shopping almanac of a stay home mum

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Penang, As It Is Now.

posted by constance

Nostalgic memories enveloped me as we crossed the Penang Bridge in the wee hours on Tuesday morning. Penang was all quiet. Oh, too quiet. What do you expect.. At 2.00am everyone must be asleep.. It is early in the week. Monday blues, Tuesdays too. I could hear a faint crow as I wind down the window… amazing!

Penangites in the olden days (not sure about now..) used to be among those that slept early. Entertainment in the old days was not like now. Less night spots and the only entertainment we had was more of night clubs, pubs and cinema midnight shows. Boston Pub, Jockey Pub, Cinta Discoteque, Hollywood, Spaniards Inn and even notorious Chu San, they were all familiar names. Oh and those busy Chowrasta area where Penangites go for their Indian fare.

When I was younger, I’d follow my dad to the nearest newspaper vendor at night for his evening papers (Star or Echo). It was usually about after 8pm or so and as my Dad held my hand and we walked to Cantonment Road/Burma Road Junction, many shops were closing for the day. The Tucky coffeeshop that was in front of the news vendor used to sell delicious evening Sar Hor Fan fried by an elderly couple. Now, they are no longer doing the business as my mom said the kids do not wish to pick up these slaving over stoves and cooking skills from their retiring parents. Can’t blame them. Life was simpler then. Now the world is full of paper chase, gourmet coffee, wifi and  E-everything.

I took pictures of the provision shops that is still around for the last 40 years? Or more? I’m surprised they are still around..

Many of the shophouses have been sold and resold since I left Penang. There used to be Tip Top and Top Top restaurant and bakery but they are now shops selling Bak Kwa (BBQ Pork Slices) and Nasi Kandar (Indian fare). The clinic that I used to go to, Dr Chan’s clinic is also no longer there. There was also Barkath Store and Baptist Book Store in the same stretch, I don’t see them around. My Alma Mater stood there nearby across the Church of Immaculate Conception. Amazing.

Ban Joo Lee.

This is locally known as ‘Kedai Runcit’ (malay) or ‘Chai Tiam Ma’ (hokkien), which means Provision Shop. As young as 5 or 6, I patronized this shop for my titbits, Pringles Potato Chips (it was only RM$2 for two cans), dad’s cigarettes and my school stationery. The old parents that minded the shop are no longer there. The two sons were already helping out when I was that age and they are still the two main person I could see as we drove past the shop. They all remembered me as Ah Hoon, I am sure they still do because I was such a daily-regular.

Cheow Guan.

This was the place I’d go to for all my bottles of Coke, Sarsi whatever soft drinks I wanted. And mom usually orders with them for our Chinese New Year treats too. We normally get about 6-7 cartons of soft drinks from F&N Orange, Coca-Cola, Sarsi, Ice Cream Soda, Kickapoo, Mirinda, 7-Up, Fanta of all flavours… I miss Fanta..

Barkath Stores

Driving towards the old esplanade, I found another Barkath Store that is in deteriorating condition.

And more shots of other dilapidated buildings below.

Messy junction at Gama (dato kramat/macalister road)

Police Quarters in forlorn state..

Odeon Cinema. Anyone knows if it is still being used as a cinema?

Komtar looks like she is in dire straits…

Penang YMCA -inside a simple cafe that sold wonderful food

Penang Prangin Mall

Prangin area was the place to be in those days… This is where we smelt the smelly Longkang, okay? There was a stretch of Jual-murah shops there too all doing brisk business.

Komtar was just newly built and it was packed with people and many Penangites were here as this is the place to meet. Penang had it’s first MacDonald fast food here. Penang also had it’s first Esprit shop here. We were gasping at how expensive the price was – $80 for tops or dresses..hehehe, yet we still went to buy them like there were no tomorrows!

This was also the place for snooker fans, because there were about as many as 3 snooker centres (big ones that had as many as 40 Snooker tables or so each). Of course I knew cos I helped MOM with her beverage outlet inside Jade Snooker Centre! I swear in my ears, I can still hear the balls hit another at night… Boy!

Going back certainly brings back good times of the old.


