Home Improvement Program

Finally, we get new toilets!

It’s been exactly 10 years since Dear1 and I moved into our own house.  When we did renovations 10 years ago, our ID mentioned that Bukit Batok should be doing HIP soon, so we did not change our wood door and the toilet windows.  10 years on, and it’s finally our turn to do HIP.  -_-  We also don’t know why we allowed our ID to con us into thinking that having the washing machine discharge pipe at the toilet door is acceptable; we’ve tolerated with NOT being able to close the toilet door for the past 10 years.  @_@

Finally it was our turn to do HIP where we changed our 2 toilets, and what a depressing 12 days that was!  I was getting used to the constant LOUD drilling sounds from the neighbors’ houses, but did not anticipate the huge amount of dust and sand, and the inconveniences of being confined to the sole clean room in the house.  It was a messy, gloomy 12 days, but hey, we’ve experienced some sliver linings too. :)

For the first time in 10 years, I spoke to many more neighbors than I have in the past 10 years.  We asked each other about the progress of our toilets; we groused about the massive cleaning afterwards; we offered toilet paper when we bump into each other at the temporary toilets at the void deck.  Wow.

Baby1 and Baby2 also displayed kindness to Dear1 and I when they offered to exchange their comfy beds with our hard makeshift mattresses.  After the first night, Dear1 and I experienced blue blacks on our hips from sleeping on the floor.  Baby1 offered to exchange beds first, and also persuaded Baby2 to continue sleeping on the floor for the rest of the HIP.  Such sweetness from the kids, aww…..

Being holed up in the kids room the whole time also made me slow down my “fast-paced” SAHM life when there’s literally no housework to do.  I become soooo bored that I started to take out the kids’ coloring book to color.  I also made various beautiful flowers with the kids’ construction blocks everyday.  That’s why they say kids need to be bored, so that they can find creative ways in a limited situation.  Same goes for adults I guess, heehee…

Not cooking for 2 weeks also make me appreciate my own cooking.  I was hung up on cooking homecook meals 5 days a week.  So much effort put in but so little appreciation.  During the HIP, we had no choice but to eat out every meal every day.  Though food is literally right across the road for us, but after 12 days of eating out, homecooked meals is still the best. :p

The best thing that happened because of HIP must be the throwing out of the spare sink that we’ve stored in the storeroom for the past 10 years.  We had an extra sink as we did not install it in the kitchen toilet.  We’ve faithfully kept it in the store for 10 years, you know, just in case we’ll ever need it.  Now that we have a brand new sink, so adieu you sink, and stop taking up precious storeroom space!

It was a difficult 12 days of HIP, but I’m glad that we have gone through it well.  We took care of each other, and the kids were so sweet to Mummy and Papa.  Now our toilets are always bright and privacy included!

– Dear2


The Lure of $2

  • Square porcelain plates
  • Round Japanese bowls
  • Dustbin for kitchen and bed room
  • Tub for sink
  • Baskets for laundry pegs
  • Baskets for putting make up and stuff
  • Wall suckers for bathroom and kitchen
  • Horizontal rod for hanging kitchen tools
  • Potato masher
  • Kitchen gloves
  • Big paper boxes for storing small items
  • Food containers
  • Small handheld broom and dustpan
  • Big plastic bowls for baking

When we first moved into our house, equipping everything from scratch often leads us to buying these household essentials from Daiso. At that time, money was scarce for us, so with each item at just $2 per piece, these were very affordable for us yet stylish.  Many a times, there were even cents to dollars of savings as compared to buying the same item elsewhere, or simply as a cheaper alternative.

Over time, we would often frequent Daiso whenever we need to get more household essentials:

  • Laundry bags (I think we have about at least 8 now)
  • Large zip lock bags for overseas purposes
  • Containers for storing Dear1’s meeples and tokens (I think he has bought at least about 7 to 8 boxes in all)
  • Apron (my second piece already, just because the first one was not pretty)
  • Food grater for Baby1 (used maybe 3 times?)
  • At least 3 sets of small containers (for storing Baby1’s pureed foods that time; now all neatly stacked up in the cupboard)
  • Cookie cutters (2 new sets, washed but not used yet)
  • Cute food picks (still in the plastic bag.  Extremely cute!!! But haven’t got the chance to making bento for Dear1 yet.  Oh yes, there’s still the ‘fake’ seaweed for sushi decoration which we have not tried yet too.)
  • Laundry hangers (we have 2 sets of 8 pegs each, and 3 sets of 18 pegs each)
  • Tie Hanger (hmm… cannot remember why I bought this at that time)
  • Clothes hanger over door (ermm… we realised that the door cannot be closed with this one on, so………..)
  • Flower pots (bought 3, but only used 2)
  • Various hanging baskets in various sizes (usage varied, depending on where needs what to be hung)
  • Shower caps (I have 4 now – blue, yellow, white and pink.  ;p)
  • Gloves for Baby1 that time when we went Korea (ermm.. we didn’t even take this out to use, just for ‘in case’ situations)
  • Round stools for sitting or just putting the feet up (ermm… we have 2 grey, 1 brown, 1 yellow, 1 pink and 1 blue now.  Why do we need so many stools in our little 3 room flat!?)
  • Bottle brush (when we already have 1 Pigeon one for Baby1’s bottle)
  • Racks (total count reveals 5 in the kitchen.  Didn’t know that I have bought so many!)
  • and the list goes on and on

