Little Bow Girl

Wife, Mama to Sophie Rose, Full Time Day Dreamer

Hello everyone! -blows cobwebs off my blog-

I’ve been thinking about restarting my blog again because I have so many words and not enough space to share on Instagram, and since the festive season is coming around, I’m going to start with a product to recommend!

Su Lin from Our Lifestyle Shop is always dropping by and coming up with fantastic new household products (I can never resist) and to me OLS has become synonymous with odor-free, toxic-free, child safe cleaning and insect killing products which are effective and also smell good!

This Christmas, our must-have OLS product at home is the new ECO-Py insect killer automated spray! I have blogged before about how the ECOmist Odour Neutralizer in Apple has found a permanent home in my house because of how crazy effective it is in removing bad smells (dog and child related) and making my house smell super fresh and clean all the time. She’s now one-upped everything and revealed that the machine can also be fitted with the new ECO-Py insect killer refill!

You must be wondering why I am so excited about a household product. Well, Sophie-doll and I are both super prone to mosquito bites and we are allergic to the bites, which means they swell and become red and ugly and super itchy and its terribly uncomfortable for us.

We really don’t like the smell from normal insecticides not to mention how its quite poisonous for Sophie and Benjy, so when OLS first introduced KONK we felt it was a life saver and used it religiously. I’m amazed to say ECO-Py is even better than KONK.

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In the 3 weeks that we have used this product, here’s our experience:

  1. Sophie and I have had NO MOSQUITO BITES. NONE. We are usually perpetually nursing 2 or 3 bites at any given time. But the mozzies have well and truly left the building.
  2. No smell. Even KONK had a slight smell which I didn’t quite like (already much better than normal insecticides) but ECO-Py has no odour at all. I don’t even realize all that insect eradication and chasing away is happening.
  3. Our home is INSECT FREE Not only do we have no mosquitos, we don’t see fruit flies hovering when things are left for a little while in the sink, and no cockroaches at all even during the weekly fogging when they tend to try to escape from the communal chute in our service yard! No ants, too!
  4. No lizards. This doesn’t kill them but it does drive them away. I don’t mind lizards but I’m deathly afraid of them falling on me in the shower and I also hate clearing up lizard poop on the walls so this is a great plus point.
  5. Super Convenient – the ECO-Py dispenser can be put to different settings depending on how intensive you want the spray to be, so you don’t have to keep spraying throughout the day to keep the insects at bay. Simply pop in the can and put on the setting and sleep and live easily with 24 hour protection. I really love products that help me save time and effort and this gets an A+ in the category.

How does it work, you may ask?

ECO-Pu contains Pyrethrin, which is a natural extract from the chrysanthemum flower and it is toxin free and safe for humans. It is effective against flying and crawling insects – mosquitoes, houseflies, fruit flies ants and cockroaches.

This Christmas, we’re hosting many parties and will be having friends over so its even more imperative that we keep the house insect free! OLS is having an amazing promotion where you get this Christmas bundle:

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For just $168 and you ALSO get a pack of delicious chewy fudgey brownies from Oven Haven! You can purchase this bundle at http://www.ourlifestyleshop.com/eco-py-xmas.html http://www.ourlifestyleshop.com/eco-py-xmas.html – hurry, this promotion ends Thursday! Just two more days to go!

As always, I only blog about products I will personally buy and use myself. The ECO-Py refill was given to me to test out but I have since re-purchased multiple cans of odour neturalizer and will repurchase this too!

Happy Shopping!

 

Love,
Libby

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Hello Everyone!

If you’re looking to sign up for the School of Concepts’ fun-filled, engaging and educational phonics based workshop for the upcoming Mid Autumn Festival, read on to find out more, how to register, and for an special discount code!

What are our SoC Mid Autumn Festival Workshops All About?

 The Mooncake Season is upon us all and everywhere in the malls – but more than delicious rounds of sweetness, do you know the centuries-old story behind the Mid Autumn Festival and its significance?

The School of Concepts is running a wonderful experiential workshop for parents and kids where we will bring you into the story of Chang E, Hou Yi and the Jade Rabbit and introduce you to the mystical magic behind the Festival. Express yourselves during our interactive storytelling session that involves AR technology for a whimsical touch, build lanterns, and come back to the present to enjoy making (and tasting) your very own cookies and cream snowskin mooncakes. The workshop aims to encourage bonding between parent and child while encouraging them to learn about the significance of the culture and history behind locally celebrated festivals.

How Much is the Workshop and Who can Attend? 

The workshop is priced at $88 for 1 parent + 1 child and includes all material costs. Each additional child or participant will be $20. Use “SOC20” at checkout to get a generous discount!

How do we sign up? 

We have FOUR sessions at THREE locations. Simply click on the link below the location of your choice and sign up for the slot that suits you and your child the best.

