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Exactly one more month until Lil Pumpkin of House Wang, the First of her Name, Bringer of Spring, Jewel of Our Eyes, Queen of Our Hearts, Precious Child of God, Protector of Beanie Boos, Collector of All Things Cute & Colourful, Princess of Popcorn Lovers and Mother of Monkey {her fave toy} turns 10!!!

Seriously, where did my baby go???!

*****
Dear Lil Pumpkin,

It's exactly 1 month to your 10th birthday. Woohoo!!! I'm super excited for you, but also kinda emotional at how fast you're growing up and all... 。゚( ゚இ‸இ゚)゚。 How could it be that the wee little bub I could hold with just one arm is now up to my nose level???!

Unfortunately, your birthday is just before the main exam week so we probably won't be going to USS as what you usually love to do on your birthday.

Most likely it'll just be a simple day out with Daddy & Mummy, then dinner eating your fave food {sushi? Mexican nachos? pizza??} and home for an early night as you have your Semester Assessment 1 exam papers for the next 4 days!! Yikes! My poor baby... Sorry darling, hope you will never have any exams on your actual birthday in the future but I guess the probability of that happening is pretty low since mid-year school exams are usually during this period bleh. 

Oh well, just bear with it and we'll have a proper celebration after the exams are all over!!

We love you very much and will try to make your 10th birthday as memorable as possible ❤

Love always,
Mummy

*****

P.S. This photo was taken during our outdoor family photoshoot at Gardens by the Bay when she was 7 years old.  Yup, she still has that cheeky face!!!


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We got Simpson-ised as a family!!! hehehe...

About 1-2 months ago, the boy commissioned someone to turn us into Simpson characters. Yup, if we were actually residents of Springfield, that would be us right there (。•̀ᴗ-)✧

I'm not sure which artist he hired, or how much it cost... but yes, you can do such a thing haha. There are free websites like The Simpson Maker where you can incorporate characteristics from your face by choosing different eye, ears, nose and hair to design yourself a Simpsons avatar with pre-determined outfits and scenes from the TV show. Choices are limited though.

By commissioning someone to do it, the artist drew according to the pic above {one of our favourite family pics taken during Chinese New Year 2019} that the boy provided so we had our own little details on our outfits and we could choose to be drawn in The Simpsons' living room itself.

You can of course choose to create a custom background.

I thought the original Simpsonised portrait was cute, but somehow something was lacking.... I mean, I know we can't look exactly like us otherwise we won't be "Simpsons" characters but still I kinda felt our features weren't personalised enough.

Just seemed like a generic Asian family in The Simpsons wearing our clothes??! hmmm...

Anyway my dear friend Alissa took it upon herself to help us personalise it a bit more when I told her that maybe its our hair that threw me off a bit since in the original portrait, my hair was so flat and the boy's was too round?? Such a sweetie! #thankyou

Comparing her version with the original, I see that she also made the boy's eyes smaller {hehehe - as it should be!}, tinted his glasses pink {that was due to the reflection in the photo}, and made my eyebrows thinner ☆⌒(*^-°)v Thanks Alissa!!

Lil Pumpkin's Simpson character has long hair and doesn't wear glasses so doen't look that much like her now, but I do like it as it remind me of Lil Pumpkin when she was younger with loooooong hair that reached her butt!  

P.S. If you're a Family Guy fan, you can turn yourself into a Family Guy character here.


Thank you for reading Sakura Haruka. You can LIKE my FB page @ http://facebook.com/LoveSakuraHaruka or follow me on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/aisakuraharuka
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I love supermarket-shopping, especially at mega supermarkets like Lotte Mart in Korea where it's filled with unique and yummy Korean goodies hehe.

Coles/ Woolworths in Australia, Big C in Thailand, Tesco in Malaysia, Aeon in Japan... I love them all ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ

It came as no surprise then that Lotte Mart, Seoul Station was the first place we visited on our mother-daughter winter holiday to Korea last year after we checked-in at our hotel!

