Sunday, 28 April 2013

Great Exercise Books for Toddlers

Just this January, I entered into another exciting phase of 'mummy-hood'...sending my child to his first school. I actually had some nervousness about this phase as I have heard of challenges on leaving a child for the first time in a new place where he doesn't know anyone. And to leave him there even for a few hours was still heart-breaking for me.  

The first day was probably the toughest. I even took leave from work just to be ready and on-call at any time of the day, if in case something didn't go well. Waking up early at around 7:30am was still new to Aden so, as expected, he had some tantrums. Everything after then was alright. We drove to school, I walked him into school up to his classroom. Until it was time for me to leave, the chaos started. 

He cried and cried. It was breaking my heart but I had to run away quickly and hide from him. The teacher and her assistant were doing their best to calm him down. He kept running out of the room. They closed the door and from outside, I can hear someone kicking the door. I am sure that was him, showing his temper while crying away. I waited for a few minutes, I knew he was still crying but I had to tear myself away and be strong. 

This continued for a few more days. Having some improvements each time until he got used to it after 2 weeks. It has been 4 months now. He still has some tantrums occasionally which we have learned how to pacify. 

The sad thing was he has been sick on and off since January. I sometimes don't understand anymore why he catches cough and colds so frequently. When he does, it always comes with regular vomiting and sometimes fever. This is why he was often absent from classes since he started. And he was getting left behind with the lessons. So the teacher advised to teach him at home as well. 

Everyday since April, I have been teaching him at home. At first, I just started with writing on blank paper, teaching him about numbers and counting. But then it became boring for him so I bought several books. So far, his favorite book was this one:

RM9.90 at MPH



For parents with kids who just started school, it might be great to have this type of book at home. The pages are colorful but there are also exercises where your child can do coloring. Aden loved the sticker exercises. I think the book was created intelligently to make a child more interested and not easily bored. 

It also helps to have a few different books at home. I have a book for numbers, for letters, for both, for phonics and a plain drawing book. Kids have very short attention span so when he's getting bored with one, I switch to another book, maybe from numbers to letters. I observed that having choices make him more interested and eager to explore. 




I've made it a habit to spend at least 15 minutes with him everyday to study. When his mood is good, we can even go for 30 minutes. No matter how tired I am, I must always spend this time with him. Except, of course, when he's the one who's too tired and sleepy. 


RM8.00 at a bookshop in Bangsar Shopping Centre


This K1 Maths workbook is good to focus learning on numbers. All the pages can be colored and it has several exercises to review each set of numbers. Aden enjoys coloring and I normally color with him. He finds it more fun when we color together.


RM6.50 at MPH

I also have a book to focus on learning the alphabet. This book has 1 sheet for each later, upper case and lower case. There are outlined letters for your kid to practice, a picture for each letter that begins with the letter.



RM6.90 at MPH

This last book is still a bit advanced for him, though. Aden has to learn the alphabets and numbers more before he can start with this. 

I'm enjoying this phase of Aden's childhood. I know that in the next few years, he'll be independent soon and won't be needing me to study with him. So for parents who have a child, I encourage you to spend study time daily with him or her. It gives you a very productive bonding time and would encourage your kids to study more.  

(Image from web)



Sunday, 14 April 2013

Arthur Metz Pinot Gris - A Must-Have Stock at Home!

These past 3 months, I've probably tried 16 different wines. That's more than all the wines I've tried in the past 32 years...until now. How time flies and how life can be so good and classy when you have a wonderful job, a career that involves wine.


I've gone through a few media events, a blogger event and a tasting session within the office. For my personal development, I have been buying different white wines which I consume during dinner. Too bad I'm the only one drinking wine at home. Occassionally, my in-laws and sister in-law drink with me.
 


I am happy to introduce my favorite wine so far. The Arthur Metz Pinot Gris, from Alsace, France, is simply wonderful. During all the events, everybody, take note, loved this wine. It's an easy crowd-pleaser, as my boss would say, and not expensive at all. For only around RM74 a bottle, the Arthur Metz Pinot Gris can quickly liven up your dinner or whatever celebration. And as I have witnessed, both beginners and long-time drinkers have been pleased with this wine.



I also found it easy to match with food. I normally eat rice for dinner with different viands and this Arthur Metz wine never failed to please my quiet dinner. It's fruity with a very balanced acidity that I preferred over Chardonnay. I personally decide that this is a must-have stock at home so yeah, I need to always have a bottle or two, carefully kept inside a dark and cool place in my room until it's time to uncork!

