Midweek Break: A Writer’s Workshop & A Book Giveaway!

If you saw our post on Peranakan culture earlier this week, you might remember that I mentioned the book Stacey goes to the Peranakan Museum‘ by Lianne Ong, which is part of an ongoing books series published in partnership with Singapore’s National Heritage Board.

Lianne Ong, the author of the Stacey & the Museums book series, is actually going to be doing a very special writer’s workshop aimed at kids aged 7-10 years old at the upcoming Singapore Writer’s Festival held at the Asian Civilisations Museum.

The workshop, Create A Stacey@ACM Adventure, will have kids exploring the galleries at the museum and coming up with their own Stacey story under Lianne’s guidance. Additionally, James Tan, the illustrator of the books, will be there to teach children how to draw Stacey and accompany their story with pictures.

I am a big fan of creative writing, so I think this workshop sounds like a whole load of fun and a great experience for kids. At $5 for a 90 min masterclass with a published children’s book author, it is a real bargain!

The workshop will take place on 8 November (Saturday) at 11:00am-12:30pm at the Asian Civilisations Museum. Tickets to the workshop and more information available here.

If you already own a Stacey book, you ought to bring it with you and I am sure both Lianne Ong and James Tan will oblige you with an autograph if you ask nicely.

And if you don’t own a Stacey book yet, well, here’s a Special Something for Owls Well Readers: Armour Publishing has very kindly agreed to sponsor a giveaway of a copy of the book “Stacey Goes to the Peranakan Museum” to ONE lucky Owls Well Reader! Huzzah! Thank you, Armour Publishing!

To take part in this giveaway, just complete the following:

  1. Be a fan of the Owls Well Facebook Page
  2. Share this giveaway on your Facebook Page (set to public), tagging @Owls Well as well as at least three friends
  3. Visit my Peranakan Peregrination post and leave a comment there telling me about one thing that you know or appreciate about Peranakan culture! Don’t forget to tell me the name of your Facebook account that you used to share this giveaway and include your email address! (If you would like to send me the email address privately, leave a comment for the other answers, then email me at 4owlswell [at] gmail [dot] com)

(Giveaway is open to anyone with a Singapore address and will end on 10th October 2015. Winners will be picked via Random.org – just make sure you complete all 3 easy steps!)

P.S. If you still aren’t convinced of how great this book series is, check out my review of the first book in the Stacey & the Museums series here – we liked it so much, we made our own book trailer!

Update: This giveaway is now closed and the winner has been emailed – Thanks for playing!


A Peranakan Peregrination: A Cultural Day Out with Kids

Recently, I convinced the Aged Ps to take the kids for a Peranakan Day Out, so that they can learn more about Peranakan culture and what it means to be a Baba or a Nyonya.

Here’s how you can enjoy your own Peranakan Day Out in 10 easy steps!

Video Footnotes:

This is a really great book that not only introduces the Peranakan Museum and it’s highlights, but gives some easy to read information about Peranakan culture. In the book, Stacey visits the museum and has an adventure with a mysterious girl who takes her on a personal tour!

I really love the detailed illustrations by James Tan, and it really is such a treat to be able to read the book to the kids, and then see their reaction once they reach the museum and recognise the things that they see in the pictures.

I was very fortunate to have received a copy of this book from Armour Publishing for review, but you can get your own copy from the Peranakan Museum shop or direct from the Armour Publishing website. The book is part of the Stacey & the Museum series by Lianne Ong – here’s a review and book trailer that I made for the first book in the series, Stacey Goes to the National Museum.

The Peranakan Museum is a wonderful little museum installed in the former Tao Nan Chinese School, and has a beautiful and extensive collection of Peranakan objects, wonderfully curated in a manner that illustrates the tradition and distinctive artistic style of the Peranakan community.

