Welcome to CLAK! I am Charlene and I own an online skincare boutique, www.efreshsingapore.com. I will love to share about my sweet family, skincare tips and reviews, my travelogue and everything that excites me.
Welcome to CLAK! I am Charlene and I own an online skincare boutique, www.efreshsingapore.com. I will love to share about my sweet family, skincare tips and reviews, my travelogue and everything that excites me.
If you have been following my IG, you would probably heard that we have recently committed to a landed property. It has been Kelvin’s dream for the longest time to move into a bigger home but it was partly hindered by me due to the fact that I have got this 3 Big Fears – Fear of Ghost, Fear of Pest (roaches and rats especially) and Fear of Intruders. After years of talking him out of the idea, he decided this year would be the year. He thought it would be better to do it sooner than later. Ok I have to agree that at the rate the prices are going, we might never be able to own a landed property if we do not do it soon enough. With HDB flats going at 1 million dollars in prime districts, woah.. we cannot imagine how the price trend would be as the surge for landed properties increases.
We embarked on the search of a property which would be either ready built to our likes or would focus on one with focus on the land specs for us to rebuild our dream house. We decided on one that currently sits an inter-terrace house but we will be applying to convert it to become a semi-detached as our intent is to demolish and rebuild. For those who are keen on this aspect; the minimum requirement for a semi-detached house in Singapore requires the land size to be 200 sqm (2152 sq ft) and a frontal width of at least 8m. You would need to fulfill these criteria before you can convert any inter-terrace into a semi-D. For building a Detached or Bungalow, you would need a plot of land with a size of 400sqm (4305 sq ft) and a frontal width of 10m.
The landed property we bought has a 8.3m width and the land size also fit the criteria to convert into a semi-D. We thought with a 2700 sq ft land, it would be a huge house when fully built up. True to certain aspect because it would definitely be bigger than our current place which is less than 1200 sq ft of build-up area. This was going to be our first landed house but instead of taking the time to source for one, we felt hurried into getting one because of the recent frenzy in property transactions. Houses that we wanted were being offered and sold quickly (by the recent cash-rich enbloc owners). Not that we do not like the house we bought, we love it although the time we took to find it was very short. In fact, the house “called out” to me when I was driving past to view another property. It was kind of love at first sight not just because of the close proximity to my siblings in law (our family is very closely knitted), but the house address is our lucky no as well. The direction facing of the house is North-South facing with the unopened side facing West. Meaning no windows will get any west sun. With all these checked, we made the decision.
The house is currently in its original condition and our intention was to demolish and rebuild. We also have a tight time frame to adhere to. So here is one of the important things you would need to take note if you are getting a landed house with the intention to rebuild and a tight time frame. You should request from the existing owner (the Seller) that you wished to conduct have a soil test and a land topography survey during the process of sale and purchase period and the Seller would need to authorise you (the Buyer) to purchase the estate plan in his name from the authorities. This would shorten the submission and approval process so that such work could be done sooner. You should consider to highlight to the Seller that the land topography survey and soil test activities would take a minimum of 1 week to complete.
The soil tests would involve a placing a huge machine in the premise thus most owners would unlikely to agree on this if they would still staying in the premise. I have heard from friends who are staying in landed properties that soil test could be bought from your neighbour(s) – ranging from $800 to $1000, if they had recently built the house as the soil condition in the same area would likely be of similar conditions. We decided against the idea because there might be a chance that BCA would reject such vicinity soil test and you might end up having to pay for both. Our soil test costed us about $3000 before GST. We regretted not talking more to neighbours or finding out more from our contractor friends to check on the statistics of the soil test in that area. Our soil test report came back with a requirement of 24m depth piling! We could not believe it as we were told by friends who are staying in the area that it was unlikely that any deep piling would be required. The architect showed us information based on the statistical data from one of the top piling companies in Singapore, that all the houses that were situated around our premise required a range of 14 to 20m of piling; thus deep piling is highly required for our plot of land (unfortunately as this would increase significant cost of the rebuilding). Honestly, if we had checked on this earlier, we would have time to reconsider carefully before the purchase because we were informed afterwards that the cost of a 24m piling alone would be approximately $90-100k. With this cost involved, we now have to relook into our budget for our building.
