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!

Upcycling for kids: Spiderweb Christmas Coasters (or Circular Weaving Loom CDs)

So, I was looking at spiderwebs and thinking of Greek Mythology, and I remembered that there used to be circular weaving looms around for seamless knitting of bags and hosiery. I headed onto Google and found a bunch of paper plate weaving crafts but instead of using paper plates, I decided to upcycle a bunch of old blank CDs that I had lying around the house.

Yes, I have a whole spindle of blank CDs that I purchased nearly 10 years ago. They only fit about 400-700MB of information on them, so they are useful for virtually nothing nowadays. I keep them around in case I ever need to burn one or two photos for a friend. But now we can use them for making some great Christmas gifts!

So here’s:

How to Upcycle Old CDs into Pretty Christmas Coasters and Hanging Ornaments

Materials:

  1. Old CDs
  2. Yarn of different colours and textures (I got my yarn from Daiso)
  3. Scissors
  4. (Optional) Old plastic yoghurt pots or takeaway container lids
  5. (Optional) Hole-punch

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Instructions:

  1. Cut weaving needles out of yoghurt pots or takeaway container lids. You don’t necessarily need these but I found them useful in preventing the yarn from fraying at the ends. Cut out teardrop shaped plastic pieces from old plastic yoghurt pots or takeaway container lids. Use a hole punch to make a hole through one end. I used a regular paper hole punch for this.
  2. Warp your CD loom using 1.5-2m length of yarn. You do this by looping the yarn through the hole in the middle of the CD. Tie a knot in the first loop.
  3. Make sure that there are an odd number of loops. Any number above 15 looks pretty good, bearing in mind that the more loops you have, the more challenging it is for the weaver. I used about 15-19 loops for 5 year old Little E, and 21-25 loops for 8 year old J. christmas-ornament-craft-gift-coaster-kids
  4. Cut any length of yarn to use for weaving. I got each child to measure out 2 arm-lengths of yarn to start out. Tie one end to any spoke on the warping to start, and the other end to the weaving needle.
  5. Weave the yarn through the spokes of the warping in an under-over-under-over pattern (or under one-skip one-under one-skip one). We used the shiny side of the CD as the weaving side, because it just looks prettier that way.
  6. When you come to the end of the yarn, just tie another length of yarn on and continue the pattern. Experiment with different textures and colours
  7. Try to finish weaving the spiderweb to at least 1 cm from the edge of the CD! It gets quite challenging towards the end.
  8. Once you finish the spiderweb, tie the yarn off to the nearest spoke on the loom, and tuck the ends under the weaving.
  9. You can choose to tie another length of yarn through any one of the wheel spokes so that the weaving can be hung up as a Christmas ornament, or it can be used flat as a drinks coaster – your choice!

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Last Minute Teacher’s Day Gift Ideas from around the web

Teacher’s Day is in a few days time and if you (like myself) are barely able to get it together on a daily basis, here are some awesome last minute Teacher’s Day Gift ideas from around the web! Just click on the links or the images for more details.

Smile, print and go!

Here are some really simple and fast gift and craft ideas using photos of your child! Just a little bit of photoshop magic or scissorwork required!

DIY Photo bookmark from Owls Well

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Photo penholder card from Owls Well

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Homemade Goodness

If you really want to impress, here are some delicious ideas that are so simple to make, you can even get your kids involved in the process!

Double Berry Jam from Life’s Tiny Miracles

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Picture Credit: Life’s Tiny Miracles

Homemade Granola from MalMal Our Inspiration

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Picture Credit: MalMal Our Inspiration

Daily Survival Kits

For some of us who have no confidence in our culinary skills, here are some equally practical gifts for helping teachers stay healthy, happy and sweet.

Obento-style care packages for teachers from Sakura Hakura

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Picture Credit: Sakura Hakura

Teachers’ Day Care Package from Bubsicles

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Picture Credit: Bubsicles

Make it personal

Nothing says ‘effort’ like a handmade gift! Here are some more lovely craft ideas for that special teacher.

Hand stamped tote bags from Lil Blue Bottle

Teachers = learning = books = they will always need a tote bag for all their books and loose papers! (I suggest using the slogan “You’re Totes Awesome”! )

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Picture Credit: Lil Blue Bottle

Magnetising Teachers Day from Growing Hearts 123

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Picture Credit: Growing Hearts 123

Make it Teacher Approved

Here are some useful lists of gift ideas with some gorgeous free printables – written by parents who are teachers themselves!

(By the way, I hear movie ticket vouchers, Starbucks gift cards and good quality coloured pens or highlighters are very high on the wish list, although every teacher I’ve spoken to really appreciates a thoughtfully written card.)

  1. 6 Gift Ideas for Teachers from My Lilbookworm
  2. 10 Mason Jar Gift ideas for Teachers’ Day from Life’s Tiny Miracles

Becky’s Essence of Fruit: Bottling

A while ago, I wrote about making fruit essence for baking cakes with.

Well, 6-8 weeks is now over, so here’s a quick tutorial on preparing the fruit essences once they’re done.

