Creativity 521 #64 - DIY Flashcard holder

Posted by ~Summer~ on 5.3.15
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I'm not the most disciplined or enthusiastic mum when it comes to teaching my kids. I don't have a study routine, I don't revise with them on a daily basis, I don't follow a timetable and I don't print out any worksheet. For good or bad, I believe that there is so much more to learn outdoor and from everyday experience rather than from books and worksheets. Yes, I hear you, wait until they enter primary school and I will know.

However, since I insisted on Angel going to childcare for half day only for the past two years and as a result she did not attend any Chinese lesson, I decided it was probably time for me to buck up on teaching her this important language which will benefit her for life.

So, I started making flashcards for her, not based on what teachers are teaching in school but based on what I think she should and can learn at this age. What I did was simply to print the words onto thick white paper, cut them out and viola - flashcards!


The thing is, they don't last! So last year, I finally laid my hands on a very affordable pouch laminating machine (cost me around S$40 with 100 pouches) from Popular and it has come in handy on many occasions ever since. I mainly use it to laminate the kids' drawings and also the flashcards. Yes, this year we are starting on 成语!

Although the laminated flashcards are much firmer and more lasting, I ran into another problem. I like to stick the flashcards onto the wall or the door so that they are always in sight. The thing is, I need to keep putting and taking out Blu-Tac every time I changed a set of cards. Plus, because I don't put enough Blu-Tac on all sides, they start to look crooked or drop off and we have to readjust them from time to time. What a hassle, right?

So, last week, a spur of inspiration hit me and I thought, why not make a simple DIY Flashcard Holder? And this is how I did it.

Materials:

1) Vanguard sheets
2) Transparent plastic wrap for books
3) Double sided tape
4) Washi tape
5) Long ruler
6) Pencil
7) Scissors
8) Measuring tape
9) 3M hanging strips
10) Sample flashcards

Firstly, I stuck two pieces of the vanguard sheets together lengthwise and secured them with sticky tape on the front and back.

Next comes the fun but tedious part - measuring and marking! On a piece of rough paper, I drew out the dimensions of the vanguard and determined how many rows of plastic sheet I could fit, how tall they should be, how far apart they should be and also the space for the borders.

Then I measured, drew lines (use a pencil lightly so you can rub it later) and cut out the plastic sheets accordingly. I also used a pencil and ruler to make small dots on the vanguard sheet so that I know where to place the plastic sheets.

Make sure that the flashcards can fit into the plastic sheet and once you are happy with it, stick down the two sides and bottom using double sided tape. Just to jazz things up a little, I pasted washi tape over it.

Not that washi tape alone is not strong enough to hold the cards, so don't skip the double sided tape. Ensure that the plastic sheet lies as flat and as straight as possible when you tape it down.

Keep on working through the rows based on your measurements and markings until you get to the end. Easy, right? If you like, you can also add in some decorations around the vanguard sheet or put in stuff like your child's name and so on. I like to leave mine clean for now and let the flashcards be the focus.

Use the 3M hanging strips and some Blu-Tac to secure the finished piece to the wall or door and ta-dah! Here's our finished DIY Flashcard holder!

I just love how clean everything looks now and the best part is we just need to take out and slot in new cards whenever we want to change a set of words. Yayyy! (The words with the star stickers are those that Angel had trouble recognising during the first few rounds of practice.)

When the girl came home from school, I surprised her with the new flashcard holder on her door and she was really delighted to see it! In pink no less! Hopefully this will motivate both of us to continue learning and reading in Chinese!

For our DIY tutorials and craft inspiration, visit my gallery here.

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To fellow bloggers who have a fun craft session, DIY tip or creative idea to share, come join in the party! Highlight and press Ctrl + C to copy my button above, include it in your post/sidebar and add your link below. I will be hosting Creativity 521 on the 5th and 21st of every month, do hop over for more inspiration. Remember: The sky's the limit when it comes to creativity!