Lotte Mart sells more than just groceries and food. It also sells household items, clothes, fashion accessories, electronics, sport equipment, shoes, toys cosmetics, pet food etc. at very competitive prices.

The branch at Seoul Station is perhaps the largest in Seoul, and is definitely larger than the one at Jamil Station {where Lotte World Theme Park is located}. It is a supermarket shopping paradise where the first level has the food, cosmetics, kitchen, daily essentials sections, a corner Daiso shop, and counter restaurants / food court. The second floor has the sportswear, stationery, clothes, pets sections, as well as Muji and Uniqlo shops.

FYI, next to Lotte Mart here is Lotte Outlets that offers more than 140 famous brands at reasonable, and sometimes discounted, prices!

We were pretty hungry by the time we arrived at Lotte Mart so we stopped by one of the counter restaurants first.

Lil Pumpkin and I were craving for good ol' Korean ramen so even though the owner tried to entice us with his promo set of 1 x fried rice, 1 x  kimchi ramen and a packet drink for just 7,000won {S$8.35}, we were pretty adamant to get 2 bowls of ramen!! hehehe

Even then, our bill came out to just 11,000won {S$13.10} for 2 bowls of ramen and an extra side dish of seafood tempura.

What a steal! I mean, a good bowl of Korean ramen in Singapore probably costs S$11 by itself.. and this was really delicious. I should have ordered 2 portions of the seafood tempura.. will definitely patronise this restaurant again whenever we're back at Lotte Mart, Seoul Station.

After we were all warmed up and full, we were raring to go shop around!!

Lotte Mart at Seoul Station is a must-visit for most tourists to Seoul {I mean, everyone has to eat or snack, right??!}, so don't worry if you don't speak or read a word of Korean. There are English translations to most of the food sold, and you can probably find a staff who would be able to speak to you in English.

My word, the variety of instant noodles here is really extensive!!

And I screamed with delight just looking at the cereals and granolas!!! It's probably the packaging, but they all just look so delicious, cute and enticing... Makes me want to buy them all!!

Kellogg's a huge cereal brand there and although Singapore has many of the usual flavours, they do have some special flavours e.g. Oreo O's and Hershey's.

If you want to buy the usual Korean specialty products like ginseng, seaweed, kimchi, toppoki etc. to bring back as souvenirs, you can find them all here in one location too. So convenient! O(≧∇≦)O

Not sure if you can see, but that pink can of Pringles is Butter Caramel flavoured potato chips! It's the first time I've seen sweet flavours for Pringles and have kinda mixed feelings towards it haha.. should have bought a can to try though.

Was pleasantly surprised to see a range of Korean protein powder.. maybe will get a bottle the next time the boy and I come together.

I love eating hotteok {Korean sweet pancakes}, especially during winter, and was happy to try the ready-made ones in the supermarkets. Bad idea. They taste totally different and were too doughly/ dense, unlike the soft chewy hotteok you can get from the street carts.

Oh, LINE FRIENDS is extremely popular here in Korea and there are many food, accessories and products marketed with the characters. 

Just a few examples of the non-food items that are available... Mental note to buy back the lightweight aluminum instant noodle pot next time. The small one costs 4,500won {S$5.35}.

You can probably find a wider and cheaper range of obento and cutlery ware from Changsin-Dong Wholesale Market {동대문 문구완구거리}. And FYI, if you're traveling around in Seoul with kids, you should probably go to Changsin-dong toys & stationary market at least once!

I actually bought her that LINE FRIENDS Brown bear headband {9,900won or S$11.80} because she wanted it and looked so kawaii with it!!

You've to rent a trolley cart with a refundable deposit of 100won {S$0.10} but if you've to go toilet or want to take a break from shopping halfway, you can also park it with your shopping items in a locker.

These are some of my favourite items I purchased that day.

