Book Review: No Fears, No Excuses – What You Need To Do To Have A Great Career

I got to read the book before watching the video of Larry Smith’s TEDx speech, and oh my, I would most certainly have rushed out to buy the book if I’d actually seen the video first.:) On the TEDx stage, Larry gave a most entertaining speech. I love how dramatic his presentation was (reminded me a little of some Harry Potter movies because of the way he speaks) and how funny this guy is. The title of his speech (which has gotten over 2.9 million views on YouTube) is ‘Why You Will Fail To Have A Great Career’, one which will make many people sit up straight in their seats. Thankfully, he picked a more customer-friendly title for his book. It’s called ‘No Fears, No Excuses – What You Need to Do to Have a Great Career’.😀

No Fears, No Excuses by Larry Smith

Here are some tips from the book to help you find a GREAT career – not a good one, but a great one! *wink*

“A career is great when it offers satisfying work, impact on the world, a dependable and adequate income, and personal freedom.” – Larry Smith

  1. Don’t become a commodity, or else it all boils down to PRICE. Don’t be a commodity employee.
  2. Know the difference between ‘getting work done’ and ‘producing exceptional results’.
  3. SAMPLE everything in order to find your passion. But remember that you are not trying to sell yourself something.
  4. Always be a student.
  5. Be a good communicator.
  6. Have an edge, i.e. what makes you better than the others. Even interns need to find ways to shine.
  7. Stand out. Do what no one else is doing.
  8. Don’t imitate. Innovate!
  9. Great family and a great career are not mutually exclusive endeavors.
  10. Remember, a great career means at the end of it and at the end of your life, you leave your mark behind. You leave your work behind to speak for you.
  11. Don’t enter a crowded field unless you’re prepared – really prepared – to minimize the competitive pressure in that field… it’s everyone’s strategy to try, and to work hard. The truth is, you need to do better than that.

I really like this book as it is full of real-life examples. You’ll read about students who offer up excuses as to why they couldn’t possibly make a career out of their passion, how they enter jobs that parents point them to or which money lures them towards instead of following their heart or talent, and what happens to employees who do not keep up with the rate of technological change, etc.

It’s one book that undergraduates should be reading more often than their textbooks. It’s one book that fresh graduates had better read before stepping into the workforce. And it’s one book that those who feel lost (mid-life crisis, anyone?) should definitely pick up and find some answers within.

Definitely get a copy of this book if you’re ever in need of some great career advice.:)

 

Book Review: Raising The Perfectly Imperfect Child by Boris Vujicic

Raising The Perfectly Imperfect Child by Boris Vujicic

I’ve read so many of motivational speaker Nick Vujicic’s books that this book written by his father comes at the right time, to answer some of the burning questions on any reader’s mind. What was Nick really like as a child? How did his parents actually react when they saw him without any limbs after he was born? How did they cope? How did the couple keep the family together, and why did they decide to have two more kids after Nick was born? This book ‘Raising The Perfectly Imperfect Child’ has all the answers and more.:)

I also found that the way this book is presented seems familiar. And I realized why when I finally got to the ‘Acknowledgements’ page at the end, in which Boris states that “Nick loaned me his writing partner, Wes Smith”. So if you’ve enjoyed reading Nick’s books, you’ll love this one too as it’s written in the same style.

More than just being an easy-to-read book, it has pearls of wisdom for couples, whether or not they have disabled children. And it deals with a couple of hard truths. For one, Nick’s parents had considered putting him up for adoption. And I can understand why too. Most parents are anxious to know if the baby is healthy when it’s born. Which parent will be able to accept the fact that the newborn doesn’t have arms nor legs?! Social workers at the hospital would have made it clear to the new parents that putting little Nick up for adoption was an option available to them. And yes, this must have been too painful even for Nick to share, I guess. Thankfully, his grandfather is the sort of person who has no doubts that the child would be welcomed into the family and brought up as one of them.

Also, Nick’s parents quickly came round to the idea that whether disabled or not, Nick was their flesh-and-blood and they would bring him up as best they could, and help him reach his fullest potential.