Second Day At Genting Highlands

posted by constance

My girls really liked Genting Highlands a lot. Perhaps it is because there are so many things happening there and it was so full of people adding to the excitement. And many game rides in the amusements are concentrated in one place alone. We’ve been there almost every year yet not tired of this place at all.

Pictures below: The view of the golf course from the coffee house while having breakfast, Random shot of cheeky kids.

The food at Genting was really overpriced most of the time. It was like that decades ago and till today their prices were marked high. Imagine, a simple meal of Hainanese fare like these cost $150. Some Hainan Cafe. Blood suckers. I was more interested in their retro mosaic flooring…hehehe

The indoor area was packed with the holiday crowd. Can’t see much with such a crowd. The Market Food Street seems to have been reduced in sized, or so I thought. Years back I thought it was a little bigger with more food stalls in there.

When we were there, we paid a visit to the Snow World for some snow fun. Frankly I was feeling yucky about the experience because before one can enter, you have to put on their winter jackets, gloves and snow boots. And those stuff were just worn earlier in the previous session and some of them are still wet and soggy. They weren’t dried and were left hanging on the clothes’ hangers, and some of them were on the floor. But with the kids pestering to go, we just close a blind eye, telling myself I’ll go back and disinfect the kids’ clothes later. sigh.. i didn’t have socks on myself so putting on the cold soggy boots was the ultimate yucks!

It was really cold in there but the kids loved it. They tried to make snowballs, snowman and built snow castles. There were free yoghurt and ice cream vouchers given to us at the refreshment bar inside Snow World but that was madness!

Brrr….It is soooo cold! My hands are freezing!!

Snow playing session lasted only less than an hour but even being there for 10 minutes I could have sworn I was gonna be frozen stiff already. Picture taking was not allowed but we asked the photographer to take some paid shots for keeps.

We also visited the Theme Park. We paid for the unlimited outdoor Theme Park tickets. In fact, we’ve been there quite a few times and most of the times, it was only my helper and Rae going on these rides. Perhaps that was because we have outgrown taking rides and may not be able to take to too much excitement now, compared with when in our youth.

Rides my kids enjoy.

There was a small chocolate house and the girls insisted they wanted to go in. There wasn’t much action there nor games except for backdrops of lots of chocolates, good for photo taking and also chocolates that were on sale.

We enjoyed watching the kids enjoy their rides, screaming with joy and also some entertainers dressed in clowns, as tall men and also one of a native hunter. This native hunter scared the shit of many people because of the way he sneaked behind people unaware! Ha Ha Ha! That was pretty good fun too!

Watch out for the native hunter…. as he sneak up on you..   Oops! too late..hahahah

Most of the rides had long queues.. which turned us and many away. We even queued to sit on the Monorail but after 30 minutes or more of waiting in long queues, it never showed up at all. I figured they probably had too few monorails now compared to previously when the trains arrived at short intervals. We decided to skip that.

It was exhausting and the girls were tired by afternoon. We searched high and low for some place for the kids to rest but there were shortage of resting places.. And the cafes like Starbucks were all full. We decided to watch people do some bowling on one of the top floors so the kids can sit down and rest their aching feet. Lea had fallen asleep and had to be carried.. After an early dinner, we decided to go back down Awana. And lucky we drove up on the second day because I’m pretty sure the queues at the cable rides and shuttle would be just as packed!


Sunday at Plaza Singapura

posted by constance

With only a month away to Chinese New Year and Christmas still in full swing, I’ve seen the malls putting up decors for the Chinese New Year little by little. If you go to the malls, many of the mall atriums are now filled with Chinese New Year decor buys. In the supermarkets, lots of space are now cleared to make way for cookies, candy that comes in 8 compartment containers and lots and lots of hampers.

I was in town (Plaza Singapura) shopping in Spotlight yesterday and wanted to shop for some curtains for my girl’s bedroom. It was a tough decision choosing a curtain. I have to be sensible and not pick those cartoon character theme because curtains can be used over a longer period of time. I don’t want to be left with Disney Princess curtains after a year just because they have outgrown it and not want anymore. I wish I had more budget but I have to be frugal with my spending since the economy is rather bleak.

