Saturday, August 1, 2020

A Glorious Day at Lower Peirce Reservoir Park, Singapore

Navigating life during a full-blown global pandemic can be tough. More so when the pandemic has already been around for months, ravaging countries, hurting economies, terrorising people and yet not showing signs of abating any time soon. 

Children are not the face of this pandemic. But they risk being among its biggest victims. While they have largely been spared from the direct health effects of Covid-19 (at least to date) – the crisis is having a profound effect on their wellbeing. Children have an inherent need to explore, play and socialize. Being cooped up at home in a sterile environment all the time can be detrimental both to their physical as well as mental wellbeing. 

In the era of Covid-19, children living in Singapore have been relatively fortunate. Yes they did face restricted movement and school closures but it was only for a short duration. Since the start of June, they have been back at school albeit with several 'new-normal' rules and regulations in place but they have been able to get back a crucial part of their lives. They also have considerable freedom to engage in outdoor activities. As a parent, I feel grateful that my children have been largely able to escape from the spell of tenebrosity cast by the pandemic.

So whenever the opportunity presents itself to take them outdoors where I can gauge the level of risk to be minimum and effectively maintain safe distancing measures, I go for it! 

Last year, we had been to the Upper Seletar Reservoir park near the Singapore Zoo for a family picnic and for the girls to get used to their new bicycles. The park was picturesque, uncrowded, quiet and we had an absolutely marvellous time there. The girls enjoyed riding their bicycles (though they still needed training wheels at the time). 

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, we wanted to go out for another cycling expedition to celebrate the girls bidding adieu to their training wheels 😊

I had heard a lot about Upper and Lower Peirce Reservoir located in the Thomson area near MacRitchie Reservoir. We had been wanting to visit for a long time but just never got around to it. 

The Lower Peirce Reservoir, Singapore's second-oldest reservoir, was built by impounding the upper reaches of the Kallang River. The reservoir was named in recognition of Robert Peirce, who was the Municipal Engineer of Singapore at the start of the 20th century. It only acquired its current name in 1975, after the Upper Peirce Reservoir was built. The Lower Peirce Reservoir, together with the MacRitchie Reservoir, the Upper Peirce Reservoir and the Upper Seletar Reservoir, bound the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. 

As we got closer to the reservoir, we caught sight of plenty of monkeys along the road and dangling on trees. Even in the parking lot there were plenty of them! People planning picnics take note 😀

Along the reservoir you have a straight long track which is great for walking, jogging or cycling. With a verdant green carpet of grass blanketing one side and the vast reservoir on the other, it is a lovely spot to get some heart-pumping exercise or even take a leisurely stroll. There are even quaint benches if you want to just sit down, take in the panorama and savor the silence. I remembered my father-in-law fondly and kept thinking how much he would love to sit there. I made a mental note to take him there the next time he visits Singapore 😊

I was delighted to note that there were hardly any people around and there was no sign of rain either. 

When life has recently been so strange and unsettling, the glorious deep blue sky dotted with milky white clouds, the emerald green trees, the glistening still water and the symphony of nature just transported me to another world and made me forget about the unpleasant realities for a few hours. I felt so much at peace that it can almost be described as therapeutic. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Handcrafted Italian Pizzas from Pizza Delivery Singapore

Service Review

If you know anything about me, you will know that I completely (and unapologetically) love fast food! I believe cheese to be one of mankind's most ingenious culinary creations and Italian is one of my most favourite cuisines so it comes as no surprise that pizza features up high in my list of preferred foods to order at restaurants. I and my husband also make different kinds of pizza at home from scratch and it usually turns into a weekend fun family activity 😊

Although we prefer making fresh home-cooked meals most of the time, once or twice a week, we give ourselves a well-earned break and go out to eat or else order home delivery. With a global pandemic raging for the past several months, we have resorted to home delivery most of the time. Since everyone in my household loves pizza, it is a frequently ordered item along with sides like garlic bread and mozzarella cheese sticks. 

