Gift Books for Kids, 2017

When it comes to kid’s birthday party, our kids definitely receive at least one of the toys such as dolls, logos, toys cars or similarly related kind of toys. Whether it’s from parents ourselves or guests. I started to look for more interesting gifts for my own child as well as others and they are books.

Books may sound boring to some children but I personally believein the value of reading habits which should be starting at early ages. I’ve been reading to my daughter Terena every night since she was less than 6 months and we are now reading at least a book before bedtime everyday. Terena reminds me too if I forget to do so especially after a long day or work. So yes, books. They will always be one of the greatest gifts. My daughter and I love to do book shopping at least once every two months.

Some book can be really fun and educated with interesting activities, amazing stories etc. So here are some books you might want to consider getting.

1. Maverick Children Books 

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I think Maverick children books are suitable for all children starting from early readers. They comes in high quality writing and a lot of interesting stories, and beautiful illustration. You will be spoiled by their variety of choices; picture books, board books, junior fiction and early readers. They are based in UK and publish 50 more titles this year 2017.

Some of my favourites are ‘Grandma Bendy’ and ‘The New LiBEARian’. Their price is reasonable at around £6.99. You can purchase them from www.maverickbooks.co.uk, worldwide shipping.

2. My Super Fun Playbook

Some of you may have already seen this through my Instagram platform but I will also put it up here for my readers not to miss it.

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This is a MUST-HAVE playbook for kids (from age 2-5). It’s not much about reading unless you can come up with a fun stories while playing them like what Terena and I always do. This fabric playbook is made with embroidered ornaments by sewing and stitching by hand. You can expect a very good quality of craftsmanship. It’s creative, fun, and educational at the same time. Terena and I have fun playing this together and sometimes I bring it with us whenever we travel together to keep her occupied (and try to stay away as much as we can from an Ipad). It’s lightweight and quite a time-consuming book.

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Overall. One great product to put your hands on for your children. This playbook also recently won Tillywig Brain Child Award Winner 2017. Congrats! I’m planning to get this for my friend’s son on his birthday this year too. Pretty sure he will like it just like Terena. Oh yes, it’s suitable for both boys and girls too.

You can get it from www.smarterconcepts.com.hk, worldwide shipping.

3. The Magic of My Name

This can be an awesome personalized gift with a child name customized in this book. Beside that, there are a total of 4 characteristics for each boys or girls to choose from for no additional costs, Each book will contains at least 38 pages depending on a child name. You can add in some notes in a book for free too so it could be a nice happy birthday wishes for a birthday gift for examples.

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Terena and I both enjoy this book for bedtime. I strongly recommend. Good customized story and book with beautiful illustration printed in good quality papers.

Price is at SGD41.99 (USD29.99) with standard cover or (optional) hard cover with an additional cost of SGD4.99. It’s suitable for children from 0 to 8 years old. Get it from www.themagicofmyname.com.sg

Hope it helps you with some gifts ideas and happy reading to all. x

Love, nira.

Sweet Sapporo, Part 1

This is going to be quite a long post with a lot of photos.

I just love travelling to Japan and I plan to visit many cities there. This time, Sapporo in Hokkaido! This trip was also a gift from me to my dad. I’ve always been overseas working in the past years, taking care of my daughter and I hardly have time to really spend with my parents. So I thought this would be a perfect gift. My mom passed this one but we will soon have our next trip.

We have been to a few cities in Japan and Sapporo is #5 biggest (and new) city. I did some research about Sapporo and I think it would be a great place for a relaxing trip for my dad, not too busy I would say. 6 and a half hours flight from Bangkok to Chitose Airport by Thai Airways this time. Chitose airport screening was really quite slow just to added. Think we were queuing for an hour. Weather was great at 1°C. I arranged a car from hotel which took us an hour from airport to town area.