I then stopped by a shop selling rugs with Moroccan decor. I picked one suitable for framing up and it was the most beautiful rug I’ve ever seen. Perhaps that would be a good gift for my friend when she moves into her new home before the Chinese New Year. She told me she loves things that are ornamental, colourful and has a Mediterranean and Middle East theme. Morocco is a beautiful place in North Africa with a Mediterranean climate. Not many people are aware of this country’s rich culture and history although it’s largest city, Casablanca is widely being publicized as a romantic place in movies and songs. Moroccan decor, culture and cuisine has many influences from Arab, France, African, Spanish and even Portuguese.

After that, I ended up at my usual haunt, Daiso but left after 10 minutes as the place was packed like sardines… aaarrgghh! Got some body tattoos for my girl and that was it.

So where else did I pop by after that huh? Where else, my favourite games arcade. Show you my prize in the next post.


My Big Feet

posted by constance

Ever since I’ve had two kids, I’ve seen my feet size grown bigger! Does it happen to you? My mom says with every childbirth you give, you feet will grow a size bigger. Well I was only a size 5 and a half and I think my feet size has grown much much more than 2 sizes after two kids. Nowadays, when I shop for a shoe, I’ll ask them for a size 8. And worst still, I have to look for a size 9 if some cuts are a little narrower. Such a nightmare. Sometimes it is not easy getting nice shoes, but UGG Knightsbridge has nice shoes that are worth shopping anytime!


A No Frills Ice Cream Cake for Rae

posted by constance

Remember when I posted on Saturday that I was busy baking a cake for Rae? Well, I baked a chocolate cake for her, just simply done. It was a cocoa cake that has been in our family tradition for years and this time I alternate the layers with ice cream because Rae wanted to have Ice cream cake. She asked for a whole lot of things for a cake but I’m not a pâtisier so I think that is just too impossible.. hahaha

Rae and the Ice cream Cake I made

Rae blows on the candles.. She is 8 years now! Yippeeee!

What Method? No Special Method! The secret lies in the layers only!

Chocolate cake, Vanilla ice cream, Chocolate cake and Strawberry Ice Cream and Cake sprinklies

All I did was just to layer ice cream over the cake layers but I probably had too many layers because it was a little hard to cut. hahahaha  I wanted to frost it with cream frosting but because we were out on Sunday and by the time we got home I was too tired and lazy to do it so I just covered it with some Bento Barans/Divider sheets to hide the bottom part and leave the Pink ice cream on the top.. Sprinkled some colours and it’s ready.. Easy right? I bought some candles that had pink heart prints because Rae loves hearts and everything that is pink!

My Other Blog:

Birds and Bees


Are You A Compulsive Shopper?

posted by constance

I know of many women who enjoys online shopping. Retail therapy helps some women to calm their nerves, make some happy or even kill boredom. Some does it when they are angry or depressed. It may get out of control for the compulsive shoppers. The shops in the mall may be closed by a certain time but you never stop if you are into online shopping. Do you suffer from any of these symptoms? Because if you do, there is a place whereby you can make a confession about it and win some money (for more shopping!).

If you have a story to tell, funny, sad or quirky, why not get it off your chest in a Shop and Confess column. It could be in text or even a video. It’s pretty easy. All you need is just to register for the contest online at this website – and you can tell the world about your urge or any dark secrets you’ve been keeping inside.

You may want to watch this video below of how easy it is to confess and enter it in a contest and win $1,500 every month!


Orchard Road

posted by constance

On Monday, I was in Orchard. I had wanted to shop for a Takoyaki pan. As Takoyakis are Japan snacks, I decided to hit the Japanese shopping malls in town. In Orchard, we parked at the public car park just next to Wheelock Place. Since this year, many car parks in Orchard had raised their car park charges and if you are in Orchard, got to prepare paying as much as $7 – $12 car park just for a few hours’ shopping.

Below:Orchard Road (Roof of CK TANG), Isetan Orchard at Scotts/Orchard Junction

Since we had not been there for ages, we thought of walking along the shopping belt along Orchard Road. I didn’t like to take the tunnel roads because it makes me feel claustrophobic most of the time. Boy, this time I realised that Orchard has certainly changed. It was not pleasant to walk lately. There was too much hoardings from Wheelock all the way to Takashimaya!

