Saturday 20 March 2021

Gallop Extension at Singapore Botanic Gardens

It's been a long while since we visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens, the gardens that is the first UNESCO Heritage Site in Singapore. This March holiday, we visited its new feature, Gallop extension.

The Gallop Extension comprises of two conserved buildings that have been refurbished into the Botanical Art Gallery and Forest Discovery Centre @ OCBC Arboretum, the COMO Adventure Grove and Mingxin Rambler's Ridge. The art gallery and discovery centre are air-conditioned, so the best way to visit iss to get some crazy fun at COMO Adventure Grove before visiting the gallery and centre. 

COMO Adventure Grove
Lovely play garden nestled within the greens. When I first saw the welcoming giant fruit at a distance, I thought it was durian, as we moved on to other play section, I thought I saw many ang gu kuehs. What a truly Singapore play idea I thought! And of course, they were not what I had imagined them to be. They are cempedak and saga seeds. 
COMO Adventure Grove
Giant Cempedak

Doesn't this look a little like durian?

On a saga seed
Aren't they like durian and cempedak from a distance?! 

Kids can get on the warty giant fruit for a not so prickly walk, balance or roll on the saga seeds for some wobbly fun. And of course, swing, slide and climb on structures resembling the aerial roots of the Weeping Fig, or Ficus tree. There are two covered metal slides, probably the only sheltered area within and nearby. One slide is shorter and the other is longer. Kids will need to climb on ropes to get to the entrances of the slides, a higher and arduous climb lead to the longer slide. Our 4 year old did have some challenge trying to reach the higher slide entrance.

Was some problem solving moments for him though.
Roots everywhere

Slide fun

Needless to say, Js had most fun with this new found playground. Sweltering weather didn't bother them at all. Just remember to slap on sunscreen and bring gallons of water! 

There is a toilet nearby, up the climbing stairs towards one the of colonial houses, no. 7.  

Botanical Art Gallery 
The Botanical Art Gallery is housed within the second refurbished conserved building, Gallop House No. 7. It houses Singapore’s first permanent display of botanical art, where you will be able to see a selection of the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ collection that includes more than 2,000 botanical paintings, as well as hundreds of sketches, line drawings and photographs. The display will also showcase various art forms, from original watercolours and ink drawings to prints and printing blocks.
We missed visiting this, but we will at the next visit!

Gallop House No. 7

Forest Discovery Centre @ OCBC Arboretum 
If I can use an unconventional word to describe these colonial houses, I will say these black and white bungalows are handsome! Absolutely smart and good looking.

Gallop house no. 5 showcases Singapore’s forest ecosystems, and highlights the importance of conserving them. Through a series of interpretive and interactive displays, we learned about the Gardens’ historical role in conserving them. It was a great opportunity to know more about our topical rainforest, coastal and mangrove forests. Other highlights include a photographic installation of forest trees, family-friendly displays where we can know more about the common birds found locally, and videos featuring three distinctive forest habitats found in Singapore, and their unique flora and fauna. 

It isn't all just about plants and forests, but animal species too!

No. 5

Knowing the common birds in Singapore

Butterfly specimen


Listening attentively
photographic installation of forest trees

Mingxin Rambler's Ridge
For a little more adventure, we went on a mild hiking trail, descended the rocky steps and returned to the path where we came from. The trail is mostly sheltered by trees, so it was quite a cooling walk down. 

The ridge draws its inspiration from unique forest habitats on the tropical hills of Southeast Asia. Some of these environments, such as the Kerangas heath forests, are known for their harsh conditions, with poor soil and exposure to strong winds. As such, the plants that naturally occur in these landscapes have evolved fascinating adaptations.

We had a nice walk with it. 

Short trail

It's really wonderful to be having more outdoor playgrounds sprouting up. Our National park ministry did a great job in enticing more families to visit gardens and parks. Greenery and outdoor are always good for our little kids' eyes.

And don't forget to spend some time taking nice pictures within our beautiful gardens. 

