Thursday, 26 February 2009

THIS WEEKEND - One Big Slumber Party


Kids, this one’s for you wherever you are. Parents, pen this into your schedule.

The date is 7 March, the place is The Arts House. Get your kids ready for bedtime, put them in their pyjamas and then take them out…to Pyjama Night. Yes, this is a truly legitimate excuse to keep the kids up late for a very good reason – family bonding, quality time and one-of-a-kind good, clean fun courtesy of the folks at Act 3 International. 

The hour-long show comprises several bite-size performances ranging from storytelling to puppetry, theatre, music and animation. Families start off together with a storytelling session, followed by three other short, 10-minute acts one after another, that brings you from place to place within the same venue. The evening ends with milk and cookies on the house and a meet-the-artiste session.

Put on your favourite jammies. Bring your imagination, your inner child and your favourite stuffed toy. Get comfortable and enjoy a night out with your kids, on their level. 

And there’s more. Pyjama Night’s original acts were specially created by artistes around the theme of ‘bedtime’, to mark the 10th anniversary of the first arts fest dedicated to children. This year, Prudential Children First! Singapore International Festival for Children (7-17 March) offers up a diverse range of children’s theatre and art forms. 

Some of the festival highlights include:

• In the Garden (Belgium/Spain)/Theatre, Video, Drawings, Multimedia/45 mins/ages 1-4: Very young children and theatre? Yes, the combination is possible in this visual playground of childhood games, fun in the sun and special moments with friends. 

• Bradshaw’s Shadows (Australia)/Shadow Puppetry/60 min/ages 4-9: Comprising short stories, sketches and songs, with endearing singing and witty commentary. Featuring shadow figures that include growling dinosaurs and dancing farmers. Some tell stories with social messages while others are just plain entertaining and amusing.

• Alice (Canada)/Music, Multimedia, Theatre/50 min/ages 7-12: An intriguing stage production with stimulating word play, giant multimedia projections and original live music on stage, bringing to life Alice’s strange encounters with the characters in Wonderland such as the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts, the Cheshire Cat and more.

• Allenby’s Famous Flea Circus/15 min/all ages: A circus like you’ve never seen before, huge on laughs and thrills. Catch daredevil stunts done the way only fleas can. No flea collars allowed in the audience as that would upset the performers.

Check out:

Pyjama Night
7 March (Sat)
The Arts House, 1 Old Parliament Lane
Shows at 6pm, 7pm, 8pm, 8.45pm
Ticket prices $25 for child/adult, $85 for family pack of 4 (free seating)
Queries to Act 3 International
Tel: 6735 9986
Web site: www.act3international.com.sg

Prudential Children First! Singapore International Festival for Children
Tickets from SISTIC
Tel: 6348 5555
Web sites: www.sistic.com.sg or www.childrenfirst.com.sg

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Power Plate Prescription


“Lets do it!” Mr. Muscles invitingly proclaimed, after exchanging friendly hellos when I walked into the Verve Studio, tucked into a discrete corner of the second floor at Stamford House. 

“Hmm,” I thought, that was a lovely if somewhat cheeky start to what was going to be a 45-minute session try-out of Power Plate®, a much raved about workout touted for people on-the-go. The workout itself takes 45 minutes to complete, but translates into a two-and-a-half-hour intense traditional workout at the gym. Before we began, I made a mental note that it would honestly take a lot more for me to shed the 2 kilos resulting from the recent Chinese New Year binging, not to mention the other 6 kilos piled on from living in the foodie haven that is Hong Kong. 

“Wait,” I said. “We can’t do anything as I have forgotten my gym shoes!” I sighed, in a desperate ploy to delay the inevitable. Mr. Muscles grinned, saying: “Don’t worry, you don’t need them!” as he led me to the Power Plate® machine, which incidentally looks like a larger version of an old fashioned weighing scale but with far more gadgetry and a large rubber plate at its base. There, for the next 45 minutes, Mr. Muscles (trainer Dylan Huan) initiated me into the trials and tribulations of a workout system that celebs like Madonna, Cher, Elle MacPherson and Claudia Schiffer swear by.

