Winner Announcement!

Been organizing quite a few giveaways lately. I do feel like a Santarina now. LOL. Sometimes I do feel a bit arm-twisted by giveaway participants. Some will even privately message me to demand that I pick them to win certain prizes. I either scold these peeps or ignore their messages. I’m nice, but don’t ever try to take advantage of me. :P

One dude also left a comment on a giveaway saying that since I am unable to attend his wedding, I should pick him to be the winner of the giveaway. I didn’t quite get that, even if it may be a joke.

He has won at least 3 prizes in my previous random-pick giveaways as he takes part in just about all of them. I definitely have to make sure I don’t pick repeat winners from now on, or they will think I am OBLIGED to send all the prizes their way. Hmph.

(And no, don’t invite me to your wedding unless we are best friends. Ok? Read one of my latest blogposts about my take on wedding guests.)

Anyhow… here are the winners for 3 of the recent giveaways:

1) For the SUPER limited edition Maku Store wallet: Daphne Loo

2) For the ‘Playing Big’ books: Samy Rajoo, Clarence Chin and Priscilla

3) For the Valrhona chocolate: Catherine Vinluan, Rachelle Therese Feliciano Gonzales, and Mei Fang

For giveaway #1 and #2, winners are to send me their mailing addresses by 22nd November 2014, 23:59hrs in order for prizes to be mailed out. Email gracewwg (at) gmail (dot) com.

For the chocolate winners, I’ll be in touch with you via email today. So check your email inbox! :D

Thank you all for participating! :)

There’s still the movie ticket giveaway right here. Winner announcement on 25th Nov.

International Gift Exchange (Part Two)

[ Read the first International Gift Exchange blogpost here and check out all the earlier presents I’ve sent out and received! ]

Yes, the gift exchange is definitely still ongoing. And as we get closer to Christmas, I expect I’ll be sending out even more amazing gifts. :D

It’s actually pretty difficult to find Made-in-Singapore items which are easy to mail overseas. Sure, we have delicious sauces and all but those will probably not fare so well during the delivery process. If you have any ideas to share with me, drop me an email. *wink*

Here’s a recent one to Kien Mei from Labuan, Malaysia. I sent her Meiji’s Hello Panda biscuits and a bunny keychain which I’d blogged about here. I’d never realized that Hello Panda biscuits are made in Singapore! I’d always thought they are from Malaysia or elsewhere (maybe, Japan?). And the bunny keychain was made by the elderly at House of Joy in Mountbatten so it’s really special and one-of-a-kind with a different color on each side. I hope she likes them. :)

International Gift Exchange

What Kien Mei sent over was really cute: Kabaya Hello Kitty Strawberry Pretzel, mini collectible mugs, a bracelet, Visit Malaysia 2014 badge, an ‘Explore Labuan’ brochure plus a handwritten note. :)

Knowing that I’ve sent her Hello Panda biscuits, I was thinking we probably had some telepathic communication going on when I saw the Hello Kitty strawberry sticks. LOL :D

And looking at her gift, I’m deducing that she must be really proud of her hometown, and it must be a fascinating place to visit.

Why have I never thought of including a brochure of some sort or postcard from Singapore? Hmm… that’s an idea for my next gift exchange. Perhaps it’d entice people from the region to come visit Singapore (again). :D And no, I do not work for the Singapore Tourism Board. :P

~ To Participate ~

If you are not a resident of Singapore, you are most welcome to take part. You simply have to send me a gift that is made in your country and I’ll send you one from Singapore.

To get started, drop me a private message on my Facebook page right HERE.

International Gift Exchange: My Presents To & From the Philippines and Malaysia :D

It’s this blog’s 4th anniversary this month! :D And I thought it should feature presents of some sort. Last year, on the 3rd anniversary, I brought 3 blog readers to Orchard Road for a sponsored shopping trip (out of my own pocket). And this year, I thought I’d go further.

