Sustainable Living with IKEA

Small changes for a more sustainable future

Some time ago I shared about this article on my Facebook post on how I’m guilty of not sorting my trash. It’s a very prevalent problem in Singapore and many cited the convenience of our common refuse bins as a contributing factor.

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While there’s little push factor to sort out our refuse, I do acknowledge that the simple act of doing so will help our nations’ effort in recycling. But more importantly, the conscientious effort of doing it will raise the awareness of adopting a more sustainable lifestyle among those in my household, from my mum to my daughter. Yes, that’s changing mindsets from one generation to the next.

Small Changes, Big Impact

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One of the biggest changes we did this year to go green was to sell our set of wheels. It was not an easy decision for us as it meant a trade off in convenience which we’ve been so used to for the past 10 years.

However the economics of it made so much more sense since we’ve stopped driving to work for a while now thanks to the efficient public transport system we have. We’ve been making good use of apps like Uber, Grab as well as car sharing service for times when we really need a car.

There are days when Sophie misses the car and will ask when are we going to buy a car so that she doesn’t have to stand on the bus or MRT. I was so tickled that she even told me to join a lucky draw once because the grand prize was, you guessed it a car!

The past 6 months without a car wasn’t as tough as I imagined and I’m glad we’re doing our part to reduce our carbon footprint towards a greener environment.

Habits for Sustainable Living

While some choices like forgoing a car may be a significant decision, but if you think about it, it’s really our everyday habits that will go a long way towards adopting a more sustainable lifestyle in our families. I may have been a late adopter to some of these sustainable habits, it’s never too late to get started if you haven’t already done so.

Sustainable living is all about making choices in our daily life where we rely less on the earth’s resources and replace what we use to our best ability.

 

1. Prevent food wastage

As a nation, food wastage is a huge problem. I always feel that our “ta bao” culture makes it even more prevalent especially when hawkers dish out more food to justify what they charge. I do my part by telling them to give me half the portion of rice to cut down on wastage. But on occasions where I still end up with left overs, I’ll save them in food containers for the next meal along with other dishes.

On weekends, I do my advance meal prep and store my food in the fridge or freezer. Items like sauces, and frozen meats are my go to items and is a quick fix for days when I need to rush home to prepare dinner for my family.

These IKEA 365+ containers are perfect as they come in assorted sizes and are freezer, dishwasher and microwave safe which makes reheating fuss-free. And the deeper version of the IKEA 365+ container measuring 12cm in height fits the bill especially for my pasta sauce with it’s tight-fit transparent.

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IKEA 365+ containers perfect for storing sauces

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2. Changing our diet

Speaking about food, you can literally go green by having your greens. Choose sustainable ingredients in your diet by understanding your food sources and having salad is one way to go. I’m not vegan nor vegetarian and I love my meat and seafood, but sadly, these cause problems which article sums up very well.

By just making a switch to go meatless a day in a week, we can make a positive change to our environment and our health as well.

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I don’t know why I didn’t discover the BLANDNING salad lunch box earlier. The salad box has a divider and  it even comes with a compact (and matching) fork and knife that you can snap and remove from the divider lid. Spilling salad dressing all over my salad are a thing of a past as there is a separate compartment to prevent accidents from happening.

I only wished they made an extra compartment on the top as well so that I can pack along some protein without making my salad soggy by lunch time.

3. Lighting up with LED

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LED lighting is an efficient source of energy and uses significantly less energy than standard lighting. We’ve made the switch to LED lighting and this has also translated to cost savings in our electricity bills every month.

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I recently purchased the LERSTA standing bedside lamp so that I can do some reading before bed and the adjustable lamp arm certainly scores points.

And yes, till now my mama’s reminder of “Turn off the lights”, still rings in my head whenever I walk out of the room.And an even better habit to save electricity is to rely on natural lighting as much as possible.

4. Using a shopping bag

While we can’t eliminate the use of plastic bags especially when buying groceries, we can definitely reduce their usage by using shopping bags.

I always have a foldable cotton shopping bag with me when we head to the supermarket, the library and just about any shopping errands. These shopping bags from IKEA’s GLÖDANDE limited edition collection sure is a head turner with their quirky and whimsical designs.

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5. Sorting our trash

We’ve also started a system at home to sort our trash where recyclable materials go into the respective green boxes. These boxes are placed in a corner of the living room as it would defeat the purpose if they go unnoticed.