Lovely garden we have

How to get there

Alight at Botanic Gardens station, walk towards Foliage Garden, towards Nassim gate visitor centre, then walk towards National Orchid Garden, head to the back and walk towards Gallop Extension. Alternatively, you may walk along Cluny Park Road and Tyersall Road to get there.
Buses: 7, 75, 77, 105, 106, 123, 174, 625
Stop: 13029 bef Tyersall Ave
Walk in via Tyersall Avenue

Park at the Learning Forest
It not a too long walk to Gallop extension

Opening Hours
COMO Adventure Grove: 7am to 7pm
Botanical Art Gallery: 9am to 6pm (Closed every last Thursday of the month)
Forest Discovery Centre @ OCBC Arboretum: 9am to 6pm (Closed every last Thursday of the month)
Mingxin Foundation Rambler's Ridge: 7am to 7pm

FREE admission for all

Thursday 11 March 2021

A Minecraft Theme Party

Organised a Minecraft themed party for Jare's 10th birthday last month. A theme he requested for. He started gaming on Minecraft last December, which of course gaming is on hold with school resumed. Since we are still in phrase 3 of a pandemic, it was a small and cosy party we held with his classmates at our home. Not more than 8 guests. It is so important that the birthday star picks his own party guests. I had some of my friends over for his 5th birthday party 5 years ago, and he's still raking it up to date that half of the guests were my friends and not his. Ok, fine. I will not repeat. 

Back to his 10th party, most of the stuff were DIY since the group size was highly manageable. My only worry was how to keep the boys meaningfully occupied, rather than just a regular play date, where the boys would get on digital games the whole party. Mum woe of tween kids. 

But first, let me share some prep work done. I bought most of the party decorations and goodie bag contents from taobao. Minecraft in Chinese search is ζˆ‘ηš„δΈ–η•Œ. I'll drop the links at the end of this post. In addition to the contents, we are thankful to have SGToysRock delighting the kids with Mighty Beanz and Hot Wheels mini maker kitz toys. Which we used them as part of the party games! 

Mighty Beanz and Hot Wheels

Goodie Bag
Here's the goodie bag for each child. Pencil case, pen, pencil, correction tape and Mighty Beanz. No treats because we had a pinata, and we left the sugar in there.

Goodie Bag


With the help of my kids, we DIY-ed a pinata. I'm sure party kids are very much delighted with it. Here are steps to the easy making of a pinata.
1 balloon
Plain Flour 
Crepe paper or Paint

1. Blow a balloon to a good size that you think will fit all your fillings. And of course, there's this size that a balloon can go before it bursts. We went for its maximum limit.
2. Cut newspapers into strips.
3. Mix one part water with one part flour to create paste.
4. Dip newspaper strip into paste, squeezing off excess paste. Apply to balloon.
5. Repeat Step 4, layering newspaper on until the balloon is covered three to four layers deep. Leave an opening at the top for fillings.
6. Let dry for at least 24 hours. Under the sun if possible.
7. Decorate with crepe paper or paint. Then pop the balloon and fill it with treats!

We used green and black crepe paper to create a character somewhat like that of minecraft. No, it's not a watermelon.

Layering the balloon with newspaper


Let dry for 24 hours

Decorate it!

Fill it!
And we used the foam swords purchased from Taobao as tools to hit the pinata! Violent played in a safe way.
Pinata time!
Quiet games were needed to keep the boys down and entertained. 
1. Minecraft Bingo
I printed minecraft bingo slips from CatchMyParty. And this kept them occupied for about 10 minutes. Prepare some pencils for playing and of course, prizes for the first three winners. Or more!

Game tools

2. Hot Wheels Maker Kitz 
Proceeded the boys to build their movable cars with the Hot Wheels Maker Kitz from SGToysRock. We did a review previously too. This kept them really occupied for some time as the building up wasn't as easy as it seemed. I rendered help to some of them. It was also a showcase on the boys' patience and resilience. 
Building Hot Wheels
3. Mighty Beanz Stack Up
Jazz thought of this game. She told us that the Mighty Beanz could be stack up! So we made it into a game by challenging the boys to stack up as many as they can. The winner emerged with 5 beanz up! 
Stacked mighty beanz

It's evident. We don't need mega big and extensive ideas, or props to wow a party. This is one simple Minecraft party we pulled together without massive preparation. And I could tell the boys enjoyed themselves tremendously. Don't forget, kids are easy contenders. 10 year olds inclusive.