I chose Sapporo Grand Hotel, just because of a good location as reviewed by many other tourists. And I agreed on that 100%. Everywhere we want to go is possible just by walking less than 15-20 minutes or less than 15 by taxis. However, taxis in Japan are not cheap but I did not have many choices because of my dad’s leg conditions. At least I already prepared for this in advance. I recommend this hotel if you care about location. Their rooms are not spacious but most hotel rooms in Japan are. Cleanliness and services are good enough. Choices of breakfast are great. There are 2 different buffets spots on 1st and 4th floor and one local menu breakfast sets by garden views on 4th floor. Nothing fancy about their bars so I didn’t like it.

And here is the lists of what I think it’s best to do in Sapporo. Please take note that I crossed out quite a number of very commercial places and only focused on my travelling style. I simply do not like boring or overrated places.

Hokkaido Jingu (北海道神宮)

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A beautiful place to be and to pray. It’s the biggest shrine in Hokkaido. The outlook of shrine is so great with such weather. Also to observe the local cultures. And very peaceful I would say.

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Do not mind my almost bare face. I couldn’t be bother to put so much makeup after a crazy long day before flying. Well.. at least my camera helped.

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We spent probably about 45 minutes. There is a nice huge garden around their shrine to walk around and I saw a few local feeding squirrels.

Sapporo Beer Museum (サッポロビール博物館)

I like beer so I wanted to visit this place. Sapporo beer as we know is one of the oldest and most popular beer brand in Japan; brewed in Sapporo since 1877. This museum tells you about history of beer and the making process.

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After touring the exhibitions, beer tastings are also available at a low cost. It was actually more of a tasting session at the end.

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My favourite was Kaitakushi beer on the right which is more of a easy-to-drink and quite rich kind of taste. After tasting I was told that Kaitakushi was named under a 2-story wooden brewery building and it was the first brewery in Hokkaido. But I personally prefer Belgium or Germany beer a lot more.

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However, this place is not as huge as I thought so one hour would actually be enough unless you want to sip more fresh beer.

Shiroi Koibito Park (Chocolate Factory)

It is a theme park by Ishiya, a local chocolate company. I’m sure many you know this most famous cookies for souvenirs from Hokkaido. It is wrapped in green paper and inside is a white box with light blue design.The one which consists of two thin butter cookies and a layer of white chocolate in between.

There are quite many things to do and stroll around at this park such as cafe, restaurant, shops, chocolate related exhibitions and of course the cookie production process in the factory. Opposite this park is a huge soccer field.

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I just love their park. I’m pretty sure it’d look much nicer in December to January where all the new year lightings are set up. This is your place If you like to do selfies with nice background.

Next is my favourite of all, hot-chocolate cup room.

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I could spent a few hours in this room if I were by myself. Their rooms were nicely decorated and cups were displayed in such a way that is so grand and vintage. Rare kind of luxury.

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Below are some of my favourites out of a hundred photo I took of these cups/boxes. If they do not fancy you, just skip them. How I wish to have some of this for my home. They are just so beautifully designed in different years and places. They reflects the cultures of where they are from as well.

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Next, it’s the factory itself. From far I could smell a mixed of chocolate, butter, cookies before walking in this session. Very nice impression to start with.

 

 

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And a room full of cakes, beautiful ones.

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Ended with a random stuff of old collections. They are again, rare.

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This is a must to visit place if you have a chance to be in Sapporo. Out of all places I mentioned above, this is my most favourite. We went back hotel with some souvenirs of course. Simply a good day out.

I will be back for more of what to do in Sapporo as well as where to have good food over there. I hope you enjoy reading.

Love, nira

Life in a New City

Sorry for the lack of updates. Some of you may already know about my family and I migrating to another city, Shanghai! For me, shanghai is one of the most interesting city (compared with other cities in China I’ve been to) where you can see China of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It is also a joint of Eastern and Western cultures and the most modern city.