Happiness is... using time wisely

Posted by ~Summer~ on 28.2.15
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If there's one thing I wish money could buy, it would not be youth or happiness, but TIME. No, I'm not asking to rewind the clock because I'm thankful to be where I am today, but I'm just hoping that I can have more time on my hands every day.

Time to play more with my kids, time to teach them more things, time to try out more new things, time to bring them out more often, time to laugh more, hug more and kiss more. It's ironic that as a stay-at-home mum, I should have all the time in the world to do the things I want to do. Yet on most days, I end up with a feeling of "Where did that 24 hours just go?" and I sometimes hope I could find a way to create more time.

It can be scary just how fast time flies, right? I mean, I still remember the day when I turned 21, how my family met my in-laws for the first time to have a steamboat, how I had a big party in a bungalow chalet with dozens of my friends, how we played, laughed, drank and got drunk. It can be a little hard to believe that a decade has passed ever since. It's the same for parenting. It still seemed like yesterday when I had that huge belly and was waiting for my firstborn to pop. In the blink of an eye, I've been into this motherhood journey for over five years already.

Not one for routines and strict bedtimes, but rather one who doesn't wear a watch and likes to be spontaneous, I think I will score badly if there is a module called time management. Wait, I'm not saying it's necessary a bad thing, but I do know that I can better manage and use the limited amount of time I have every day.

In this month's "Happiness is...", it's all about making the most of time.

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I had a nice morning with Ariel at IKEA where we had fun eating, shopping, playing and just enjoying each other's company. It was also quite an achievement that between the two of us, we bought and carried back a stepping stool, aprons, curtains, long curtain rods and other odds and ends. Yes, curtains! Angel had been sleeping in her room without a proper curtain for over two years and I thought come this CNY, it was high time to get her a pair and make plans to refurbish her room.


So, I took over a week's time to tidy up the room, working hard day in and day out to spring clean and declutter. Eventually, we donated more than 10 bags of toys, appliances and stationery and the room now looks much cleaner and presentable though an uncle still commented that with all the stacking of boxes and containers, it still looks like an warehouse. In any case, I'm very pleased with what we have achieved and soon, we will get a nice bunk bed and study table to make this a cosy room for the kids.



What do you do with the kids' drawings which might look like a mess yet you can't bear to chuck them? I take time to turn them into memories for keeps by laminating them and I have to say this laminating machine was one of my best bargains ever (bought from Popular at around S$40 with 100 free pouches!). I've also started making flashcards again for Angel and I'll be sharing more on a project that I did in the upcoming Creativity 521 post.


Going to carnivals, playing fishing games and riding in mini trains might seem plain boring when you are a grown-up with no kids. However, when you are a dad or mum, it's totally different. While time might never go back and childhood will always remain a memory, the good thing about having kids is they remind us it's never too late to feel like a child again and there's always time to relish in the simple joy of life.



No matter if the hubby is in town or not, I tell myself that it need not and shouldn't matter as to whether I want to bring the kids out to places further from home, or if we are going to engage in water play, or if we are going to stay out longer and end up having to take the bus home late at night. I always enjoy our 3-girls date and so this month, we went out more often than usual, just a mum and two kids, and let fate decide where we should end up.



In my best effort to achieve the 15 things I said I will be doing differently this year, I am also trying to craft more with the little one and right now, we are using painting to learn about shapes, colours and numbers. Kill two birds with one stone, right? Angel and I also had a fun session where we made our DIY Chinese New Year Firecrackers!

One big achievement this month is that Angel completed her 5th run! And this time, she ran 2.8km! Yes, we did the Safari Zoo Run 2015 and I'll be sharing more details about it next month as well as share with you why we love to participate in these family runs.