Nick writes in the foreword to the book that “anyone who grows up without loving and supportive parents has far more to overcome than I did”. And that is so true, isn’t it?

There were certain parts of the book which I found especially moving. I’ll share some of them with you here:

~ A Crisis Of Faith ~

“My wife and I were life-long Christians, yet we had each experienced a crisis of faith when Nick was born.” – Boris Vujicic

If you’re not the religious sort, good for you. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself asking (at some point) why a good God would allow good people to suffer all sorts of trials and tribulations, while bad people seem to prosper and have a good time. It’s a question I’ve asked too many times in the past.

But Christians are able to rely on His strength to get them through the toughest of times. Read this book to find out how Nick’s parents managed to overcome their initial fears and worries, especially since Nick’s mom had a bout of postpartum depression after Nick was born.

~ Reject Labels Placed On Your Children ~

“I encourage all parents to reject labels and to look instead into the hearts of their children.” – Boris Vujicic

I love the blog called That Dad Blog, which celebrates the child who has been, in the blogger’s own words, “blessed with Down Syndrome”. Reading his blogposts will make you want to laugh and cry. It’s so funny and so moving all at the same time. I really like blogs like this one which celebrate life, family time, creativity and relationships.

In the book, Boris also notes that “Penn State researchers found that the rate of suicidal thoughts and attempts among autistic children is twenty-eight times greater than for typical children.”

If your child has autism, you’d really have to pay special attention to him/her. Though he doesn’t have autism, Nick himself has also had dark periods in which he contemplated suicide, and had actually attempted it too.

~ What A Relationship Should Be All About ~

“A relationship should not be based on mere physical attraction or the desire for marital status. Both spouses have to share basic beliefs and values, and they need to have an enduring commitment to sustain them through the inevitable and often unexpected challenges that life brings.” – Boris Vujicic

Amen.

~

I think this book is a gem. Fans of Nick Vujicic will certainly enjoy reading Boris’ account of what happened at Nick’s birth, and how that sometimes-bossy child became the God-fearing, world-conquering motivational speaker that he is now. Parents with disabled children will probably find in this book some comfort, and lots of hope.

SOPHiSCA @ Marina Square: Get Creative With Candy!

Sophisca Candy Store at Marina Square

All of us in Singapore are just too fortunate – so many of the best brands from other countries have set up shop here. SOPHiSCA is one of them. I’m familiar with the brand as I love to visit Taiwan, and I’ve bought candy from their store near Ximending over the years. There are quirky ones like over-sized lollipops and tongue-in-cheek ones like chocolates designed to look like condoms! You might have spotted their stores at Ion and Changi Airport previously. There’s now a store in Marina Square, next to the Pororo Park!:)

I know many people had fun pranking their friends and family with the brand’s specialty candy during April Fools’ Day. As for me, I’m intrigued by the creativity of the candy makers (I would SO LOVE to interview them!) and excited at the opportunity of experimenting with these products, not just eating them.😀

In this blogpost, I’ll share with you my take on 3 of the newest products from SOPHiSCA.

This first one is the Brown Rice “Sushi Bento” (S$11.90). I’ve placed the box next to some REAL sushi.😀 The box actually contains chocolate brown rice crispy treats with sushi print on the individual plastic packaging. Parents with inquisitive (and possibly, demanding) children should get a box of these treats. So when you eat real sushi, your kiddo can also eat “sushi” that is actually a brown rice snack.:)

Sophisca Sushi Bento

Sushi made from raw fish could be unsuitable for young children whose digestive systems might not be ready for them, especially raw shellfish which can easily get contaminated. So, while you indulge, let your children enjoy some healthy ‘sushi’ treats from SOPHiSCA.😀

Here’s my neighbor and her adorable son enjoying ‘sushi’. You’ll see more of them in this blogpost:)

Sophisca Brown Rice Sushi Bento

Sophisca Brown Rice Sushi Bento and real sushi

Rating for this product: 3.5 / 5. I think the packaging is gorgeous (there’s an alluring picture of sushi on the cover), it’s relatively healthy as it’s made with brown rice, and each crispy treat is encased in plastic wrapping – very hygienic indeed. I’d give it extra points if there are different flavors, e.g. seaweed, unagi, etc.

