Minimalist

It’s fascinating to know how much clothes we’ve actually got, every time when I clean out the house.

Every now and then, I’ll want to buy new clothes.  Perhaps more tee-shirts to wear at home.  Perhaps a couple more polo tees for my weekend wear.  Hmm, the kids should get more clothes too; we definitely need to go Tung Chung Outlets get some kids wear during our Hong Kong holiday next month!

But halt!  During the ‘Spring Cleaning’ this past week, I’ve uncovered mannnnnnnny items which we’ve long forgotten about!  Really out-of-sight, out-of-mind, haiz.

First and foremost, 3 new pairs of army white socks still pristine in their packaging.   Dear1 was contemplating of making a special visit to e-mart to replenish these.  Thanks to procrastination, we haven’t actually got down to e-mart before these 3 pairs were uncovered, sitting snugly in the shoe cabinet some more!

From our wardrobe, I found:

  • 3 packs of facial cotton.  OMG, since when have I been using facial cotton!?  I’ve got no idea, but it seems such a waste to discard this.
  • 2 home tees, not worn before. Omg, why!?
  • 4 pajamas.  Hmm… didn’t realise that I’ve got this many.  And Dear1 always keep asking me to buy more, grr…
  • x number of nightie. Urgh, Dear1, we’ve really got to stop buying more night wear for me.
  • Dear1’s underwear, all looks new.  Omg, to think I always ask him if he need new ones every time we are at a Departmental Store.
  • 4 bottles of hair serum, and 1 bottle of hair conditioner.  OMG.

Around the house, I also found:

  • A pack of kitchen towels, not opened yet.
  • 2 floor mats which look brand new.
  • Ah yes, I didn’t forget the new bath towels which we got earlier at a sale – so, there’s still 2 of them.
  • Oh, here are the torchlights, we could use them for travelling, no need to buy torchlights again
  • Hmm… 2 cute pillow cases.  I can use these to make the bolster case for Baby2!

I did major cleaning of the ‘insides’ this past week, de-cluttering and throwing out the things which we REALLY do not need.  I don’t think Dear1 and I like to buy things; compared to some people, I think we are really not fashionable nor have the material need to want to possess branded goods or the latest tech gadget.

But over the years, we’ve seem to have accumulate quite some bulk to the house. I tend to buy things when they are on sale, so like the hair serum and extra towels, these were either got at a good discount, or when we needed to make up the minimum amount to qualify for the discount.  Unknowingly, many of these items became ‘spares’, sitting in the cupboard waiting for their use turn, sometimes idling there for a couple of years until the next spring clean, which they are eventually discarded as they’ve expired, opps!

I want to go on a minimalist lifestyle.  Recently I came across this clip of a Japanese guy who advocates this.  The furniture in his house looks like they’re all bought from Ikea – the compact and cheap type.  He digitized all his photos and music albums and books, converting his entire hobby collection to a mere hard disk.  And he’s only got like 15 pieces of clothing, including 5 underwear and 5 pairs of socks!?

The minimalist lifestyle is not about having less; it’s about knowing what you want.  Don’t we all have a bag too many, x number pairs of shoes, work clothes, glam clothes, weekend clothes, home clothes, PJs, but still think we need more clothes?  And I won’t even go into the collector’s items; I personally do not believe in collecting anything, lest they just accumulate dust (and which I need to clean).

Singapore throws out xx tonnes of waste every day.  I can’t even imagine where these trash goes to.

  • Know what you need (Is this item really what you need? Before buying, confirm that we REALLY don’t already have one sitting somewhere in the house?)
  • Reduce
  • Reuse

I shall try to follow these mandates, and set an example to Baby1 and Baby2 too.  :)

– Dear2

Advertisements

Sheng Siong Lucky Draw is Real

Dear1 and Dear2 have been faithfully filling in the Lucky Draw slip for NTUC all these years.  Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, Deepavali, whatever, whatever.  It seems that NTUC has some kind of lucky draw every now and then, and as NTUC is our favourite supermarket, we’d always filled this in every time whenever we get a slip.  But through out all these years, we’ve never ever won even once.

Recently, Dear1 and Dear2 liked going to this Sheng Siong at West Coast Market.  Big (it’s actually 2 stories high) so we can get almost everything that we need, and it’s near to a market so we can go grocery shop after our dinner on a weekday.  But NTUC is still our favourite supermarket as its fresh food is fresher.

One day, we received a letter from Sheng Siong informing us that we’ve won their Hari Raya Lucky Draw. It was a 6-piece Cornell set, woohoo!