After games was lunch, I prepared a simple fare for the boys. Macaroni cheese, chicken wings and baked cauliflower. Fruit was easy, watermelon. Party food has to be easy to give you more time organising the rest. Dessert was none other than homemade birthday cake, made the previous day. I made Tiramisu in a trifle bowl. Omitted the alcohol as I can't be sending tipsy kids back to their parents! I'll get caught for serving alcohol to the under 18 too. The cake was really easy to make, shared the recipe here some time ago. And again kids will not fuss about cakes. They'll just sing the birthday song and eat! 
Tiramisu bowl

I embellished the cake with chocs and macaroons. It looked a little more commercial after that. Glad to have put together this party for the second born's 10th birthday. A 2 digit leap from nine. So much thoughts that I had to dedicate a post to him here
Happy 10th birthday, son!
I hope parties and play dates like these are some good memories he will keep in his memory bank!

Here are the shop links of what I've carted out from Taobao:

Taobao links:  

Tuesday 9 March 2021

[Review] Blog Stories Into Books

Blogging is a long running journey that I began since the birth of my firstborn. It's been a near 12 years now. Three kids and a stay home mum is my current status. It was with some conceiving thoughts and vision that the kids would one day be reading my words, about their growing adventures. But it was unexpected that I kept the writing sustainable for this long.

For the longest time ever, I've been wanting to turn these virtual blog posts into a book. A total of 1030 posts to date. In today's world of online instability, I've decided to put that thought into action by turning these posts into physical pages. You can imagine the anguish I faced when I lost my Instagram account last year. Having tangible copies of the digital would have soothed an ache in moment like this. Especially when it's something so dear to us. 

So glad to have found for fulfilling this printing desire of mine.


Journey of Words I and II

It took me some months to edit, remove and re-publish the posts that I wanted to print. platform was extremely easy to use when flowing the stories into books. All I needed to do was to sign up as a member on their site, and the creation began! I entered my site and  date range of the posts I wanted to print, and it started putting my posts into a book magically! A virtual book for preview before you confirm sending it to print. This is surely one smart and seamless interface for blog printing.

These were the book options:

1. There are 4 formats available in soft or hard covers,  
2. Fancy three column magazine, easy two column or a one column novel
3. 8 wonderful themes. Creative themes suitable for any content. 
4. Design your own book cover. Add your own photos.
5. Customize style and content the way you want! 
Everything was extremely easy and fuss free. The only portion that's time consuming was the editing of my posts, which I did it on blog before flowing the posts in. I edited on the paragraphing, typos, as well as, replacing bad photos with well edited ones. The photos printed in the books are astounding. It's exactly what you see on your blog. So keep them bright and vibrant on blog. It will be exactly what you see in print. 

Two column magazine option

Excerpt from book 2
I opted for a two column magazine layout in the soft cover format, which on a hindsight, we should have opted for hard cover ones. These book were printed and shipped all the way from Australia. The long and arduous journey must have been too much for the books to bear, they had its cover slight folded in some corners. The team from Into Real Pages was really nice to offer replacements, but I felt that it wasn't necessary. It will be a waste of resources. The books were still excellent looking. We will however consider going hard covers for our subsequent books. 
We are not stopping at these two, editing is still in progress for the subsequent books. 
Blog books

It's most wonderful to have the initial part of our blog printed into books and sitting on our shelves. I had Jazz's posts in one book, titled 'Journey of words I.' And upon Jare's arrival, I created a part II of the series, in another book. You have no idea on the expressions Js readily revealed when they saw the books. They stopped whatever they were doing to devour into these books that their Mum had authored. Oh yes, I'm an author now, of these 2 books.
Blog books as Bedtime stories

With this move, I'm ready to delete the online posts that have been printed. It's in plan to not keep these posts online permanently. But this will be another story to tell.
Thankful and grateful for the technology of blog printing by It allows the conversion of digital content into books this hassle free. Making them great gift of words to the kids.

Disclaimer: sponsored post