 

 

1) Marymount Mulberry (23 September 2017):  

http://ptix.co/2eEiROW

Use SOC20 for an early bird discount of $20

 

2) Qiren Organization (29 September 2017):

https://www.flyingcape.com.sg/Class/AboutClass/4613/4/Mid-Autumn-Festival-Workshop

Use SOC20 for an early bird discount of $20

 

3) Trehaus Cowork (1 Oct):

http://peatix.com/event/301477

Use SOC20 for an early bird discount of $20

 

4) Trehaus Cowork (30 September 2017): 

http://bit.ly/SOCmooncake

Use MOON20 for $20 off early bird special!

 

 

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I’ve been working from home quite a bit since switching to my new role. I work optimally in a calm, clean, fresh and comfortable environment.

If I could have my way my house would perpetually smell of freshly baked cookies or freshly roasted coffee, but I would also perpetually be hungry.

The next best thing are crisp, clean and light scents to invigorate!

Unfortunately, it’s really been very troublesome to continually replace fragrance diffusers, sprays, and remind myself to refill or turn things on on TOP of the 1000 things I do everyday. I have two air purifiers at home but they are not very effective at odour control.

Enter the ECOMIST odour control system from our favourite home essentials store, Our Lifestyle Shop! In a nutshell, why I love it:

1) “Switch on and Forget About it” 

Just switch it on and forget about it. The Ecomist E4 dispenser can be set to spray at Long, Medium, or Short intervals depending on your needs! I don’t have to run around spraying air freshener in my entire house every night only to find that 20 minutes later the freshness is gone. The spray frequencies are:

Normal (every 7 mins daytime, every 15 min at night)
High (every 4 mins during day, every 15 at night)
Low ( every 7 min day time, off at night)

For someone as crazy busy as me, this is a real time-saver.

2) Neutralizing, not Masking 

ECOMIST doesn’t just “mask” or “cover” odours, it neutralizes them, meaning you won’t have that strange, stale sickly perfumed scent wafting around the house, even if your windows are closed, and does so using a child and family friendly propriety blend of essential oils and natural traditional blends. 

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3) Neutralizing Cooking and Animal Odours 

ECOMIST is REALLY REALLY effective in neutralizing cooking odours.

I’ve an open concept kitchen that “spills” into the living room and also my study, so I need to make sure that cooking smells don’t linger and turn stale. If you follow us on Instagram, you’ll notice that I do a lot of counter top cooking and baking as well. Now, fried chicken smells amazing, but not the grease that stays for hours. I noticed that this problem has disappeared after I started using the ECOMIST.

Same goes for animal odours. I have a super sensitive nose, and even going near Benjy’s pee tray makes me feel a little sick some times, not to mention that I keep imagining that the whole house smells like dog pee and poo. I used to spray fragrances liberally to “mask” the smell but now I don’t even notice it. I took it for granted the good job my ECOMIST was doing until the can finished and bam, one day of forgetting to clean the pee tray was bad enough to leave me reeling! It’s magic!

4) Lovely Scents 

The house smells amazing whenever I step into after a long day. Even my husband, who never notices when I use new perfume, cut my hair, or have on a new dress (aka is only a slightly evolved caveman) noticed that “the house smells good!”

Although I am generally a mess, it is really important for me to come home everyday feeling like my house is a clean, safe sanctuary so I would say that this product has improved our wellbeing significantly.  I can’t wait for more scents to be brought in so I can change it up every month!

TO PURCHASE: Exclusively for Little Bow Girl readers and followers, the ECOMIST set is available for purchase via Paypal HERE 

It’s $120 for a set U.P $148 (as seen in the first photo) which consists of the automatic E4 dispenser as well as an aerosol can of Parisian fragrance. The E4 dispenser can be mounted on the wall and comes with its own stand as well so you can place it anywhere easily at home.

P/S We were given an ECOMIST to try out and review! My honest and unbiased opinion – this would be great for those Mamas who don’t have helpers at home to mop clean and air the house all day long. A real lifesaver!

Remember to hashtag:
#olsecomist
#olsambassador
#ecomistodorneutraliser
#olsgives

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Our Starter Home: Taking the Resale Route

While today K, Sophie Rose and I have moved into our new, dream, second home, the truth is you never quite forget the first home you make together – your “Starter Home”. And we bought our Starter Home in 2011 – this is our story (photos may be a bit outdated, its been half a decade, after all!).

*This post is written in conjunction with Smart Parents.*

When K and I decided to get married five years ago, we knew from the onset that we would want to move out of our parents’ place and stay on our own. We firmly believed that in order to build our own family unit and set the right tone to married life, we needed to stay together – alone, to make our memories, have our fights with the privacy we need, and learn how to live with another person (by choice, lol).