Another meaningful activity we did was the Hope-Bricklet project where you can buy a small brick-making kit for $10, make the bricklet by yourself (the only thing you need that is not inside the kit is water), and the volunteers at Habitat for Humanity Singapore will embed it in an actual house they build for the less fortunate. How cool, right? It was a good opportunity for the kids to be reminded of how lucky they are, and more importantly, how they can start from young to help others in need.



It was also a fun weekend where we made time to visit VivoCity to support the SAF50@Vivo event. I think it's really important to let children learn more about the occupations of their parents and take pride in that. So, while they might not understand torpedoes and sonar, I'm still glad that these two are very proud to have a submariner for a Dad!


One evening, we were at a pasar malam and saw these beautiful lanterns of the 12 animals of the Chinese horoscope. We took half an hour to stroll past them one by one, making use of the chance to recap and learn about the animal sequence, and of course stopping to take pictures with our own horoscopes.


Last but not least, our Chinese New Year celebration this year was nothing short of fabulous! All the feasting, gatherings and reunions only serve to remind us on how we are so blessed to have family and friends who love and care for us.


I guess happiness is really not about taking time to find every rose in the garden, it's about taking time to smell the ones that come across in your path of life.

What are you happy for this month?

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What are you HAPPY for this month? 

Happy memories have a special way of touching our hearts every time we think about them. Join in my linky party at the end of every month and let us smile, rejoice and share the simple joys of life. Highlight and press Ctrl + C to copy my button above, include it in your post/sidebar and add your link below. For happiness is all around us.


Village Hotel Katong Peranakan Family Experience {Review & Giveaway}

Posted by ~Summer~ on 25.2.15
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"Unless you know where you came from, what your ancestors have been through, 
you have no reference point. What makes us different from say the Thais, 
or the Filippinos, or the Sri Lankans? The difference is how we came here, 
how we developed, and that requires a sense of history." 
~ Lee Kuan Yew

I have to say that I've never been good at history. Not being fond of that subject doesn't mean that I am not proud of my past, my culture and my roots. In fact, in a world where boundaries are ceasing and traditions are fast disappearing, I like to take the opportunity to learn, and at the same time teach my kids, more about history and heritage.

Back in Sweden, we would still occasionally watch some of the local dramas and one that particularly caught my attention was 小娘惹 (The Little Nyonya) - the story of a Peranakan family in Malacca which is set in the 1930s. No, we are not a Peranakan family (though I do love to eat Nyonya kueh and Otak Otak). However, there is something unique and exquisite about this hybrid culture that impels me to find out more about it. 

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Village Hotel Katong


When we were invited to review the Peranakan Family Experience at Village Hotel Katong (read our previous review of the hotel here), I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to learn some new things and teach my children more about Peranakan history and culture. It would definitely be something different as opposed to our usual weekend activities like visiting zoos or playing at the beach.


The Family Room features a warm fuschia Peranakan colour on a backdrop of grey motifs which makes it feel homely and cosy the moment you enter. The room size ranges from 31 to 44 square metres with two queen beds and is ideal for families with children. It also comes complete with complimentary wired Internet, unlimited Wi-Fi access and a 46-inch LED TV with in-built port access to portable electronic devices. There is also an accessible balcony so that there is plenty of space for children to run around.


See, the fact that one kid kept sleeping and the other refused to get out of bed showed how comfortable they felt in the room.

What I loved most about the room was actually the bathroom! Partly because of the eye-catching motifs and partly of the standing rain shower which helps guests to refresh and rejuvenate. Trust me, that shower felt heavenly even though I had two excited kids sharing it with me.

The lobby of the hotel, with its warm yellow lighting, sleek black furniture, striped carpeting and bright-coloured cushions, is an ideal place to hang out or rest while waiting for family members to gather.

As one of the few hotels located in the eastern region of Singapore, what makes Village Hotel Katong so convenient is that it is located within a 10-minute drive to the Singapore Expo and 15-minute drive to Changi Airport.