There are many interactive components for children within the museum, some on large computer touch screens, and others requiring and encouraging children to touch and handle vintage objects. J and Little E enjoyed running around the museum completing a little treasure hunt – the activity sheet can be collected at the information counter.

We visited the museum with the Aged P, who is of course a true Peranakan but there are guided tours conducted daily by volunteers (most of whom are also Peranakan or are scholars of Southeast Asian culture) are more than happy to regale you with personal stories about Peranakan traditions!

The Peranakan Museum is open daily from 10am – 7pm (extended hours to 9pm on Fridays) and is located on 39 Armenian Street, Singapore 179941. Admission is free for Singaporean Citizens and PRs, as well as for children under 6 years old.

At the Peranakan Museum and Daisy's Dream Kitchen

At the Peranakan Museum and Daisy’s Dream Kitchen

  • Peranakan Food in Singapore

We ate at Daisy’s Dream Kitchen, which is a small little family-run eatery over in the West Coast serving Peranakan food as well as a selection of other local dishes.

The food is delicious and reasonably priced, with a lovely home cooked flavour and the Aged Ps deem it ‘Cheap and Good’ (which by their standards, is very good indeed). Peranakan food tends to be very rich, so I was surprised and glad to see that the dishes served were not swimming in grease, but were low in salt and oil with no loss to the fullness of flavour. We even met Daisy’s kids and grandkids, who had dropped in for lunch, the little 5 year old grandson even coming to our table to thank us for visiting! What a little charmer.

Daisy’s Dream Kitchen is open from Tues-Sun from 11am-3pm and 6pm-10pm at Block 517 West Coast Road, #01-571, S(120517), Tel: 6779 1781

If you are looking for a fancier Peranakan restaurant with a larger range of traditional dishes, prepared and displayed in a traditional manner, the Aged Ps recommend The Blue Ginger Restaurant, which is where they like to bring out-of-towners when they want to truly impress.

To get a true taste of Peranakan culture, the Aged Ps recommend that you try the Nyonya-style Ngoh Hiang, the Bakwan Kepiting soup, the Babi Ponteh stewed pork and the Ayam Buah Keluak stuffed blacknut when you are visiting a Peranakan Restaurant.

  • Peranakan music

Peranakans are known for their involvement in Dondang Sayang (Love ballad) and Keroncong (Malay-style ukelele band) forms of music.

The Aged Ps were very insistent that I chose the correct kind of music to accompany this video, and so I have gone for the Dondang Sayang style of Peranakan music. The Dondang Sayang style is exemplified by the exchange of lighthearted and cheeky malay poetry (or ‘pantun‘) between two singers.

The song that I use in this video, Rasa Sayang, is a very popular local folk song in the traditional Dondang Sayang form and the chorus goes:

Rasa sayang, hey! (Loving feelings, hey!)
Rasa sayang-sayang hey, (Lots of loving feelings, hey!)
Lihat nona dari jauh (Admiring a pretty girl from afar)
Rasa sayang-sayang, hey (Lots of loving feelings, hey!)

(Ironically, the version of Rasa Sayang  that I used is recorded by a Japanese artiste, Lisa Ono!)

  • Peranakan Fashions
Little Nyonya proudly wearing her kebaya!

Little Nyonya proudly wearing her kebaya!

We didn’t include a visit to a dressmaker to try out fancy Peranakan fashions and learn how to tie a sarong in the traditional way, but that would be a fun way to round off the day with an impromptu fashion show, especially if you have kids who love dressing up.

We love Toko Aljunied for their beautiful kebayas and batik shirts – you can find out more about this wonderful purveyor of fine Peranakan fashions for kids and adults here.

Motherhood Hacks! : Breastfeeding

Here’s the deal about breastfeeding in the first few weeks: It takes practice and patience. And you’re not the only one learning on the job here – the baby is learning how to breastfeed too. It is unsurprising that breastfeeding is a challenge!

Breastfeeding Fist Bump! Booyah!

Breastfeeding Fist Bump! Booyah!