In many countries where property prices are sky high and inaccessible, this would be something that was impossible for two fresh graduates with very humble savings. Which is why I truly feel that in Singapore we’re blessed to have such a great public housing scheme and system which allows for young couples to have their own home very early on – or even before their marriage so that they have a space to call their own.

Back in 2011 when K and I were searching for our Starter Home, we had two options:

  1. Apply for a Build-to-Order (BTO flat)
  2. Buy a Resale flat

And our preferences were:

  1. Being close to our parents. Family support is so important especially since we intended to start a family not too long after tying the knot
  2. Being close to public transport, as we hadn’t bought a car yet at that point
  3. Being near a town centre, so we would have easy access to food, amenities, etc.

Since our parents both stayed in landed properties in mature estates, and there were no BTOs nearby available, we decided to take the resale route. To mollify K, who felt that we would not be getting a good deal by buying resale straight off the bat, we did attempt to apply for two developments in Punggol and Sengkang but there was a HUGE backlog in the BTO units available at that point (a problem that has since been rectified, lucky new house owners!) so after getting two “your number exceeded 300% of a the supply” responses, we gave up and decided to go resale flat hunting.

Of course, deciding to purchase resale would mean forking out a substantial amount of Cash Over Valuation (COV – a concept which has since been scrapped) and we had our own share of friends trying to persuade us from taking the resale route.

“You’re not maximizing your grant”, “What’s wrong with Punggol and Sengkang, not bad what, you are paying so little, I’m sure you can make some money when you sell in five years” – were common refrains.

But we stood our ground because to us, our first home had to be a home that we fell in love with, rather than a money-making scheme. We also had suggestions from friends who, after knowing that we wanted to buy resale, said we should buy a tiny flat in a really good area – near the CBD, for example, so that we could, again “flip” the property.

At this point, with so much advice, both solicited and unsolicited, K and I decided to re-examine our priorities. It’s easy to get carried away by all these ideas of “flipping” or “easy money” as young, naïve and quite gullible first-time buyers, so I would suggest taking a step back and asking yourself and your partner what you really want from your Starter Home before you decided what you’re looking for

And here were our takeaways after having a long heart to heart:

  1. Our Starter Home should be a home we can see ourselves living in for a long time (even if we do decide to move) and one that we can picture as a HOME, not just a flat, or a house. Stuffing all our belongings and ourselves into a tiny flat for its resale value was just not something we could picture ourselves doing  – at the cost of our quality of life.
  2. Stick by your guns – don’t let other people tell you where you should stay. Go with yours and your partner’s gut instinct. After all, you two will be the ones staying there, not your friends and their advice.
  3. Do your research – buying a Resale Flat does not mean you will be entitled to significantly less grants than your BTO-buying counterparts. In fact, I would say that all in all, we got amazing value for our first home along with government support.

And so, we sallied forth, armed with a map, a new account on Property Guru and the contacts of a few agents who specialized in flats in the East, and a lot of hope and excitement.

First, we tried Marine Parade. We set our budget for our Starter Home at around $550,000, with about $50,000 of that going to Cash Over Valuation (no longer applicable today).

Back then when property prices were an all time high, it was almost impossible to find a home of a good size within our budget, in Marine Parade. On average, a 4-5 room flat (low level) was around $600,000 including a COV which could be almost $100,000. Clearly, we were not prepared to fork out that much cash and start our married life either broke or in debt, so it was out of the question.

We ended up looking at several beautiful 3 room flats with sea views in the Marine Parade area. But the size of the flats put a dampener on our spirits – how would we fit a family into these very stylish flats with almost no storage space?

If you’re getting confused at this point, rest assured, so were we. So here are some tips that can help you assess the value of the house (to you).

  • If the flat comes “fully furnished” – ask yourself – is the design to your liking? There’s no point moving into a well-appointed and well-furnished apartment when it doesn’t suit your taste. You should be able to customize your first home to your liking, not settle because you think you’re getting good value. Remember to ask when the home was last renovated, too – things like floor laminate don’t usually last well past 6-7 years with wear and tear, and that’s additional $$ you’ll have to pay when the time comes sooner than later to get it changed. Ask about plumbing, things like how many times the house has changed hands, or if the flooring is overlay and conceals a previous layer of tiles (this is a problem if you want to renovate).
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Our place came fully renovated in great condition, and we loved how the narrow hall was lined with top to bottom mirrors to make our dining “nook” look bigger

  • Don’t forgo the space – especially if you intend to have children soon after marriage. For us, a 4-room flat was the smallest we could imagine ourselves going, with a master bedroom, a walk-in wardrobe (the second room) and finally a study/nursery.