~

This next product is my favorite because the possibilities are endless with this one: Choco Coloring Pens (S$17.90). It comes in a set of 6 flavored chocolate pens which you can use to decorate “chocolates, cakes, breads, toasts, biscuits”, etc. I used them for macarons…

Sophisca Choco Color Pens

Sophisca Choco Color Pens Macarons

You can transform plain and boring macarons into ones that look like your favorite cartoon characters, while enjoying a mother-and-child bonding session:

Sophisca Choco Colouring Pens Macaron Art

The choco pens contain chocolate in various flavors: white, lemon, honeydew, strawberry, blueberry and milk chocolate. They are all pretty tasty, so there’ll be a lot of finger licking as you work. Hehe!

After I decorated those macarons, I also did some ‘plating’ for a slice of Mother’s Day cake. I used the SOPHiSCA choco pens to fill up some chocolate moulds to make chocolate ‘macarons’, hearts and buttons. I did the lettering by hand… I need more practice, but I guess it’s legible. Ha!😀

Sophisca Mother's Day Chocolate Art

Rating for this product: 4.5/ 5. It’s really easy to use – just stick the pens into a mug of warm / hot water till the chocolate flows, and you can start decorating your pastries. Tip: The chocolate runs out pretty fast so buy 2 boxes or more if you want to decorate a whole birthday cake, for instance.

~

The final product I’ll share about in this blogpost is the Crayon Candy Sticks (S$9.90). They come in 12 flavors (honey peach, tropical fruit, mandarin orange, pomelo, lemon, green apple, mint, blueberry, grape, strawberry, chocolate and yoghurt). And no, these are not for actual drawing or coloring!😀

Sophisca Crayon Candy Sticks

If you’ve noticed in the picture above, SOPHiSCA has included a color chart which states the flavor associated with each of the Crayon Candy Sticks. I love that the flavors are stated in Chinese, so mothers can teach their children how to say ‘blueberry’, ‘mint’, ‘pomelo’ etc in Mandarin! You can then lay the ‘crayons’ out on a table and ask the little one to pick out ‘薄荷’ (mint) or any other flavor. Make it a game and make it fun! If the kiddo gets it right, he can get a lick or bite of the candy stick in that flavor.:)

Tasting Crayon Candy Sticks

Another game mothers can play with their children is to teach them numbers or colors. For instance, “pick up THREE sticks” or “give me the BLUE one and the PINK one”. If the kid gets them right, then he deserves a reward. I’m eating one of these crayon sticks as I’m typing out this post, and I can assure parents that it’s not too sweet. In fact, it’s made with “minimal artificial coloring and essence”. Try it yourself first and then get some as teaching tools for your children. I think it’s perfectly fine as an occasional sweet treat with opportunities to learn words in Mandarin, numbers and colors, etc.:)

Sophisca Crayon Candy Sticks

Rating for this product: 4 / 5. These crayon candy sticks are really tasty. Far from being just ordinary candy, they can actually be educational tools. After all, there’s nothing quite like positive reinforcement. It’ll help your child enjoy learning more. Of course, don’t forget to brush their teeth afterward.:)

~

Sophisca Marina Square

These three products are just the tip of the iceberg. Head to SOPHiSCA at Marina Square (#02-32) to check out more of the creative goodies in store. Even as an adult, you’ll feel like a kid in a candy store, because the products are so interesting. You’ll see the world of candy with new eyes. (*Tip: Use my discount code ‘GRACE’ and get 10% off your total purchase. No minimum spending required!)

 ~

Photo Credit: Lots of thanks to Max Clyne At Work for the awesome mother-and-child pictures and product shots in this blogpost!😀 Photos that I took myself are clearly indicated. They were taken using ASUS’ new phone – the ASUS Zenfone Zoom (which is, coincidentally) from Taiwan too!) ALL pictures in this blogpost are copyrighted and are not be used without prior permission from Max / myself.