Our lucky draw prize from Sheng Siong

Our lucky draw prize from Sheng Siong

We’ve probably participated in more than 100 NTUC Lucky Draws all these years, and maybe 20 for Sheng Siong, but we’ve never ever won anything from NTUC.  Some to think of it, those milk, or bread, or juice, or butter kind of Lucky Draws, are they even real too?

I’m not going to waste my effort filling in NTUC Lucky Draw slips again.  Hmm, maybe I’ll continue to do so, let’s see when will I actually win anything, if it’s even real.

Since we’re talking about lucky draws, let me try to recall the other times that we’ve been lucky and won something:

  1. A Shinco tablet at NUS ECE Family Day (2nd prize)
  2. A Coffee Bean voucher from a magazine contest at Bukit Batok CC
  3. A bean bag from a marriage magazine contest
  4. Twice Shop and Win lucky draw from Standard Chartered – we got reimbursed for a restaurant meal and a mobile phone
  5. Twice board game contest at BoardGameGeek – we won a board game each time
  6. A manicure voucher at company DnD
  7. Twice Royal Caribbean email contest – an overnight travel bag and a small hand luggage
  8. Baby1 won a game of Bingo during our recent cruise

-Dear1 & Dear2

Great Deals shopping in Jurong

Dear1 and Dear2 do not like to go shopping outside of Jurong.

Orchard – The parking charges itself is already a killer, nooooooooooo!

Nex – Too big, and too wheels-unfriendly.

Bugis – Just imagine the human traffic………

Anywhere else, including all the new malls in town – Too many people, too few lifts, expensive parking charges etc etc.  Opps, actually the biggest problem is, we are not one of those families who can lug a couple fidgety kids and go out shopping in style. When we go shopping, it’s either grab-and-go, or walk-an-hour-while-Baby2-naps-in-stroller.  What shopping is there to talk about….

Anyway, our favourite weekend morning activity is grocery shopping recently.  After breakfast/milk, we’ll troll the supermarket until lunch, and have a quick bite before heading back home for Baby1’s afternoon nap.  Apart from IMM (best deal – free parking for 3 hours, but we don’t like Giant), there’s also Jurong Point (best raved – whatever brand you want, you can almost find them there).  JCube, Westmall, Bukit Panjang Plaza, Lot 1 – these are all very nearby too.

Until the rise of JEM and Westgate, shopping has become more varied now.  Which mall do we go today!?

For the month of June, the choice is very clear – JEM and Westgate! (Opps, my bad, though they are just besides each other, JEM and Westgate are technically still two separate malls.)

JEM: Go figure out the large number of retail and fashion stores yourself, but take note that until the last weekend of June, be sure to spend $200 and qualify for a $10 JEM voucher + $4 parking coupon;  $80 gives $2 parking coupon..  And don’t forget to get a copy of this little booklet of JEM deals which gives you some discounts from the stores.  Our favourite is this $2 discount coupon for minimum $60 spendings in NTUC (ok, just 3.33% savings, but still savings right?)

Westgate: $60 (hmm or is it $80??) spendings qualify for 5,000 capital points, which is equivalent to a $5 Capitalmall voucher.  $120 gives 5,000 capital points + a sure win game (we played spin-a-wheel and got 7,000 points in total.  Minimum win is 2,000 points).  $180 gives 10,000 capital points + the sure win game.  Very good deal!

Opps, got too carried away with the freebies, forgot to mention the stores at Westgate. Frankly, if you ask me, Westgate seems to have more food than shopping.  Tim Ho Wan, Paul, Poulet, Paradise Dynasty, some Japanese H-shape ramen shop, and a lot more other atas-looking eateries, do take your time to explore!

JEM.  Westgate.  JEM.  Westgate.  Jurong Point.  IMM.  JEM.  Westgate.  JEM.  Westgate.

Shopping in Jurong is so much fun (hmm, or rather, savings savings saving!)

– Dear2

The smart shopper stretches the dollar

Sometimes, with a little planning, we can get much more out of every dollar we spend. Dear2 and I have just returned home from a grocery trip to Westgate and I would like to share an example of how we stretched our dollar.

Baby2’s milk powder was running out, so we have to buy some this weekend. The usual price of Baby2’s Gain IQ (1.8kg) is $75.90. But we knew that Guardian is having a promotion this weekend for the milk powder at $72.90.

At the same time, we have this Guardian coupon (which can be obtain directly at any Guardian counter) to Enjoy $5 off with a minmum spending of $45 in a single receipt. Purchasing the discounted milk powder definitely qualifies us to use this coupon.