Having an extra room (4 rather 3) meant that when Sophie Rose came along we had space to create a playroom/nursery for her

  • How many minutes to the nearest MRT or well-connected bus stop? Consider your work commute – it may look easy on paper taking a bus, then a train, then a walk – but doing this everyday can be exhausting.
  • Which parts of the home get morning or  afternoon light? You don’t want to get stuck with a home where your clothes never dry.
  • Picture yourself living in the home – do you like the configuration of the rooms and kitchen? Ask yourself what you would change about the home if you should buy it and move in.
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Start dreaming up how you’d like to put your personal touch to the home and if the space suits what you want. For me, the hall needed to be large enough to accommodate a sofa bed rather than a regular couch

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Pay attention to the little details – for example, our starter home opened into a pretty feature wall instead of directly into our living room and we loved the privacy of a corner unit

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Look at the configuration of the rooms. Where do you want your master bedroom to be? Do you intend to get a King or Queen sized bed? With our without side tables? Try to imagine yourself living in the home.

  • Who are your neighbours? Have a look around you and get to know who they are before buying the home.
  • Do you see yourself staying here for the very long term (>10 years) or moving somewhere else?

With this in mind, we decided to search another part of the East again. And we were lucky – after seeing less than 10 homes, we’d found the one we were looking for. A five year old 4-room flat which came with stylish built in storage, furniture in the style we liked, and right smack in between the Tanah Merah within our budget and with a COV of $50,000 – exactly what we planned. We were close to losing hope at that point as our wedding was just around the corner and we still hadn’t found a place to stay.

Then came the grant applications. As I had just started work then, our combined income was well within the limits of the CPF Housing Grant. We benefited from that, as well as the Proximity Housing Grant ($20,000). All in, I would say we were granted almost $50,000 in subsidies and support from the government, which was extremely helpful and encouraging. Now, the amounts have been increased even more, making it even more accessible for young couples to buy their first home, and we think that’s absolutely great!

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That’s us, on handover day, 5 years ago! 🙂 What a throwback!

We spent five wonderful years in that 4-room flat, which we improved, changed, re-configured and made our own over the years. We became firm friends with our neighbours, and really loved the quiet, serene and yet accessible atmosphere of the development (it was a  very small development of only 5 blocks). It was also the home in which we brought our furkid, Benjy, home, and eventually welcomed our first child, Sophie Rose, three years in, and where she spent her first two years of life.

The memories and the attachment to that flat are indescribable – and a large part of how great those years were came from making informed and educated choices about buying our Starter Home. I hope our little guide has helped you in your journey towards buying your first house and making it a home!

Check us out in our Smart Parents sharing segment by clicking the photo below!

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Good Luck!

Libby, Alex and Sophie Rose

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While I would be hesitant to say that K and I have become total slobs since becoming parents, I would definitely venture to describe us as .. well .. a lot more sedate.

It could be because even going out on a simple dinner date involves sticky logistics and a lot of begging for babysitting, as our parents are all not based in the same country as us. Or it could be because we’re just so darn tired everyday from just surviving – even having me-time at home is a luxury.

So even when I was previously offered sponsorships by local spas (I know right, you’re probably thinking, free also don’t want?!) – I had to regretfully turn them down because there’s no way I have enough time on a weekday, during working hours, to turn up for a massage and soak, and weekends are for Sophie-doll.

Then E approached me with a request from The Outcall Spa – where therapists COME TO YOUR HOME.

No biggie – you might be saying – plenty of therapists do home sessions.

Well yes, but do they bring their own full sized, super comfy professional massage beds, play soothing mood music, provide heated towels (oh heated towels!), and even little cups of warm, comforting ginger tea?

I bet they don’t. And the best part? They do couple massages, so your partner can enjoy it too. All without leaving your home, dealing with the hassle of driving to the spa, parking your car, etc. And you can just head to your bedroom for a few blissed out hours of sleep after that without worrying about how to get home.

So let me share with you our wonderful experience with their Valentine’s Day special. Husbands, I hope you’re paying attention, because your wife will be so happy with you if you arrange this Valentine’s Day session – and there’s no effort involved on your part except footing the bill – plus, you get to enjoy a divine massage too!

The Outcall Spa: Setting Up

So what happened was that about 15 minutes before the session started, our two friendly, professional therapists arrived with full sized massaged beds, towels, etc.

They were so polite, completely non-intrusive, and these super women took about 5-10 minutes max to set everything up and pack everything back! Check out the video of them clearing up!

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I’m talking about prepping the towels, the beds, the selection of aromatherapy oils, heating the towels, etc. Everything was done so seamlessly and professionally for not one moment did K and I, standing and watching in our dressing gowns, feel a little awkward. 🙂

The Outcall Spa: The Massage

Then before we began, just like in a luxury spa, the therapists provided us with shower-caps and disposable underwear. We were also asked to fill in a questionnaire about any health issues, and selected our choice of aromatherapy oils (Lavender, Lemongrass and Jamu. I picked Lemon, K picked Lavender and both were excellent grade and so very soothing). We both chose the Deep Tissue Massages because God knows we both needed them after dealing with a minor flood situation the same morning.