Another point to take note is the sewer line and understand the effects of it. You can check if there is a sewer line cutting across your property from PUB website here. It would cost less than $20 but you are able to obtain some important information. We only learnt about this after we placed the 1% deposit. Our land unit has a sewer line cutting across the backyard. To rebuild, you would need a RC trench covering the sewer line which would cost approximately $20-30k. Cost is not the only issue here but you would also be advised not to build anything above the sewer line. The housing shelter is not allowed to be too near the sewer line too… arrgghh.. Thus the housing shelter could not be in the preferable kitchen area due to this. So my advice is to do your homework thoroughly, check on the sewer plan from PUB website when deciding on buying a house. Of course, this is not a key deciding factor but it could be something very helpful that could help in the planning of your building layout design and also understand the potential impact on the estimated building costs.
If you are also planning on getting a house, here are some of the things to take note.
Stay tuned where I will be sharing on our layout planning next.
I remember clearly when I was younger and just had my first child, I did not believe in taking tonics as I was more westernised during my younger days. Not to say that now I am not but I realized how the body had weakened since not doing any confinement after my 1st child was born. Thus I told myself when I was pregnant with Alexis, that I was going to take good care of myself to recover the state of my general health. During the time of my pregnancy, I would drink only warm water; even the times when I craved for something sweet, I would go for room-temperature Soya Milk. I would also drink chicken essence and other tonic. Of course I completed my post-pregnancy confinement thoroughly and completely. I did not even wash my hands with tap water as the water I used was boiled and cooled. I felt totally different. I no longer fell sick as often and I would always have a little rosy cheek. I truly believed these were the results of taking good care of myself.
When Hao Yi Kang approached me to try out Lao Xie Zhen Premium Boiled Essence of Chicken, I was very happy to accept the offer as I am now a true convert of tonics consumption. What impressed me was the the delicious taste and natural yellow colour of Lao Xie Zhen Chicken Essence that made it very acceptable for Lauren and Alexis to love it as well. The girls refused to take other brands of chicken essence due to the darker colour and the taste. The girls called Lao Xie Zhen Chicken Essence, Chicken Soup. As their school term had just restarted, I got Lauren to start the day with a sachet of Chicken Essence every morning before her breakfast. I strongly believe this would help to boost her energy level and strengthen her immune system as my mum and grandma did the same to me when I was young. The only difference is Lao Xie Zhen Chicken Essence looks and tastes so much more appealing now compared to those days. Alexis being the usual copycat of Lauren at home, insisted she needs her “chicken soup” every morning too. LOL. Oh, you will be able to feel a little sticky texture after consuming, a little just like when we go for those Collagen soup Hot Pot, this is because of the collagen in the Chicken Essence.
I spent some time to find out more about background of Lao Xie Zhen Premium Boiled Essence of Chicken. Wow.. they had a long history of 80 years in Taiwan and has a favourable and trustworthy reputation! They were also voted Best Chicken Essence in Taiwan! They are 100% natural with no preservatives, no additives and no cholesterol. Wow Wow Wow.
I also found out that the Essence of Chicken was made with 2nd generation hens that were at least 12 months old. The chickens were boiled with premium pork ribs for 8 hours and through their unique method of boiling, a more complete extraction of nutrients were made possible.
I also noticed that their packaging are very different. It is not in the traditional glass bottle but in sachet form; making it more ideal for storing! The 4-layered opaque sachet are directly imported from Japan, thus it is very safe to consume.
Preparation is easy. Just place the unopened sachet into a cup of hot water for 3 minutes, tear open the sachet and it is ready to consume! You can also consume it at room temperature and the sachet pack makes it so easy for me to carry around. I drink them in my car too!
So whether you are young (as young as 2 year old), elderly, pregnant, doing your confinement or just planning to use it as a daily nourishment. Give Lao Xie Zhen Premium Boiled Essence of Chicken a try! I am pretty sure you will be sold like me.
Here is a good news folks. You can get Lao Xie Zhen Premium Boiled Essence of Chicken at 5% off with code Msclak5 at Hao Yi Kang 好易康 online store www.so-well.com.sg Promo code is valid till 20th July 2018. Please do give it a try!
[This is a sponsored post but all opinion are my own.]
8th of March, International Women’s Day. On this special day that is dedicated to all women, I am also going to share this true story of mine.
My close friends, family and colleagues would know that I was on a complete bed-rest for 7 months when I was pregnant with Alexis. I was diagnosed with Cervical Incompetence when I was 10 weeks pregnant. In layman terms, it means my cervix is too short and weak to hold my pregnancy. My doctor stitched me up to prevent me from premature delivery and ordered me to a complete bed-rest from 13 weeks. You can imagine how it felt for not being able to shower normally for 7 months and how did I keep myself busy while lying on the bed. Many people just felt I was unlucky but not many people know that my Cervical Incompetence could totally be prevented by having a yearly screening and a vaccination.