You’ll need:

  • A bowl or jug of some sort
  • A sieve
  • 50 ml bottles for the essence
  • A funnel

As usual, you should boil the bottles to sterilise them so that your essences don’t go “off” before they can be used.

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Boil it up good

I used amber bottles designed for aromatherapy oils as the dark glass on the bottles helps to block out light from reaching the essence, keeping it fresher for longer.  They’re also pretty good when pouring into a teaspoon!  However, if you are feeling very fancy, or are very fancy, you can always buy pretty bottles from Etsy, save up tiny sample alcohol bottles or even use old perfume jars (after thorough cleaning, of course), the sky’s the limit!

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Blueberries have lost their colour – this means that they’re ready

Sieve the berries out of the essence liquid.  You can use a regular sieve for this, but if you’re really fancy, you can get more juice and flavour out of the berries by squeezing the fruit through a piece of cooking muslin.  I’m too lazy for this, though!

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All ready for Christmas!

Use a funnel to fill the little bottles with the essence and voila, you have some lovely essence for Christmas!  If you have a label printer, you can spruce the bottles up with fancy labels.

A Becky Lee’s Note: Always prepare slightly more empty bottles than you expect to fill, as the recipe always creates slightly more than 250 ml per lot.

So, there you have it, my gift for my baker friends this Christmas!  I hope you like it!

Christmas is Coming #3: Love your skin and hair (with the Olive Oil Skin Care Company)

Over the last three months, my family and I have been using this awesome range of hair and skin products from the Olive Oil Skin Care Company – and I gotta say that they are fantastic for keeping dry and sensitive skin beautifully moisturised and smelling great.

This is what I would call a ‘100% Real Brand’ – 100% made in Australia with 100% food-grade cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil from the manufacturer’s own family-run olive plantation that is 100% free of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. It comprises of 100% all natural ingredients and is 100% free from all the nasty stuff (artificial fragrances and colours, parabens, preservatives and additives, sulfates and silicones as well as palm oil). In short, 100% good for sensitive or eczematous skin, even for the most delicate of baby skin!

Thumper loves baby-friendly skin products!

These products are exclusively distributed in Singapore by Kerygo, which is founded by a local mumpreneur, YY, who came across the Olive Oil Skin Care Company on a trip to Australia. Her husband, who happens to be a friend of mine from university, spotted the Olive Oil Shampoo and commented on how good olive oil is for the hair and scalp. After trying the shampoo on herself and the skincare products on her own eczema-prone daughter, and visiting the manufacturer (even tasting the olive oil used in production), she decided to bring the range to Singapore.

When YY contacted me to ask if I would like to try out their range of bath and body products, I was excited in part because I love discovering new family-friendly skin and haircare products, but really because YY is a gorgeously gorgeous girl with the most radiant skin and luscious hair. (She would be so bashful if she knew I was writing this, but YY, it’s true! You and Handsome R make such a lovely couple.)

Anyway, I am glad to report that what YY sent me is of fabulous quality. My favourite is the Rose Geranium Olive Oil Shampoo and Conditioner. It is sulphate and silicone-free, and is so nourishing for my little girl’s curly locks, leaving them soft, manageable, and smelling delicious. The Rose Geranium Olive Oil shampoo is an especially good value as a tiny pea-sized amount  can be mixed with water in my palm to produce a massive quantity of lather. Seriously, we have been using this daily in our household on the whole family for the last three months, and have used less than half the bottle.

A selection of our favourites from The Olive Oil Skin Care Company

A selection of our favourites from The Olive Oil Skin Care Company

I also really like the Blue Mallee Eucalyptus Soothing Balm, which came in very handy when the family suffered from congestion during the recent haze in Singapore. I have also found it wonderful for applying onto soothing itchy mosquito bites and dry patches of skin.

I passed the handmade Goat’s Milk olive oil soap and the Gidyea with Lemon Scented Tea Tree Olive Oil Soap to the Aged Ps, who suffer from dry and cracked skin from all their jet-setting here and there. They reported a marked improvement in skin texture after only a few days of use! The soaps are cured for at least 10-14 weeks, so that they don’t get mushy and fall to pieces in the shower, whilst still making a nice silky lather. The Handmade Pure Castile Bodywash, like all castile soaps, does not create a whole lot of suds unless you use a bath sponge but it’s gentle formulation is great for little Thumper’s delicate baby skin.

A Special Something for Owls Well Readers: YY, the founder of Kerygo, has kindly agreed to sponsor ONE surprise gift set of products (worth up to SGD$60) that she has specially handpicked for THREE lucky Owls Well Readers! WOOHOO! What a great Christmas gift!

To take part in this giveaway, complete all the steps below:

  1. Be a fan of the Olive Oil Skin Care Co Singapore on Facebook
  2. Be a fan of the Owls Well Facebook Page
  3. Share this post on Facebook (set to public), tagging @OwlsWell and at least four friends
  4. Leave a comment below telling me about a Christmas gift that you have received which you particularly treasure. 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)

(This giveaway is open to anyone with a Singapore mailing address and closes on 24th December 2015. Winners will be picked via Random.org – just make sure you complete all 4 easy steps!)