1) Lotte Yogurt Jelly is a very popular snack, but what I love is actually their Yogurt-covered Almonds or Cashews {5,900won or S$7 for 210g}!! Bought them for the boy actually since he is nuts about nuts, but I ended up eating most of them myself haha..

2) Kellogg's Hershey's chocolate puffs {8,280won or S$9.85 for 500g} with chocolate filling is kinda like the new Nestlé Koko Maxx I guess, except that it's made with Hershey's milk or dark chocolate. Really delicious and the boy could easily finish one 500g packet in 1-2 seatings!

3) Beef Jerky {4,000won or S$4.80} from their house brand is different from the American versions as it's not that salty or oily. Really nice, dry and chewy texture. I loved having these packets as quick protein snacks whenever we were out and about.

4) Honey Chocolate Milk {3,480won or S$4.15 for 750ml} was a last-minute buy as we just wanted a quick drink before we left the supermarket. It turned out to be an excellent buy since it was thick, creamy with just a tinge of sweet honey. Very good value-for-money.

One thing I love about shopping at Lotte Mart is that you can get instant VAT tax refund at the cashiers upon payment if you spend about 30,000won {S$35.75} and show your passport. Easy!! No need to go through the hassle of going to different counters to collect your tax back, and it definitely saves a heck lot of time. 

Of course, some items are not eligible for tax refund and the tax refund for cosmetic items sold in Lotte Mart are done by the individual brands since you pay for them separately at their own counters. So for example, if you buy cosmetics from Innisfree, you have to buy 30,000won and above of Innisfree products to get the immediate tax refund from them, and can't combine purchases with other items in the supermarket.

I came prepared to Lotte Mart and brought my own large "auntie" zipped canvas bag and IKEA blue canvas bag to carry our shopping items back. Both of which I carried myself on the train back to the hotel #thankGodforgymtraining ( ᐛ )و

Don't worry if you forget your own bags, as they do sell reusuable eco bags, as well as provide free carton boxes and tape for packing your stuff.

As I read somewhere, when you come to shop at  Lotte Mart, it's really not a matter of what you can buy, but what you can bring back home. If you do over-buy {oops!!}, Lotte Mart also has a counter for EMS overseas shipping for you to send your purchases back to your home country directly.

All in all, Lil Pumpkin and I spent about 4 hours at Lotte Mart. And my bill came up to about S$250+?? hehe.. the boy was pretty surprised but then to my defense, I did buy a considerable amount of souvenirs and snacks to last Lil Pumpkin and me for our time in Korea.

Thank you Lil Pumpkin for being so patient to shop with Mummy in the supermarket. She was bored at times, of course, but thank goodness there were interesting items for her too, and we had WiFi so was happy to sit down to chat/ play games with her friends for a while (*^▽^*)

Lotte Mart Seoul Supermarket Shopping! | Sakuraharuka.com - YouTube
You can see some of the other items found in Lotte Mart, Seoul Station in this video.  If you aren't able to view it properly, please see on my YouTube channel here. And subscribe while you're at it!! hehe #shamelessplug

Pop by {and follow hehe!} my Instagram and FB page for more of our trip updates and pictures. I documented it on-the-go on my IG Story Highlights - look for Korea #1 and Korea #2 folders.

Lotte Mart, Seoul Station {롯데마트-서울역점}
426, Cheongpa-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul {서울특별시 중구 청파로 426}
Nearest MTR station: Seoul, Exit 1 {Lines 1 and 4}
Open daily, 10am - 12 midnight {Closed every 2nd & 4th Sunday}

Other Korea travel posts:




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We went to the Prudential Marina Bay Carnival for the first time this year!

And we liked it so much that we actually went there twice!!

We were there for the first time in January this year. Its opening hype had died down so it wasn't very crowded even though we went on a weekend.

The rides are about S$8-$10/pax {I reckon the max we paid was S$12/pax for the thrilling "Freak Out" attraction} and games are about S$5-S$8/game on average. I found the pricing to be pretty ex as I'm so spoilt by theme parks whereby you only have to pay for only one entrance fee for unlimited rides haha.