Power Plate® works on acceleration training and you are tasked to hold your body in certain positions (not unlike yoga and Pilates) for a 60-second period each time on a vibrating plate that is part of the machine. We started off with a simple squat position (arms stretched out and legs in a standing squat position), which I held onto while the plate I was standing on vibrated. It seemed easy enough for the first minute, but when you move on to other positions like a push-up position (elbows resting on the plate, legs on the ground below) while the plate vibrates, 60 seconds can feel like forever.

In whatever position it assumes on that vibrating plate, your body is forced to perform reflexive muscle actions at 25 to 50 times per second just to balance itself in order to hold that pose. The science of the machine is simple: Remember Isaac Newton’s law of motion that states that the force of an object is equal to the mass multiplied by acceleration? At certain points of the workout, the force of gravity almost makes you feel that your body “weighs” more -- especially as the acceleration forces increase.
Your body ends up struggling to balance itself or hold the position, working against the “load” of gravity, in every small movement that you perform.

Acceleration trainers, as they are called, apparently undergo a special training programme to customize a set routine for each different individual based on his or her strengths and weaknesses. According to Dylan, who was too polite to say more than he could have, I needed a whole lot of things done.

At the end of the 45-minute session, I could actually feel my muscles throbbing (just the way they would after weight training). The cooling down part was the best bit, ending with what Dylan called a “massage”. Sounds promising? This involves the trainer pressing down gently on the back of your legs or back (whichever part of your aching body is held against the plate), which is set at a lower vibration speed (without you holding a pose). “Hmm,” I concluded silently, “I could like this bit a whole lot.”

My verdict: A very interesting workout experience that doesn’t get you into a huge massive sweat, unlike a cardio session at the gym. Some people believe that you have to sweat to lose weight and that’s why serious workout enthusiasts use Power Plate® to supplement their once-a-week gym session, Dylan explained. I would definitely go back!

The guided sessions are S$85 for a single, 45-minute Power Plate® session, S$75 per session if you take a package of 10 sessions, and S$65 per session for a package of 20 sessions. Ideally done two to three times a week for best results -- that is, increased muscle strength, tone and flexibility; improved sense of balance and body co-ordination; decrease in cellulite; and better bone density.

Verve Studio is the only facility in Singapore offering this technology, as well as another machine called Hypoxi that targets fat loss in the challenging lower body region (particularly ideal for women keen to regain their figures post-pregnancy) and this only requires 30 minutes per treatment at S$150.

Check it out at:
Verve @ STAMFORD
39 Stamford Rd 
Stamford House 
#02-11 Singapore 178885
Tel: 
6338 1883 
(by appointment only)

by ey


WINS!!! WINS!!! WINS!!!
We did say that some goodies would soon be coming your way! We are very proud to launch our very first WIN. All it takes is for you to be a sport and some freebies will soon be making their way to you…

Here is the deal:
The folks at Verve Studio are giving away three Simply Fabulicious packages of FIVE (45-minute) sessions (valid from 1 April to end-June 2009). These will go to the three best responses from readers who e-mail us to share what they think of this article, and why they want to try out Power Plate®.

Please e-mail us at simplyfabulicious@gmail.com before Friday, 27 March 2009.

They do say always to read the fine print as the devil is in the detail, and so the catch to this one is that if you are one of the three lucky winners, at the end of your five sessions, you MUST share your experience in a short paragraph or two, which should be e-mailed to us by 1 July 2009 to the same e-mail address as above.

We believe in sharing the love, and we would love you to share yours, on our Simply Fab page on Facebook. 

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Quality of Life - Recession Style


The sad state of the world’s economy is beginning to hurt. I’m switching from Cold Storage to Sheng Siong, champagne to new world sparklers, and drinking my bubbly at home rather than at some swanky over a $100 Champagne brunch. But waist-high in the deepest economic crisis which some say could pip even the Great Depression, there is a silver lining for us. We’re looking not just for ‘good’ but real, genuine value, serious-no-nonsense bang for the buck, and we’re finally getting some. Where? Seek and ye shall find….

VALUE FEEDS!