These are the Motherhood Hacks that have helped me stay positive during my breastfeeding journey.

Motherhood Hack #1: Embrace the Fear (or act as helpless as you feel)

I think women always push themselves far too hard trying to prove themselves, and this really shows when women try to take control and assert their independance as soon as the baby is out. I say forget all that bravado and embrace the anxiety and fear that you feel as a new mum! Act helpless as you feel because this is the time when nobody expects you to know how to manage and will be more than happy to jump in to help you out!

This is especially important in the first few days after giving birth. Take advantage of the nurses and breastfeeding consultants in the postnatal ward. Don’t be shy! You will be surprised at what you can learn.

Every time I wanted to feed the baby during the day or night, I asked one of the nurses on the ward to come and help. They helped me with everything from positioning to latching on and off, and I would ask them to come again if I wanted to switch sides. Each nurse I came across had a slightly different technique for getting the job done and different advice as well. This helped me figure out what worked best for me and for each baby.

By the time I left the hospital I knew how to do the following:

  • prepare my breasts for feeding via breast massage
  • hand express breastmilk
  • encourage my baby to latch or nurse
  • visually check a baby’s latch
  • gently break the baby’s latch
  • visually check my nipples after feeding to identify a suboptimal latch that might lead to unnecessary nipple soreness or pain
  • check my breast for blocked milk ducts
  • self-massage during feeding to relieve blocked milk ducts
  • feed the baby using different positions (cradle hold, football hold, reclining)

I doubt I would have been able to learn as much if I’d put up a brave front and tried to do everything independently from day one.

Motherhood Hack #2: Fight boredom breastfeeding fatigue with portable entertainment devices

Okay, I know that breastfeeding is supposed to be the time when you bond with your baby, but when baby is really really tiny, especially in the first few weeks before your milk flow really kicks in, chances are that he or she takes a really long time to feed. Maybe 40 minutes, maybe even a whole hour. And they’ll have their eyes closed most of the time as well so it’s not like you can stare deeply into their eyes and attempt to communicate telepathically with them.

You are going to be bored and tired, especially during the night when all the world is asleep except you and the baby. I had to resist the urge to unceremoniously call an end to feed time after 20 minutes of crushing boredom.

Portable entertainment devices like a portable DVD player (with headphones) or an e-reader will be your path to maintaining sanity. With J, I watched the whole series of Battlestar Galactica and with Little E, I watched The West Wing!

With Thumper, I decided to Expand My Mind Through Reading. I’ve installed a free e-reader app on my phone which allows me to borrow e-books from the library. The National Library Board in Singapore has a great range of reads in their electronic catalogue, including newspapers and magazines. This way, I have already read over a dozen books in the last couple of months since Thumper was born! Yay, me!

Motherhood Hack #3: Let your husband sleep at night.

Seriously, if you’re breastfeeding, what do you need him awake for? You have your e-reader to keep you company, and the less activity there is at night, the better. There’s no sense in the both of you being awake, especially if you have other kids who will need attention during the day.

Let the husband sleep at night and during the day, he will be the one who has that spare energy to look after the kids and manage the household chores when you are exhausted from lack of nighttime sleep and need a nap. (And, he will have no excuse to complain about being tired!)

Motherhood Hack #4: Cleopatra say Relaaaaax

Learn to nurse in a reclining or semi-reclining position, or what I like to call, Cleopatra-style (extra points if you can do it whilst looking like this). This really helps me if I need to power nap during the day or risk turning into a Giant Squid of Anger at the slightest provocation.

The only danger about doing this at night is that you’ll probably fall asleep with baby still latched on. Not necessarily a bad thing, as baby will eventually latch off, but if you’re anything like me, you might forget to change sides. Never forget to change sides.