I’ve been doing an international gift exchange, and it’s currently still ongoing. But here are the presents I’ve sent out and received thus far…

[First gift to and from the Philippines]

International Giveaway

For this “gift”away, the presents must be made in the gifter’s home country. And only 1 gift is required. So for the very first gift, I sent the limited edition bottle of ‘Splash’ EDT from Singapore Polytechnic to Hoover from the Philippines. :D It was made by SP students to celebrate the school’s anniversary. And what did I get in return? A sling bag and two Philippine jeepney models in a beautifully gift-wrapped box. It was such a delight to unwrap that box, I tell you! :)

And the participants in my gift exchange do not follow the rules, or well, that one rule about just one gift required. So I sent to Hoover another package with Sticky rock candy which come with Uniquely Singaporean words like “Paiseh”, “Jialat”, “Wah Lau”, etc. It felt like I was literally sending a piece of Singaporean culture overseas – and I think he was quite amused by the candy too…

International Giveaway

And I think he definitely loved the cologne:

International Gift Exchange

For my second gift to the Philippines, I decided that I’d better add in a little something extra, in case the person is a generous gifter like Hoover. There was a pasar malam near my home at the time so I ordered a personalized key chain for Melanie:

International Giveaway

Unfortunately, though, the gift from her end never made it to me. Here’s the explanation she sent over:

International Gift Exchange

I didn’t hear from her regarding the key chain and rock candy I sent over as well. *shrugs*

Another person I sent the rock candy to was Cherry from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. And she sent me an amazing gift box filled with items like keychains (4 of them!), a purse with pearl accessories, a notebook, and a handmade pouch with 2 similar, smaller pouches inside. She even went so far as to detail each item in her really sweet letter.

I was so touched that I put together another present for her, with items I purchased in Bangkok during my recent holiday trip – with a makeup pouch from Naraya, a drawstring pouch, pretty earrings and a bracelet.

Gifts from and to Cherry (Sabah)

International Giveaway

And then for my gift to Kim Tan from Johor Bahru, Malaysia, I decided I had enough of the rock candy. And so I sent her a gift with two items from Ang Ku Kueh Girl, a decidedly local brand. :D Of course, I got her the handmade soap shaped like (what else?) ang ku kueh… and a journal from their online store.

She knew I’m a huge Hello Kitty fan so she sent over some Hello Kitty cookies, wet wipes and a hello kitty x tokidoki accessory.

International Giveaway

What I’ve gained from this experiment in the form of an international gift exchange is:

1) The immense joy from opening presents. If you’ve read about the 5 love languages, mine is ‘Gifts’. So receiving presents makes me really, really happy. If someone were to help me carry some groceries, or offer some words of praise, or spend loads of time with me, I probably wouldn’t appreciate it as much as when I was given a meaningful little gift.

2) A better understanding of what a really good gift is. Imagine putting a gift together for someone in another country; someone whom you’ve never met before. If you put that gift together with as much love and heart like Cherry from Sabah did, I can only infer that you must be one generous, big-hearted, and loving person. And the best part is, people tend to respond in kind.

3) Networking with bloggers across our borders. Kim happens to be a fellow blogger and she has invited me to join her for reviews in JB. :)

4) Understanding that not all gifts are suitable gifts. I’d bought some Tiger Brand plasters and AXE brand oil thinking that these made-in-Singapore items would be fantastic as gifts. The fiance stopped me from sending them out, saying that recipients might not be happy about getting them because one uses these things when unwell, right? Uh-oh. Not so good thinking there on my part. OOPS. Thankfully, no harm done.

So yes, some people might wonder why I’m doing this international gift exchange. My answer to them is “why not?”. It’s freaking fabulous! I’ve learnt so much and loved the gifts I’ve received so very much, and I think I’ll keep it going! :D

~ To Participate ~

If you are not a resident of Singapore, you are most welcome to take part. You simply have to send me a gift that is made in your country and I’ll send you one from Singapore.

To get started, drop me a private message on my Facebook page right HERE.

Dress Made From M&M’S Chocolate Lentils

 

[From one of my creative craft sessions]

M&M’s are ranked as one of the most unhealthy snacks you can include in your diet (think extra weight gain, as in this article on cnn.com) with a tad too much saturated fat and sugar. But they are so colorful and tempting, and one lentil will lead to another. It’s kinda like snacking on chips.

The good thing about this candy when used in crafts is that it doesn’t melt in your hands. There is a wax-like covering over each M&M shell so it doesn’t get messy easily.

So instead of eating M&M’s, I put together a dress (which only Barbie dolls or the like can wear) :D I used fabric glue to stick them on – and thankfully, the dress has not attracted any ants yet. The bodice is made from ribbon.

What do you think? :)

M&M'S Dress

I did a giveaway as well – as I’m always sharing the calories with people around me who can afford it. Hehe!

