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May 2016

Geocaching!

Yes! We are officially geocachers! WOOHOOO! Why did I discover this game so late? It’s super duper fun!

Don’t know what is geocaching? Check out geocaching.com to find out! Let me quote from the website: Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.

A month ago, I casually mentioned about this global treasure hunt game to the kids and they were very eager to play. Had our first geocaching outing traveling via public transport and walking a lot. Found and logged 2 caches.

Our very first geocache log!
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This cache had a magnet attached. Guess where we found it?

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Did our 2nd geocache outing with hubby, on Mother’s Day. There’s where we found our first trackable – Dottie the Gingerbread Man.

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Trackables are something like game pieces with a tracking number that you can log on at geocaching.com. That way, the owner (aka the one who releases the trackable into the geocaching world) can track where it is now and how far it’s travelled. Dottie came from the UK. It’s been to many countries before landing into our hands.

We’d since dropped it into another cache. Last I checked, it had been picked up by another geocacher who said he/she would bring it on more adventures.

These are from another cache from our most recent find.

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There were 2 travel bugs (one kind of trackable) and souvenirs. We didn’t take the key (don’t know what it’s for) or the red hairclip. Kids took a bouncy ball and a coin from the USA. In return, I dropped a geocoin attached to a Pluto soft toy, and 2 other souvenirs.

Pluto found a new home! Haha. It’s been with me for quite long because I couldn’t find a cache big enough for him.

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Bought these and kept some in a small container which I bring along everywhere in case I need to drop souvenirs into caches. Hehe. Placed a blue shell and a marble in exchange for the ball and coin.

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The TB (travel bug) that we took.

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There are many different types of caches. Traditional ones are the simplest. Mystery caches require you to solve a puzzle to obtain the correct coordinates. Multicaches bring you to different (nearby) locations to gather hints before you can find out the final coordinates of the caches. Earth caches do not have a physical cache but will give you a lesson on history, culture, geography etc on a specific location. Typically, you have to go to the location, then answer questions posed by the cache owner, before you can log it.

We’ve been to one earth cache, Sembawang Hot Spring. 2nd time there actually, only this time, we had a mission! To measure the temperature of the spring water. What’s cool about this is that just a short distance away from the hotspring is a traditional cache called the Hotspring Tool Cache. Some geocacher took the initiative to hide a specialised thermometer in that cache so others can retrieve it and use it for the mission at the hotspring earth cache. Of course, the thermometer has to be returned to the traditional cache after use. Isn’t that SUPER cool?

Measuring the temperature of the hot spring water.

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Our geocaching adventures have made some other friends interested in this treasure hunt too. Now, Trixie and her family are geocachers too! And after a mega cycling cum geocaching trip at East Coast with Trixie and Calynn’s family, Megan is now interested in geocaching too. I say mega because we were a very big group. All 12 of us searching for a small container at one area. Haha. I was concerned we weren’t discreet enough. So it was a relief when I logged on and saw that there were other finds logged after us. Those caches didn’t get muggled (as in discovered and removed by muggles aka non-geocachers. haha) because of us! Whew.

Our logs that evening!

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A successful log will turn the dot into a smiling face. Different color stands for different type of caches. I have 9 smileys on my map now. Looking forward to more! 🙂

What I love about this game is how it brings us to places we’ve never been. I love the sense of adventure that it brings and how it connects people, even those from another part of this planet. It’s really quite cool to be holding a trackable that you know had toured the world before you. And you wonder where it’ll be going next.

I also love to see the creativity involved in hiding the cachers, or creating puzzles. We found caches that were perfectly blended into the surroundings, one was in a fake rock! I have read the descriptions of some of the earthcaches. They were truly fascinating history and geography lessons. A bit too cheem for my kids. But I will love to study some of these locations and log them one day.

So, what are you waiting for? Don’t remain a muggle, go be a geocacher! Adventures are out there! 😛

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Protected: To the parks, with our friends!

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Eggs in soy broth! A Korean side dish.
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Looks like your regular hard-boiled egg with soya sauce?

Nah.

This is a much more refined and delicious version of that! This broth is made with soya sauce, anchovies, onions and garlic, my dear. And those eggs… oh my gawd those eggs… Even though I think I overcooked them a bit, they were still so tender and soft and slightly creamy inside. Delicate is the word!

Mandy said she’s never eaten such delicious hard-boiled eggs. Barry, who usually skips the egg yolk in hard boiled eggs, ate everything and asked for more! I was amazed by the eggs’ texture. I don’t know if I can ever go back to just dumping the eggs in the steamer to cook. *tears*

Get the recipe here. You can see how much prettier Maangchi’s eggs look. I’ll try again!

Korean Fried Chicken

Every semester, we celebrate the last day of kids’ exams. I do that by cooking something special, and hopefully yummy. Ever since I discovered Maangchi’s cooking channel on Youtube, I’ve been addicted. You HAVE to go watch her cook! It’s so therapeutic and enjoyable.