But then, being at Marina Bay Carnival brought back fond memories of the boy and I spending time during our University days at Perth Royal Show carnivals. I had so much fun then and I really hope to be able to bring Lil Pumpkin back one day to experience it too...

Anyway, the boy wanted Lil Pumpkin to have the "full Carnival experience" so didn't set a limit to our spending and I think we spent about S$100 on that first visit where we stayed for around 2 hours having a go at a few rides, games and even eating the famous Meatballs in a Bucket.

In early March 2019 we went back another time because we still had some credits left in our Carnival card, and there is a sweet 2-for-1 deal for all the games and rides!!

This promo made the visit to the Carnival  more worthwhile and value-for-money. They should keep the pricing as this from the start as the original prices are really pretty expensive, especially if you have a family with 2 or more kids??

Marina Bay Carnival 2019: Her First Prize! Sakuraharuka.com - YouTube
It was noticibly more crowded from our first visit thanks to the 2-for-1 promo I guess...

This time, Lil Pumpkin played more games and even won prizes!!! OMG I'm seriously so proud of her because I never win at Carnival games myself haha...

Check out and see how she won her first prize at the dart game. Pretty impressed at her aiming skills too actually hehe.

Marina Bay Carnival 2019: Bumper Cars | Sakuraharuka.com - YouTube
Marina Bay Carnival ends this Sunday, 24 March 2019 so there are still a few more days to go play and have fun with your family.

We've no time to go back again before it ends but I'll be sure to look out for it when it comes back again!!

Marina Bay Carnival 2019: Rides & Games Galore! | Sakuraharuka.com - YouTube
Here's a compilation video of our 2 visits there. If it's not showing properly, please see it on my YouTube channel!

Prudential Marina Bay Carnival 
12A Bayfront Avenue
Period: 22 Dec 2018 to 24 Dec 2019
Opening hours: 4pm to 11pm daily {last entry at 10.30pm}
Free admission
Website: https://marinabaycarnival.sg/

*Note: This is not a paid or sponsored review. All opinions are my own.


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I love scones. Like freaking love them.

If they weren't so calorie-dense, and if I didn't gain weight as easily as I do, I would probably eat them every day haha. My fave ones are raisin scones from our country club. I reckon I would cry the day they take them off the menu.

Anyway, most of the recipes I've come across seem rather complicated and needed quite a number of ingredients. So, I was really thrilled when my friend's mum shared with me her scones recipe.

The problem is that her recipe calls for caster sugar. I, however, prefer savoury scones but since I don't usually eat salt {unless with tempura} or add salt to my cooking {I didn't even have salt at home before I tried baking the scones heh}, I wasn't too sure how to tweak the recipe and substitute the sugar properly with salt.

For my first batch, silly me actually thought that I should substitute the sugar {50g} with just slightly less amount of salt {35g} and salted butter! Woah!! Big mistake!!! It was waaaaayyyyyyy too salty for my liking but hmmm, kinda passable when eaten with honey butter {my favourite scone topping if I'm eating at home}.

For my second batch, I tried using 10g salt, raisins and unsalted butter, and although it was much less salty, I still found it too salty for my liking. The boy liked it though.

I tried a few more times and then last week, I baked the scones with Bak Kwa {a mixture from Lim Chee Guan, Kim Choo Guan & Fragrance} and just sprinkled pinches of salt over the dough. OMFG!!! This batch turned out really, really good in my honest opinion hehe #selfpraise

A number of people asked me for my Bak Kwa Scones recipe but that really is a random, DIY experiment and I didn't measure some of the ingredients so wasn't confident of sharing. However, I am happy to share this Basic Scone Recipe which requires only 4 ingredients!!

No need baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, buttermilk and so on. 