More Information about Arthur Metz Pinot Gris:
Vintage - 2010
Region and Country - Alsace, France
Alcohol Content - 12.5%






Friday, 12 April 2013

My Top Choice for Toner: Perricone MD Intensive Pore Minimizer

I've always been so addicted to try pore minimizing products. If you've read my other blogs, you'll know that I'm a pore thing junkee. I have every right to be one because my pores are really HUGE. And my daily morning routine before going to work involves layers of products to conceal my pores. Yes, it's that bad.





Not a lot of people might be familiar with Perricone MD. Just to share a bit about this brand, Perricone MD is from US which is actually the name of the amazing doctor who develops and formulates the products. Dr. Nicholas Perricone is a well-respected dermatologist and nutritionist who strongly advocates "beauty from the inside out". He is so passionate about what he does and has written several books about healthy lifestyle and how it affects our skin conditions. Dr. Perricone promotes a healthy diet, supplements and topical anti-aging products to combat or slow down the aging process versus Botox. Some of the books he wrote are Forever Young, the Wrinkle Cure, Weight-Loss Diet, The Perricone Promise, The Acne Prescription and The Clear Skin Prescription. I believe some of his books are available in MPH, Borders and Popular. 


I personally find Perricone MD a very interesting and sincere brand. If you noticed, not a lot of brands out there will say that their skincare products are not enough to give you that healthy, radiant skin or fight the early signs of aging. But this brand has always been advocating a 3-tier program to ensure youthful skin: anti-inflammatory diet, anti-inflammatory supplements and topical anti-inflammatory products.

Perricone MD has this interesting product that was immediately 'tattooed' on my mind the moment I saw it: Intensive Pore Minimizer. It functions as a toner so you basically apply after cleansing your face.  Being a Perricone product, it is free from parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances or phthalates. But it does contain superb nutrients such as Alpha Lipoic Acid and DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol). Alpha Lipoic Acid reduces the appearance of lines, wrinkles and enlarged pores. DMAE helps to firm and lift the appearance of skin.




On the box: A multi-functional treatment that tightens the appearance of pores for healthy, more youthful-looking skin.

Application: Shake well before use. Dr. Perricone recommends first cleansing the skin with a non-oil stripping cleanser then following with Intensive Pore Minimizer. Dab a cotton pad liberally and smooth over face. Allow a few moments to dry then follow with a Perricone MD treatment and a moisturizer.

I just love shaking the bottle. After a few shakes, you will see foam of bubbles forming on top of the toner.

See...
BEFORE SHAKING
AFTER SHAKING

The scent is very lovely. It's somewhat like fresh powder smell and feels so great on the face. Very refreshing and no stinging feel at all. I've tried a lot of toners made for oily skin and most of them tend to have high alcohol content so you actually get that stinging feel.

So I've tried the Intensive Pore Minimizer for the past 3 weeks and I've noticed significant improvement in the appearance of my pores. And take note, I don't have time to use it during the day every weekday so I was using it only once a day during weekdays and 2x a day during weekends.

Here, notice the improvement pointed at by the red lines. I'm particularly observing those ugly holes on my nose that don't seem to be pores anymore because of their shape. See how they've diminished!


Week 2 of using Perricone MD Intensive Pore Minimizer


Week 3 of using Perricone MD Intensive Pore Minimizer
(pls ignore the change in skin tone, I think this is lighting inconsistency)

The results within 3 weeks were amazing. The pores on my cheeks were also diminishing. I've tried a lot of toners before and nothing compares to what Perricone MD has done for my huge pores. Although not on the mass-price side, selling at RM225/ 118ml, it is worth the investment if you are seriously looking for a seriously-working product. Perricone MD products are available in Isetan KLCC, Isetan The Gardens, Isetan 1U, Parkson KLCC, Parkson Pavilion, Metrojaya Mid Valley and Sephora.

But take note that 1 product alone will not solve everything. There must be a proper skincare routine, you need other complementary products such as cleanser, serum and moisturizer. The improvement in my pores is definitely attributed to this Perricone MD product but I was also using a pore minimizing serum (from another brand), pore minimizing moisturizer (also from another brand), and I do weekly cleansing of my pores using nose strips.

I've heard that Perricone MD Intensive Pore Treatment is also out so I might be checking it out soon within the coming weeks.


Watch out, huge pores! I'll have more weapons to fight you!



