Smart Chinese Feasts
In our maiden posting, we wrote about Fullerton Hotel with its seven-course duck menu and that was great value in very posh surroundings. Min Jiang at One North, while not quite as swish, isn’t shabby either. They’ve just rolled out a seven-course menu for $58++ (per person) to celebrate their 3rd anniversary and it looks pretty good. Here we go: Min Jiang Trio Platter (Chilled Abalone with Soy-White Truffle Oil Sauce, Crispy Cereal Prawn and Duo of Beijing Duck); Double Boiled Chicken Consomm√© with Wanton and Bamboo Pith; Pan-fried Kurobuta Pork with Goose Liver; Braised Bailing Mushroom with Vegetables; Stir-fried Diced Chicken with Assorted Chillies; Green Apple Jelly with Lime Sorbet and Custard Sesame Seed Dumpling. Compared to what you may have to pay at equivalent western restaurants – and speaking of which, I had to fork out over $400 for two and a half people at a Western restaurant I reviewed recently! No fine dining, nor linen….al fresco eating over a coffee table to boot! – Min Jiang’s offer is pretty darn good. Foie gras included some more!

Available at:
5 Rochester Park
Tel: 6774 0122 to ‘chope’ seats
27 Feb–29 March


Honest, unpretentious and just downright good
Spice Queen, Devagi Sanmugam’s new restaurant at Race Course Road, is a comfy, simple, friendly eatery with such warm service that will surprise you. It’s also not just an Indian restaurant – she serves up pretty creative Singaporean dishes here too – like Nonya omelette and laksa prawns. We pottered over within the first week of its opening and had a great time. The mutton briyani was very tasty, but lighter than in most Indian restaurants so you don’t leave with that overstuffed heavy feeling; the kampong fried rice with local herbs and ikan bilis was superb, and the belachan chicken wings, a signature dish, was very good – juicy and steaming hot inside, crunchy outside, and no stinging on the flavour. Must haves for dessert is the banana gula melaka ice cream. There’s a bar that turns out mojitos and other cocktails, good fresh beer and very reasonable wines by the bottle…around $40 if I remember correctly. Cheap and cheerful, she also serves yummy set menus ranging from $10.90 to a princely sum of $12. I’m hungry already just writing about this! Must go back for the briyani.

Available at:
24 & 26 Race Course Road
Tel: 6255 2440
(Park at the temporary KK Market car park and walk – less than 5 mins away.)
www.spice-queen.com
Closed Mondays


COCKTAILS!

Ye can still swirl that stirrer with your manicured fingers, prop up the bar at these places and not feel too much of a pinch in your pocket…..

Best Sangria, Cheap Brunch
Shuffle off in your slippers to The Tapas Tree at Changi Village for Happy Hour with 1-for-1 sangria ($9+) until 8pm. To me, it’s one of the best in town, fortified with brandy, nicely chilled every time and lots of fruit. Must have! Their traditional paella is also really excellent. What’s more, Sunday brunch is priced only at $48++ with free flow bubbly, wines, beers, sangria and Spanish buffet which includes great lamb rack, meatballs and of course, paella. Non-alky brunch at $25++ and kids under 10 eat for free. How good is that? How much more inexpensive does it get? Nice and laid back, you eat in al fresco surrounds, it’s kinda breezy at night, and hardly any crowds. I’ve been a regular there for some time already. Heaven!

Available at:
5 Changi Village Road
#01-2039
Tel: 6546 0180


Stylo-Mylo Martinis
Have to imbibe in branded surrounds? Head to the Martini Bar at Grand Hyatt. Not only is it an award-winning bar in a fancy-schmancy hotel with a pretty cute young manager to boot (wave at him – he’s called Franz…nice smile), Happy Hour (6pm to 8pm) there knocks 50% off the price of cocktails and housepours. That translates to cocktails starting at about $8++. And with over 40 martinis on their list, libation can be so sweet! 

Available at:
10-12 Scotts Road
Tel: 6738 1234


Budget Bottles in the Breeze
Where? At Wine Garage, sitting pretty along the Singapore River. Prices for a large selection of bottles tumble by as much as 40% during Happy Hour – weekdays from 4pm to 8pm and all day Sunday. (Lah! Aren’t we excited already!) I am no wine expert, but a few good buys I think I spied are: Pierro Semillon Blend ($70), Paul Buecher Reserve Gewurztraminer ($58), Pascal Jolivet Pouilly Fume ($69). Sit by the river, shoot the breeze, nibble on their gourmet bar snacks and enjoy the little pleasures in life. Can you feel the buzz yet?