Also, Guardian is a participating store in the TapForMore program with Passion Card which allows us to earn 1 point for every $1 spent, every 150 points will allow us to redeem $1 back.

Additionally, Maybank Friends and Family card gives us a 5% cash rebate (to be credited in the next credit card statement) when purchasing at Guardian stores.

During our last visit to Westgate, we visited the customer service counter at level 3 to check out the latest promotions and redemptions (just like we did at Vivocity and nearly every shopping mall that we visit). We knew that there is a Fortune Redemption program that allows us to earn 8888 STAR$ with a minimum spending of $188 in 3 receipts at Westgate.

That is on top of the STAR$ that we can already earn at all CapitaMalls at a exchange rate of $1 spend = 5 STAR$. In addition, we linked up our Passion Card with our STAR$ account which improves our exchange rate by 1.5 times, which meant that every $1 spend earns us 7.5 STAR$. STAR$ can be redeemed at a rate of 5000 STAR$ = $5 CapitaMall voucher.

Lastly, we will be using a $10 Dairy Farm voucher which we purchased from SAFRA at a discount of 8% (i.e. pay $92 for $100 Dairy Farm voucher) and a $5 CapitaMall voucher (which we redeemed using our STAR$ during our last visit to Westgate).

So off we went to Guardian at Westgate. We purchased 3 tins of Gain IQ (1.8kg) split into 3 separate receipts so that each receipt qualifies for the $5 off Guardian coupon. For one of the tins, we used our Dairy Farm and CapitaMall vouchers for another $15 off. In total, we paid ($72.90 – $5) x 3 – $15 = $188.70 using our Maybank credit card which will earn us $9.435 in our next statement.

Meanwhile, we earned 72.90 x 3 = 218.7 TapForMore points which is equivalent to 218.7 / 150 = $1.458 redeemable at our next purchase.

Next, we went to the Westgate customer service counter to earn our regular 72.90 x 3 x 5 x 1.5 = 1640.25 STAR$, and to earn our bonus 8888 STAR$. That’s a total of 10528.25 STAR$ worth $10.528 in redeemable vouchers, the caveat being these are only redeemable in 5000 STAR$ blocks. We then immediately exchanged 10000 of those just-earned STAR$ into $10 CapitaMall voucher.

Let’s tally our total savings. The original cost of 3 tins of Gain IQ (1.8kg) is $75.90 x 3 = $227.70. We paid only $188.70 at Guardian. However, we have to adjust for the Dairy Farm vouchers which was bought and not earned. So our total amount paid will be $188.70 + $9.20 = $197.90. Next, we earned $9.435 + $1.458 + $10 = $20.893 in rebates and vouchers. Therefore, effectively the 3 tins of milk powder cost us $197.90 – $20.893 =$177.007 or just $59.002 per tin.

That’s savings of 22.26%. :)

-Dear1

Tangs @ Vivocity

Toscano Bag – $349 before less 20% Birthday Month discount

Sorella panties (3 in a pack) – $17.90 but paid $1.70 for it

Parking at Vivocity – $4.20 but paid $0, still got $0.80 credit left

Vivocity Ang Bao packets in cute box – Complimentary

Woohoo! I finally got my birthday present at Tangs Vivo last week after much comparing and deliberation. Went specially all the way down to Vivo to get the bag as Dear1 has some Tangs-Citibank membership with 20% discount on selected categories for one time purchase during birthday month. After paying, we were told that we’ve earned some credit points of about $16.20 so we grabbed a pack of panties which is worth about that amount to net this off before it’s forgotten expiry.

On our way out, we wanted to check with Vivo’s concierge if there’s a Bak Kwa shop in the building, for our new year gifts to the parents. Learnt that we can apply for Vivocity complimentary parking ($1 for every $50 spendings, cap at $5 per day), so we did the application and redeemed $5 worth of parking credits. There was a complimentary pack of ang bao in a pretty magnetic box for $180 (??) spendings during the festive season so we got one too.

Geez. $70 savings on my birthday bag, plus free panties, plus free parking, plus free ang bao packets. We used to think that there isn’t anything for us to buy in Vivocity. GAP, Coach, hmm… I don’t even know all those atas brands for young people now, mature parents as we are now only shop in supermarkets and departments stores. But what a surprise that we’ve purchased quite a few big ticket items from Tang Vivo these few years. My Toscano bag now, Dear1’s Renoma Birthday bag last year, our 2 Hush Puppies Travel luggages, and a cooking pot. Who knows, we might come back again soon~

– Dear2

Our uAngel

I think everybody likes a good massage, and we all know how money draining it is to go to the massage parlour for a rub.  Minimum $40 per hour depending on whether is it a foot rub, or shoulders, or back, or whole body massage, oh how extravagant!