Back in 2009 after delivering my first child, my Gynae at that time did a routine pap smear for me during my first visit for post-delivery checkup. I had an abnormal pap smear result and the doctor advised that I did a colposcopy, which meant a biopsy to remove a small section of the cervix. Maybe it was because I had just delivered my first child, the procedure was very uncomfortable. The result of my colposcopy came back with a CIN1 and the doctor explained to me it was a HPV virus that could potentially lead to cervical cancer if left untreated. I did not know why I did not take the message seriously or realize the importance of it; perhaps I was young and felt things like that would not happen to me, it was more like a typical kiasu doctor trying to scare me. I did nothing about the CIN1.
Fast forward to 2013, 4 years after my last pap smear. I was trying very hard for my 2nd baby. I had 2 miscarriages back to back and was totally devastated as we wanted a sibling for Lauren badly. Another Gynae who was looking after me then suggested going for a round of pap smear. The result was again abnormal. I did not dwell too much about it then because I remembered my last result was also abnormal and I did a colposcopy for it. Somehow, the naivety side of me assumed the colposcopy was a treatment for the abnormal pap smear (in fact: the colposcopy was only a procedure to test for abnormal cells in your cervix). I went ahead with the 2nd colposcopy and the doctor told me I got CIN3, which was one stage before cervical cancer and I needed to quickly do a surgery to remove the affected part of my cervix. My CIN1 which I learnt about 4 years ago had progressed to a CIN3. I went ahead with the surgery and a huge chunk of my cervix had to be removed. Ok because the surgery was to remove a part of my body that I could not see or feel, I did not think it would have any major adverse impact on my life. No, I was totally wrong until I was pregnant with Alexis.
The Gynae warned me about my short cervix when he announced that I was pregnant. He told me he would most likely have to stitch me up and put me on complete bedrest. I ignored his advise again and told him I would be very careful. Until week 13, I woke up thinking I got a stomachache and then went to my Gynae alone (Hubby was away on business trip). Once he had examined me, he ordered me to be admitted immediately for a surgery to stitched my cervix up as it could not hold the foetus and had showed signs of opening up. I was at the risk of delivering at week 13! I cried while waiting outside the operating theatre alone. Lucky for me, the surgery was a success. The 1st thing I did when I woke up from the surgery was to request for a Doppler to hear the heartbeat of my baby. I could not describe the sense of relief I had when I heard those thudding sound. That marked the start of my 7-months of bed-rest experience. I set small milestones for myself like a 4 weeks goal because I knew my condition that I could deliver anytime if my stitch could not hold the foetus anymore. I aimed for 20 weeks because I read that if I were to deliver at week 20, my baby got a 50% chance of surviving. Then 24 weeks, then 28 weeks and my biggest goal was reaching 33 weeks of pregnancy. Because I knew once I reached 33 weeks, Alexis would be ok even if she had to be delivered then. I got into 2-minutes apart contraction at week 32 and I was sent straight into the delivery suit with doctors telling they needed to cut off the stitch and let me go into labour otherwise the contraction might force my stitch to tear and I would be in the risk of excessive bleeding. I begged the team to load me with muscle relaxants and I told them to give me some time to try to calm this contraction. Thinking back now, I realized I was really playing with fire and how dangerous the situation was at that time. The medical team at the emergency department loaded me with muscle relaxant 4 times within an hour (which was the maximum dosage allowed). The drug was so strong that I puked due to the bad headache. Eventually I did overcome the contraction and I was warded for 2 weeks in case I went into any contraction again. At week 35, my Gynae advised me to go for cesarean as he felt my baby was sitting too low and was a risk for me. I wanted to wait a few more days hoping to hit week 36 but Alexis was too eager to be out. One day before reaching week 36, Alexis came and met the world. I was so grateful when I finally held her in my arms. I am still tearing as I am typing this now that reminded me of the experience then. The baby who gave me the strength to fight this battle fiercely, who changed my perspective in life and made me believe I want to be healthy to take good care of my girls.
I am someone who believe we should never regret as we look back in life. But if there was one thing that I had regretted, it would definitely be the ignorance of my first abnormal pap smear result. Things would surely be different if I had heeded the doctor’s advice then. I would not have lost half my cervix and my pregnancy would not be that horrifying. Till now both hubby and I still discussed about life with a 3rd baby but we all knew the answer. How life-endangering it would be for myself and the baby. Anyway, I should be thankful that my CIN3 was treated before it became cervical cancer. I was so close to that.