Saturday, 6 April 2013

A Memorable Wine Experience with Wine Talk (ep 2)

And here's the rest of my story. Apologies for the long suspense...
David Stephan, Wine Talk's sommelier, revealed the 6 bottles of wine that we will go through. There were 2 whites, 1 rosé and 3 reds.


1st wine: Monte da Peceguina – White Wine
Region and Country – Alentejo, Portugal
Grape - 60% Antão Vaz, 20% Verdelho, 10% Roupeiro, 10% Arinto
Vintage – 2010
David's Notes:
Monte de Peceguina is a collection of wines from the Herdade de Malhadinha Nova estate, based in the Alentejo region, in South Portugal. What began as a dream for the Soares Family (João and Paulo, along with João´s wife Rita), became reality in the late 90’s when they discovered that deserted farm in the inland Alentejo region. After planting their 1st vines in 2000, they built a Top-of-the-Art winery in 2003. Combining modern & traditional technics in the winery, they focused mostly on local, traditional grapes, used to the extreme conditions (Alentejo is one of the hottest and driest region in Europe) while maintaining a good level of freshness and acidity. All works in the vineyards and other plantations (olive trees, hay, corn fields) are farmed with an organic approach, with upmost respect of the terroirs.
The Branco (white) cuvée is a classic blend of local varieties. It showcases a very aromatic expression of the grapes, with citrus, peach, apricot and floral notes; intense flavors but balanced with great acidity. Enjoy with prawns, rich fishes or grilled white meat.
MY VERDICT on Monte da Peceguina White: Great wine! Quite easy to like and very suitable to those who prefer light or low alcohol taste. And David also mentioned that this wine label is exclusive to Wine Talk in Malaysia. Meaning you won’t find it anywhere else within the country but through them.
2nd wine: Arthur Metz Pinot - White Wine  





Region and Country - Alsace, France
Grape - 100% Pinot Gris
Vintage – 2007
David's Notes:
Maison Arthur Metz have been based since 1904 in the Village of Marlenheim, in the northern entrance of the famous ‘Route Des Vins’, which follow the Alsace wine regions from North to South. Since its creation, they have been one of the major promoters of the wines from this majestic region across the World. Alsace, situated in the North-East side of France, across the border from Germany, produces mainly white wines, due to the cooler climate, less sun exposure, but also very dry condition and amazing arrays of terroirs, which help develop a palette of flavors and complexity across each wine.
Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are exactly the same grapes, meanwhile present different characteristics. Pinot Grigio are picked up earlier, and offer crisp, light and fresh wines. Pinot Gris on the other side is left longer to mature on the vines, and displays fruitier, richer and more concentrated flavors.
This wine is a great example: It is generous, displays classic peach and apricot flavors, with a touch of honey and minerality. Enjoy it with dishes in cream sauce, either fish or white meats, or try it with slightly spicy dishes, they can handle some heat too.
MY VERDICT on Arthur Metz Pinot Gris: Ladies and gentlemen, I've found my favorite wine! I've been trying different white wines for the past few weeks and this, so far, is a seriously must-have stock! It's sweet and light and smooth to the mouth. Wonderful aromas! Some of the other bloggers kept refilling their glasses... 
3rd wine: Monte de Peceguina – Rosé Wine




Region and Country – Alentejo, Portugal
Grape – Touriga Nacional, Aragonês, Tinta Miuda
Vintage – 2010
David’s Notes:
The Rosé cuvée is a blend of popular local varieties; very clean aroma with good fruit, great evidence of red fruit aromas. It demonstrates great expression and smoothness in the mouth. Young and round with fruit in the beginning; it’s a very friendly wine, best match with a BBQ selection, light meats dishes.
MY VERDICT on Monte da Peceguina Rosé:
It’s nice and easy. I didn’t taste much fruits or other stuff, though. I found the alcohol more prominent or maybe I’m not used to this type of wine yet as I am still on my whites.






4th wine:  Finca Las Moras, 'Pacha Mama' Organic Malbec
 

Region and Country – Mendoza, Argentina 2011
Grape - 100% Malbec
Vintage - 2011
David's Notes:
Finca Las Moras is the pioneer winery in the production of high-end wines in San Juan since the vineyard conversion in 1993. The name originates from the blackberry bushes present in the estates located in the three main valleys of San Juan. The blackberries are called “moras” in Spanish. Malbec grapes come originally from the Bordeaux region and were imported to Argentina in the mid-19th Century. Malbec is now a secondary grape in Bordeaux but has thrived in Argentina to become the national iconic red grape variety. The Pacha Mama series comes from organically-grown grapes, which means that they have never been in contact with chemicals like pesticides or herbicides. This is a feature that I cherish, and we will offer more organic wines in the future. Finca Las Moras produces a great, flavorful wine, with intense colour and body. A good match with grilled steaks, duck breast, or rich meat stews.
MY VERDICT on Pacha Mama Organic Malbec:
I’m not much into red wines but it was a surprise that I wasn’t repulsed by this one. It was a sweet and good wine. The others liked it as well.