So far, everyone has been doing their bid to sort the trash and Sophie has even become our little recycling ambassador to ensure that we follow the system religiously.
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IKEA has loads of recycling solutions with an assortment of waste sorting containers for the kitchen, backyard and living areas. So there’s really no excuses not to started.

SORTERA Waste Sorting Bin | FILUR Bin with Lid | PLUGGIS Waste Sorting Bin

Our GLES green boxes are not the conventional waste containers as they are much smaller measuring only 28 by 38cm. But at $1.90 each, they sure offered value for money and served the purpose for waste sorting before we send them down to the recycling bin.

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6. Whiteboard to replace paper

Kids can also do their part to save Mother Earth too!

Sophie has been doing her part to save the environment by using her whiteboard instead of scribbling on paper. So when she learns her spelling, or trying to solve her maths questions, I’ll get her to write them on her MALA easel white board or the black board which is on the reverse side. Plus she likes it when it makes her feel like a teacher in class :)

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7. Choosing a simpler lifestyle

Lastly, if there’s thing that I want to advocate, it’s to be intentional and choose to have a simpler lifestyle.

I’m guilty of being a victim of consumerism at times and shops like Daiso are my weakness as I hardly think twice about filling my basket with items when everything is just only $2. With my recent decluttering attempts this year, the realisation of how much unnecessary stuff I have in my life hit me. My regular decluttering is now a wake up call for me to take stock of not just what I have in my house but also what’s in my life.

The konmari philosophy has been a good  reminder for me to let go of things I no longer need and focus on the future I want to paint for my life.

Choose to live a simpler lifestyle.
Stop buying unnecessarily.
Learn to let go.
Pass it on to others.

Hubby has noticed the changes in me and is so glad that I’ve finally seen the light and adopting his ‘less is more mentality’. Well, I may not have reached the stage of being called a minimalist, but I know I will get there :)

 

 

 

This is my third post written for IKEA and here’s the first and second post if you missed them.

 

* This is a sponsored post written in collaboration with IKEA, however all ideas and opinions expressed here are my own.

A Christian Mum’s take on the PSLE changes

Last week the hottest news among Singaporean parents was about the announcement of the PSLE changes. This was a hot topic among my group of friends since our Primary Ones kids will be the first cohort of students impacted by the changes.

In a nutshell, the key changes are:

  • Removal of T-scores which is replaced with 8 wider grade bands or “Achievement Levels” (ALs)
  • Students will not be graded relative to their peers
  • Places will be allocated according to PSLE score first, but a pupil who puts a school higher in his list of choices will get priority over another with the same score who ranks the school lower

While the objective of these changes is to dial down the competition over the PSLE so that pupils can focus on own learning instead of comparing them against their peers, many remain skeptical that this will make it any less stressful for our children.

I’ve read many views from both end of the spectrum who hold differing views on the changes. Some welcome the changes because with the wider banding, it’s no longer about chasing that 2,3 points anymore. On the other hand, some are worried that their children will see the wider grade bands as a hurdle and be less motivated to try.

I mulled over the revamp and I’ll be lying if I said I’m unfazed by the changes. There are still questions left unanswered like whether MOE should have also looked into revamping the curriculum, and if the PSLE examination supports the push towards a more holistic education when it still all boils down to measuring our children’s academic success when they are just 12 years old.

But I do acknowledge that these changes made are in the right direction and I’m hopeful that it will improve our education system.

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A Mindset Change for Parents

As a mum, I ask myself, so what’s my role?

How I can support Sophie in her learning journey and how can I help her develop positive attitudes towards learning especially when she’s going to be spending her next 15 years or so in school.

I’m far from having it all figured out and after praying about it, I felt the Lord nudging me to remember Jeremiah 29:11

 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

 

How little I felt at this reminder because while I may be Sophie’s mum, I’m really just a steward of her life on this earth.

My role is to recognise her unique talent and gifting from God and to give her opportunities to hone them instead of conforming her to the dreams I hold for her.

More importantly, is to remember that God has a purpose and destiny for her life which will be greater than the grandest of plans I have for her. And as the years go by, my prayer is that she’ll come to see His hand in her life, guiding her and leading her towards that purpose.

It’s tough to swim against the tide, but I’m going to bear in mind that I should never measure Sophie by her academic sucess after all grades alone should not make or break her future. And honestly who’s to say what the future economy will look like when it’s now looking so different from where we were 10 years ago.

So while her teachers in school are going to equip her with knowledge, my role is to keep her grounded in values and help her develop a growth mindset.