Available at:
30 Merchant Road
#01-07 Riverside Point
Tel: 6533 3188
Log onto www.winegarage.com.sg/docs/restaurant/WineGarage_HappyHour.pdf for full happy hour bottle menu.

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Wednesday, 18 February 2009

THIS WEEKEND - Museum Activities and Guided Walks


These Boots Are Made For Free Walks
In Singapore, the popular joke goes, you pay and pay. Take bus, pay. Take MRT, pay. Take taxi, pay even more. Well, walking is free. And it is good exercise that will give you beautifully toned legs.

So grab the chance to exercise your gams this Saturday (21 Feb) and discover more about our little red dot in the process, as the Society of Tourist Guides (Singapore) celebrates International Tourist Guide Day with free guided walking tours for members of the public.

Choose from three heritage walks, each lasting an hour, from 10am to 5pm.

 Roman Catholicism in Singapore: 
Do you know who established the first Catholic Church in Singapore? Take a stroll along Queen Street and your guide will share anecdotes about the area and its former residents. This area was once part of “European Town,” where children of different races attended the mission schools set up by the churches.

 Fame, Faith and Fortune in Waterloo Street: 
On Waterloo Street, you can still see some beautifully restored bungalows and the Sculpture Square once housed a Methodist church for the Straits Chinese community. See how a Chinese Buddhist temple happily coexists with a Hindu temple; here, devotees come to worship and seek guidance for the future.

 Hainan Kopi Tales: A considerable number of Hainanese lived in the Beach Road area where they proceeded to set up coffee shops and enjoyed a roaring trade. Appreciate the interesting design of the old shophouses along Purvis Street and find out more about the contributions of this group of immigrants.

Game? Put on your most comfortable walking shoes, slather on some sunscreen and head on down to The Plaza, Level 1, National Library Building, 100 Victoria Street. You can sign up for walking tours on the day itself, from 10.00 am to 3.30 pm.

Check it out at: 
The Society of Tourist Guides (Singapore)
Tel: 63388659
E-mail: soctg@singnet.com.sg
Web site: www.societyoftouristguides.org.sg


The Qingzhou Discovery Open House
If you haven’t yet managed to catch the Peranakan Museum’s star attraction, Serenity in Stone: The Qingzhou Discovery, this weekend would be an opportune moment to do so.

It is Open House at the museum on 21 Feb and 22 Feb, and visitors enjoy free admission to the exhibition along with a host of other scheduled activities.

The not-to-be-missed exhibition, which runs through 26 April, features rare sculptures from one of the most important archaeological finds of the 20th century. Over 400 stone sculptures dating back more than 1,400 years were unearthed in Shandong province, China, in 1996. The 35 serene-looking sculptures displayed in this exhibition are among the best preserved of the items from the Qingzhou find, and are striking for their sheer size and exquisite workmanship.

Highlights this weekend include Chinese calligraphy and traditional printmaking demonstrations, Qingzhou-inspired stencil art and clay sculpture workshops, vegetarian cooking demos by well-known chef Samia Ahad of the Coriander Leaf restaurant and a performance of timeless Chinese classics by the NUS Chinese Orchestra Ensemble. (See detailed times and listings of events on museum web site.)


Meditation In the Museum
If a crowded exhibition, no matter how amazing, isn’t your scene, then consider this: The museum has set aside several Wednesdays for visitors to experience the calm of the gallery after hours. Meditate amid the sculptures and maintain your equilibrium after a stressful day in the office slashing corporate budgets, or a rambunctious day with the kids at home.

The hour-long sessions from 7.30pm, are conducted by Erika Khoo of Oasis Holistic, and secular in nature. There is a fee of S$5 per class, with each class limited to 20 participants. Wear comfortable clothing and bring a thick bath towel for sitting on. Register via the museum’s web site. (Meditation: Worry-Free Wednesdays: 25 Feb, 4 March, 11 March, 18 March)

Check it out at: 
Peranakan Museum
39 Armenian Street
Tel: 6332 7591
www.peranakanmuseum.sg

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Naughty But Nice : How Best To Be Photographed Nude?


