A Better Florist – A Review (with exclusive discount code and giveaway!)

A fortnight ago, I received a lovely bouquet of flowers from A Better Florist. I’d been sick with the flu for a couple of days, feeling incredibly miserable and sorry for myself – and it was amazing what a difference it made to receive such a special delivery! It shirked me up to no end.

The bouquet that I received was The Lilah, part of A Better Florist’s signature collection of floral arrangements. I was very impressed by the exotic mixture of cheerful blooms in their simple and modern glass vase, which really brightened up my room as well as my day.

The flowers, which are sourced from Cameron Highland farms, arrived in dewy fresh condition, and with a daily water change, they were able to stay sweet and pretty for a whole week. I would say that the blooms really looked their best in the first four days.

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J and Little E enjoying the flowers

I placed the bouquet on my dining table, and funnily enough, over the next few days, I noticed that J and Little E would quietly go and sit at the table to read or play, instead of lounging in our living room. Little E was even inspired to make a few sketches of the flowers!

If you’re looking for a great last minute gift, A Better Florist does offer same day delivery (at no extra charge) for orders made before 3pm, and they so have a very nice selection of affordable bouquets! They also hold occasional floral arrangement workshops on Saturdays – I’m hoping to bring Little E and the Aged P to one next month. Check out the A Better Florist Facebook page for details on their next floral jamming session or for exclusive discount codes!

Speaking of discount codes, A Better Florist is offering all Owls Well Readers a whopping SGD$10 off their next order! Just quote the code OWLSWELL10 at checkout!

Something Special For Owls Well Readers: The fine folk behind A Better Florist are kindly sponsoring a giveaway of the Spring Breeze floral bouquet in a beautiful mason jar (worth SGD$72)  to one lucky Owls Well Reader!

Thanks A Better Florist!

To take part in this giveaway, please follow the following steps:

  1. Be a fan of Owls Well on Facebook
  2. Share this giveaway on your Facebook page (set to public), tagging @owlswellblog and at least TWO friends
  3. Comment below with your favourite bouquet from A Better Florist. 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)
  4. (optional: For an extra entry, follow our Instagram account @4owlswell and leave a separate comment below with your Instagram handle.)

(This giveaway is open to anyone with a Singapore mailing address and closes at noon on Tuesday 4th July 2017. 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!

Happy Feet: Review of be*U shoes (and a discount code!)

During our recent visit to London, I was dithering over which shoes to bring with us when luxury bespoke shoe brand, be*U, offered give us each a pair of their handmade shoes!

I personally think that it is very important to have a good, comfortable, well-made pair of shoes, especially for children. I am extremely fussy when it comes to footwear as the feet not only contain 25% of the body’s collected bone mass, but are also responsible for absorbing the impact of pressure exerted on the body during movement.

For children, shoes need to protect tender little feet from sharp or cold objects, yet remain flexible and soft, allowing the feet to have the freedom to develop normally. Additionally, a good non-skid sole is necessary to help the shoes wear well and prevent falls.

This is why, in our household, our shoes are often the most pricey pieces in our wardrobe, as the Barn Owl and I insist on high quality shoes that can last a long time and are comfortable enough for us to be able to walk in them all day.

On the go for miles and miles

On the go for miles and miles

I was really impressed with be*U shoes – the kids and I walked all over London in these shoes, and our feet were perfectly happy at the end of the day – no blisters, redness or soreness…and not a single complaint from the kids about sore feet!

To start off, the shoes are made from buttery soft leather, have nice rounded edges and come in several different widths which mean that you get a perfectly customised fit. The insole is well-cushioned and has good arch support, and is also made from soft, breathable leather that keeps the feet cool and dry even during exertion.

Additionally, the leather of the shoe is hand stitched with a wax-coated line thread which does not unravel and is perfectly smooth on the inside. There are no loose threads or rough surfaces inside the shoe that rub and cause blisters, and when my kids walked through puddles, there was no seepage of water into the shoe!

I particularly like the stiffener at the heel counter and the slightly higher cut at the back of the shoe – this holds the foot firmly to increase protection and provides good heel and ankle support, but also gives that extra room for people who require special orthotic shoe inserts!

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Happy feet in matching shoes

I was not at all surprised to find out that the innovative design of these shoes has led Professor Hsu – the Taiwanese inventor responsible for roller shoes for kids and co-founder of be*U – to win the French i’Nov Innovation Gold Award in 2008! Professor Hsu’s wife, Chen Cho-Yun, the other c0-founder of be*U, is the responsible for the aesthetics of the shoe and her extensive experience in fashion, art and product design is behind the incredible range of 600 motifs used in this bespoke range of shoes.

There were so many different colours and motifs to choose from (especially if you are looking for a mother-daughter set!), as well as a range of leather choices available, so I had a really hard time making a decision. (More than 360 000 possible permutations of shoes?! HOWEVER WILL I SURVIVE.)