I was asked by Best In Singapore if I would do a pizza review and to be honest, I didn't think twice! I need no excuse to eat pizza 😁

Image Source: Pizza Delivery Singapore

Pizza Delivery Singapore is an upscale fast-casual concept that serves up artisan-style pizzas and pastas made on demand, ready in minutes and delivered to your doorstep all under 1 hour. They have been shortlisted as one among the 13 best pizza deliveries in Singapore by Best In Singapore

As the name suggests, Pizza Delivery Singapore primarily focuses on the online aspect of the pizza experience. They strive to provide customers with an authentic Italian experience just a finger click away. Their handcrafted pizzas are said to be made only with traditional southern Italian mozzarella cheese. Their chefs are committed to personally selecting the finest ingredients every week – assuring you a mouthful of only the freshest pizzas and pasta.

Image Source: Pizza Delivery Singapore

There is a selection of artisan-style pizzas (Classics and Favourites), traditional pastas (such as Marinara, Alfredo, Aglio Olio, Carbonara, Bolognese) and a few sides like Mozzarella Cheese Sticks, Chicken Wings, Fish Fingers, Honey Mustard Prawns and Meatballs. 

I must say that the pictures of the food they have on their website are quite tempting! The credit for that goes to Owari Photography

Image Source: Pizza Delivery Singapore

Image Source: Pizza Delivery Singapore

All pizzas are available in 3 sizes - Small (6-inches/4 slices), Medium (9-inches/6 slices) and Large (12-inches/8 slices). 

I ordered large Margherita pizzas, medium Mushroom pizzas and Mozzarella cheese sticks. I placed the order in advance and selected the time-slot that I wanted.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Sleep Solutions: Origin Superior Coolmax Latex Pillow

Product review
Image source:

So, after acknowledging my past struggles with insomnia, I have become the sort of person that doles out sagely advice on how you can get a good night's sleep 😄 A sleep "guru" if you will 😂

But in all seriousness, I am doing much better in the shut-eye department folks. Presently, I get around six hours of restful sleep every night and even though that is still less than ideal, it just about works for me and I really can't complain. 

So, if you think sleep is all about switching off your mind and body for a couple of hours then think again! While you are sleeping, your body is hard at work cleaning up the mess you’ve made during the day. Your systems are busy flushing out toxins, replacing cells, repairing damaged tissues and restoring your energy supply.

There is plenty of research out there to show that poor sleep has immediate negative effects on your hormones, exercise performance, and brain function. It is also linked to weight gain and increase disease risk in both adults and children. 

Given today’s increasingly demanding workload, many people take their work home with them, either physically or metaphorically. Overthinking by dwelling on problems and thinking about things one has no control over, overstimulation by electronic gadgets, overscheduling in the name of productivity (guilty! 🙋) and different kinds of stresses are some of the major factors that have contributed to the overall decline in sleep quantity and quality. 

A few things that helped me personally to improve my sleep quality is to exercise everyday (usually early mornings or afternoons), avoid caffeine late in the day, have an early dinner, maintain a consistent bedtime and rising schedule, avoid using electronic gadgets just before bed and to get a comfortable mattress, pillow and bedding.

As a general rule, bed pillows need to be replaced after 18 months. I'm sure not many of us follow that right? And although most people do understand the importance of investing in a good mattress, not as much thought is given to pillows. But if you think about it, your pillow gets used about 7-8 hours a night (which amounts to more than 2,500 hours a year!) so, like your mattress, your pillow is an investment in high-quality sleep, which pays dividends across your waking life. 

The good folks at Best In Singapore recently sent me a Origin Superior Coolmax Latex Pillow for the purpose of review.

The pillow arrived in great packaging and way sooner than I expected!

I unboxed it and discovered it to be soft and fluffy yet dense and quite firm.

