Each coloured paper represented a pack of Yolky Chips in its respective flavour (RED = SPICY , YELLOW = SALTED EGG YOLK , GREEN = TRUFFLE)

My guests were required to shove their hand into the "Bag Of Unknown" and decide on their own "chip" fate. Some of them freaked out and refused to do so, thinking that it was some kinda prank lol.

If you are looking for inspiration for your party goodie bag, try Yolky Chips! You won't regret it. Their chips are really really good! You can pick up a pack of Yolky Chips from Cold Storage, Giant, Redmart or Naiise stores.


*****************

This pretty much sums up all that I have to share about Ethan's 1st Birthday Party! I know I had a splendid time with my guests and because we kept it to close friends & family, I had the opportunity to sit down and catch up with people – unlike my wedding where it was mostly "hello" and "goodbye".

If you have extra money to spare, I would highly recommend you to hire a photographer. The day would go by so quickly and you are so busy chatting with people, liaising with the different vendors, chasing after kids... you'll need the photos for you to help remember the details of this day.

Check out my Instagram stories of the birthday party here.