Things are so cheap at Daiso!  I mean, everything is fixed price at $2, so I just have to count the number of items in my basket and it’s easy to know the total price.  But many a times, total damage usually exceeds imagination.  We would walk into Daiso wanting to get a container for storing some of Dear1’s cards (again), but end up having 1 Christmas tree, 1 more basket for the living room, 1 toothbrush set for Baby1, 1 fork and spoon set for her, a super cute food container for her too, (resist to buy the matching pink bowl, and oh, there’s a plate version too!), (prohibited to get another Christmas decoration because Dear1 refuses to choose one for me), and 1 packet of the caramel corn at check out.  Nowadays, I even have to give myself a budget, say $20 if I want to go in to get a $2 item!!!

The lure of Daiso is indeed very big.  Things are so pretty in there, and most of them are really useful. But we do have experiences when the quality is poor, like that hamburger food timer which we didn’t manage to get it to work properly ever, and that stainless steel egg mold which got rusty though we only used it once.  But even if the item is no good, it’s at most a $2 write off, very cheap indeed ya.  ;p

– Dear2

Our NOT Lamp

Some months ago, Dear1 and Dear2 went shopping at IKEA after Dear2’s regular gynae visit. Yes, that was during her pregnancy time.

We went there for a few reasons. First, we wanted to use of IKEA friends card to enjoy the discounted Swedish meatballs for lunch. Second, we wanted to buy some new lighting for our house. We had decided to rearrange our master bedroom so that we can place the baby cot together in our room. The rearrangement resulted in a small dead-space between our bed and the window. So we decided that we can get a tall standing lamp to fill in that space. It can both act as a decorative item and provide some indirect light that we can use when feeding baby late at night. And the last reason we’re visiting IKEA is becos of the free parking for IKEA friends if we spend some minimum amount there, which we will be since we’re buying the lamp.

After our hearty Swedish meatballs lunch, we shopped around looking for the ‘perfect’ lamp. We chance upon this decent looking, tall and slim standing lamp. The lamp shade is in the shape of a bowl which meant that the light will be shone upwards and bounced off the ceiling for the soft indirect lighting feel. Great, this is exactly what we wanted. Now, how much is it? $19!?! OMG, just $19. That’s really really cheap for a roughly 1.8metre tall standing lamp. Looking around the display area, other standing lamps are selling for at least $39 and sometimes going up to $159. And this one is just $19! We decided on this one without much second thought. The lamp we bought was the NOT Lamp.

The NOT lamp came in this small compact package that makes it easy to transport. Assembling was also a breeze, the instruction booklet was not needed at all.

Once home, we quickly set up the lamp in its intended position. It was perfect. The base footprint was very small, just around 30cm in diameter. We positioned the lamp such that part of the base was under the bed and part of it was under the air con ledge space. In effect, the lamp squeezed into a nice little corner flanked by our bed and the window.

We coupled the lamp with a low wattage yellow light energy saving bulb. It worked wonderfully. The indirect light bounced off the ceiling and cast a nice warm feel in the room without being too harsh. Our Grono lamp was also in the bed room. However, the Grono lamp was not as effective in dispersing the light, coupled with it’s low stature on the bed side table, resulted in a much harsher atmosphere which was not very pleasant late at night. Since then, the NOT lamp has officially taken over as our choice of late night lighting.

While we were at IKEA, we bought another small Knubbig table lamp @ $12 for our study room. It was also for the purpose of night feeding. We wanted to make sure that we have some form of soft lighting in every room so that we have the flexibility to feed baby anywhere in the house during the night. Of course, these soft lightings can also be useful to add a romantic touch to our nights of passion. Keke… So you see, it’s a multi-purpose lamp, hence high on the value-for-money scale.