I’ve never been a big fan of Korean food but because of Maangchi, I want to try so many Korean recipes! Back to last day of exams. Decided on a dish that I’m confident the whole family will like. Korean Fried Chicken!
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It’s Maangchi’s Dakgangjeong aka Crunchy Korean Fried Chicken. I guess this is the soy garlic flavour if you want to put it in a more local context. Watch the video here, or get the full recipe here.

To make it a full meal, I also prepared mashed sweet potato with pear bits and raw lettuce.

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Everybody loved the meal! And we wiped the plates clean very quickly.

It wasn’t difficult to cook the chicken but the deep-frying was pretty tedious since I had to double fry. Note to myself: Just fry for around 10mins the first time, and a couple more minutes the second time. My oil turned black by the 2nd round of frying and made the chicken very dark too. There were also black charred bits floating around. That’s why my chicken pieces were not very pretty and also charred food is really bad for you!

Anyway, I didn’t really need the chicken to be as hard as rocks, like Maangchi likes them. Haha. And also, decreasing the frying time should let the chicken retain more juiciness?

The sauce was excellent though! Slightly too sweet for me though all the rest think it’s perfect. I wonder if it’s because I used honey instead of rice syrup.

So yeah, it’s a great recipe and I will recommend you to try it!

Lemon Drizzle Cake

I am going to post a series of food posts. Been really hardworking in the kitchen lately. Haha.
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This Lemon Drizzle Cake doesn’t look very impressive, I know. But it’s seriously yummy. I am not kidding. Plus, it’s SO easy to make. So this recipe is definitely a winner to me!

What’s even better is that I can make a few of these and freeze them for future consumption. That’s what I did. The family loved it so much I baked another cake the day after the next, ate half of it for breakfast and froze the rest. Yep, we ate 1.5 of this cake in 4 days. Haha. Yums.

Got the recipe from here.

Just in case the link gets broken in the future, I’ll paste the recipe on my blog too. Credits to Tana Ramsay (bbcgoodfood.com)

Ingredients

  • 225g unsalted butter, softened
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 egg
  • finely grated zest 1 lemon
  • 225g self-raising flour

For the drizzle topping

  • juice 1½ lemons
  • 85g caster sugar

Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Beat together 225g softened unsalted butter and 225g caster sugar until pale and creamy, then add 4 eggs, one at a time, slowly mixing through. Sift in 225g flour, then add the finely grated zest of 1 lemon and mix until well combined. Line a loaf tin (8 x 21cm) with greaseproof paper, then spoon in the mixture and level the top with a spoon.

Bake for 45-50 mins until a thin skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. While the cake is cooling in its tin, mix together the juice of 1 1/2 lemons and 85g caster sugar to make the drizzle. Prick the warm cake all over with a skewer or fork, then pour over the drizzle – the juice will sink in and the sugar will form a lovely, crisp topping. Leave in the tin until completely cool, then remove and serve. Will keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.

There you go! My next few posts will be about Korean food! 🙂

 

Tulipmania at GBTB

Tulips! They are my favorite flower! So when I saw that the domes at Garden By The Bay opens at 9am, I couldn’t pass up the chance to go admire these little beauties at Tulipmania. Jio-ed my mum too.

Brought a light-weight camera. Not the best we have, but it’d have to do.
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Look like muffin cups, don’t they?

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Love the pink gradients.

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These orange ones weren’t the most elegant but aren’t they special?

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Look at my monster hair! Haha.

It was so nice to hang out with my mum again. We practically chatted non-stop the whole morning. And we both wanted to be gardeners in the flower dome. Aircon! 😛

Other beautiful flowers.

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Well, this is not fields and fields of tulips in Holland but it’ll do. The tulips were just so gorgeous! I am so glad I took the trip down to GBTB.

Happy, on Mum’s Day

Kids had been incredibly sweet and loving to me for the whole week before Mother’s Day. The boy especially, was out to steal my heart.

We were at Popular when I pointed to a Japanese recipe book and said the cakes featured were super cute. I walked away but Barry immediately ran to the book. He flipped through and then looked at the price tag. Later, he told me he would buy me a nice recipe book for Mother’s Day. Awww. I said he shouldn’t spend so much. The next day, he counted out his savings and told me he had enough. Even though I repeatedly told him he didn’t need to spend so much on a present for me, he didn’t just let it go. For days, he tried to convince me he could buy me a recipe book.

He also asked me what I would like to eat and that he would cook for me on Mother’s Day. To have someone paying attention to me and thinking of me is such a nice feeling. He’s such a sweetheart.

So even though it was a day for mums, I woke up early to make special pancakes for the family. It’s my first attempt at pancake drawing. Cute?
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After breakfast, the kids excitedly announced the start of the treasure hunt they planned for me. First, I had to find the maps. The kids acted like GPS and would beep louder and faster when I was near the hiding place. Quite fun actually.