Disclaimer: Only the Brown Rice Sushi Bento featured above was sponsored (a door gift at their launch event). I purchased the rest of the items myself.:) #NotAnAdvertorial

Kid-Friendly: Ju Shin Jung (Guillemard Rd) and Tvoila Cafe (Somerset)

Ju Shin Jung Korean side dishes

I had a pretty fun day out yesterday with my neighbors and their little toddler. We had lunch and dinner at kid-friendly F&B establishments, namely, Ju Shin Jung at Guillemard Road and Tvoila Cafe in Somerset. It’s quite an experience heading out with friends who bring a little one along with them, especially one that’s approaching the ‘terrible twos’ phase in his development. Uh-oh! You’ll eventually be able to find that indescribable ‘calm zone’ while the kiddo is screaming at the top of his lungs in an MRT train cabin. Sometimes I see parents totally oblivious to their wailing offspring, and wonder if they are slightly deaf, and now I realize I can access that special ‘zone’ too (!) in which I can calmly ponder the odds of locating and downloading an application that can measure the volume of the kid’s screams. Haha!

Anyhow… as you can see in the picture above, we had quite a spread, in terms of side dishes at Ju Shin Jung. The Korean restaurant is a short 8-minute walk from Mountbatten MRT station (exit A). And it has an incredible ball pit:

Ju Shin Jung play area

There are about 3 tables closest to the ball pit and parents can eat their food while watching their children play. I used to LOVE ball pits as a kid and though interest has diminished somewhat, I DID head in with the kiddo yesterday. Hahaha!

As for the food, well, I’m still a bigger fan of Japanese cuisine. I’d ordered the set lunch at Ju Shin Jung and asked for the one with saba fish. It came fried almost to a crisp. Not very much meat left. Thankfully, there were those side dishes. I loved the pumpkin mash, bean sprouts, seaweed and kimchi.

Ju Shin Jung saba fish set lunch

However, the start and end of our meal at this restaurant was rather hilarious. The very first thing that the server brought to our table was this small platter with 4 round objects in it. Also, we were given two tumblers – one containing cold tea, and the other, iced water.

Ju Shin Jung Guillemard Road

These round white things look like tablets of some sort, no? But my neighbors told me to add some water and see what happens. So I did. And like in science experiments, they shot up to about the length of my thumb… and revealed themselves to be… wet towels. LOL! Don’t eat these, folks! (Though I’m sure some people will) Muahahah!

And at the end of the meal, the waitress brought over bowls of this pinkish liquid, along with some orange slices. I had no issues with the orange, but I viewed these bowls suspiciously. Handwash? Guava juice? What is this?!

Ju Shin Jung dessert vinegar

Turns out it’s actually vinegar of some sort. Which you can consume as “dessert”, or so the waitress said. Nah. I gave it a miss anyway.

Ju Shin Jung is great for families with kids, lunch with colleagues, and anyone who doesn’t mind affordable set lunches (e.g. S$10.90 / S$12.90) in a place with a decent-sized ball pit for the children to expend their (seemingly unlimited amounts of) energy.

Ju Shin Jung is located at 102 Guillemard Road.

~

Our plans to spend a leisurely afternoon at the swimming pool were dashed when the kiddo accidentally tipped his float forwards and got a taste of pool water. There was no convincing him to get back into the pool again. He was one determined toddler. And it was the end of our fun afternoon at the pool. LOL. So we headed to yet another kid-friendly venue: Tvoila Cafe at Orchard Central’s basement.

Tvoila Cafe play area

Orchard Central is really quite deserted on weekdays. We had this entire play area to ourselves. And the cafe only had one other customer – a schoolgirl (wearing her school uniform) enjoying some tea.

My neighbors ordered a waffle – which came with fruit, and not ice cream, and a chocolate topping. We were a little taken aback at the presentation. As you can see, some areas of the waffle appeared less cooked than others…

Tvoila Cafe waffle when served

I drizzled the chocolate sauce on top of the waffle and it looks less sad. LOL.