Good Luck!

Christmas is coming #2: Tyrrell Katz Lunchbag Giveaway from JEDpacks

An Insulated Lunchbag from Tyrrell Katz

An Insulated Lunchbag from Tyrrell Katz

In my last post, I wrote about how a lunchbag came in useful as part of J’s school routine. Well, I talked to the mumpreneur behind JEDpacks and she has very generously agreed to sponsor a very special Christmas treat for our loyal Owls Well readers!

One lucky Owls Well Reader will make away with this awesome Tyrrell Katz Insulated Lunchbag in the ever-popular Bugs print (worth SGD $35) from JEDpacks

Woohoo!

Thank you JEDpacks!

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

  1. Be a fan of the Owls Well Facebook Page
  2. Be a fan of the JEDpacks Facebook Page
  3. Share this giveaway on your Facebook Page (set to public), tagging @Owls Well as well as at least three friends
  4. Visit my this post and leave a comment there telling me about what you or your child would pack in their lunchbag. 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)

(This giveaway is open to anyone with a Singapore mailing address and closes on 24th December 2015. Winners will be picked via Random.org – just make sure you complete all 4 easy steps!)

Good Luck!

P.S. Don’t forget that you can get 20% off any purchase from JEDpacks by using the discount code ‘XMAS20’ at checkout! Visit JEDpacks here. (The code is valid until 24th December 2015 for a minimum spend of $30)

Update: Jennifer is our winner – thanks for playing!

Pretty things from Alfie de Meow

I am a real sucker for pretty things that have just a touch of quirkiness thrown in, which is why I was absolutely over the moon when Elaine from Alfie de Meow got in touch with me to ask if I would like to pick a few favourites from her webstore!

Alfie de Meow, named for the intrepid little calico kitten that Elaine rescued from a drain that was running underneath her family home, is a homegrown jewellery label stocking cat-themed pieces, most of which are handmade by Elaine herself.

Since Alfie (or ‘Chairman Meow’, as Elaine calls her) is the shop’s muse, 10% of all merchandise sales are donated to local independent cat welfare charities such as the Love Kuching Project. This year, Alfie de Meow is supporting CATSI, a non-profit group which helps pay for the veterinary bills of rescued cats via a crowdfunding platform.

Pretty things + local mumpreneur + social responsibility = three times win!

Alfie de Meow carries a lovely selection of vintage and handmade jewellery as well as other handmade items such as cat collars (from a collaboration with Gooodcatcollars), trinket holders and camera straps. I had a really hard time choosing my favourites – there were just so many lovely things!

I have been on the lookout for a good and sturdy camera strap, so I was very pleased when Elaine sent me wonderfully comfortable camera strap with a cute design of black cats dancing to music. I love it so much! The strap itself is thick, soft and flexible, and is reinforced on both ends with leather. It’s very well-made and best of all, it sits well and doesn’t leave marks on my neck.

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Vintage and Handmade Pretties

I also chose a couple of brooches from the store to add to my collection of pins. The first is a sweet, handmade wooden brooch, the Cat Stare wooden brooch in vintage chevron from the Adopt-a-cat collection (you can see it in the picture above). The laser-cut wooden brooch is satiny smooth to the touch and the lovely handpainted chevrons in gold, black and white go really well with all my outfits.

The second pin I fell in love with is the Calico Kookie Cat, a handmade pin from eco-friendly bioresin, from the Curiokitty collection that you can see in the picture below. I like the way that the colours mix together in the eco-friendly bioresin which is all cast by Elaine in her workshop. The sweet little gold-tone ribbon detail adds a subtle sparkle. I have a soft spot for calico cats because they remind me of the Aged P, who used to keep one which was named “Meow-mee”. We still refer to all calico cats as Meow-mees in our family!

Elaine also has a marvellous selection of vintage pins in store as part of the Sophisticat collection, and she threw in a vintage gold-tone brooch of a cat teasing a bird as a special surprise for me. Thanks, Elaine!

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In memory of Meow-mi and Poppy

I also picked out the quirky looking Catch That Fish! necklace featuring a cheeky little cat tormenting a goldfish which reminded me of the Outlaw’s black cat, Poppy, who used to catch frogs from the garden pond and leave them on the doorstep as tributes.

As you can see, Little E really liked the necklace too, and since it is made out of hardy and indestructible acrylic, I’ve been letting her wear it when we go out and it makes her feel really special! I think it would be cool to get matching mother-daughter jewellery!

All jewellery from Alfie de Meow comes in a very nice little cotton drawstring bag, great for gift-giving, but also protects each piece and helps them retain their lustre and shine.

All the jewellery in store is very affordable – everything is under SGD$50 – and would make great stocking stuffers during the upcoming holiday season. Elaine also holds two-day workshops where one can learn how to cast and create jewellery from bioresin, which would be a fun holiday activity for teens!

Something Special for Owls Well Readers: From now until the 20th November 2015, Alfie de Meow is generously offering a 15% storewide discount for Owls Well Readers! Just enter the coupon code ‘OWLSWELL’ at checkout for the discount to be applied to your order! Woohoo!