So, back to the star of today’s post, the NOT lamp. We think the NOT lamp is a no-frills, minimalist, and decently elegant standing lamp. At a cost of $19, it is definitely a steal. Do consider it if you are looking for a simple standing lamp for the house. It will surely work as well in any room.


p.s. Even the breastfeeding room at level 3 at TMC is using the same NOT lamp, do check it out the next time you are at TMC. :P

Baby cot delivered

Our Shears Premium Wooden Cot, white in colour. We liked it for its simple design and no fanciful curvatures.

Our baby cot that we bought from Metro some weeks ago was finally delivered over the weekend.Yeah! Just to refresh our memories, we bought this cot at Metro for $189, comes with the cot, the mattress, 1 baby activity mat and 1 bean sprout pillow. Good deal.

The delivery was scheduled for 10am-1pm and the delivery man arrived at around 12pm. Thumbs up for being on time. I instructed the person to assemble the cot outside the house and to be careful not to put any parts of the cot on the corridor floor. I suppose he was very accustomed to such requests as I watch him skillfully put the cot together. Everything was done on the laid out cardboard box and nothing touched the ground.

The next step was to bring the cot into the house. This required a bit of effort as the spatial arrangement of our furniture made it impossible to bring in the cot as is. We tilted the cot vertically and slowly rotate ourselves around the furnitures. Once the cot was in house, the delivery man explained to us the basic features of the cot and some common mishandling of the cot.

Finally, before he left, he showed us this musical mobile. Great, we so happen to need a musical mobile, I thought. He is doing to promotion for the musical mobile to customers who bought the cot. The original price was $30. It is a spring operated system, each full wind will last about 30 minutes. Both Dear2 and I was ok with it and the price was attractive too. However, we do not know the market price and hence do not know if it was really a bargain. What we do know was that it was near impossible to find a musical mobile on the market for less than $40. And one of the reasons why we had not bought our musical mobile was becos we couldn’t find one under $40 that we liked (actually, we saw 2 musical mobiles under $40 before but we didn’t like the animal toys that hang from them).

And so we bought the musical mobile from the delivery man. You can see the musical mobile in the picture above too. Now, let’s just hope we don’t see the same musical mobile selling at a cheaper price outside. :P

Before leaving, the delivery man informed us that their company is participating in a baby fair in March 2010 and that things will be selling at attractive prices. I told him to keep us informed by phone and we will try to go down to take a look at some new toys for baby then.

All in all, we bought the cot at a good price, the quality is decent, and the delivery was smooth. We even managed to buy a cheap musical mobile along the way. Happy happy.


Billy Bookcase

Dear1 and Dear2 added a new book shelf to our house recently.  There’s this small little section in our living room that we find too bare, so we thot of filling this space up with a covered book shelf.  Minus away the floor skirting (side and back), curtains, and boxup from the ceiling, the ideal width of the shelf should be 58cm with height 205cm (this sentence is actually VERY important, cos we kind of forgot about the spacing needed for the skirting and peripherals when we first took measurement, cos one usually tends to measure the distance wall-to-furniture, and not wall-to-furniture-minus-skirting-and-peripherals.  You can imagine the incompatibility if these provisions were not factored in!)

With such precise dimensions, Dear1 and Dear2 were quite convinced that Ikea should be able to offer some shelfing solutions.  But alas, it seems that smaller cabinets come in pretty fixed width of 40 or at best 60cm.  That 2 cm more is still  2 cm too much for us.  Eventually we settled for a Billy 40 x 202 cm bookcase which cost $79 for black-brown.

Dear2 never does like exposed surfaces, so getting a door for the book case is essential.  We got a compatible glass door at $78.

Next comes the transportation problem.  You can pay a certain fee for Ikea delivery, but being thrifty Dear1Dear2, we’ve rather bring it back on our own.  At more than 2m in length, you can try checking with the biggest maxicab if they can carry, but the safest bet will be to use your private lorry or bus.  Haha.  And dun forget to ask 2 strong people along, cos the glass door is surprisingly much much heavier than the book case alone.

Furniture assembly took up another one of our Saturdays.  Plenty of space (remember again, it’s 2m in length), screwdriver and a hammer are essentials. (Dear1’s note: We didn’t have a hammer and had to buy 1 from downstairs for ~$7) And probably some handiplus to be readied cos the intensive usage of the screwdriver made Dear1’s palm peel.  :(

Finally the brand new Billy bookcase is ready.  But there’s another problem, which the IKEA staff did warn us about, that the shelf might topple forward becos the glass door is heavier than the 40 cm and 2m height body.  Opps.  The advice was to ‘tie’ the shelf to the back wall, but since we do not have a drill at home, it’ll just have to be made do with plenty of big books at the bottom shelves  as well as  much caution when opening the glass door.

