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July 2016

Protected: Army camp for the kids!

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Nature photographer wannabe

After reading an article called ‘The poor man’s guide to bird photography’, I got inspired. Do you know the thrill of staking out for a particular bird, and then finally seeing it and getting a decent picture of it? Do you know our small island is teeming with colorful, gorgeous birds? They are such beauties.

Occasionally, I take pictures of other stuff besides birds. Like these amazingly vibrant flowers. So beautiful.
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But I love challenges and birds are extremely challenging to photograph. I am, in all sense, an amateur. I don’t even know how to set the camera properly. Haha. Ok ok, I’m slowly learning. Nevertheless, there were some OK shots I took at a birdwatching outing with my girl. She is the BEST birdwatching companion I tell you. She adores birds, relishes being outdoors, and memorises the whole Birds of SG book so she can identify almost every bird we saw.

Anyway, pictures taken at Springleaf Nature Park.

Pacific Swallow

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Long-Tailed Parakeet

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White Collared Kingfisher

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Pied Triller

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Asian Koel (male)

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We were there for more than 3+ hours. Saw more birds than I could photograph. Then we had a absolutely chill and delightful lunch the park cafe, while admiring the beauty of the nature before our eyes.

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Next are pictures I took at Yishun Pond Park. I was there for only 1+hour, by myself.

Took some butterflies for practice.

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Yay! Saw a bird on my wanted list!

White Throated Kingfisher

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As you can see, I am not that interested in the Little Egret. Haha.

Had no idea I took this shot. Showed Mandy and she was certain it’s the Scaly Breasted Munia. I should trust her. ๐Ÿ˜›

Scaly Breasted Munia

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And then, I stood there in the sun, with the heavy lens… and waited for the Mr Kingfisher to fly. Managed a few flying shots. Not superb but I’m happy enough for now.

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Kingfisher and egret face off.

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The kingfisher was very attentive. It looked here and there and was very aware of the birds around it. There was a bittern and a waterhen on the same patch.

A few flowerpeckers flew around, teasing me that morning. Sigh. It’s the first time seeg flowerpeckers for me. I LOVE their red. The male is very very red and the female has a dash of red on its tail. They were so fast though. This is the only decent picture I have of the flowerpecker.

Scarlet-Backed Flowerpecker (female)

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Unfortunately, it doesn’t show the brilliant red on its tail. I’ll be back for them!

Eugenie Kitchen recipes

After Maangchi, I’ve found another Youtube food channel that I like. It’s Eugenie Kitchen! What I like about her recipes is that they are really simple and easy to follow, though admittedly, I’ve only tried 3 of them. Haha. And her ingredients are the common pantry staples, or easily bought from the stores.

Cucumber salad with Honey Dijon Mustard dressing
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I’ve browsed through many salad dressing cookbooks and always got turned off by the ingredient list. Eugenie has a few very basic and simple salad dressing recipes. This is the one I did: Honey Dijon Mustard dressing

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

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Did Rainbow Popsicle (see below) with the kids and had some leftover pineapple left. Might as well make a cake with them, right? Get the recipe here.

It was really lovely. My girl loved it. The sweetness was just nice. I didn’t use any glace cherries because I dislike them.

Rainbow Popsicle

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Once my kids saw the video for this, they wanted to make it. It’s not difficult at all, just a bit time-consuming. To be honest, unless your fruits are very fresh and sweet, the popsicle is going to be quite bland. The kids loved it though and had lots of fun peeling, cutting and blending the fruits. It looks really pretty too right?

Get the recipe for this popsicle here.

I’m still trying more Maangchi’s recipes. In fact, there were quite a few dishes I did but didn’t take any pictures of. And I already cannot wait to try more of Eugenie’s. ๐Ÿ™‚

Protected: The Forgotten Reservoir

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Happy birthday to me! (me and myself ed.)

My birthday this year fell on a Tuesday. I decided to give myself a break from being a ็…ฎ้ฅญๅฉ† and take the morning off to do something I love.

Wanting to improve my bird photography skills, I was resolved to take at least a couple of good shots of whatever birds I could at Satay by the Bay. I was hoping to see the Common Kingfisher there, or other species of kingsfishers besides the White Collared which are really common. I walked up and down between the lakes but only saw a White Collared KF fly by me twice. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

It was really really fun though. Although the sun was blazing hot that morning, I was exhilarated to be outside, so close to nature. With a determination to be a better photographer, I took more time and effort on each bird. Even though I didn’t capture the rarer birds, it’s ok. Looking at my improved bird shots, I feel a great sense of achievement! These are some of my better shots that day.

Oriental Magpie Robin
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Oriental White Eye

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First time photographing the White Eyes. They are so difficult to shoot! Flitting here and there at great speed.

Grey Heron

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The Grey Heron is a common bird and not difficult to photograph. I wanted to practise my skills and was trying to get some action shots. The first one showed the bird shielding its face from the sun. At least, that’s what it looked like. I wanted to tell the bird I could empathize! Haha. The third picture is my first decent flying shot. I’m quite pleased with it.