5th wine: De Bortoli ‘Family Selection’ Cabernet-Merlot
 

Country – South Australia
Grape – 50% Cabernet, 50% Merlot
Vintage - 2008
David’s Notes:
Created in 1928 by Italian immigrants Vittorio and Giuseppina De Bortoli, the domain is now leaded by the 3rd generation of descendants, which established De Bortoli's reputation for premium wine including icon dessert wine Noble One and the Yarra Valley wines, in the Victoria Region. Members of the ‘Australia's First Families’ an association formed by some of Australia's oldest and most respected wine families, they focus on careful site selection, sustainable approach in the vineyards in order to get an exceptional fruit quality throughout their all collection of wines.
This generous wine shows sweet and vibrant fruit on the fleshy palate with soft mouth -coating tannins, Sweet fragrant aromas of blackberries with underlying mint and hints of milk chocolate oak. Pair it with grilled steaks and pepper sauce.
MY VERDICT on DB Cabernet Merlot:
Quite nice, I’d say. The tannins felt soft and smooth in the mouth. It went pretty delicious with The Pressroom’s serving of cold cuts. Yummm…  

Last wine (sniff, sniff): Monte de Peceguina – Red Wine
David decanting our last wine, Monte da Peceguina
Region and Country – Alentejo, Portugal
Grape – 35% Aragonês, 30% Alicante Bouschet, 15% Touriga Nacional, 10% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
Vintage - 2010
David’s Notes:
Monte de Peceguina is a collection of wines from the Herdade de Malhadinha Nova estate, based in the Alentejo region, in South Portugal. What began as a dream for the Soares Family (João and Paulo, along with João´s wife Rita), became reality in the late 90’s when they discovered that deserted farm in the inland Alentejo region. After plantings their 1st vines in 2000, they build a Top-of-the-Art winery in 2003. Combining modern & traditional technics in the winery, they focus mostly on local, traditional grapes, used to the extreme conditions (Alentejo is one of the hottest and driest region in Europe) while maintaining a good level of freshness and acidity. All works in the vineyards and other plantations (olive trees, hay, corn fields) are farmed with an organic approach, with upmost respect of the terroirs.
The Tinto (red) cuvée is made from local varieties, blended with a dash of more famous ones. Oak aged for about 7 months, it shows very lively and fruity aromas, with refreshing notes of berries, plums and red ripe fruit. In the mouth, the wine is full-body, but still very smooth and fresh with silky tannins, balanced with a good structure. Enjoy with roasted beef, grilled lamb chops or a nice cheese platter.
MY VERDICT on Monte da Peceguina Red Wine:
This is the best among the 3 red wines for me. The taste is invigorating and the tannins felt great in the mouth.
David also mentioned a great way to learn more about wines and expand our palate. It's a unique offering from Wine Talk called the Wine Club. Apparently, this is something popular in Europe and the US wherein members of the club receive a case of wines on a regular basis. You simply choose the type of wine you want to receive (whites only, reds only, whites & reds, or a mixed of both plus rosé), the frequency (every month or every 2 months), the quantity (6 or 12 bottles), and voilà! Your case of wines will be delivered to your address automatically. Another great thing is that the price of the wine case every time will be the same: RM428 for 6 bottles and RM788 for 12 bottles.
I think this is a wonderful service. The wine case will also be sent together with tasting notes from David so you will know more about what you're drinking. You can read through while having a glass of wine. You can also write down your own notes as there are spaces provided for you to write on. So you can actually remember what you experienced with each wine. And share it with friends (or impress someone, maybe your boss or whoever, yeah). 
Overall, the event was really exquisite. Now, I have 6 new labels to add to my list of 'familar, tried and tested wines'. Thanks to Wine Talk and The Pressroom for the wonderful experience.
And my journey into wine goes on. Cheers, everyone!!! 