 

“Growth mindset is someone who’s tries to improve himself and believes that with more exercise and work he can get to anything and he can learn anything”.

 

Kids who give up easily often exasperate their parents and teachers because they don’t even bother to try. This is also referred to as a fixed mindset where kids just do enough or simply give up trying because it’s too tough.

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I’ve been doing some reading on how we can teach our kids about growth mindset and you can read more about them here, here and here.

 

Don’t teach the mentality that ‘nothing is ever good enough’, rather teach them the mentality that ‘there’s always room for improvement

 

Alarmingly, the way that I praise Sophie has been promoting a fixed mindset as I focused on the results and not the efforts behind the results. It’s an area that I need to be more conscious of if I want Sophie to learn the importance of preserving at a hard task and being open to try and learn from those experiences.

I want her to know that it’s okay not to have all the answers and it’s even okay to fail because we learn from our mistakes and that failure is never final.

At the end of the say, what I want is for Sophie to develop a spirit of excellence where she gives her best no matter what she does knowing that whatever results she get, it brings glory to God.

 

 

 

 

English Composition Writing for Primary One

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During the last Parent Teacher Meeting (PTM) before the June school holidays, Sophie’s teacher encouraged us to get her started on writing to prepare her for composition. And if you’re wondering, she’s only in Primary One.

While her school has not launched into composition writing in Primary 1, they are slowly picking up the skills for it when they do journal writing and prepare for their show and tell which is graded.

From what I hear from friends with older kids, composition writing is something that can be tougher to teach as it involves so many different aspects of writing like how to write a story that’s in line with the picture provided, how you structure a story, the use of vocabulary, if the story is coherent and how to make it a captivating and interesting read.

We all know that in order to write well, it’s important to read and well as well. Thankfully this is an area we don’t have to struggle with as Sophie is an avid reader since she was young.

To help me guide Sophie in composition writing, I turned to my trusted bookshop and picked up these two Composition Writing resources for English and Chinese.

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English Composition Writing resource for Primary 1 & 2

Besides the fact that these titles were on offer (who does’t like discounts?), the content was well presented and gave a good introduction on how to get started on composition writing.

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From Unit 1, they dished out helpful tips on how students can analysis pictures since they will first be tackling picture composition. The questions are a good guide on how students can frame the story if they don’t have a clue on where to get started.

They also cover key areas like the structure of a composition with an introduction, body and conclusion so that students can organise their thoughts instead of jumping all over the place.

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Similar to how I teach Sophie to use the 5W and 1H for preparing her show and tell and oral, here questions like who is the main character and how does he feel, helps the students to picture what is happening in the picture and draw their own conclusions.

As the chapters progress, there are exercises to do with a given picture as well as helping words so that the child will not feel so lost for words.

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What I do like is the outline provided for the composition where they give a framework on what the child can write about from the place, to characters and other considerations.

I’m not big on model compositions and honestly find them quite rubbish, but at Primary One, the outline is a very helpful guide so that a child knows the kind of content that is expected.

I also like how they have simple 2, 3 liners in each section like the introduction, body and conclusion so that a child can learn how to plan the content of their story and how to expand further on it.

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In every section, there is also a vocabulary list which is pretty elementary at primary one level but nevertheless useful to help them learn the meaning of words to expand on their word bank to write better.

 

I try to make Sophie do writing practice at least once on a weekly basis. Not all of them are composition of course and some of them are journal writing and letter writing. She especially likes the latter as she looks forward to receiving a reply from me in our little mailbox that we made together.

Compared to reading, she’s a lot less enthusiastic about writing as she always tells me she doesn’t know what to write. So to make it more interesting, I do ask her to write about topics that she likes, for example, our holiday trips, her favorite classmate, what she’ll do if she can fly, etc.

I hope this review of the composition book I picked up has been useful and do let me know if you’ve any resources on composition writing to share.

 

Here are some links on Composition Writing that you may be keen too.

 

Do look out for Part 2 where I’ll share about the Chinese Composition Writing book from the same series.

Here are some useful links on Primary One that I wrote earlier this year.

 

Melbourne Street Art and Laneways

Whenever we visit a country, we like to explore places that are unique to that place. As a city that celebrates and embraces their street art culture, we couldn’t pass up the chance to check out Melbourne street art and laneways. Never mind that it’s not exactly the most child friendly itinerary we have in mind, after all this creative expression of art is something that we don’t get very much back home in our pristine clean city.