The goodie bag includes a limited edition M&M’S tee PLUS two packs of M&M’S I bought in Perth – in Raspberry and Vanilla Shake flavor! I think these flavors are unavailable in local stores. *wink*

The giveaway attracted 50,688 views (!!!), 2341 shares, 1328 likes and 1428 comments! I’ve also just realized there are some nice 4D numbers right here. :D

M&M's giveaway

[Advertisers] Interested in having me craft a creative advertorial and fantastic giveaway to spread the word about your product or service? Drop me a note at gracewwg@gmail.com now. :)

Hello Kitty 40th Anniversary Loot From Taiwan! :D

Hello Kitty 40th Anniversary

These are some of the Kitty items I bought when I was in Taiwan last month. I was glad that he brought his luggage just for me, or I would definitely have run out of space, considering that I bought THREE pairs of kitty shoes, among other things. :D

Anyway, this pair of sneakers is from the Hello Kitty 40th Anniversary range, and I have not worn them since the fitting in the store. They just might end up in a glass case in my new home in future, unless I find some occasion to put them on. LOL!

Hello Kitty 40th Anniversary

I spent NT1264 on these shoes and I happen to think they are worth every penny! :D

The folders cost NT190 and the pouch set cost NT590 (before discount).

I really like the print and design for the Hello Kitty 40th Anniversary collection. I am amazed that I didn’t buy more stuff back. I’m not sure when I’ll head back to Taiwan, especially after the MRT stabbing incident. Hmm…

NoQ Store: Books At Great Discounts, No Queue But A Wait Of 2 Weeks

I love to read and I hold the membership cards to all our (remaining) large bookstores in Singapore. So I was quite happy when NoQ Store, the e-commerce arm of Times Publishing, found me and asked if I’d like to do a review about their store.

One thing I love about the e-store is the huge variety of books at great discounts:

NoQ Store

Did you spot the Richard Branson book going for S$4.98?!

Here’s my first order with NoQ Store, which took just over two weeks to be delivered to me:

NoQ Store

NoQ Store

I bought the Limited Edition Mickey Mouse Moleskine Notebooks. :D If you don’t already know, I am a HUGE fan of moleskine notebooks. This obsession started just this year! If you want to buy me a Christmas gift, get me a Limited Edition Moleskine, thank you very much. #shamelessrequestforpresents

To entice you further, there is FREE Delivery within Singapore for any order over S$25!

NoQ Store

There is absolutely no reason not to like NoQ Store. Perhaps the rather long wait of 2 weeks for delivery, yes. But my order came perfectly wrapped and in a box so there was no damage. If they had included just a card or note which said “Thank you for shopping with NoQ Store. Enjoy! Here’s a discount code off your next purchase”, I’d have logged on immediately. :D

Anyhow, NoQ Store has offered me a Discount Code for all my readers: Get 15% discount off all purchases at NoQ Store when you use code GRACE at checkout.
(This discount code is valid from 30 May – 31 August 2014)

*Because I always do my checks to ensure that I offer you, my readers, the BEST discount codes currently available, I found that NoQ Store has a Groupon offer going on now, which essentially entitles you to a whopping 50% discount! If you miss this, you’ll blame yourself later. If you get this in time, you can thank me after. :D

~

Groupon for S$20 worth of book purchases at only S$10. Click here -> Offer ends in 3 days’ time from point of writing. :) [S$20 and S$30 options available; shipping charges are excluded for some options so CHECK first]

~

Shop Now: http://www.noqstore.asia/

Overwhelming Response! LUX World Class Perfume Shower Cream Giveaway

Thank you all for your participation! The winner for the LUX World Class Perfume Shower Cream giveaway has been announced! :)

This giveaway attracted 18320 views, 590 likes, 501 comments and most importantly, 2175 shares!

LUX World Class Perfume Shower Cream

Continue popping by my Facebook page for more exciting giveaways! :D

How I’d rank the shower creams by scent:

1) Soft Touch – a truly lovely floral scent! It comes with a french rose infusion.

2) Magical Spell – contains black orchids and juniper oil. Kinda smells like lavender to me.

3) White Impress – with mulberry and honey. A very mild scent.

Have you tried any of LUX’s world class perfume shower creams? :)

My Recent Phenomenal Success With Facebook Postings

I’ve hosted two giveaways on Facebook recently (one uploaded this afternoon), and I am taken aback by the phenomenal number of likes, shares and comments that the posts have garnered!

I currently have 10,758 fans on my facebook page. But this Herbal Essences giveaway post has been shared 1740 times! On top of that, the post itself was viewed by 14,896 people! <- That is even greater than the number of fans I have. The post also received 493 likes and 440 comments.