We chose the ‘Burgers and Milk’ design on a brown base, which I thought was super cute and quirky, and would look great for both boys and girls. When the kids received their shoes, they could not wait to put them on straightaway. J in particular was very excited by his new shoes, exclaiming, “It’s like I’m wearing a happy meal on my feet!”, and even Little E was impressed by how soft the shoes were, saying “They feel smoooooooooth for my feeeeets.”

Aren't they cute?

We received so many compliments on our matching shoes when we were on holiday!

The shoes themselves are much more expensive than what I would normally chose to pay for quality  shoes for my kids, with prices ranging from SGD$138 to $208. However, if you are looking for a very special, unique gift for a child (or lady!)  in your life, these would make a great present…and you can even have them personalised. I think that a first pair of shoes embossed with the toddler’s name, birth date, length and weight, would make an absolutely brilliant, heirloom quality gift.

A special for Owls Well Readers: For a 20% discount off any pair of be*U shoes, just quote ‘Owls Well Blogs’ from now until 31st July 2014 when ordering the shoes online. You can browse designs and colours on the be*U Facebook page  or the be*U instagram page and then place your order by emailing order@beushoes.com or via private message on the be*U Facebook page.

P.S. To see our shoes in action all over London, check out our video.

Online Shopping with Paley & Love (plus a giveaway and discount code!)

When I was growing up, I had a large collection of Barbies that were either given to me as presents or handed down from my older cousins, but I never really understood how to play with them. My friends who came over on play dates had much more fun with them than I did, and I would watch them uncomprehendingly as they dressed the dolls up and fussed with their hair. I was much more interested in pulling off the dolls’ heads to see what was inside. [1]

Now, however, I have TWO LIVING DOLLS of my own and I love dressing the both of them up! Every piece that I purchase for J and Little E has to be extra-special in one way or another – mostly because I look for heirloom quality clothes that will last more than one generation.

However, I hardly ever shop at the local brick-and-mortar stores in Singapore because I don’t really have the time or the inclination to drag the kids round the malls, or the budget to afford some of the really classy clothes in the shop windows. Additionally, I want my children to stand out and not be wearing the same clothes as everyone else.

This is why I tend to buy most of the children’s clothes overseas (usually from the UK) during sale season or from online retailers who carry a carefully curated selection.

Like myself, May (one of the two homegrown mum-preneurs behind the new online children’s clothing store, Paley & Love) is also very particular about the clothes she buys for her kids, looking for high quality materials and cool designs, but she also does not want to spend a bomb on clothes that will soon be outgrown. Between working long hours in the office and trying to be there for her two boys, the only time that May had a chance to do any shopping was from blogshops during the morning commute. This is why she decided to start her own online retail store, carrying only stylish yet affordable children’s clothes that she would be proud to dress her kids in!

I was really excited when May contacted me and gave me the opportunity to choose some gorgeous togs for J and Little E from Paley & Love! The shop updates once a fortnight, so there were so many lovely pieces to choose from. Here’s what we ended up with:

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On J: Dark Blue with White Polka Dots Long/Roll Up shirt (SGD$29.90). On Little E: Tri-colour Shift Dress (SGD$32.90).

J really likes his polka dot shirt, which I think will also be a great piece for Little E in the future! I really like the contrasting pocket and the mandarin collar. The sleeves can also be worn long which is great for J because he often gets cold in air-conditioned places. This shirt really does wash well and it is very easy to iron!

frozen-style-norweigan-inspired-dress

Box-pleats and embroidery!

Little E’s Tri-colour shift dress is really gorgeous – the style of the dress with bolts of colour hidden within the pleats as well as the embroidery along the hem, reminded me of the rosemaling and pleating of the Norweigan style garments in Disney’s Frozen. It’s very versatile too – I think it would look cute with a long sleeved teeshirt underneath and tights!

I would recommend that this dress be pre-washed separately as the colour does bleed a little bit on the first few washes.

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Silver Plane Tee (SGD$19.90)

J chose this cool tee-shirt by himself! The silver foil plane is very shiny and stands up well to repeated washes. The tee-shirt itself is a very soft cotton, which is light and thin – very nice for our summer weather. I personally prefer a thicker cotton which I feel will hold its shape, but my son really likes the airiness of this tee-shirt.

Little E also chose a dress for herself – the Calliart Ink dress that you can see in the picture below.

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Calliart Ink dress (SGD$32.90)

This is a very pretty cream coloured dress, with a lovely print of flowers and butterflies all over it. I especially like the tie at the back which can be adjusted to give a more customised fit or loosened so that the dress can be worn pinafore-style.