Thursday, 4 April 2013

A Memorable Wine Experience with Wine Talk (Ep 1)

Wine Talk held a blogger event last 21st March at The Pressroom in Bangsar Shopping Centre. Upon entering the venue, guests were welcomed by an enticing display of wine glasses, waiting for sumptuous and aromatic wines (well, I'm forecasting).

The reception table was even more delicious. Wine Talk's wine selection for the event were nicely displayed together with crystal glasses, a bottle opener and their magazines. Upon signing your name, you'd immediately want to start uncorking the bottles (if you do know how!) since all the things you need are all there!



Makes you wanna start uncorking the bottles, right?
The Pressroom's ambience is just wonderful. You'd immediately notice several groups hanging out with friends and probably corporate managers having meetings over a delicious serving of food and drinks. It's really a perfect place for chatting with friends, hanging out, business meetings or even for some fun time with the family. The staff were also very friendly and attentive.

So the event starts with some greeting from the marketing manager. Then Wine Talk's managing director, Mark Simmons, talked about the company. Wine Talk is a collaboration between 2 reliable and trusted companies: Room Service Deliveries and Gastrodome. Room Service is an online food delivery service while Gastrodome is well-known for operating prestigious restaurants, La Bodega and The Pressroom, and Espressamente Illy, a warm and youthful cafe. Wine Talk is an online delivery service for wines and wine accessories like crystal glasses, decanter, wine cabinets...


Wine Talk's Managing Director, Mark Simmons, talking about the brand's story
Mark Simmons talked about the common challenge of a lot of people on searching for great wines. The truth is a lot of wine enthusiasts do not necessarily know what wine to pick from a supermarket or a wine shop. And if you're searching for good quality wines, you might not entirely rely on the shop staff as most of them do not know wines well (unless they are sommeliers!). So choosing great wines becomes complicated without someone reliable to give advice. And this challenge became an inspiration for the 2 companies to provide a solution to those who want to enjoy great wines but don't really know how to get hold of them. Wine Talk aims to make great wines easy for anyone who is interested to know more about wines or simply needs a good choice of wine to serve for dinner.

It is very interesting and enlightening to know that even those who have been consuming wines on a regular basis actually face the same challenge when it comes to buying or choosing wines. I thought that only wine newbies (like me) have this insecurity when it comes to wines. Mark Simmons stressed Wine Talk's simple tagline: Great Wines Made Easy. What makes Wine Talk unique and trustworthy is that they have an exclusive French sommelier, David Stephan, who personally handpicks the wines. So all the wines that Wine Talk offers have passed through David's tasting first to ensure that all are in good quality.

And then we started with the wine tasting which was wonderfully guided by their sommelier. David was born in France but he has been in Malaysia for a few years. David has been in the wine industry for more than 15 years.


Wine Talk's Sommelier, David Stephan, guiding us through each wine
David was fun and he was not boring at all. But, OMG, the amount of knowledge that he was pouring out about wines was amazing. Another blogger even said that he's like a walking encyclopedia of wines (haha!).


See all the 6 wine samples served by David for me to try? Yummm...

Will share more about the offers plus the exciting part of this event where we had 6, yes, 6 different wines --- white, rose and red in Ep 2. Gotta sleep soon as my son has school tomorrow!



Wine Talk's Sommelier, David Stephan
David Stephan's bio:
Wine Talk’s sommelier, David Stephan, grew up in a fishing village in the Bretagne region of Western France. He studied hospitality and sommelerie in professional school for 4 years, with internship including stints in various hotels & renowned restaurants of his region or in Paris. In late 1999, a good opportunity allowed him to move to the Caribbean, in the small, exclusive island of St Barthelemy, working in 5-Star Resorts. The island is famous for stunning beaches and locations, but also high-end hotels and restaurants, frequented by the rich and famous. Working two seasons in that hotel, and two more seasons in ‘L’Esprit Salines’, one of the island top restaurants at that time, where he managed a splendid premium wine list. He spent summers in France working in a catering company but also visited diverse wine regions across countries for personal development. In late 2003, he decided that it was time for a change, and started looking for new opportunity that brought him to an interview in Paris for a position in China, which he took. He managed one of the city’s first French Brasserie, and participated to open 2 new outlets. In 2006, he joined a local wine importer& distributor, selling and supplying fine wines to hotels, restaurants and private clients across the country. David fell in love with Malaysia at his 1st visit back in 2006, and if he and his wife were to leave China, it would be the 1st destination targeted. It happened in 2011, when they relocated to Kuala Lumpur, and are now calling it home.

Check out their website for more info:   www.winetalk.com.my