So when we saw the promotional package for the uRelax and uCoxy at just slightly over $300 back in 2011, it was a good buy.  Product guarantee for 1 year, it is about $1 per day if you use every day.  Or 10 sessions as compared to going to the parlour.  And since there’s 2 items, both Dear1 and Dear2 can use them simultaneously.  Dear1 will sit on the uRelax in his study chair, while I’ll use the uCozy to massage that knotted spot on the shoulder, and we can have a relaxing chat on Friday nights.  Perfect.

Did anyone ever tell you how goods can malfunction miraculously at the one year mark?  Let me tell you this, it really happens!   The uRelax just dropped dead when the one year warranty is over.  And there goes our relaxing Friday nights.

Dear1 was depressed for a while.  He didn’t really like the uCozy as it doesn’t give a good rub to his aching lower back.  I was okay without the uRelax since it was a good-to-have anyway, and the uCozy comes in handy when I need the deep press on the knot on the shoulder.

Then Osim launched their uAngel.  Before that, Dear1 was cooing over the uSoffa.  “Super comfy”,  he says.  “No way, we don’t have the space for it”, I say.  We can consider that when we upgrade our 3 room flat, but god knows when that will be.  So even if we dare to splurge, the space constraints makes it a firm No No.  uDivine was an even bigger definite No No – no space and no money for it.  5, 6 thousand!?!?

But the uAngel is so small!  It’s really just an armchair’s space, and we’ll really just have to adjust a few furniture items in our house.  Bravo!  We gave away 1 study table and 1 coffee table, we kept and fold up Baby2’s cot (as she was climbing out of it too), we moved the kids’ rocking horse and walker to the grandparents’ house, and we placed the play yard in the bedroom (so that Baby2 gets to sleep in the bedroom with us too).  Bingo, there’s effectively a space in the study room that is large enough for the uAngel (opps, it’s really just an armchair space needed, when it’s folded, but we forgot to cater for the space behind and in front of it when it extends).  Ermm, so actually still a small massage chair size.

Dear1 persuaded me to test try the chair in the showroom.  Hmm, surprisingly it’s really quite powerful.  The back rollars can cover the whole back, and the foot massage is almost quite equivalent to the uPhoria’s strength.  I really was still skeptical about getting it, but considering that Dear1 has HPB and he really needs to relax to lower it (the nights up coaxing Baby2 just makes it worse), I decided to get it as a Mother’s Day present to him (paid using our Joint Account, of course).   At $1998, we got a free uMist and a Pillow too, plus 2.3% rebate when we paid with the CapitalMall Card at IMM.

For now, I’ll imagine the rollers loosening those tense back muscles, and improving the legs’ blood circulation, and perhaps helping to ease away pockets of gas trapped in the system.  It must be more than just giving a ‘massage feeling’ right!?  Loving it <3

– Dear2

(As for the uRelax, we got it repaired for around $50 and gave it to Dear1’s parents to use.)

Monster University Weekend Outing and Air Purifiers

Thanks to SAFRA MovieMax, we won 4 tickets to the screening of Monster University last Saturday, 22 Jun 2013, at Marina Square. Baby1 needed a ticket as she is more than 90 cm tall now. So that left us with 1 spare ticket. However, we were unable to find anyone to attend the movie with us. So in the end, it’s just Dear1, Dear2, Baby1 and Baby2 – family outing.

We were allocated the 11 am movie slot. We arrived at Marina Square at 10.40 am and made our way to the movie theatre. Upon arrival, there wasn’t much of a queue and we were able to retrieve our tickets swiftly. However, we were told that the organizers were out of 11 am tickets and we were offered the 1 pm tickets instead. We were fine with that, because we had other plans.

Well, our other plans was to pre-order air purifiers. The haze had been very bad that week, even hitting PSI 401 on Friday, 21 Jun 2013. By that time, air purifiers were sold out islandwide. Dear1 had Liked Harvery Norman on Facebook earlier and found out that limited supplies of air purifiers will be delivered to Westmall on Friday. Dear1 waited at Westmall for about 2.5 hrs and left at around 6.30 pm empty handed after leaving his contact in the waiting list. However, later that night, it was revealed on Harvey Norman’s Facebook page that stock did arrive later and were snapped up immediately. Obviously, waiting list is useless.