The pillow comes with a luxuriously soft pillow cover but I recommend that you put another one of your own pillow cover over it to protect it.

This is the ultimate plush pillow that cradles your head. The Origin Superior Coolmax Latex Pillow offers a responsive Latex foam support and is completed with a removable Tencel fabric pillow cover hat is easy to clean and suitable for machine wash.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Restaurant review: Arkadaş Cafe, Singapore

This blog post has been in the pipeline for three years. I really have no explanation for not doing it sooner. 

The cuisine of the Middle East is diverse while having a degree of homogeneity. It includes Arab, Iranian, Jewish, Assyrian, Azerbaijani, Armenian, Georgian, Kurdish, Cypriot and Turkish cuisines. Fresh, wholesome, rich and aromatic are some adjectives that pop into mind when I think of this cuisine. It is commonly associated with an ample use of olive oil, parsley, pita bread, sesame seeds, chickpeas, mint and rice.

Both I and my husband are very fond of Middle Eastern food. From an appetizer point of view, I love the concept of dipping warm bread and colorful vegetables in an assortment of savoury dips and condiments with various cheeses on the side!

There are several Middle Eastern restaurants in Singapore that we frequent such as Al-Hamra, Alaturka, Beirut Grill, Sofra, Shiraz, Shabestan and Urban Bites. Pistachio and Artichoke have been on our list on a long time but we haven't gotten around to checking them out. Hopefully soon!

Aside from going to restaurants, we also cook several of our favourite dishes at home. We love putting together homemade mezze snacking platters with hummus, baba ganoush/moutabel, tzatziki, muhammara, tabbouleh, falafel, pita, toum, vegetable sticks, feta cheese, olives, nuts, dried apricots and fresh figs. Our children also love this concept of communal dining and the wide selection they get to choose from. 

We went to Arkadaş Cafe, a cafe in Fusionopolis serving authentic Turkish cuisine, a few years ago for lunch, and since then, we have been there several times. Whenever our twins have a birthday party invitation on Saturday afternoon, our domestic helper takes them and the three of them end up having lunch at the party which gives me and the husband a few hours for a lunch date and we tend to pick Arkadaş Cafe. We can enjoy grown-up conversation, a delicious lunch and be back home by the time the girls are back!

What I really like about the cafe is that it isn't too far for us, I like the casual and chilled out vibe, the  extensive menu choices, the unpretentious homely food and the more than reasonable prices.

To get there, the nearest MRT station is One North on the Circle Line and it is less than a kilometre walk away from there. We go by car and usually park in one of the nearby buildings of Fusionopolis. 

The cafe is surprisingly spacious which is not quite evident when you see it from the outside. The glass windows and high ceiling make the cafe airy and bright. The interiors are very plain and minimalist with the color scheme dominated by green, white and brown. I have spotted some Turkey tourism posters adorning the walls. Considering the imposing building it is housed in and the lovely tropical surroundings, the cafe decor could definitely do with some sprucing up.

My husband who had been to Arkadaş Cafe with his colleagues a couple of times previously, told me that the founder and chef of Arkadaş Cafe is former personal chef to the Turkish Ambassador to Singapore for 22 years. With those credentials, I think authenticity of the food is pretty much a given!

I have heard that on weekdays the cafe can get quite crowded (considering the bustling location) but on weekends, it is relatively quieter. 

The menu has an impressive range of drinks (none of them alcoholic by the way), appetizers, mains and a few desserts. You can try Turkish coffee or tea, homemade ayran, Middle Eastern dips, bread such as pide and pita, salads, wraps/rolls,/sandwich musakka, kebabs, baked rice, grilled meats and traditional desserts like baklava and künefe. Note that there are plenty of vegetarian and a few vegan options in the appetizer section but only two in the main course section. 

I managed to dig out a few pictures from our previous visits and putting together my thoughts on this cafe. 

Here are some of the dishes that I commonly order,