Armed with this street art map, we headed to Degraves Street, after our half day Puffing Billy Adventure. Now that’s a more suitable family friendly attraction and if you missed it earlier, you can read here.

Anyway back to Degraves Street, this is an iconic little laneway between Finders Street and Flinders Lane where people flock there for alfresco dining and coffee and I sure could do with a cup of coffee.

Exploring Melbourne Street Art and Laneways

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Melbourne Street Art at Flinders Court

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Sophie and her Rainbow Igloo!

These street art sure adds colour to the vibrant streets of Melbourne, where every nook and corner turns into a visual kaleidescope of creative and colourful expression by these artists. If you’re keen to discover more of these street art, Union Lane, Caledonian Lane and Hosier Lane are where you  want to head to. Alternatively, you can even join a Street Art Tour like the one from Melbourne Street Tours.

We passed by Centre Place and it’s an interesting laneway littered with many hole in the wall cafes that sells everything from sandwiches to soup to coffee, pastries and savoury delights.

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Centre Place – An Instagram worthy spot too

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Hole in the wall cafes

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We settled on Little Cupcakes along Degraves Street so that Sophie can get her sweet tooth satisfied as I settled down for a coffee. I have to admit that I would much rather sit along one of those alfresco cafe to people watch especially in the nice cool winter.

But alas winter in Melbourne turned out to be a wet affair and the rain made it impossible to sit outdoors without getting my hair wet.

At least,  we managed to get the best seat in the cafe which allowed us to peek out from the shop and slowly watch the world go by while I sipped on my coffee with these 2.

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We spotted a couple taking their wedding photo and went to check out the fuss across the street at Doughnut Time where a snaking queue formed shortly after I took this photo.

Turns out that they serve a assortment of decadent handmade doughnuts that are very popular with the locals. But at $6 each, we just had to give these sugary treats a miss.

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The very pretty Clementine that sells Victorian made produce and homewares

Accommodation in Melbourne

Since I had some questions on where we stayed, I thought I might as well add more details about it on the blog so that I can use it for my reference in future too.

We stayed at Citadines at Bourke Street, which is a service apartment in the heart of the CBD. We liked it because of it’s centralised and convenient location where the tram station (Bourke Street) is right at our door step and the train station (Parliament) is just 5 minutes away.  Food is never an issue as there are restaurants, cafes and fast food outlets at every corner we turn.

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Citadines at Bourke Street

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Studio Deluxe at Citadines

We booked the Studio Deluxe and had a queen sized bed which was comfortable for the 3 of us. While we didn’t get much of a view being on the 6th floor and faced the back of another apartment (I think), it hardly bothered us since we were out most of the time. For privacy, the living room and the bedroom are separated with a privacy screen.

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The wardrobe between the study desk and the kitchen

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The kitchen is equipped with the necessary appliances for those planning to cook their meals but that was not in my holiday plans though the microwave was handy for heating up breakfast in the morning.

The living room had a three seater couch and most of the time we laid our jackets there to air. The toilet was also a comfortable size (No bathtubs here) .

They also have facilities like the gym, a lap pool, sauna and yes complimentary WIFI too :)

Overall we liked the spacious rooms and had a very comfortable stay. My only complain was that I wished they had firmer pillows.

You can check out their website for more photos and reviews here.

 

This concludes Day 3 of our 9 days free and easy Melbourne trip. Hit the links below for our first 2 days and do check back for the rest of our trip.

Day 1- Queen Victoria Market and Wedding Anniversary Dinner at Rare Steakhouse Uptown

Day 2- Puffing Billy Steam Train at Belgrave

 

Enjoyed reading this Post? Do like my Facebook page to get travelling updates. You can also follow me on Twitter (@Susankoh) or Instagram (@ajugglingmom) for more travel and parenting posts.

 

Girl’s Bedroom Makeover with Ikea

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Before Sophie entered Primary One, we contemplated giving her bedroom a makeover as we expected her needs to change as she gets older. Eventually we decided to hold off the changes until we had a better idea of what she needed when primary school started.

Plus I think a little part of me was hoping and wishing that my little girl wouldn’t grow up so quickly. I mean how is it that she’s already in Primary School when it seems like it was just yesterday that she was a toddler.

Bedroom for a Pre-schooler

This was how her room looked like at the end of last year where her books were kept mainly in a 4 by 2 Kallax shelving unit from IKEA. We added 2 pink doors and 2 storage boxes as they helped to keep items like stationery, craft materials and accessories out of sight, leaving the rest open for her books.

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