Later that night, during one of the night feeds of Baby2, Dear1 received a Facebook update from Harvey Norman stating that stock was available for pre-orders with full payment and an estimated delivery around 29 Jun – 2 Jul. We decided that we had to pre-order a unit to protect our family from the haze.

The unexpected delay in our movie event gave us a great opportunity to pre-order our air purifier.

We made our way from Marina Square to Millenia Walk where Harvey Norman’s flagship store was. The haze was still bad as we quickly walked through the outdoor linkway to Millenia walk. When we arrived, the staff were still receiving instructions about the pre-order with full payment. After some waiting, phone calls and confirmation, we were able to make a full payment of $188 for the Sharp FU-Y30E, and we were first on the list! Yippee!

Just as we were leaving, we overheard a conversation amongst the staff and supplier about Sharp air purifiers. Apparently, the Sharp supplier had yet to commit a firm delivery date for their shipment. However, the Delonghi supplier had promise a delivery date. We had a quick discussion with the staff there and decided that we will pre-order a unit of Delonghi AC75 for $199 as well because it had a confirmed and earlier expected delivery date. We were first on the Delonghi list too.

With 2 air purifiers, we will use 1 in our bedroom for the night and probably leave it at granny’s house where Baby2 spends her day.

We made our way back through the outdoor linkway back to Marina Square. The haze was still bad but just less bad.

As we passed Guardian, Dear2 decided to enquire about N95 masks. At this time, N95 masks were also sold out islandwide and we only had 2 in total – both issued by our companies. They have 1 box of 20 for sale – lucky! They were selling piece by piece at $2.80 each. We were third in line. Initially, we had wanted to get 8 masks – 2 for each person in our family. However, since Dear1 was the only person in queue, and the staff limited each person to only 2 masks, and a very long line starting to form behind us, we decided to get only 2 masks and leave sufficient for the people behind us.

We had lunch, Baby2 fell asleep in her stroller, and we made our way to the movie. Now, Baby1 had attended 2 movie screenings before. The first was free tickets for Puss in Boots. At that time, the darkness and the loudness of the movie theatre scared her and we left within 10 minutes of the movie. The second was paid tickets for Thomas and Friends: Days of the Diesel. Baby1 enjoyed that movie and sat through it without much fuss.

Monster University was to be her third movie. It started out fine but Baby1 started to lose interest, especially after the appearance of the scary Dean Hardscrabble. (Side note: Baby1 really enjoyed the short film The Blue Umbrella that was screened before the actual movie started.) It was probably her nap time anyway. At the same time, Baby2 had woke and started babbling. Dear1 carried Baby2 to the back of the theatre to minimize any disruptions. Finally, Baby1 decided that she had enough and declared the movie “not nice”. We decided to leave the movie theatre and make our way home.

Miraculously, during our short time in the theatre, the haze had cleared. The blue sky was now clear and the sunshine lifted our moods. We reached home and began putting our clothes out to dry in the fantastic weather. Never had we felt so happy to see good weather. The severe haze definitely changed our attitude towards the weather.

Since Saturday, we’ve had several days of good weather but right now I can see the haze worsening outside my window. We’re still waiting to collect our air purifiers, hopefully over this weekend. This spell of bad haze has demonstrated just how unprepared we are against such an annual occurrence. With the haze expected to last till September and probably every year moving forward, we will do our part to keep our family prepared. This will include keeping sufficient stock of N95 masks (preferably with kids size), maintaining the serviceability of our air-con, humidifiers and air purifiers, and educating ourselves and our kids about the haze and how we should go about our activities during the haze.

Lastly, I’m impressed with Harvey Norman’s timely and frequent communication through their Facebook page. Without it, we would not have been able to place our pre-orders at Millenia Walk. Keep it up!

(p.s. now let’s see if they are able to meet their expected delivery dates.)

(Update 28 Jun 13: Harvey Norman called to inform arrival of Delonghi set. As expected, Delonghi arrived earlier than Sharp. Glad that we ordered the Delonghi set.)

(Update 29 Jun 13: Collected Delonghi AC75. My name was scribbled on the box, indicating my reservation, good. Was informed that Sharp set likely to arrive 5 Jul.)

(Update 3 Jul 13: Harvey Norman called to inform arrival of Sharp set, 2 days earlier than expected.)

(Update 6 Jul 13: Collected Sharp FU-Y30E. Again, name was on the box. Enquired about remaining stock, apparently they’re still out of stock. Really glad to have managed to pre-order ours. Thumbs up to Harvey Norman for good service!)

-Dear1