After hearing my long grandmother’s story, I urged all woman to protect ourselves. Not just for ourselves but for our loved ones. I want to be well for my daughters and hubby. I want to be there for their graduation, their wedding and I want to look after my grandchildren. Like what you have always hear, prevention is better than cure. Precisely so hence I recently did another round of cervical cancer prevention vaccination. This was my 2nd course of vaccine. I did one a few years back but there is presently new technology to the latest vaccine so I wanted to protect myself further because I truly understood that this disease could be totally preventable. FYI, I do my Pap smear twice a year now.
I approached Dr Quek Swee Chong, a good friend of mine for a collaboration. This man with a heart of gold is always in support for educating women the importance of prevention and early detection of any illness.
Dr Quek trained as a gynaecologist in London and worked there for 10 years before settling back in Singapore. He was the Clinical Programme Director for Pre-Invasive Services and Head of the Pre-invasive and Screening Unit in KK Hospital, before setting up his own practice in Gleneagles Medical Centre at ASC Clinic for Women.
He has a special interest in women’s cancer prevention, particularly cancer of the cervix, and has conducted many training courses for doctors and nurses in cervical cancer prevention.
In addition, he also founded and heads the Himalayan Women’s Health Project 10 years ago. This is a humanitarian health project that provides free screening and treatment for women in the northern Himalayan region of Ladakh, India.
You ladies are super super lucky! In conjunction with International Women’s Day, Dr Quek has agreed to sponsor one session of his consultation, ultrasound scan and a pap smear worth $300! eFresh Singapore is so honored to have such a renowned doctor coming forward to collaborate with us! To do our part, the lucky winner will also walk away with eFresh Products worth $389.90 (all the best selling items on eFresh) after Dr Quek’s consultation.
The kind-hearted Dr Quek will also be offering 3 more ladies a super good deal for the cervical cancer prevention vaccine. (NEVER WILL YOU FIND THIS DEAL ELSEWHERE. I CONFIRM PLUS CHOP)
The package of 3 doses of this vaccine will be at the shocking price of $535 instead of $800. Basically Dr Quek is sponsoring 1 out of the 3 injections given. Thus the price you pay will be for 2 doses and Dr Quek will absorb the cost of the 3rd dose. eFresh will also sweeten the deal with a pack of Aqua Defence silk mask worth $49.90 for these 3 lucky ladies!
FYI, the 3 lucky ladies will be paying lesser than what I paid ok..
How to take part in these giveaway on our eFresh Instagram page?
1. Like this post on eFresh instagram
2. Follow @efreshsingapore on Instagram here and ASC Clinic for Women Pte Ltd on Facebook here.
3. Tag a woman in the comment of eFresh instagram post. 1 comment per tag please. Tag all the women you love in your life, your mum, your sister, your bff, etc…
4. Repost this post for the additional chance to win and also to share and protect more women.
Contest is open to women residing in Singapore only. Results will be announced on 30th March 2018 via DM.
Here was me getting my 2nd shot yesterday.
Before we left for our Europe holiday, the girls were sulking as we did not bring them along. Thus,
we promised the girls a staycation when we were back from our holiday. We thought a staycation
would probably be the best substitute for a holiday and the girls would be happy. They should be,
because we need to beg them to roam around most of the time during our overseas holidays! The
girls were always happy just staying in the hotel and whenever we were out exploring, they would
always ask when we would come back. Thus, we felt a staycation would be the best idea for them.
As we had done numerous staycations in the past, we wanted something with more tranquillity this
time round. The first hotel that came to our mind was Shangri-La! Now, I had heard a lot about the
wonderful service of Shangri-La, but had yet to stay in one of their hotels. Thus, I thought it would be
a good time to experience the highly raved-about service of this hotel. If you had read my previous
post on Mileslife, you will be glad to know that you can also book your hotel stays through the app
and earn Skywards Miles at the same time. Of course, I did just that.
Booking a hotel stay through the app was a breeze – just like how you would usually make any hotel
From the moment we checked in, the service from all the staff at Shangri-La was impeccable. The lady who did our check-in advised us to switch to the Garden Wing as the room was more spacious. I am glad we did, as the girls needed the space to play and the room was perfect. The room at the Garden Wing was also bigger as the booking with Mileslife came with an additional kid’s bed (free of charge!), which was perfect for us. Usually, we have to either all squeeze into a King size bed or sleep with the girls on twin beds. But with an additional bed, we were comfortably set in this room. Watch this clip for a tour of the room.