Tvoila Cafe waffle my decoration

If you’re ordering the waffle, go ahead and pay for ice cream along with it (I think it’ll cost an additional S$3.50 or so). If not, you might not really enjoy the waffle + fruit combination. The kiwi was super sour, but I have no complaints regarding the avocado.:)

I ordered the pizza – chose toppings of tuna and capsicum – which came with lots of cheese. THIS is worth ordering.😀

Tvoila Cafe pizza

My pizza set cost S$12.80 and comes with a hot / iced tea (served in a free mug).

The drinks at the cafe come in mugs which you can take home. Cold drinks will be served in the transparent PLASTIC mug (which looks like a mason jar made from glass, actually) and hot drinks in the tumbler.

Tvoila Cafe complimentary mugs

As I’d ordered a hot drink, I later wondered if it was actually safe to have hot water in this (free) plastic tumbler. Also, I asked my pals if they thought the cafe would have washed these mugs before serving our drinks in them, since they are likely brand new from the manufacturer they ordered them from. My pal’s wise reply: Don’t think so much; just drink.

If it’s any consolation, the organic teas served here are brewed using mineral water.:)

Tvoila Cafe is located at B1-15 to 19 of Orchard Central. Tel: 69666606. 

Book Review: Kevin Tsai’s Way Of Speaking (蔡康永的说话之道) Part 1.3

Kevin Tsai book

This is the final post regarding my review of Kevin Tsai’s book ‘说话之道’ (Book One). (Read Part 1.0 and Part 1.2). If you have yet to read his book, I highly recommend that you get your hands on a copy soon. I love the illustrations (actually short comic strips) within, and the anecdotes that Kevin shares. Each chapter makes one good point, and each chapter is short (possibly 3 to 4 pages only). Even if you’re not a fan of reading Chinese books, just one chapter a day before you go to bed should not be too difficult.

And no, I have yet to figure out the rationale for using an umbrella as a prop for the book’s cover shoot. Would you have any idea as to why he did that? (>_<)

Anyway, here are the rest of my learning points from Book One…

  1. Be involved and interested in conversation with your elders.
  2. Self-deprecating humor helps break down barriers. Don’t attack someone just to butter someone (else) up.
  3. Choose topics that everyone can participate in.
  4. Exit quietly.
  5. Don’t say “I understand” when you don’t / can’t.
  6. Go for win-win situations when asking for help.
  7. Be ready to apologize when you are in the wrong.
  8. Read between the lines.
  9. Return praise.
  10. Personalize messages.
  11. Look for clues regarding the person’s character.
  12. Learn to care for others.
  13. Make sure they can feel your ‘care’ for them.
  14. Avoid jargon. Have your own speaking style.
  15. Communication: more than words.

And I’m moving on to Book Two.😀 There’s just so much to learn from this man that I’m glad he found the motivation to write book two. He had previously shared (on TV) that he was most reluctant to write book one. He probably thought no one would want to buy his books. (Hurhur) But the illustrator (likely a friend) had told him that the money he would receive for the artwork was money he needed to pay for his studies abroad. And so, that ‘pushed’ Kevin to quickly get the manuscript done so his friend’s plans would not have to be shelved indefinitely. All’s well that ends well, I guess.:)

Book Review: Kevin Tsai’s Way Of Speaking (蔡康永的说话之道) Part 1.2

Kevin Tsai book

Perhaps you’ve read my earlier post about Kevin Tsai’s popular book ‘说话之道’, or perhaps you haven’t but that’s fine. Reading Chinese books is not exactly a hobby of mine so good luck to the Government in wanting to promote literature in our mother tongue languages when many in this country don’t even like reading to begin with. LOL!

This book is really good though, and I think there should be an English translation, if there isn’t such a version already.