Motherhood Hack #5: Built-in bra shelves are your breastfeeding friends

As much as I love my nursing bras, I always found the clips and drop down cups a total pain…and nursing bras can be so expensive as well! I used to hate fiddling about with clips on straps and the fact that my breast pads kept falling out from the drop-down cups. Additionally, readjusting everything back to the way it was is nigh impossible to do one-handed, in public, with a squalling infant. It was all so inelegant.

So, I have done away with nursing bras altogether, instead I am currently using tank tops or camisoles that come with built-in bra shelves with cups and are not necessarily sold as ‘nursingwear’. Instead of fiddling around with clips and drop down cups, I just pull the neckline of the tank top or camisole down on the side that I’m planning to feed on – quick and simple.

The best tops I found for this purpose are the Airism Bratop range from Uniqlo. They are comfortable, look good, support the girls, maintain their shape well and are great for layering under clothes. Best of all, they are designed to wick moisture away from the body, so you can keep cool and dry whilst breastfeeding, which is a sweaty business. I have a whole bunch of these that I bought when they went on sale (they cost under SGD$30 at full price but when they go on sale you can get them for SGD$15-20), and I can see myself continuing to love them even after I’ve stopped nursing!

Have you got a great breastfeeding Motherhood Hack? Share it with me in the comments!

Midweek Break: Homestar Runner is BACK!

I am SO happy to see that HomestarRunner.com, is back, back, back, back again, and is live and running on Youtube!


HomestarRunner.com used to be one of my favourite online haunts before Youtube. It’s biggest feature was the utterly hilarious flash animation cartoon series, Strong Bad Emails, where the cartoon character Strong Bad (because he is Strong and Bad, duh) would answer emails from viewers.

Strong Bad typing at his Tandy computer (Picture Credit: HomestarRunner.Com)

Strong Bad typing at his Tandy computer (Picture Credit: HomestarRunner.Com)

The site itself started off in 2000, but I only became a fan in 2004, just after graduating from medical school. Every Wednesday without fail, I would run home from work and log onto my computer for a new Sbemail. Whilst watching it, I would laugh myself silly and this injection of energy would carry me through to the end of the week.

Okay, I know that A Becky Lee discovered Strong Bad emails way before I did, but the person who actually introduced me to the site was the Aged P. She’d come up to the UK to visit me and we were chatting in my living room one evening.

I believe the conversation we had went something like this:

Debs G: What’s Meimei doing nowadays?
Aged P: Ah the usual. Everyday she goes on the computer and watches the internet.
Debs G: What website is she looking at?
Aged P: That thing, you know, the cartoon with the guy called Something Bad who wears a mask and talks in a scratchy voice like “Rarr rarr rarr rarr”.
Debs G: You mean Batman?
Aged P: No, not Batman. That guy. With the mask. He wears gloves and types on a computer and his name is like “Something Bad” and he has a pet, a yellow one which goes “weekweekweek”. It’s quite funny.
Debs G: I don’t know this one! Let’s find it. (Brings up Netscape – yes, this was a LONG time ago – and types “Cartoon website with bad guy in mask gloves computer”)

Up pops HomestarRunner.com and the Aged P points to the name “Strong Bad” in triumph. We click on it, and here’s the first Strong Bad email I ever watched.

The Aged P and I laughed ourselves silly and proceeded to watch video after video. Oh yes, I was completely hooked.

Here’s another one of my favourites:

And of course, who could forget the infamous Trogdor the Burninator?

I was so sad when the site stopped its regular weekly updates around 2009. This was because Matt Chapman, one of the Brothers Chaps who created the site and all its content, became the writer and director of the currently popular children’s programme, Yo Gabba Gabba (which, by the way, bears a striking resemblance to this Sbemail). I haven’t introduced the kids to Yo Gabba Gabba yet, but I am thinking about doing that soon!


A Carroty Harvest (and a recipe!)

Hey!  It’s been a long while since I last posted a gardening update.  Plants take a long time to grow.

How does your garden grow?

How does your garden grow?