ION in Progress

It was the building of ION, the new shopping mall, probably set to complete early next year. Not only that, there was lots of constructions going on. Apparently, many malls are upgrading their malls. The government is also doing a major makeover to Orchard Road malls and this time it certainly looks pretty messy.

Takashimaya Shopping Centre in Ngee Ann City

I finally saw few takoyaki pans in Takashimaya but those were stove top ones. I want to get an electrical one so I shall be looking around maybe in other areas again.


Nowadays, we spend weekends in the parks more than in shopping malls. And we also tighten our belts by not dining in restaurants as often. My daughters weren’t that happy because we patronized more food courts and outdoor non air-conditioned food outlets. She is the sort who loves comfort, air cond and always complain whenever we tell here we are going to stop at a food court or hawker centres for meals. Yesterday, we explained that we should be prudent in our spendings. But of course for an 8 year old, it is hard to explain except that it is always best to save for a rainy day. Lea, as usual echoed parents to act as if she could understand more.. she is only 4 yet she is such a boot licker! lol

We stopped by in Bishan because we were heading Bishan Park for more roller blading. At the basement of Bishan’s Junction 8 Mall, we tried some Korean street food. It was somewhat similar to Taiwan Street Food but the variety and skewers were all so yummy. It was featured in the newspapers before in the life section but I probably missed that article.

Hubby bought few sticks such as Bulgogi Beef, Chicken Thigh, Breaded Street Sausage and Tornado Potato. The Bulgogi Beef was really nice and succulent, and it was not tough. The Chicken Thigh was similar to Taiwan Chicken Chops but the taste was much better because it was juicy and was smothered with lots of Chiilly and Mayo too.

Lots of Korean Skewers here! ***** for variety!

Bulgogi Beef on the right was yummy!  ***** for the Bulgogi Beef!

Boneless Chicken Thigh and Breaded Chicken Wings

***** for the succulent breaded chicken thigh!

Tornado Potato and Breaded Fish

*** for the tornado potato because I think there was too much salt..

Then we went over to the Food Court for lunch. I was feeling a bit dizzy with the way the food court was designed and lighted. There was too much ‘warm’ light, even from the tables. It didn’t make my meal pleasant and I was dying to get out of the place! ** for ambience because I cannot stand the light. ***** for food variety. *** for value for money, average food prices are about $4.00

After that, we walked around the mall for about half and hour before leaving for Bishan Park for more roller blading!


LCD TV Buying Guide

posted by constance

Why do I get the feeling that I am the only one using an old fashioned television at home? I visited many friends in their homes and they all have spanking new LCD television sets. It has been around for years and some of my friend had bought their second or even third LCD television! As I have not bought one before, I do not really know the price range and recommended ones. It was until I found an LCD Television buying guide that has so much information about price, brands, sizes and recommendations.

I also found out from this site that Sony and Samsung both uses the same factory to produce their LCD screens! Most of the other brands use a third party manufacturer.  If you have a certain budget to spend you can read the recommendations on which is the better option in terms of value for money and quality for that price. I bet an LCD TV as large as 52 inches will be such an excellent piece for an audio visual room.


Flashy Badges

posted by constance

Several weeks ago, when I brought the girls out, I saw a shop that sells flashing badges. It was on display on the glass window and I took a shot of it immediately. I love flashing badges!

I started to collect them years ago when they were on sale in Orchard Road during Christmas time. These badges were very popular then. You can wear them on your shirt/top or on a Christmas hat, which is usually done during Christmas time. Then they also give them out during New Year parties, Corporate year end dinners and even Lantern festival exhibits. These ones I saw has numbers on them, suitable for Birthdays, Anniversaries, I suppose. Oh i remembered collecting a Hi-5 flashing one during a Hi-5 concert that I brought the girls to years ago. It was attached to a cap. Most of these badges in my collection have run out of batteries. But these batteries can be replaced. they are as small as those that is used for your car remote.