Herbal Essences giveaway

Similarly, this Cornell Hello Kitty Toaster giveaway, uploaded this afternoon, has been well-received with 592 shares, 334 likes and 203 comments. The post has already been viewed by 9296 people!

Cornell Hello Kitty Toaster

Both these posts were not “boosted” and I did not take out any ads to promote them either. So I am pleasantly surprised at the number of people taking part.

I guess my takeaway (to share with all my fellow bloggers reading this) is to keep giveaways simple. Avoid having too many steps for people to follow, i.e. too many hoops for participants to jump through, before they can win the prize.

A ‘like’ plus a ‘share’ is something most people are willing and able to do. :)

We Should Raise Productivity, But Are Bosses Ready?

[Giveaway worth S$82 at the end of this post: WIN one of two Limited Edition Moleskine notebooks!]

There has been so much talk about “Productivity” – how some industries are productivity laggards, how we should bring mature women back into the workforce, etc. But what exactly do bosses THINK productivity is all about? And are they ready to implement changes which may not necessarily be comfortable?

In my previous job, my manager did not allow sales people to work from home. He wanted us to physically “check in” every single day, even though our jobs could be done at home, as only a phone is required. I detest the train commute to work (and back) as trains are always packed and I get to the office not in the best of moods. Also, there are distractions aplenty, such as colleagues stopping by my desk for a chat, or worse still, an invitation to an overly-long lunch or coffee break. Lunch or a break can last as long as 2 hours sometimes, and ironically, it’s perfectly fine. As long as your laptop’s on your desk, your bag is on your seat and people know you have come into the office today, all’s fine.

In some ways, yes, it does sound like a dream job, but I could most certainly have done more if I could work from home. I could have made more calls (in my PJs), taken shorter breaks, and had a healthier work-life balance by investing more time in reading and exercise, for instance. I wouldn’t need so many days of annual leave just to “recharge” too!

But the strange thing is, the manager needed to ‘see’ his people in the office to think they are at work. (Of course, they could be checking their facebook feeds)

Here’s a quote from the (really quite fabulous) book ‘Lean In’ by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook: “Still, the traditional practice of judging employees by face time rather than results unfortunately persists. Because of this, many employees focus on hours clocked in the office rather than on achieving their goals as efficiently as possible.”

Exactly!

And when one employee quits, they don’t hire another immediately, and just let the remaining employee(s) take over the person’s job. Same thing happens when someone goes on maternity leave, or a holiday. The other employees cover the person’s duties. They think that is productivity, I guess.

I think this whole notion about raising Productivity deserves more attention, especially since even coffeeshops are harping on Productivity!

Last weekend, I had lunch at a coffeeshop in Pasir Ris Drive 6. Pasted on the pillars were notices like this one:

productivity poster in coffeeshop

“Please support our productivity drive. It will be faster if you order and collect your drinks at our counter, thank you.”

I believe this to be a lie. Will I get my drink FASTER if I order and collect it from the drinks counter? If everyone starts ordering AT the drinks counter, a queue will form and I will spend more time waiting in the queue! This is why I sometimes forego drinks altogether – just eat my food and leave. Usually what happens is I’ll just get my food and if the drinks uncle or auntie comes by to take my order, I’ll place it with him/her and eat my food while waiting for my drink, which usually is served before the end of the meal!

I am worried that this coffeeshop’s “productivity drive” might mean the coffeeshop staff who come round to our tables to take our orders might lose their jobs. Of course, it could be that their enlightened employers give them other tasks to do, such as collecting the glasses or serving those customers who don’t wish to place their orders at the counter. But I highly doubt it.

I don’t know what they think “productivity” is. Perhaps it means “more profits” for them, but waiting in line at the drinks counter is not a productive use of my time.

And what can employers do if they DO want to raise productivity levels?

In The Straits Times on Wednesday last week, I noticed two almost-full-page ads about productivity:

Straits Times ad on productivity

Polar Puffs & Cakes has found that their pastries can be heated up 10 times quicker using a microwaveable bag. I’m not a fan of microwaved food (I got Mom to dump the family’s microwave oven some time back) but I guess this is an instance of how more food can be prepared in a shorter period of time so as to serve more customers, without necessarily reducing the number of service staff.