To make things even better, it is directly linked to Katong V - a mall inspired by Katong's Peranakan heritage featuring lifestyle stores, retail shops, educational centres and even a supermarket. Of course, if you prefer to venture out, there is plenty of things for you to explore in the heart of Katong - including cafes, restaurants, pubs, shopping malls like 112 Katong and Parkway Parade, or you can even walk to East Coast Park if you want!



For those who prefer to stay in the hotel, you can also dine in the Katong Kitchen which serves Nonya, Macanese, Asian, Local Chinese to Western fare. International buffet lunch and dinner are available daily and prices range from $38++ to $58++ (adult) and $19++ to $29++ (child).



We had our breakfast here on the second morning and what caught my eye more than the food was the modern Peranakan decor. As the flagship Village Hotel, it is evident that Village Hotel Katong, in more ways than one, reflects the strong Peranakan heritage of the surrounding Joo Chiat and Katong district.


Well, it's not always that you find Otak Otak or Nasi Lemak at a breakfast buffet, right? While the kids were busying tucking into cereal, bread, ham and cheese, the hubby and I were just glad we were able to find some savoury food to fill our tummies.



What's the best thing to do on a hot afternoon? Swim, of course! Or rather, dip was what we did. While the hotel might not boast a long list of facilities, it does provide a cosy, open-air swimming pool and a gymnasium - we particularly liked the steam room!


The pool might not be huge but it sure kept these two water babies delighted for hours. Do note that since it is open-air, the winds might be rather strong and the water might be a little freezing even though the sun is high up in the sky. But if your kids are like mine who just like to dive into the water again and again regardless of the temperature, then I guess you will have as much fun as we did.

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The Peranakan Experience

Moving on the the highlight of our stay, we went for a 2-hour Peranakan experience at Kim Choo Kueh Chang which is a 10-minute walk away from the hotel.

More than just a restaurant, Kim Choo is a showcase of the Peranakan history and culture, thus it makes the perfect place for us to embark on our learning journey.

The first thing that caught my attention when we stepped in was the charming and exquisite setup of the place, including Peranakan themed porcelain, accessories, beaded slippers and tea sets. It didn't feel like we were in a store but more of like we just arrived in somebody's home - somebody who takes pride in being a Peranakan.

We were there with a lovely French couple and our friendly guide was Edmond from Kim Choo. Yes, it was great that we had a guide because we had so many questions to ask and didn't know where to start. The first big question was, of course, "Who are the Peranakans?" which I had a lot of trouble in explaining to my 5-year-old.

"The term ‘Peranakan’ is commonly known as ‘local born’ or ‘local descendants’ 
and is thought to have been used by the local people of the Straits Settlement 
and Malay Archipelagos to address foreign immigrants whom established families 
and businesses in the Straits of Southeast Asia.

During the late nineteenth century, Chinese communities who settled in 
Southeast Asia adopted the term Peranakan to distinguish themselves from 
the new immigrants, whom they referred to as Sinkeh (new guest) or, in 
Indonesia, as totok (migrant). More specifically, male descendants were called 
Babas and female descendants Nyonyas while senior females were recognized as 
Bibiks. Most of these descendants, although retaining their Chinese beliefs, also 
adopted local indigenous lifestyles. Thus, giving birth to the unique practices of the 
Peranakans and even their own variation of the Malay language called Baba Malay.

While the term Peranakan is most commonly used among the ethnic Chinese for 
those of Chinese descent also known as Straits Chinese, there are also other, 
comparatively small Peranakan communities, such as Indian Hindu Peranakans 
(Chitty), Indian Muslim Peranakans (Jawi Pekan) and Eurasian Peranakans."
  - Source: Kim Choo

When I asked Edmond to give a simpler, easier to comprehend definition, he said Peranakans are "descendants of foreigners". Right, still two big words which my girl does not understand but at least it made it easier to break up the information for her to digest.