But now, I have lovely news!

Yeah, that's right.  I've just pulled in a bumper crop of purple carrots from the garden!

Yeah, that’s right.  I’ve just pulled in a bumper crop of purple carrots from the garden!

The fun thing about growing carrots is that they make an absolutely satisfying “Pop” sound when you pull them out of the ground.  Purple carrots are especially fun because they’re quite long and thin, so they always leave a little carrot shaped indentation after you’ve pulled them out.

They’re also very easy to grow.  Just sprinkle the seeds into a big (and deep) pot and water whenever you feel like it.  Purple carrots thrive a little in your neglect – just poke the soil a little with a finger every once a week or so to make sure that the soil is dampish when growing them.

Purple carrots are very healthy, by the way.  They’re apparently the next superfood, containing more beta-carotene than the modern orange carrot and having anti-inflammatory properties.  There are several different varieties, some of which are more purple than others.  Mine were vivid orange on the inside and tasted less sweet but more “carroty” than orange carrots.

They were delicious in the pasta sauce I made.

By the way, here is my recipe for delicious Carroty Bolognaise Sauce!


  • 400 g of diced tomatoes
  • 400 g of tomato passata
  • 350 g minced beef
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 pepper (red, yellow or green), chopped roughly
  • AS MANY CARROTS AS YOU CAN HANDLE, chopped roughly
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped roughly
  • 1 tbsp of herbs
  • Some black pepper
  • Some salt
  • 150 ml of beef stock
  • Some Parmesan cheese


  1. Pour some olive oil in a pot and fry onions with garlic until fragrant
  2. Add all the veggies and the italian herbs and fry until peppers appear soft
  3. Add minced beef, brown it.
  4. Add tomato, salt and pepper.  Bring to boil
  5. Add beef stock, stir well and simmer for 1 hour
  6. Add Parmesan and mix well

Enjoy with spaghetti (or any pasta of your choice)!

Midweek Break: A Baby K’tan Active giveaway!

Did you catch my review of the Baby K’tan Active sling earlier this week? Well, here’s something special for my loyal Owls Well readers:

Happy Coast Kids has kindly offered to sponsor a giveaway of one Baby Active K’tan carrier (worth SGD$94.50) to one lucky Owls Well reader! Huzzah!

To take part in this giveaway, just complete the following:

  1. Be a fan of the Owls Well Facebook Page
  2. Share this giveaway on your Facebook Page (set to public), tagging @Owls Well as well as at least three friends
  3. Visit my Baby K’tan Active review and leave a comment there telling me your favourite model, colour and size of Baby K’tan as well as how long it takes you to put your child to sleep! Don’t forget to tell me the name of your Facebook account that you used to share this giveaway and include your email address! (If you would like to send me the email address privately, leave a comment for the other answers, then email me at 4owlswell [at] gmail [dot] com)

(Giveaway is open to anyone with a Singapore address and will end on 25th September 2015. Winners will be picked via Random.org – just make sure you complete all 3 easy steps!)

Update: This giveaway is now closed and the winner has been emailed – thanks for playing!

Babywearing made easy : Baby K’tan Active (A baby sling review)

I love my baby slings and carriers – they are just one of the best baby gear investments that I’ve come across. I find baby wearing just so much easier than lugging a stroller all over the place, and if any of my tired little babies had trouble settling, just a few minutes in the sling would do the trick of lulling them into a deep slumber.

Not long after Thumper was born, a local mumpreneur asked if I would like to review the award-winning Baby K’tan carrier which is the anchor product in her webstore, Happy Coast Kids.

I am so glad that she asked me to try it out, because the Baby K’tan is now my favourite piece of babywearing gear, combining the best features of a structured baby carrier with that of a lightweight cloth wrap or sling. I have been using the Baby K’tan since Thumper was a month old, and I love it so much – I just wish I’d discovered this sooner!