Using this basic scone recipe, feel free to add in your own extras if you like e.g. sultanas, cheese, cranberries, lemon, chocolate chips etc. and yes, even Bak Kwa hehe.

Super easy to do and you can whip up a fresh batch of scones in less than an hour.


Prep time:
40 mins

Ingredients:
500g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
125g salted butter {take it out from fridge for 5-10mins}
300ml full cream milk
6-7 x pinches of salt
1 egg for glazing {optional, alternatively use milk}

Directions:
  1. Heat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Put the flour into a big bowl.
  3. Add the slightly-soft {not melted} butter and pinches of salt.
  4. With clean hands, rub the butter into into the mixture so that it has a fine, breadcrumb texture. 
  5. Use a wooden spoon to make a well in the mixture. 
  6. Pour the milk into the well.
  7. Mix gently, keeping it light and fluffy. Do not overwork it or you'll squash out all the air.
  8. Scrape at the edges to form mixture into a ball in the bowl.
  9. Dust flour onto the work surface and tip the ball of dough onto this.
  10. Dust flour onto the dough so that it's not sticky.
  11. Knead very gently and brush away excess flour.
  12. Gently pat it flat to about 1 inch thick. Remember not to squash out the excess air.
  13. Dip a 5-6cm round cutter in flour, tap the excess, cut the dough starting from the outside, then lift the scone onto the lined baking tray.
  14. Gently glaze the scones with a pastry brush using a beaten egg or milk wash.
  15. Bake for 10 minutes, open the oven and glaze the scones again. Turn the trays around, if needed, to bake all the scones evenly. 
  16. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, until you can smell the scones and they are well-risen {note: the original recipe calls for about 12 mins baking time but I usually like my scone tops a bit more golden}.
  17. Cool on a wire rack to prevent a soggy bottom.
  18. Serve warm.
Using a round cutter about 6cm in diameter, I can usually get around 14-16 pieces of scones. For scone toppings, I recommend eating with butter, honey butter, jam and/or clotted cream.

While there's debate whether to put cream or jam first, if I am eating my scones with these 2 toppings, I prefer to put the clotted cream first, then the jam {Devon-style}. However, the Queen of England herself is said to prefer jam first before a dollop of clotted cream {Cornish tradition}... so you decide. *grins* 


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Last day of Chinese New Year 2019 was on Tuesday {19 Feb} and now it is officially over *sobs sobs*

We enjoyed the extra long holiday of basically eating, resting, eating again {hah!} and just some light visiting of close friends and relatives because Lil Pumpkin and I were recovering from a long bout of viral infection that left us coughing and sick for about 1-2 weeks.

Lil Pumpkin certainly enjoyed spending time with her cousins again (。♥‿♥。) As the kids get older with more and more activities, it gets harder and harder for them to meet up, especially since us parents are working with our own tight schedules too.

Nonetheless, it is always heartwarming to see them scream, laugh and chatter with excitement even if they haven't seen each other in a while. I do hope that they will still continue to grow up with a strong bond and support for one another... (●♡∀♡))ヾ☆*。

My old school mate, Jessica, started a small online business, Drawn by: Jessica, selling environmentally-friendly reusable silicone drawing and colouring mats for kids. Lil Pumpkin got her newest product, the Draw My House mat, while Lil J got the Big Blue colouring mat.

When I asked my sis which design I should choose for Lil J, she said that Big Blue would be best because it isn't cluttered with too many details & drawings and seems easiest for 3 year-old Lil J to get into. Excellent point.

Lil J was thrilled when I passed her the colouring mat set and wanted to start colouring immediately!

Each set comes in a clear plastic drawstring bag with 12 oil-based colour markers that are certified to be non-toxic so that they are safe even for the little ones. Even if the kids draw on their skin, tables or walls with them... no worries, because they are easily cleaned off with a wet sponge or tissue!

When Lil Pumpkin saw Lil J colouring, she couldn't help but pick up a marker to colour too. Good thing the mat is big enough {30cm x 40cm} for both of them to share and colour comfortably haha..