Paley & Love ships both locally and internationally, and there is free local shipping for orders above SGD $80! May’s fussiness when it comes to clothes is definitely in your favour, as she scrutinises every piece that enters and leaves her hands, making sure that there are no stains or marks on them. This means that your order is sure to reach you in great condition.

Bonus for Owls Well Readers: Paley & Love has offered an exclusive discount code for all Owls Well Readers! Just enter the code PaleyMA at checkout to enjoy 10% off anything in store. (Promotion code is valid until 30th April 2014)

Paley & Love is also generously sponsoring a giveaway of $20 worth of shopping vouchers for FIVE Owls Well Readers! Hurrah!

To take part in the Giveaway just:

  1. Be a fan of the Owls Well Facebook page
  2. Be a fan of the Paley & Love Facebook page
  3. Like and share this Facebook photo and tag a friend – make sure your post is public!
  4. Leave a comment below telling me what you look for in choosing clothes for your kids and the name of your Facebook account that you used to like the page. Don’t forget to 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 worldwide and will end on 30th April. Winners will be picked via Random.org – just make sure you complete all 4 easy steps!)

Good luck!

 (edit: The winners have been emailed! Thanks for playing!)


1. Conclusion: Barbie is an airhead.

A Groovy Gift Guide – 20 gifts (mostly) under $20, and an exclusive discount code!)

Are you getting excited about the upcoming holiday season? It’s 2 weeks until Christmas! I always feel that Christmas is such a great excuse for gift giving but I despise battling the crowds at the shopping malls -which is why online shopping is the place for me.

I’m very excited to share with you all…our brand new sponsor, The Groovy Giraffe.

The Groovy Giraffe is an online bookstore set up by a local husband and wife team. When their son was born this year, they were astonished by the exorbitant prices of children’s books sold in our local brick-and-mortar shops, which is why they founded an online bookstore with the goal of helping readers save money on good books.

I just bought two books from them recently and they were delivered to me in only three working days in beautiful condition, so I think this is a great place if you’re looking for some last minute gifts. There’s a very wide range selection of titles, and the prices on their website are UNBELIEVEABLE. I’ll never pay the recommended retail price for any of my books every again!

The books on The Groovy Giraffe are all brand new titles from publishers and suppliers who need to liquidate their overstocks – so all the savings are passed onto customers like myself, and whats more, they offer free local delivery for purchases over SGD$60!

If you are looking for some ideas for gifts this December, here are my suggestions for all the people in your life, young and old! Happy Shopping!

For the preschoolers and tiny tots:

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  1. Baby Touch Car – SGD$7.00 (RRP:$9.48) I love the ‘Baby Touch’ series of touch-and-feel books for tiny little ones. They usually have very thick, sturdy boards with a great range of textures which are able to hold up to rough use.
  2. Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories by Dr Seuss – SGD$7.90 (RRP$20.00) Dr Seuss is a wonderful author and most kids would be familiar with ‘The Cat in the Hat’ and ‘Horton Hears a Who’, which were both made into really great films. I personally like this set of short poems by Dr Seuss which are not only hilarious, but also great for emerging readers.
  3. Wipe Clean Early Learning Fun Farm by Roger Priddy – SGD$6.90 (RRP$9.25) This range of activity books are really popular with my kids because of their bright, glossy illustrations and pages that can be wiped clean and reused time and again. This is great to take on long plane journeys or to 3 hour long wedding banquets because the books are jam-packed with tons of fun activities that will keep a small child meaningfully (and quietly) occupied for hours.
  4. Laura’s Star (Book and CD set) by Klaus Baumgart – SGD$10.60 (RRP$15.18) This is a beautiful storybook is one of J’s favourites and is about a lonely little girl who finds a fallen star and who realises that her new friend needs help returning to where it belongs. Laura’s solution to the star’s dilemma is lovely and shows how true friendship is unselfish. The watercolour illustrations in this story are gorgeous too.
  5. The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers – SGD$10.90 (RRP$16.90) Oliver Jeffers is one of our favourite author-illustrators and we love his heartwarming, quirky stories about friendship and awesome graphics. This particular story is another of J’s favourites because it takes the form of an exciting intergalactic adventure!