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The maps showed where their handmade cards were hidden. Barry made a ‘hairclip’ for me too. Although it was just a paper clip attached behind that cloth flower that he made at my mum’s place some time ago, and it couldn’t really stay on my hair, but it was still a very sweet gesture. 🙂

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I had to hold back tears while reading his card. Awwww. Barry dear. I love you so so much and I know you do too. Let’s both not forget that ok?

Mandy’s. She’s less expressive and creative than her brother but she’s no less loving. I love the poem she wrote for me.

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I especially like the word ‘growing’. Yes little girl, I’m growing with both of you. And I love it! Love you so so much too!

Truth be told, Mother’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries etc hold little meaning for me. When I’m in the mood though, I like to exercise my ‘right’ a little bit. I find that for my whole life, I’d been taken for granted by too many people, because I’m too chin chye.  I want to remind them that I worked hard for them and I matter too. So yeah, now I am more vocal about what I want. But I never ask for anything extravagant.

It’s exam period so the morning was reserved for mugging. In the evening, we went geocaching on our bicycles. That was the request. Really, that was it!

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This was I and my kids’ 2nd geocaching trip, hubby’s first. Altogether, we’ve found 3 caches so far (note the smiley faces in the picture).

We were SO LUCKY! Our first geocache of the evening had a trackable! Dottie the Gingerbread Man!

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I tracked Dottie on the geocache app. Wow! It’s gone to places. It came from UK. It traveled all over UK, then went to Switzerland, America and Cambodia before some geocacher dropped it on our sunny island! Now it’s with ME! Amazing isn’t it? I will have to find another big-enough cache to move it along soon.

Logged!

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On the way out of the first destination, I and Mandy stopped to admire a White Throated Kingfisher perched on a branch. Just ahead of us, hubby and Barry had stopped too. They were observing this nest.

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A male Olive Backed Sunbird was skipping around anxiously nearby, with something like a leaf in its beak. Once we moved away, it went in the nest and out again.

We failed at locating the 2nd geocache of the day. Too bad. But no biggie. All of us had fun. Exploring on our bicycles is always enjoyable. Mandy said she loves adventures like that. 🙂

Ended the day with a simple zi char dinner at a very crowded coffeeshop. Argh. We should remember to tabao on Mother’s Day next time. Haha.

Neko Atsume photo frames

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My good friends were very stressed with work the first few months of this year. Being an empath (only found out about this term recently. It means people who can feel strongly how others feel, and get affected by it), I got very stressed together with them. And I kept wishing things would be better for them.

I didn’t know how to make them feel better. So I sat down and decided to make something cheery for them. Can’t say I am not proud of myself for completing the frames. I hadn’t painted anything so small and detailed before and wasn’t sure I would succeed. But they turned out quite pretty, didn’t they?

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I love Guy Furry (the chef) and Spud here. Peaches and Joe Dimweogio are nice too.And the backside of Pumpkin too. 😛

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Over here, I like Mr Meowgi, Spud and Sunny.. Oh and Pepper.

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I didn’t realise the picture was blur. Too lazy to retake afterwards. I like Conductor Whiskers, Ginger and Lady Meow Meow here.

I’m going to print out pictures of the 4 of us to put in the frames. Then, I’ll give the ladies as gifts. I should probably paint a frame for myself but I am so lazy. Haha. If I do, I’ll post it here!

Haw Par Villa

Well, it’s an odd place for sure. But unlike a lot of other adults, I had fond memories of Haw Par Villa. My parents used to bring the family there frequently, ever since I was a baby. They would sit me beside various statues for picture-taking.

When I was in primary school, a flume ride was built in the park. Entry was through an awe-inspiring (to a primary school kid at least) dragon mouth. Then, the ride would go through the 10 gates of hell which honestly did not spook me one bit. I don’t know why my school would bring us kids there for an excursion and let us run wild. But I remember I had so much fun with the flume ride that I went on it 7 times.

Now, there is no more flume ride and hardly any evidence of that ever being built. Many people I asked thought I imagined the whole thing. No way! Oh, in case you are wondering what this strange theme park is about, read here.

Anyway, finally brought the kids there. We went with Audrey’s family.

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And no, the kids were not spooked at all. Hubby’s worries were unfounded.

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Ugly mascots of the Tiger Balm brand.

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Into HELL we went.

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“I hereby convict you of eating ice-cream and nuggets on a non-cheat day!”

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There were lots of gruesome punishments for all kinds of misdeeds. Dishonesty, gluttony (guilty.) not being filial, dodging taxes, disloyalty etc.

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Of course, it’s not about hell at the park. There are many many dioramas and statues for you to admire. In all honesty, it’s quite impressive but the hot weather and mozzies were serious deterrents for us to enjoy the park fully.

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Thankfully, the kids were quite interested in the stories of the dioramas. They would stop to read and take time to understand what’s happening. While I was getting extremely fed up by the hair sticking to my skin and mozzies attacking me.

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Well, I hope STB would maintain the park better. First of all, get rid of the stagnant water! And provide more shade in the park. Till then, I don’t think we will visit it again.

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