Anyway, here are more of the learning points from Book One…

  1. Remove the ‘sharp edge’ in your questions.
  2. Ask questions that will elicit a variety of responses from your audience.
  3. Avoid the (many) landmines: finances, illness(es), relationships, kids’ grades, politics, sports, hated celebs, religion, vegetarians vs meat eaters, etc.
  4. Numbers are more memorable if you link them to events. DO NOT ask about how much a person makes when you’ve only just met him/her!
  5. Pauses are important. Let your voice be a mental massage for others, not a verbal lashing.
  6. Insert a ‘hook’ in your conversation so people follow.
  7. Don’t wait too long before revealing the ‘climax’ in your story.
  8. Avoid canned jokes. Good jokes should prompt conversation after.
  9. Ask questions which prompt the speaker to continue.
  10. Be outstanding without sabotaging yourself.
  11. Don’t be in a hurry to answer. Keep quiet if you’ve heard that joke before.
  12. Be the first to state your name.
  13. Give praise that is desired.
  14. Don’t answer your own question, and don’t set traps for people to fall into.
  15. When on stage, make a good point every 15 minutes.

I’m not done with the book yet. Yes, it’s frustrating because I usually do speed-reading for books written in English. Gah! So I’ll have to update this blog again later. But don’t hold your breath. It’ll take a while.😀

5 Surprising Facts About NTUC FairPrice Stores

Kallang Wave Mall

I visited Kallang Wave Mall recently (for the very first time!) and went on a learning journey at the FairPrice Xtra outlet where I got to meet some members of the Store Assurance Team from the Food Safety and Quality department, commonly known as FSQ. The team helps ensure all FairPrice stores are in compliance with the ISO 9001 and ISO 22000 international standards for quality and food safety.

I shop at FairPrice outlets at least once a week, so I was quite surprised that I could learn new things about how FairPrice continually improves its internal processes and productivity initiatives to benefit both customers and staff! Read on…

For a start, what do you think this is?

FairPrice fly traps

I’d honestly thought it was mood lighting of sorts. And I’d usually not even notice it, or give it a second look because it just looks like a mildly pretty lamp?

#1: Fly Traps Which Look Like Mood Lighting

These are fly traps which are very ‘low profile’ (you’ll hardly even notice them) but use ultraviolet light and a pheromone trap to attract fruit flies and other flying pests. Quite a pretty fly trap, no?:) And these devices have a decent working radius – one model I found online works over a 450 square foot area. I’ve been to many supermarkets in JB and I tend to encounter flies there, but not in Singapore’s FairPrice outlets! And I guess it’s because of these hardworking fly traps!

#2: Glass Doors Everywhere! For 20% Energy Savings!

NTUC FairPrice chillers

In some (older) FairPrice outlets, you’ll see more of those “open-air” chillers, which I suppose end up requiring more electricity than these ones in the newer hypermarts (i.e. FairPrice Xtra outlets). Apparently, having these doors result in 20% (or more) energy savings. When you’re shopping there, do decide on what you want to get before opening the doors and retrieving the items ok? I know the weather is hot, but do not open the chiller doors for a blast of “air-conditioning”, ya? *wink*

#3: Surprising Signs Warning Against Absolutely Surprising Behavior

NTUC FairPrice signs

No. I cannot understand why this sign has to be put up. You mean there are people who would OPEN ice cream tubs in FairPrice outlets?! I was told that, sadly, yes, just as there are people who would probe and poke seafood, fruits, vegetables, and other perishable foods, there are people who OPEN ice cream tubs to check what’s inside. Are they afraid there’ll be one missing scoop of their favorite chocolate ice cream? Or that the ice cream is not really frozen inside? I wouldn’t know. But if you are one of these not-easily-trusting customers, please don’t do this anymore ok? It’s not hygienic.😛

#4: Temperature Monitoring For Both Hot And Cold Foods

Fish Bed Temperature Checks

The FSQ Store Assurance Team conducts regular checks to ensure that guidelines are being adhered to. Meanwhile, the individual stores also do their own checks and even have Temperature Control Charts. At regular intervals throughout the day, staff will check on the temperature of the fish beds, standalone freezers, chillers, etc. Also, products in the freezers must not exceed the load lines so as to ensure that the temperature is kept at an optimum level.

Constant checks to ensure your cool treats are stored in good condition:

FairPrice standalone freezers

#5: Freshness Is Of The Utmost Importance!