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The massages started with us being swathed in divine heated towels while our therapists warmed the oils and played soothing instrumental music. Despite the session being in the afternoon, I was so relaxed I almost immediately fell asleep. K woke me up by commenting that he felt like we were in a resort spa and not at home.

As you can see, both massage beds came with the little space for you to put your face. This is very important for me because most home-therapists just give you a massage on your bed and you need to turn your face to the left or right, resulting in (for me) bad neck aches, which kind of defeats the purpose of having a massage, right?

This donut space was lined with a very comfortable cushion so my face and cheeks were well protected and padded. A lot of thought went into the comfort of the customer, and this made a big impression on me. Before the massage, my therapist even cleaned my feet and toes gently with a soft, cooling cloth.

Hygiene and professionalism wise, this got top points. I have been to four or five star hotel spas where the therapist didn’t even bother to wipe my feet. I have clean feet, but I still want them SUPER clean before my therapist massages my feet and then my face, right?

The massage experience – the most important part – was really good. I’ve been for hundreds of massages all over the world, having suffered from chronic back and shoulder pain for quite a few years now – my tolerance for pain is high, but I know very quickly off the bat whether the masseuse is able to “grasp” the tense points and provide relief. A testament to how good my therapist was is that she was able to knead out all the kinks without me even feeling any pain. And I woke up to soft, relaxed shoulders and a comfortable lower back – the only thing that could have been better is if the massage had lasted longer (one can hope!).

My therapist also regularly (but not too regularly) asked me about whether I was comfortable with the pressure. This was very important to me, too, because I think feedback can turn a good massage into a great one. Thank you for your thoughtfulness!

The Outcall Spa: Post-Massage

Post massage, after K and I sighed sadly that our amazingly relaxing 1.5 hours had ended, we were greeted with cups of warm, sweet and comforting ginger tea to complete the experience, along with a thank you card! So many little thoughtful gestures!

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And since that was part of The Outcall Spa’s Valentine’s Day package, I even got a bouquet of beautiful beautiful roses and a bottle of wine along with wine glasses, even!

So very impressed. At this point, K is griping about how he wished he had surprised me with this experience instead of us getting sponsored (because now he still has to do something else for Vday).

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“Wow, the guy doesn’t even have to go and buy an overpriced bouquet and find wine,” were his exact words. And I agree – I mean, Valentine’s Day should be enjoyed by both of us, not just me, right? This way, everyone wins.

Our Valentine’s Day x The Outcall Spa Package was $588 for a 90 minute couple massage. Considering that a 90 minute deep tissue spa massage would cost you about $200 per person outside ($400 for two), a dozen roses another $100 (or more for Valentine’s Day) plus the wine and transport, I think its a pretty fantastic deal.

The $588 includes:

  1. A dozen beautiful red roses in a lovely bouquet
  2. A bottle of French Bordeaux red wine and glasses

Of course, you can also sign up for non Valentine’s day sessions, by booking your appointment at 8782 0561 or finding out more at www.theoutcallspa.com

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For a 10% discount on all services besides post-natal and spa packages, quote TOSXLITTLEBOW – valid for 3 months!

However, please note that the Valentine’s Day package is the only one available between 11-14 Feb 🙂

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What I also really like about The Outcall Spa is also how they are open late on Friday, Saturday and Sundays, up to as late as 2 AM! So you can schedule your couple massages after your kids’ bedtime, then enjoy your massage before having some amazing quality sleep. I know the next time I want to do something special for K, what it’s going to be 🙂

Also, I’m looking forward to trying out their post-natal home therapy sessions (if and when) I have my next kid – their flexible hours and all the little extra touches will definitely make any confinement a whole lot more enjoyable!

Thank you to the folks at The Outcall Spa for such an amazing experience we would have happily paid out of our own pockets for – and a wonderful memory to keep for our new place!

Happy Valentine’s Day planning!

A Very Well Rested Libby

 I’m back with another super Aunty-fied post about household cleaners! And before you groan and say not again, trust me, this will come in super handy when you have your own place and a toddler, dog, and 1,600 sq ft of space to clean up. Our Lifestyle Shop always comes to the rescue with new and innovative cleaning and disinfecting products for us.

Maybe I’m just prone to mess – while I do have (I think) slight OCD and a need to have everything in order, I also end up in huge end of the week messes because I just don’t have time to tackle them. Granted, Sophie Rose is generally quite a tidy toddler who will clear messes (somewhat haphazardly), but the thought of spending my weekends scrubbing and disinfecting her toys in a giant pail in her utility cupboard is horrifying, to say the least.

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That’s where multi-functional products like their Hospital Surface Disinfectant Spray (HSD) comes in. Trust me, I baulked when I first heard the not-very-sexy name of the product. I was all “But I don’t live in a hospital?” (and, I have to admit, I was thinking, gosh, I need to get my house clean but not THAT clean) but I decided to try it out and I was very, very pleasantly surprised.