The Baby K’tan comes in a variety of materials and colours, but I selected the Baby K’tan Active in a cool shade of Ocean Blue. This particular model is made from a very silky hi-tech performance fabric which wicks away sweat from the body (that is the fancy way of saying that it is similar to the dri-fit 100% polyester commonly seen in sportswear) which is machine-washable and dryer-safe as well as free from harmful chemicals, formaldehydes and azo-dyes.

Getting hot and sweaty whilst babywearing is one of the biggest problems that I face, especially in Singapore’s climate, so I was very excited about the lightness of the fabric and its unique temperature control properties. This fabric also blocks UVA and UVB rays, which makes it great for outdoors too!

Thumper is rather a sweaty baby and seems to get hot quickly, but I have noticed that he does not overheat as much in this sling as J and Little E used to do in my other slings. This means that he is quite able to take very long naps in the sling (sometimes up to a full 2 hour nap) when I am out and about, because he does not wake up feeling warm and sticky.

I find that I am able to carry him in the sling for a longer period of time too, as I don’t get hot and tired as quickly myself. Additionally, the sling is designed so that the baby’s weight is evenly distributed across both shoulders and across my back, so that I can maintain good posture. I can also spread out the fabric widely over my shoulders to further distribute Thumper’s weight so that I get less fatigued.

I love my Baby K'tan Active!

I love my Baby K’tan Active!

One of the great design features of the Baby K’tan is that it needs very little adjustment – there are no hard rings or buckles to grapple with, and no long straps to fiddle about with.

I have been experiencing carpal tunnel syndrom due to postpartum water retention and the subsequent pain and weakness in my hands has made it difficult for me to properly adjust my trusty sarong sling. I am so very glad to be able to avoid all the pulling and tugging with the Baby K’tan to get it to support Thumper in such a way that both he and I are comfortable. All I do is gently slide him into the sling and we are ready to go!

The Baby K’tan allows me to carry Thumper in a variety of positions as he grow older. At the moment, I have only tried 3 out of the 7 possible positions (as he’s still too small for the other carrying positions), and they have worked very well.

The sling packs up really tiny, into it’s own little bag (which can be converted into a sash for additional waist support), and takes up much less room than my usual ring sling, not to mention a structured carrier.

Comfortable in different carrying positions

Comfortable in different carrying positions

The only drawbacks that I found with the Baby K’tan Active are rather minor ones, related to the fact that the Baby K’tan has a fixed sizing, like clothing.

I have the Baby K’tan Active in size small, because I’m, well, small. The Barn Owl is much taller and broader than I am so we are not yet able to use the same sling. Saying that, the Barn Owl has been watching his weight recently, so he may well slim down to such an extent that we can share the same sling! That would be awesome because it’s always nice to be able to take turns carrying Thumper, which will become more important as he gets bigger and heavier.

I am also not able to breastfeed Thumper whilst ‘on the move’ as I cannot loosen the sling enough to do this comfortably and discreetly. However, I have taken Thumper out of the sling and used the Baby K’tan Active as a makeshift nursing shawl when I don’t have anything else handy.

The Baby K’tan Active can carry kids up to about 16kg (35lbs, to be exact), and the cross-stretch of the fabric along with the different carrying positions will allow me to use the same sling as Thumper grows, so I foresee that I will be happily using it for a LONG time!

If you would like to get your own Baby K’tan Active sling, you can visit Happy Coast Kids (Singapore’s exclusive distributor for Baby K’tan) or any of the following stores and online retailers below:

The Birth Shop
310 Shunfu Road
Singapore 570310

Maternity Exchange
6 Raffles Boulevard, Marina Square
#03-108, Singapore 039594
+65-6100-EXCH (6100-3924)

Parentcraft Shop
Thomson Medical Centre
PCC Products Pte Ltd
339 Thomson Road
#01-06, Singapore 307677

Online Retailers:

Agape Babies


Nursing Muslimah