Recalling that wild otters were often spotted at the bay, I walked to the coast trying my luck. Sure enough, there was a family of 7 frolicking in the water. So adorable!

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One caught a bright orange fish and was unwilling to share. Haha.

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It’s a having a great time with its big catch.

Back in the gardens and the heron seemed to have gotten a bit angry at not having caught any fish. Look at its pose! Hah!

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Meanwhile, the White Collared Kingfisher was still teasing me by passing my by and not allowing me to take its picture.

Having spent 2 hours in the scorching heat, I was spent. It’s almost time to leave. I had kids to fetch from school. But I had promised myself to at least have a nice piece of cake to celebrate my birthday. I haven’t had anybody buy cake for me on my birthday for many years. Every year, I wished for a nice piece of cake. This year, I will get it myself!

Pretty flowers before camera went into the bag.

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Cakes at Bakerzin were late. Boohoo. I settled for the Brandy Apple Tart with hazelnut ice-cream and a peach tea. Good choice actually!

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It was so delicious!

Such a wonderful birthday morning! I should spend more of them like this! ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy birthday to me! (family ed.)

I just turned 35 years old a few days back! This year, I had a blast celebrating with my family and with, well, myself. Haha. First, the family edition.

Friends asked me which nice place I was going to eat at. I said instead of eating, I wanted the whole family to have fun out in the sun with me. Honestly, sitting down to eat a ‘nice meal’ for Mothers’ Days and birthdays is the most boring thing ever. Not like I don’t like eating good food, but just traveling to eat one meal and that’s it? And can’t we eat good food any other day?

So yeah, I didn’t ask for food but hubby was nice enough to suggesting lunching at Peach Garden. I chose the OCBC Centre branch because it has better reviews and it’s easier to get to where we were going from there.

The CBD was like a dead town on a Saturday and the restaurant wasn’t packed. Look at the great view from the 33rd storey!
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The food did not disappoint. I had my best XO Carrot Cake and Ee Fu Noodles there. Delicious!

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XO Carrot Cake

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Big ass prawns on the Siew Mai, or is it Har Mai?

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Salted Egg Yolk Custard Bun (crispy)

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Ee Fu Noodles

We also had Peking Duck which was yummy. And a couple other dishes. Oh, desserts were good too!

After a very satisfying lunch, we headed for Mt Faber by bus. We were going geocaching! YAY! Under the scorching hot sun… *deflates*

Why Mt Faber? Park and grab geocaches are nothing special and it’s easy to persuade the hubby to go on a weekend. I need something with a little more adventure. I also neededย  caches big enough to hold trackables since I had 2 to drop off. There is a rather new cache in Singapore, called The Forgotten Reservoir. (Read about the reservoir here) Finding it entails you to hike and bash through the forest. It’s also a sizeable cache. What’s more, there are 3 more caches on the hill! Isn’t it perfect?

We followed the detailed directions given by the cache owner and found the reservoir easily. In less than 20 minutes.

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This is really a very mild form of bashing.

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Had to duck walk across a small stream.

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And we’re here!

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The first thing Mandy saw were the blue birds flitting around, playing with the water. Turned out they were the Blue-Tailed Bee Eaters! Our dream bird. A pity we only had a point and shoot camera and no binoculars. There were 4 of them. Just gorgeous!

Kids and I found the cache in a jiffy.

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There were stairs that lead to nowhere, wires and pumps. Quite cool. I had to constantly nag at them not to go too near to the edge though. The water is dirty and stagnant and 2 metres deep! Surprisingly, we did not encounter any mosquitoes.

Kids reluctantly agreed to leave after we promised them we would be back again. Upon hearing that we had to continue the hike uphill to the main trail, they cheered! Immediately, they took on the persona of soldiers at war, being chased by the enemies. Coincidentally, 2 guys arrived at the reservoir just as we were leaving. They became our ‘enemies’. Haha.

Kids were shooting rifles, machine guns and setting off flares and grenades throughout the hike. They would suddenly turn around and aim and shoot, making all sorts of noises. Totally broke the peace of the forest. Haha.

Finally at the main trail. Staircases though… Woe be me. Hiking through the forest was way more fun.

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Great view up there.

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Took a long time but I found the second cache. It’s another big box so I dropped another trackable and took this new trackable plus a souvenir. Googled ‘Karamu High School’. It’s in New Zealand. I guess they’re both from the same geocacher.

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While I searched, kids were going wild playing hide and seek and playing on the swing.

Desperately needing a cold drink, we walked towards the cable car station. Refuelled while enjoying the view.

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There’s another cache here but we couldn’t find it. By then, I was exhausted and I know hubby was too. So we gave up on cache #4 and headed downhill for dinner at Vivocity. The kids were still in high spirits.

I looked at their jubilant faces and thought that they must really love the outdoors. They especially loved the little adventure in the forest and asked for more such hiking trips. Challenge accepted! I will look for more little adventures for us! ๐Ÿ™‚

Had a fabulous time with the family! Best way to celebrate a birthday!

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