So I’ve introduced you guys before to my other holy-grail cleaning product – Be Sanitized, which I used to clean Sophie’s toys and also to disinfect entire rooms (especially when we first moved in) as it has a strong fogging spray function.

The Hospital Surface Disinfectant Spray (HSD) does a greater and faster job with toys – within 10 minutes the surfaces it is sprayed on will be effectively disinfected – and – DEODERIZED – which basically means, bad or stale smells begone!

In a nut-shell, it is a broad-spectrum disinfectant (which also means bao ka liao if you know what I mean) that eliminates bacteria, viruses, mold, and mildew and is administered in a dry spray that vaporizes immediately upon contact, removing odors and unpleasant smells in the process. It’s been an absolute lifesaver to our Toilet Training progress with Sophie.

Here’s what I now use it for on a daily basis

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Benjy’s Tee Pee is inhabited by both human and dog (although I have upon occasioned questioned if she is indeed human)

 

Cleaning up Benjy’s Pee Tray and Food Area – this spray is safe and non toxic for babies, toddlers and small animals. Benjy is already 6 years old and he’s not always a marksman when it comes to doing his business. Previously I would be on my knees with wipes, paper towels and Dettol but now I simply spray the HSD and wipe the tray with a cloth. It saves me time, and wipes, and paper towels plus any bad smells are instantly removed. Win!

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As you can see, she’s made herself very comfortable in Benjy’s home!

 

 

We also spray Benjy’s TeePee with the spray to make sure that he doesn’t bring back germs from his walk. Although we wipe him down we have to be extra careful as Sophie Rose and Benjy often sleep together. I’m all for a little exposure to germs but these two practically sleep hugging sometimes and my OCD soul cannot take it.

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She really does know how to enjoy life. Even her feet have to be cushioned on our super comy Angel Mats when she does her Number 1s and 2s!

 

For Toilet Training: Since we are on the topic of fluids and discharges (sorry, I hope you aren’t having lunch) I now keep the HSD on standby next to Sophie’s two potties. She’s fully off diapers now so we have had quite a few moments when she has rushed to the potty to make it in time (after getting carried away by playtime) and will sometimes “leak” on the way or when she stands up too suddenly and makes a little mess. A quick spray and wipe immediately disinfects the potty and cleans up the mess.

I wish the HSD came in a travel size – it would be perfect for when we have to use those gross public toilets – I’ve heard horror stories of kids getting rashes on the backs of their thighs from dirty toilet seats! As it is I bring my entire can of spray out sometimes if we’re going out in a group with other kids.

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Too.Many.Toys.To.Clean

 

For Cleaning Toys: Just like the Be Sanitized, HSD can be sprayed directly to the toys and will disinfect them within 10 minutes. As the size of Sophie’s playroom grows, I find it more and more necessary to clean up as efficiently as possible. We spray and wipe her bed slats, her ride on toys, and her car after each use to make sure to keep germs at bay.

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Her car goes in and out of the house a lot so a quick spray of the wheels makes sure they are kept clean and don’t bring the nasties in!

 

Now that she has even more toys with smaller and hard to wipe parts, the HSD is super handy in making sure ever nook and crevice of her figurines and food  toys are kept germ free!

For our Shoe Cupboard: Our new place is just next to the sea, and salt spray and humidity levels are very high. I’ve noticed our towels and even my shoes turning mouldy after 3 successive days of rain. After some panic, I used the HSD on the towels (non toxic) and on the shoes, and hey presto, the mouldy smell actually disappeared! I’m super impressed. Of course I also have a dehumidifier on standby but HSD is really useful in keeping shoes smelling fresh, clean and germ free. A pro-tip is to spray your sports shoes with it after a work out – it makes a big difference to keeping them bacteria free. Since I don’t know where Sophie runs around in the day or if she has stepped in mud or dirt, I spray her shoes too. As you can imagine, my can has run out and I will have to repurchase!

Each can, with heavy use, still lasts me about 2-3 months on average, so I would say its really value for money for the convenience, peace of mind, and not to mention squeaky clean, germ free existence it will bring to your home!

Enjoy a 5% discount on Hospital Surface Disinfectant Spray (Usual Price: $43.90) when you use the promo code: iwantthisnow to place your order on Our Lifestyle Shop .  (Valid till 2 March!)

Like Our Lifestyle Shop’s Facebook page, or follow them on their Instagram or Twitter to find out more about their products and special offers.

Speaking of toilet training, I thought that since some of you guys were asking for tips on how to toilet train successfully on Instagram (I’ve said this a thousand times, but we post much more often on IG @littlebowgirl) I thought to just spell out how we managed to get Sophie Rose off the diapers and on the potty within about 5-6 days.