We are so thrilled we found Fen from Fen Fotography that we couldn’t resist asking her questions we are all dying to know. Hear it from her perspective as a woman and a professional photographer. And she’s got a great sense of humour, too. 

SimplyFab: Would you suggest a brazillian ‘down there’ before ladies step in front of the camera? 
Fen: If you refer to be hairless, a Brazilian would be much better than shaving as stubble shows in photos. But if you're afraid of the pain involved, stick to the blade and let me work my magic.

SimplyFab: Should we wax off any facial or unwanted hair? Does the camera come up that close? 
Fen: Even though I don't shoot macro, hair does affect the texture in the photos. There is nothing more distracting than a moustache or furry arms and legs in a beautiful photograph (only applicable to ladies).

SimplyFab: What should we do with extra flab around the tummy? Will simply sucking it in do or would you suggest a few sessions at the gym first? 
Fen: It's always good to have a good shape to work on, however, if you're comfortable with your body, some flab can contribute to the curves too. Depends on how you look at it – flab can be beautiful (despite what the media has been brainwashing us with).

SimplyFab: What would you do with a voluptuous client? Can big be sexy too? 
Fen: The camera can sometimes be deceptive; along with the play of shadows and retouching, big girls can look smaller. Again, big can be beautiful, as long as you're curvy.

SimplyFab: What’s the sexiest parts of a women’s body on camera? 
Fen: Anywhere that has curves.

SimplyFab: Do women have a ‘good side’? If so, which/what is it? 
Fen: If you're right handed, chances of your left side being your "good side" is rather high, and vice versa.

SimplyFab: Legs together or apart? 
Fen: Preferably together, unless there's something to conceal the nether regions with (eg. cushion, back of chair or shadows). Being a gynaecologist has never been my ambition.


SimplyFab: Which is sexier for a photograph – complete starkers or some underwear? 
Fen: If you're talking about art nudes, complete starkers, as knickers would look out of place. For fetish shoots, relevant underwear can be sexy.

SimplyFab: If we want to shoot sexy shots, but don’t dare bare it all, what do you suggest we can do? 
Fen: You can hold on to dear life with strategically placed fabric(s).

SimplyFab: Is lingerie tacky on camera? 
Fen: Lingerie in general isn't tacky, it's the design that makes it look tacky.

SimplyFab: If we want to keep our underwear on, what do you suggest? Plain white cotton or lace? 
Fen: Lace would look more interesting in photos.

SimplyFab: How about make up? Do we need it? Any tips? 
Fen: Some light DIY makeup will do. As long as you have eyebrows, some color to your lips and a non-shiny nose, it's fine. Unlike a model's portfolio, there wouldn't be much focus on the face or makeup in nude shoots.

SimplyFab: How do you reassure a client and get them comfy when you are asking her to drop her clothes? 
Fen: If they are shy, we can start with some underwear shots first, then to the strategically placed fabric(s). When they feel comfortable enough, we can move on to the birthday suit.

SimplyFab: Describe a nude photo session with ordinary clients like us, ie. not models – mostly tired moms?
Fen: Firstly, we meet up to discuss about what they want. Which part of their bodies do they like best. If there is a feel or concept that they want to explore. Is there anything like tattoos that I should focus on or remove. I'll ask if they have come across any photos that they really like and want a similar feel for their shoot. We'll discuss props, location, date and other details before the actual day arrives. By then, they would be mostly comfortable with the idea of working with me. Sometimes, the best photos are not posed, and from there something unique is captured.

SimplyFab: What sort of fetish props make for good photography on a woman? 
Fen: It depends on the fetish that interests her. 

SimplyFab: Where would you advise us to stash these photos so our kids don’t find them?
Fen: Under your pillow. No, just kidding. The selected photos are burnt on a CD and unless clients request to have them printed, there won't be any hard copies lying around for all to see. A CD is quite easy to conceal, even if it's in the underwear drawer or in a crack in the wall.

Thanks a million, Fen, for enlightening us all! Looks like this might go down onto our ‘Things-to-do-at-least-once-in-our-lives’ list. Let’s hit the gym, ladies! Then we can croak with pride 40 years down the road: “Ooh yes, that lady in the photo is Grandma!”

by ew
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