For Confident Readers and Bigger Kids:

collectors-books-tweens-teens-young-adults

  1. Thomas the Tank Engine 65th Anniversary Edition by The Rev.  W. Awdry – SGD$14.90 (RRP$37.28)  This is a collection of the original, unabridged stories of Thomas the Tank Engine, with full colour reproductions of the original illustrations by C. Reginald Dalby. It also includes a little bit behind the creation of the famous Railway series and would be a great gift for Thomas fans! I am seriously coveting this hard cover collector’s edition for J and Little E’s library!
  2. Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo – SGD$6.90 (RRP$9.73) Kensuke’s Kingdom is the first Michael Morpurgo book that I have ever read and is a poignant story about a shipwrecked little boy who meets a mysterious Japanese soldier. It’s no wonder that this book has won so many prizes. (You can also get all the 16 book box set which is a real bargain at SGD$84.90)
  3. The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin – SGD $8.90 (RRP$10.95) If you’re a fan of critically acclaimed writer George R.R. Martin and the HBO series Game Of Thrones, then there is no better way to introduce your young reader to the world of fantasy than with this novella written specially for the young adult!
  4. Global Birding: Travelling the World in Search of Birds by Les Beletsky – SGD$19.90 (RRP$63.08) This National Geographic encyclopaedia is a real steal! With gorgeous glossy photographs and illustrations, this practical reference book would such make a wonderful gift (and it’d look great on the coffee table too!).
  5. Blubber by Judy Blume – SGD$4.90 ($8.43) Judy Blume is a great author for tweens and deals with difficult issues with great sensitivity and insight without tipping over the edge into perversion. This particular classic novel deals with bullying in school.

For Grownups (or those who are kids at heart)

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  1. The Life of Birds by Quentin Blake SGD$18.90 (RRP$40.00) Looking at Quentin Blake’s illustrations always brings me back to my childhood so when I saw this book on sale, I just had to nab a copy for myself! In this book, Quentin Blake lets his imagination roam free in a series of evocative watercolours depicting his observations of birds (and human nature).
  2. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins SGD$26.90 (RRP$45.54) Ok, I realise that this box set costs a little over $20 but it’s totally worth it! The Hunger Games Trilogy is a brilliant series about a dystopian future where children are forced into a gladiator-style reality TV programme. Very exciting and a great way to introduce a young adult to the wonderful world of Science Fiction.
  3. Scientific Process Goes “Boink” A Calvin and Hobbes Collection by Bill Watterson SGD$8.90 (RRP$16.24) Bill Watterson’s wit, imagination and dedication to quality really shines through in this fun collection of comic strips! Cheeky Calvin and his best tiger friend Hobbes have made me laugh and cry in equal measures.
  4. Plush-O-Rama: Curious Creatures for Immature Adults SGD$19.90 (RRP$28.48) This is a brilliant DIY Kit that comes with all the materials to make two of the projects in the accompanying ‘Plush-O-Rama’ book which helps crafters create their own oddball handmade plushies. What a great gift for a crafty lady!
  5. Jamie’s America: Easy Twists on Great American Classic, and More SGD$14.90 (RRp$46.88) Jamie Oliver is one of my favourite celebrity chefs and I like the way that he tries to empower and educate people through his recipes. I couldn’t resist getting a copy for myself!

For the Early Parent and the Fun Family:young-parent-family-friendly-book-activity

  1. Feeding Made Easy –  From Weaning to School:The Ultimate Guide to Contented Family Mealtimes by Gina Ford SGD$16.90 (RRP:$37.34) Ok, I don’t agree with everything that the lovely Gina Ford says about raising children, but her guide to when and how to introduce different foods, tastes and textures is absolutely spot on. I found her recipes and ideas very helpful (and delicious!) This book is a must-have for any new parent (or anyone struggling with fussy eaters).
  2. Baby Journal (The Dirty Wow Wow Baby Journal) SGD$11.90 (RRP:$22.44) I love Baby Journals as gifts for the expectant parent – they make such great keepsakes! This book is not only full of lovely photographs (from Cheryl and Jeffrey Katz’s Dirty Wow Wow and Other Love Stories), but has plenty of room to record all those special moments and milestones that mums and dads will not want to forget.
  3. Cupcakes SGD$14.90 (RRP:$37.44) This is a great box set of 48 cupcake recipes and comes with a whole host of tools (mixing spoon, paper cases, piping bag and nozzles, egg separator and measuring spoons) so it’s a real bargain! What better way to encourage parent-child bonding than over some delicious cupcakes?
  4. Elmo Dominos in a Tube SGD$16.90 (RRP:$37.20) Fans of Elmo and the Muppets from Sesame Street will be sure to love this brilliant cannister of dominos! It’s small enough to take along for visits to the grandparents place too. This will make a fun family present!
  5. Geronimo Stilton Cookbook: Fun recipes for Parents and Kids to Cook Together SGD$9.90 (RRP$14.50) This is a supercute recipe book with loads of easy, delicious dishes for families to spend time together in the kitchen – and it’s a great way to show kids that they can express their creativity through food as well.

A Bonus for all Owls Well Readers: Use the coupon code ‘Owlswell’ to get 5% off your order on everything in store forever (except the already heavily discounted ‘Bargains’ section which contain books that are cheap-as-free).

(All prices printed are correct at the time of this post. We are proud to be part of The Groovy Giraffe’s affiliate programme. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that make Owls Well possible!)