They will be ready when they are ready.  I tried toilet training at 18 months, and then 24 months, but was met with high resistance. Sophie Rose simply wasn’t ready. This time around, we sat down with her and told her about how all Princesses had to stop using diapers at one point and learn how to use the big girl potty. What I prepared before we started:

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Our Toilet Training Essentials!

 

  • We let her pick out and purchase a potty of her choice, making her take some ownership for her new potty training adventure. She picked out a pink and purple Disney Princess “throne” monstrosity with tinkling flushing noises which I hated. But her poop, her potty. So I held back.
  • Stock up on the stickers: I bought maybe like a hundred Princess stickers for a reward chart. Also stamps, if your kid is into that kinda thing. A reward really makes the whole experience more fun! I tried to stay away from snacks cos there’s no turning back there.
  • Thinner training diapers which feel more like underwear than diapers. We switched from Merries to the new Huggies Platinum Training Pants range which are a lot less cushy and don’t encourage kids to pee as much into them, they mimic the feel of panties much better.
  • Disinfecting spray (HSD!!!) on standby in the toilet for quick clean ups.
  • New big girl panties. Again, Disney Princess. H&M has pretty comfortable panties and shorts-style underwear in popular prints!

We focused on the positives, saying, for example:

  1. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you didn’t have to wear your pampers? You could wear pretty princess panties! And they won’t get soggy and fall off when you’re running!
  2. I love your potty. Is it comfortable? How do you flush when you’re done?
  3. We try not to make comments about smell and or dirt. Although she is perversely happy when she does a really stinky and big one – she can also feel embarrassed some days – so we just keep it light.

The starting is tough. But we were lucky – the first day Sophie Rose decided she wanted to go off her diapers was when we were out with her best school friend, Kaley. Kaley’s already toilet trained, and so when they went to the toilet, Sophie’s FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) kicked in and she insisted on going with. That was the start of our wonderful poop and pee laden journey.

We called up her school to let her know we’d started and they were really supportive in making sure she stayed off her pampers. Her teacher, Kim, called me daily to give me updates on how well she was doing in school. The trick, she said, was to keep asking every 15 minutes if they needed to go to the loo. We also rewarded her and gave her stickers even if nothing “came out”, just to reinforce how proud of her we were for remembering and trying.

Within 2 days of every 15 minute false alarms and real successes, Sophie Rose was fully pee-trained. The poop was tougher. She seemed to have an adversion to straining away at the potty. We soon realized it was our domineering and stressful presence and excused ourselves. Another 3 days, and she was a pro at pooping in the potty, with the unfortunate consequence that she has on occasion presented me with a potty full of poop as a good morning surprise.

Basically, keep it fun, light hearted and positive – those are the tips I have. It would be great to be on the same page as your toddler’s caregivers and your partner to make the transition as smooth as possible, of course. It helps if his or her friends are also toilet trained and they can encourage each other (what am I saying, clearly its competition at work). I would also recommend doing it over holidays at home or long weekends to make it as quick and painless as possible – there’s nothing like routine in helping kids pick up good habits!

Good luck with your toilet training and if you need any tips or help, feel free to drop me a mail or comment!

Love,

Libby and Sophie Rose

 

 

 

 

 

 

This post is so scarily overdue that I feel bad just writing it! So to all our followers @littlebowgirl and here on the blog, I’m finally sharing how I hacked our IKEA Duktig Kid’s Play Kitchen and re-invented Chez Sophie Rose!

So it started with this Mama having itchy fingers. We love our Kidkraft 3-in-1 kitchen, but I felt like it was getting a little small for Sophie-doll, who is pushing 93 cm. Also, to be honest, I was feeling frustrated and helpless at how slowly our home move was going (right about then, we were dealing with troublesome tenants who didn’t want to move out) and I just wanted to DO something and get off my backside. I’m a creator, and I can’t stop dreaming of new things or making things with my hands, and thus, I decided to get her a new, customized kitchen.

I absolutely loved the Farmhouse Kitchen set on Pottery Barn Kids but it would have cost me a whopping total of $1,500 just to buy and ship from the U.S. and I just wasn’t okay with spending that kind of princely sum, what with my own, real life kitchen renovations on the way!

So, I got crafty. The IKEA Duktig Kitchen is a perfect blank canvas for some crazy Pinterest Mom-esque behavior! Within two days, we were at IKEA (our favourite weekend hangout) and my hapless husband was lugging the kitchen back home.

Here’s the “Before” Picture:

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If you’re looking for inspiration, Pinterest is the place to go! For me, the style I wanted was inspired by my own 3D kitchen sketch from my ID for our new place:

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We went for a gorgeous duck’s egg blue that is just between pale blue and pale grey, a kind of stormy pale blue? And copper touches everywhere.