I’ve moved here for almost two month now and this place is still impressing me so far. There are so much to explore in this fast developing city. Terena also seems to enjoy the cold weather here more than I do but I’m kind of getting used to it now. Actually, I’m much more of a summer than winter person. We will see if I’m going to change my mind after spending more time during winter. Frankly speaking, I miss Singapore and Bangkok a lot especially family, friends and food! Fortunately, I still will be flying back to both countries very often due to business and visiting. Singapore is also like my second home after all so don’t worry my dear friends. You can see me quite often that you thought I have yet to move here. And if you are curious, I should be here in Shanghai for a few years.The very first few weeks I was pretty much occupied with household and a lot of new stuff to explore around but I’m becoming more familiar with this place now. While getting myself busy with finding a new house and kindergarden for Terena, I’m also having a new project coming up and I’m working hard on it now before putting them up.

I’ve said good things about Shanghai and yet to speak about the bad ones. Pretty sure many of you know what are the downsides of foreigner living in China (Every country definitely have at least one). So far, the thing I dislike about this city is the air, sometime it’s really bad but still better than Beijing. Next is the cautious about eating any food here. Unlike Bangkok where most street food won’t do me bad, some of Shanghai street or even can food can be dangerous for my stomach. I’ve had bad experiences for four times in two months. The worst one was the can food which wasn’t expired and yet gave me food poisoning for 2 days. But then again, they have so many good food here!

Anyway, I recently went to a Century park for a short break with baby and ayi (that’s what they called a helper/nanny here). It is the largest park of the city of Shanghai in Pudong New Area which combines British, Japanese, and Chinese gardening styles. So beautiful that I need to photograph.

In Nasty Gal knitted white dress, Massimo Dutti sweater, Burberry coat, BCBGMAXAZRIA stocking, Nine West boots and Chanel bag.

Love taking photos of these pretty flowers. I didn’t even need to use my pro but semi-pro camera to capture their beauty. Iphone 5 camera is very good for close-up shots too.

A flower in my hand was picked up from the floor and not from a tree itself.

more random things they sold at the park.

I was off to my meeting after spending an hour in a park. The weather was just nice on that day.

Cartier watch and ring, Tiffany bracelet and Korean designer jewelries. I love how the rose gold strongly compliments beige and white colour.

More random photos of my little girl. Start with da Michelin Terena all covered up in shocking pink GAP sweater.

Seriously. She is not even in white. Don’t you think she looks like a Michelin or is it just me? Actually I always call these type of sweater, the Michelin inspired. Cute enough.

and Terena da shopaholic baby.

She was actually being nice and helped me carry it all the way walking back home. Having a daughter is very sweet. Especially these days, she knows exactly how to make me melt when she wants something. But I will try my very best not spoil you simply because I love you very much. If you are a mother, you should know how hard it is to say no to your little ones but someone has to do it.

It’s late but I’m wishing you all a happy 2014. I hope all the good things be with you always.

ps. I bought quite a lot of Korea makeup and skincare from a family trip in Korea and I will be sharing some reviews once I’ve tried them all.

Love, nira

Florence, Italy

Happy new year everyone. May all the loves and great things be with you and your positive attitude always. Time flies so fast. How I wish I had appreciated those times with the loved ones so much more.

Anyway, here is another post on my previous Italy trip.

Florence was my next stop after Rome. It was supposed to be quite long drive from Rome to Florence. But thanks to my husband. We got to our destination faster than we expected. This city will probably make the shoppers happy, really happy. I seriously went crazy shopping for designer goods over there. Their collections are much newer compared to what we have seen in Singapore, and most importantly, they are also cheaper. Prada and Salvatore Ferragamo stores are much bigger there compared to the other cities in Italy I went to. Other than shopping, I also enjoyed the good seafood there! It’s much better than Venice, Rome, and Milan.

I was staying in Ferragamo Family-owned Hotel called Lungarno suite. This hotel has the most comfortable bed!

Tourist areas 5 minutes walk from a hotel. Very convenient. There are many restaurants with good views as well.

Strolling around after our lunch.

And then we went for a BIG time shopping at THE MALL! Less than an hour’s drive. (apply to how fast my husband drives)

I did not take many photos of this place as I wanted to concentrate on my shopping alone.  They have all the designer brands I was craving for.