Bonus point? These soft silicone drawing mats also have a high-temperature tolerance {220 °C} so you can double them up as table mats during meal-times. Babies/ toddlers are welcome to pick food directly off the mat {although I suggest you wipe away the colourings first, even if they are food-safe}, as they are made of food-grade, U.S. Food and Drug Administration {FDA} approved silicon.

I find that as Lil Pumpkin gets older, she doesn't enjoy colouring simple drawings as much as she used to, but she still loves to doodle {remember how she used to always have a small notebook with her to doodle??!}.

The Draw My House mat is perfect for slightly older kids like her to explore the reaches of her imagination and learn to draw common household items. In addition to the plastic drawstring bag and washable markers, it comes with a 12 page fully-coloured prompt book full of beautifully hand-drawn icons found at home to encourage her to fill the rooms of her DrawnBy: House with plenty of personal and unique items.

It's intriguing to see how she imagines her dream house to be, and who she wants to build her home with! ♥ And oh, what wonderful stories she can come up with!

Even if she doesn't want to draw anything house-related, there's still plenty of space available on the mat to draw whatever her heart desires or even practise her writing {... and spelling with Mummy sometimes? hehe}.

Looking back, I'm glad that I got to witness Jessica starting her business from nothing, and growing it to be a well-loved item with the local mummy community #golocal

Jessica was actually in her final trimester {May 2017} just waiting to pop and killing time at home so started doodling based on various themes. She shared her creations on Facebook {I remember liking those posts from the beginning hehe} and in the process, a lot of her friends started asking if she wouldn't mind if they printed her drawings for their own kids to colour.

This got her thinking and in early 2018, decided to start a business to share more of her fun drawings, and encourage creativity and imagination in kids! Each product is lovingly hand-drawn by Jessica and she makes sure that every design have a great many things to keep her customers engaged and happy.

Fun Fact: The brand name was something that her hubby came up with! DrawnBy: Jessica is a true-blue family business and Jessica once shared with me that it's all hands on deck when it comes to running it. For example, her hubby would help her to individually check and QC the product for flaws {the imperfect mats are available for sale at heavily discounted prices at her pop-ups!!} while her cute kiddos are her "models" and would be with mummy at her to help her promote the mats at her pop-up stalls.

When Lil Pumpkin was younger, I used to make our own reusable colouring sheets by printing pictures and laminating them, then letting her colour with washable markers haha. Did you do that too??

It was a tedious, time-consuming process and I'm glad that Jessica came up with this fuss-free and inexpensive alternative instead!

See? It all fits neatly in the complimentary drawstring bag! 

If you or your kids like to colour / draw, or you just want to support this local mama in encouraging creativity and imagination through her range of washable silicone mats with hand-drawn depictions of everyday things and creatures, go check out DrawnBy: Jessica website and keep updated on her new product launches & promotions on her Facebook page.

Prices start from S$4.90 for colouring stickers {set of 3}, and the mats in carry-bags start from S$17.90 without markers, or S$24.90 as a set with them. The washable colour markers are sold individually at S$7.90 too. Customisations are only available for large orders, but do feel free to contact her if you've any suggestions for future designs!

She doesn't have a physical store {yet!}, but if you'd like to see and touch her reusable kids mats in person, you can currently find them in these restaurants and stores or head down to her pop-up stalls when she has them.

This will be my new fave things to get friends with young kiddos from now on! In fact, I'm thinking of ordering the Animal Friends set for one of them, Xiao R, soon. I like that this design includes lots of animals hand drawn for your little one to recognize and sound words doodled all around!

Xiao R and his family are going to holiday in Japan in April and I know this will be a fun and enjoyable activity to bring along for the trip, especially for those long plane and train rides!


Thank you for reading Sakura Haruka. You can LIKE my FB page @ http://facebook.com/LoveSakuraHaruka or follow me on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/aisakuraharuka
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