Basically something homey, rustic and cozy – something that would be uniquely #littlebowfamily. 🙂

And here’s what you need if you want to do a kitchen like ours!

  1. Spray Paint of your choice – you can get brush paint too, but its more time-consuming and I don’t have the time to do that because its usually dark by the time I’m home. I chose Red Blue from Nippon spray to match my own kitchen (above) from Home Fix.
  2. Fixture Spray Paint – This will be for your fixtures, the handles, tap, etc. You can go for anything from metallic to chrome and copper. I chose a burnished copper spray from Rust-Oleum for a vintage look. Please note that the paint WILL fade with time to give a slightly worn, tarnished look. If you want the color to be permanent, opt for water based copper paints instead 🙂 (From Self-Fix DIY)
  3. Contact Paper – I chose Marble Contact Paper (from Carousell) for my countertop because I love the textured and luxe look against my copper fixtures. I also really liked the wooden-style contact paper for a more country feel (you can get wood-style contact paper at Home Fix) . The possibilities are endless!
  4. Lots of old newspapers to place your items for spraying
  5. Your husband to help you out

 

 

You’ll need to set aside about a day or two to get everything done. Wait at least an hour between each coat of paint, and my personal opinion is that the white parts need 2-3 good even coats, while the colors need 1-2 good even coats.

So first you spray your fixtures and set aside. Then, decide which parts of your kitchen you want in whichever permutation of color, and spray accordingly 🙂 This will take all afternoon.

Assemble all except your counter top, which you will need to apply contact paper of your choice to. Use a scraper or a card to smooth the contact paper, and if you’re clumsy (like me, cut it up in big pieces before affixing. Its okay if it isn’t perfect, as long as it isn’t lumpy from air bubbles trapped underneath!

This is the semi complete look:

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And then its all ready for you to personalize it to a T!

For me, I immediately headed out to get flowers for the kitchen. I upcycled an old glass bottle which previously contained cold brew coffee from The Stamping Grounds, and filled it with pretty dried lavender, baby’s breath and cotton blossoms for a rustic look!

Welcome to Chez Sophie Rose! Grandma’s Babysitting Service Provided 🙂

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I also sprayed Sophie-doll’s pans to complete the Provence style feel, and tied a little bunch of lavender (real lavender, which smelled sooo gorgeous) above the sink!

A close up:

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Sophie’s already whipping up a casserole in her mini Le-Creuset Dutch Oven!

See what I mean about the marble? It will still look good even if you can’t keep the entire piece intact, and you don’t have to worry about messing up or getting all sticky! I love things that are slightly imperfect – they remind me of the person I’d like to be – a little kitsch, a little rough around the edges, but unique 🙂

Look how happy Sophie-doll is with her new kitchen!

I have always loved Rose Quartz/Blush paired with copper, so her little tea set (eco-friendly recycled plastic from Green Toys, but so pretty you can’t tell!) went perfectly and added that little feminine touch!

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Croissants and Coffee, anyone?

If you’re feeling like it won’t be worth the expense, take it from me, a kitchen is one of the best toys you can give your child – it just allows for endless hours of imaginative pretend play, sensory play, and even role-play. We buy very realistic food for her to work with, felt food, plastic food, wooden food so she can enjoy a variety of textures. It never ceases to amaze me the kind of weird dishes and settings she can come up with as she sings at her kitchen sink, chattering away excitedly and dreaming up new dishes!

And our kitchen is never complete – I’m always finding little things to add to make it extra special.

My latest (and greatest) find were these tiny mini Moscow Mule cups, with their shiny copper finish. Aren’t they just darling?

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Her kettle was a chrome one, which I also painted over with copper. Bright Copper Kettles – don’t they sound like something out of a dream? I’ve always wondered what a real copper kettle will look and feel like since I first heard “Favourite Things” from The Sound of Music as a child. And soon, I’ll have my own!

Are you ready to head to market on your beautiful Harper Happy Bike, Sophie Rose?

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What has been the most incredible about us trying to personalize our own kitchen is how we’ve helped to inspire other Mamas and Papas on IG to try it out for their own! I felt so moved when they shared their stories with us and how much fun they had being involved in the creation process. I really do feel that with globalization and modernization, we’ve forgotten how to use our hands and our minds together to really make and create something and feel that satisfaction that comes out of it 🙂

And that is why I love crafting so!

Mama J, who we worked together with on the project, has her own post up here if you want to have a look, too! But here are some projects from our friends who have been inspired to do the same –

Mama Jessica Koh @jesskoh3 on IG:

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Little @sophieleeze on IG:

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We’re so blessed to be part of a wonderful online and blogging community and I hope this continues for a long long time! If you’ve been waiting to take the plunge and start a DIY kitchen that is so much more meaningful than buying one off the rack, what are you waiting for? 🙂 Please share with me if you make your own, I can’t wait to see your creations!

Love,

Libby and Sophie Rose