While we were enjoying the chat about the history of the Straits Settlement and the Peranakan culture, we were also treated to a delightful tea with Peranakan cuisine including Otak Otak, Nyonya dumpling and Nyonya Kueh.

"A typical Nyonya kitchen would not be without condiments like turmeric, 
 ginger, galangal shallots, chives and shrimp paste. Lemon, limes, tamarinds, 
green mangoes, citrus leaves and coconut milk are also used to up the 
epicurean experience. Rempah, an exciting blend of ingredients pounded 
together in a mortar and cooked in oil to release its flavour is used for a 
variety of dishes. It’s this special combination that sets Peranakan food 
apart from the rest. And because of their ingenuity to improvise traditional 
dishes with spices and herbs, Peranakans have produced tasty local treats 
like achar, curry fish in banana leaves, buah keluak, chendol, Nyonya 
kuehs and many other delights."
- Source: Kim Choo


I have to say that the food tasted much more authentic and flavourful than many of those sold elsewhere. Angel's favourite was peeling and eating the 9-layer Kueh layer by layer which symbolises enjoying life layer by layer instead of devouring it all at once.

After that, we went upstairs and it was time for a hands-on session - Dumpling making! Yes, after having so many Nyonya Chang in my life, it was finally time to wrap my own.

The demonstration was clear and the steps looked simple enough, but once we were left to try on our own, we realised it was harder than we imagined! It might be a case of the leaves going out of place, too much glutinous rice, too little, or somehow we just couldn't fold in the leaves as neatly as we wanted. There was definitely a sense of achievement when all of us managed to wrap the dumplings and tie them up securely.

The good thing about having an intimate group is that we got to interact more with each other and whenever we needed guidance, Edmond would be prompt to assist too. I must say the fun part was in the trying and this was the most interesting part of the afternoon for the kids who thoroughly enjoyed themselves at this station.

Lastly, it was time to find out more about Peranakan fashion! The clothing of the Babas and Nyonyas retained most of their ethnic and religious origins but assimilated the Malay culture. We learnt about the delicate craftmanship of the Sarong Keyaba (traditional Nyonya costume) and Kasot Manek (Peranakan beaded slippers). I was really impressed by the details on the slippers and could only imagine how much time, skill and patience go into the sewing of these tiny faceted beads onto the canvas.

Before we called it a day, it was time to transform our little ones into Little Nyonyas! How do you think they looked in the Sarong Kebaya?

While the hubby and I both thought that Angel would shine more in a cheongsam (traditional Chinese dress), we felt that Ariel pulled off the Peranakan look really well!

All in all, we had a great time at the Peranakan Family Experience and wish to express our thanks to Village Hotel Katong and Kim Choo. I do think that bigger kids (aged 6 and above) will stand to benefit and gain more knowledge from this experience but when it comes to exposing our next generation to different cultures and history, it's probably never too early to start.

For more details about the Village Hotel Katong Peranakan Family Experience, go here. Runs from now to end of July 2015.

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Now, for those who are keen, here's how you can bring your family for this Peranakan Experience too! I'm so happy that I managed to get the chance to host this giveaway for you!

Terms and Conditions
1) This family package is for 2 Adults and 2 Children only.
2) One winner will be chosen randomly and contacted via email. He/she will have 72 hours to respond or a new winner will be picked.
3) The voucher has to be redeemed by 31 July 2015.
4) Accommodation date is subject to availability and is not valid on Public Holiday and eve of Public Holiday.
5) Late check out at 3pm is available but subject to availability.
6) This giveaway is open to all readers residing in Singapore only.

To participate, leave a comment in this blog post with your name, email address and tell me why you wish to stay at Village Hotel Katong. Indicate in the Rafflecopter widget that you have done so and to increase your chances of winning, you can choose to carry out the rest of the options. Best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Disclosure: We were invited to review the Peranakan Family Experience at Village Hotel Katong and received a complimentary stay. All opinions are our own.

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