As we did not want to make this staycation all about staying in the hotel, we tricked the girls out by telling them we were going to hit the nearby Toy’r’Us store. Hahaha… They jumped out of bed immediately. There is a free shuttle service to Orchard road every hour. If not, you can always request for a complimentary parking ticket each time you leave the hotel. After all the shopping at the Forum, we headed back to the hotel for a nice dinner at the Shang Palace.
The booking I made through Mileslife came with free breakfast!!! I have to tell you the breakfast at Shangri-La is a MUST!! The selection was one of the biggest I have seen. Good news to all families with kids 6 years and below. The kids get to dine free with each paying adult!! For us, Lauren paid half price ($22.50) as she is 8, but it was still very worthwhile too. All in all, we had a two-hour breakfast with Nasi Lemak and Laksa, and hit the pool right after.
We were surprised to see many Singaporean families there for staycation too!!! The girls made some new friends and were so reluctant to leave because it was almost time for us to check out.
We truly enjoyed ourselves and I am already scrolling through Mileslife for the next hotel to plan for our staycation! ;p
For those who are interested to know, I spent $441 and I earned 3,500 Skywards Miles from this booking. This will be so helpful for my family holiday to Melbourne next year. FYI, an Economy Class Saver return ticket on Emirates to Melbourne will require 45,000 Skywards Miles. Inclusive of my earlier spending on Mileslife, I am already a quarter way through the Miles required! Additionally, if you link your Emirates Skywards account to the Mileslife app as your frequent flyer programme of choice, you will be able to earn bonus Skywards Miles ranging from 25% to 75% if you are a Silver, Gold or Platinum member! Do keep a look out for special promotions on the app as well – the promotions may help you earn more Skywards Miles than usual!
I am definitely going to use this app whenever possible to accumulate more miles! For those that plan to download the app, do use my code “MSCLAK” under the referral code section to get additional 1000 miles on your 1st purchase (min. $49)!
As I bid 2017 goodbye, I want to sit down and reflect on the good and bad things that had happened the past year.
I am grateful for a fruitful 2017. I had 5 holidays and went to 7 countries. Out of the 7 countries, 2 places were my first visits. My first visit to Vietnam was with my company for an incentive trip and Iceland was with hubby. 2017 also marked the first family holiday with my mum and my 2 brothers.
I also celebrated our 10th year Wedding Anniversary in 2017, with my sweet hubby surprising me with an extravagant Europe trip.
Work wise, 2017 marked the year I relaunched eFresh. This baby of mine had been an erratic journey since 2009 and so I hope it will be a smooth journey moving forward. I am truly grateful to all who have supported me with the love for eFresh. You never know how much it meant to me to see all the reviews and referrals.
On top of eFresh, I made it to the 10k followers mark on Instagram this year. I made many friends since I started becoming active on social media, and many have became the person I go to when I needed advice. I started sharing more about my life on social media in 2015. I started because I thought I was going to be a stay at home mum and I wanted to have an avenue other than just kids and home. Who knows, I backed out on the idea of SAHM when another job offer came right after I tendered my resignation. LOL.
While achieving the above, I did not neglect my mainstream work. My manager/good friend gave me the space to progress and I did what I needed and had good results at work. What I enjoyed most while working in a pharmaceutical industry is all the rapport I built with doctors and nurses. They are more than just business contacts, many are my closed friends now.
Oh how can I forget that I did my first 10km run in 2017! That was really an achievement for me as I went with the intention of walking the 10km but I ended up running almost the entire 10km!
With so many fantastic achievements, you must be thinking what bad can I get.
Honestly, I am truly grateful with all that I have. The only thing that I hope to be better is the health of my family members. Mum is still battling with her stage 4 breast cancer. Grandma has been very frail after her hip fracture. Someone very dear to my family is also fighting a terminal illness. I pray very hard that all my loved ones will receive a miracle potion.
I am also guilty of spending lesser time with my girls this year. I used to be able to set aside time daily to read and revise school work with the girls. But with so much on my plate, I got tired by the time I got home. Many times, I also lost my cool with the girls over trivial matters. This is something that hubby is not pleased of. Hubby is also not too pleased with me constantly on the phone. Thus I need to ensure I set aside time for phone browsing in 2018.
Thank you for treating me well, 2017. I will work hard to make 2018 a year with new goals in life, and I will be sharing my 2018 resolutions shortly. Have you also had a thought of what you want to achieve in 2018?