Our nice Billy Bookcase.  We wonder how long this shelf can last, cos a fren told us later that his 80cm shelf  fell apart, literally fell apart, barely within one year.  And that was a shelf that he didn’t load much things with.  Hmm…….

– Dear2

An apple green sofa bed

Yeah… We have our sofa bed. Hohohoho… It has really been a long while since we started shopping for a sofa bed, and now we finally bought it. It is apple green in colour, 3 seater sofa, opens up to be somewhere between a super single and a queen size bed, sleeping 2 people shouldn’t be a problem. Well, actually we bought it a month ago, just that I haven’t gotten down to writing it here. Hehe…

After months of desperate search for a sofa bed, we finally bought ours for $400 (included Gst and delivery) at K & D Furniture Trading, their warehouse showroom somewhere in Kaki Bukit. We were introduced to this company by a friend, and it turns out that their selection of furniture was not bad, and in fact a little bit unique, not the everyday furniture you see at local neighbourhood shops. But still, their goods come from China, so dun expect European quality. Not to mention we received a small discount by virtue that we were recommended by a friend. Yeah…

We’ve been to quite a few places to search for a sofa bed, but nothing really comes close. Not Ikea, Courts, Harvey Norman, IMM, Seahorse, etc… What was rather surprising about this shop that we bought our sofa bed from was that they had lots and lots sofa beds to choose from, easily more than 20 varieties. But only 2 were on display, the rest were in the catalog. Our was chosen from the catalog.

The sofa bed is currently in our study room. One of the main purpose of this sofa bed is to act as a sleeping place for guest, or simply a guest bed. But when there are no guests, it can be folded up into a sofa setting and save space in the study room. Now, who are the guests that we’re expecting? Well, maybe our relatives might want to stay over for a night (however unlikely that may sound). But mainly, its for our friends who we invite over for overnight mahjong, or movie marathon or gaming.

Eventhough I mentioned folding it into sofa mode to save space, I’m now thinking of leaving it permanently in bed mode. Haha… Why? Because it just feels great knowing that there’s a bed in the study room as well. This way, I can walk around the house, take a nap in the master bedroom, relax on the living room sofa, or I can walk to the study room and lie down on the sofa bed. Sounds really cosy and relaxing ya? Alright, I shall do just that.


Ikea Grono Lamp to be exchanged

Last weekend, we went down to Ikea again, to look for furnishing ideas. We’re really lacking the sofa bed in our study room, nearly everything else is already in place. But then, owing to some horror stories about Ikea sofa beds, we decided that we shall not buy a sofa bed from Ikea, but rather just there for ideas. Additionally, we’re also looking out for shoe racks. But again, owing to some horror experience of the Ikea shoe rack at my old clubroom, I’m unwilling to buy any shoe rack from there. So basically, we’re just there to look for ideas, not really keen on buying anything. But it’s the Ikea annual warehouse sale, so there’s definitely something worth buying, right?

In the end, we came back with 4 fold-up cardboard boxes to help us organize our cupboards. A magnetic notice board. A set of 4 small squarish mirrors. And a pair of Grono Lamps, medium and large size. When we were paying for the goods, we suddenly realize that Ikea isn’t giving out plastic bags. Oh yeah… they’re supporters of the environmental friendly bag program. But I find it quite unreasonable for them to just scan-and-ignore. The cashier that served us simply scan the barcodes for our goods, put them aside and collected the payment and promptly moved on to the next customer. I think the least that she could have done is ask whether or not we require a plastic bag. But that was not the case. We had to ask her for a plastic bag, with which she gave us a stare and reached out her hand, saying, “5 cent for small one, 10 cent for bag one.” -_- We paid 10 cents for a big one. Money is not the issue, it’s the poor attitude.

Upon reaching home, we eagerly unwrapped our Grono Lamps. The idea is, the medium on in our bedroom on the bedside table. The large on in the living room on the Tv console. This way, we can create a continuity that extends from the living room to the bedroom and make the whole house a coherent theme. But alas, that was not to be. The large lamp was broken. The lamps were wrapped in cupboard boxes and we did not checked them after paying for it. But seriously, not many people will take out their large item goods to check until they reach home. This episode taught us to check items whenever possible to avoid the hassle of making another trip down just to exchange the item. Luckily, Ikea boasts a 30 day exchange policy. So I guess I’ll be making another trip down there sometime soon. Until then, the romantic bedside lamp will have to wait.