Another happy shopping day. More than satisfied. My last post on italy trip will be coming up soon. I save the best for last.

Love.- nira

Venice, The Beauty

Without a doubt, Venice is my favorite city in Italy. There is only little things I dislike about Venice, and too much to love.

True that, the Venetian canals in the summer can be quite stink and there is no way to avoid it if you want to see the true beauty of Venice. Also, heavy crowds and all the pigeons might not make this city sound like the perfect destination. But despite all this, I still put Venice as one of the best city I’ve ever been to so far. I find it romantic, relaxing, unique, small yet rich in history.

And I’d say that was the highlight of my italy trip.

I took the water taxi from a train station to the hotel we were staying. I got to see many great views along the way and it was such a good first impression.

It was a really bright day.

We reached The Westin hotel approximately in twenty minutes. The hotel’s dock is right on the Grand Canal and water taxi is the best way to arrive. I find The Westin in Venice is so much better than the one in Rome. Or maybe I just personally prefer Venice more than Rome.

Check out the view from my hotel room. Tell me… How could I not love it?

I wouldn’t want to waste anymore time in the hotel room so I quickly got myself refreshed after showering and moved on to next exciting moment.

a Gondola ride, a beautiful song.

Some gondoliers will sing to you in Italian or play a musical instrument during the gondola ride which you often need to pay extra for such service but it will be worth it. When I heard them sing the very first time while I was crossing a small bridge, I paused immediately to listen and look at how happy they were.

In fact, everyone in this city seems so happy and enjoyable. It really felt like a dream to me at that moment, a very sweet dream.

Only if I could sing an Italian love song.

Locks of love on Accademia Bridge

This is where the lovebirds write their names on a padlock, attach it to a bridge, and throw keys in the river. This act was inspired by a bestselling romantic novel, I Want You (2006), by Federico Moccia.

Taking a short break.

My energy boost after a long walk would be this glass of Lemonade with Gelato sorbet! So refreshing. Gelato in Singapore can’t compare a tiny bit with what I had in italy seriously. I think I spoil my taste bud.

This little bird wanted his shares too. I’m glad I managed to get this shot.

And we continued walking.

I spotted this along the way. What a good sense of humor. “OPEN SOME TIME” hahaha!! Love the ideas.

Should I say this person is being lazy or creative?

Shopping was next. I wasn’t tempted by luxury brands when I was shopping in Venice. It will be another story if I’m in Milan or something.

Venice is uniquely famous for their local crafts and other unique stuffs such as Venetian glass, art sculpture, marbled paper, nice watercolors or oil painting of Venetian scenes, and of course those carnival masks that caught my full attention.

Venetian carnival masks. 

They are so unique and detailed in designs with a long history behind those masks. How they are made and what’s their origin. Isn’t it interesting?

So I bought some back of course. The mask is quite bulky but definitely worth my luggage space. How often do you get to see such thing right? Do take some notes and be more careful when buying these masks. They do sell fake ones as well. But it’s not difficult to tell the difference by looking at all the details. Here’s what I got.

Masquerade Eye Mask, 30 euros.

I also bought “I love Venice” T-shirt for myself and some postcards for loved ones. Shopping was fun but it was not how I wanted to end my day in Venice. Because the best thing to do in at night is actually…

a nighttime stroll

There is not much in terms of nightlife but it’s more about going on a nighttime stroll where I can soak up the atmosphere and do some photography along the way. It was pretty quiet at night and I got to see many beautiful spots without the crowds.

Back to the hotel after 2 hours of strolling.

and relaxed ourself for an hour in the hotel bar soaking up the night view before moving to the next city tomorrow morning.

One day spent in that small island-based city was good enough for me to appreciate all the good things they have. Would I ever go back there again? My answer is yes, obviously. I wonder what it’d be like to spend another holiday over there, but in the winter. Actually, it would be a great idea to bring my parents here as I’m very sure they will like this place like I do.

It’s true as they said about this romantic city. Thank you Venice for your beauty.
Sweet love.- nira