The Way To Go site is pretty informative too. And the case studies are pretty cool, such as this one about Han’s (F&B) Pte Ltd, which had a compliment to complaint ratio at 1:10 back in 2006, and by 2009 managed to improve this to 1:1.5! I applaud Han’s incentive programme: “Han’s also implemented an incentive programme, which distributes 15 per cent of the group’s profit as staff bonuses and provides comprehensive insurance coverage and staff benefits. In addition, cash grants received under the Jobs Credit Scheme are paid back to employees.”

The e2i site also has a Sakae Sushi case study: The lack of communication between service staff and the kitchen caused long waiting times for food. With the use of equipment like walkie-talkies and cameras to improve communications and monitor operations, waiting time has been reduced and productivity increased, with 1 staff serving 33 customers instead of the original 25.

And here’s the other ad:

Straits Times productivity ad

The EnterpriseOne site will put you in touch with business advisors so you can get all the help you need with regard to raising productivity levels.

~

In the Budget Debate speech by Minister Lim Swee Say, he notes that many industries have embraced the move towards higher productivity.

“For example, in conservancy cleaning, with ride-on sweeper, cleaners can now clean pavements, drains and grass patches easier, smarter and safer. Much faster and at the same time, save labour and earn higher wages.

ride-on sweeper

In landscaping, workers can now cut grass using a remote control grass-cutting robot. Again, faster with less labour and higher salary.

In hotel, hydraulic pumps under the bed helps the mature worker to clean the hotel room easier, smarter, safer, and faster too. Being able to clean more rooms means more pay for the workers and at the same time, it means less need for manpower for the hotels…

In food factories, installation of packaging machines has improved productivity by many times. Again, higher wages with fewer workers.

In F&B, the use of mobile ordering, installation of up-to-date kitchen equipment, nurturing of management trainees are helping some F&Bs to grow faster and more profitable too. Workers are, at the same time, paid better…

Lim Swee Say fb

An F&B outlet, Eighteen Chefs, has recently installed a machine [that] will produce eggs after eggs at 64 degrees Celsius, and it will always turn up eggs that are perfect every time. It makes the jobs of the workers easier, faster, safer, and yet at the same time, because of higher productivity, they are paid more too.”

Eighteen Chefs

I think it is great that the companies and industries mentioned in the speech have raised the wages of workers even after investing money in machinery and all. It is my hope that more (if not, all) employers will follow suit.

{ GIVEAWAY }

WIN one of two *limited edition* Moleskine notebooks worth S$41 each! :D Take your pick: The Hobbit notebook OR Star Wars notebook! To take part, provide ONE TIP for raising productivity in your workplace.

Moleskine Notebook giveaway

One great tip I like sharing with friends is to come up with a list of 5 things you MUST accomplish in each particular day, and don’t head home till you complete all 5. This To-Do List will help you get through your day with laser-sharp focus. One of the items on my list could be “Call 40 customers” when I was in my sales job previously. :D This is why the prizes for this giveaway are moleskine notebooks – for you to craft your to-do lists every single day! :D

How To Win:

Step 1: ‘Like’ my Moleskine giveaway on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thegracetan

Step 2: ‘Share’ my Moleskine giveaway post on Facebook

Step 3: Comment on THIS blogpost and provide one tip for raising productivity in your workplace, e.g. “Log out of Facebook during office hours / Schedule a power nap during lunchtime”. I’ll pick my favorite 2 comments/tips! :)

Results: 22nd April, 2014.

Giveaway: New Arrivals From Japan!

Update:

Thank you all for your participation! The winners for this giveaway have been selected at random. My heartiest congratulations go to:

1) Robi: Hoover Cole Mon
2) Masks: Yap E Chin
~ Congratulations! ~

Read my blogposts about the New Arrivals From Japan fair happening at Isetan Scotts and my meeting Mr Tomotaka Takahashi, Founder and CEO of Robo Garage and you’ll know I’ve been given some pretty cool gifts this week.

I want to share them with you! :)

Here’s what is up for grabs:

New Arrivals From Japan

Original PREMIUM Robi Sticker set and Limited Edition collectible, AND the Milk Essence Masks from Jozen Mizuno Gotoshi – the masks contain sake, rice bran and collagen to make skin resilient and supple!

How to win:

1) ‘Like’ My Facebook Page

2) ‘Share’ my giveaway post

3) Comment on this blogpost and tell me which you want: Robi OR Masks

Giveaway ends 1st March, 23:59hrs. Winners will be notified via email by 3rd March.