I spotted these at a checkout counter one day:

NTUC FairPrice Abandoned Foodstuff

And I was told that certain items would not be returned to where they belong (e.g. chillers / freezers) if customers change their minds and do not want to buy them. FairPrice will just write these off. I find this very reassuring because some customers may have walked around the store with this White Snapper Steak for an hour, and finally decided not to buy it. If it’s returned to the chiller at that point, do you know how much bacteria would have multiplied already? Baskets abandoned by customers can easily cause a food safety issue such as if you return the milk cartons you took after walking around the store for an hour! (@_@)

So if you don’t want the items anymore, do not return them to the chiller or freezer for the next unsuspecting customer. Perhaps hand it over to staff instead or leave it with the cashiers. And if you’ve also noticed, the live seafood displayed in tanks are usually in clean tanks without overcrowding and with no dead seafood in them too. As a customer, I truly have peace of mind shopping at FairPrice.

~ Other Not-So-Surprising But Equally Cool Stuff ~

If you don’t already know, some outlets offer complimentary ice packs so do get some for your car/bus/train ride home. If I’m shopping for groceries, I’ll go select the non-chilled, non-frozen items (e.g. fruit, vegetables, etc) FIRST before picking up the meats and seafood and heading straight to the cashier, and then home. I take some ice with me for the seafood and meats whenever it is available.

The FSQ Store Assurance Team also does checks on product expiry dates and weight checks on your fruits and vegetables, among other quality checks. Also, I was pleased to note that the less-pretty fruits are sold in a value pack at S$2 each. I bought one consisting of red apples, green apples, oranges and lemons. A very good deal indeed! There’s variety, and it’s great for juicing, really.:)

NTUC Fairprice Less Waste Packs

[ Gentle Reminder: Keep chiller and freezer doors closed please!:) ]

FairPrice chiller doors open

~ FSQ Store Assurance Team: A Cool Job Or A Tough One? ~

#1: Using technology to be more productive

Previously the team had to audit each store using the hard copy audit checklist then take time to transfer the audit results to a computer and generate reports back in their office before sending to the stores. (Just FYI, there are about 200-odd audits done in 1 year. And an audit of a hypermart can take up to 1 day).

FairPrice Xtra

Source

To improve staff productivity and help them do their jobs in a more efficient manner, the team now audits using tablets and an app which was developed in-house. The team can instantly take photographs of anything that needs to be improved upon.

With the use of technology, not only does the team save time per audit, the stores could receive the clear images taken during the audit process and rectify issues faster too.

#2: Ensuring everyone is on board for food safety

There are certain challenges the team has to handle such as with working with multiple departments to ensure standards are upheld. For instance, the team has to work with staff who do the store design and maintenance, and co-ordinate with those who work in the training department, operations, etc.

FairPrice also conceptualizes and provides food safety posters for customers to reference.

FairPrice food safety tips

Source

There’s a lot of knowledge to be gained on the job, such as how there are only LED lights near food areas ‘cos these lights will not shatter. (The older FairPrice stores still use their fluorescent lightbulbs but with plastic sleeves over them)

#3: Auditing everything from temperatures to store cleanliness

The team essentially works hand-in- hand with the individual stores to provide a safe shopping environment for customers, and provide them with quality products that meet international food safety standards.

With regard to temperature-sensitive products, for instance, the individual outlet’s staff will check the temperature when the products are received, ensure they are properly stored within the chiller or freezer in the ‘backyard’ and then replenish these items within the ‘selling area’ when stocks are low. The FSQ Store Assurance Team comes in and does their audits to ensure everything is running well.

FairPrice food safety

There are internal quality audits of the store, backyard, etc. They check on storefront cleanliness, expiry control and even send samples of some products to the labs for testing.

FairPrice outlets also receive their own performance scorecard which will incentivise stores with rewards, e.g. for the food safety champions, and provide improvement programs for those outlets which are not doing well.

#4: Focusing on staff learning and progression

There are a total of 6 teams: (1) Store, (2) Food (3) Non-food and BET (Bazaar, Electronics, Textiles), (4) Warehouse, (5) Regulatory, (6) Fresh foods in the Food Safety and Quality department. Staff can enjoy career progression in rank and there is also rotation among teams. Best of all, there is an 80% Singaporean core. *wink*

~

Whether you’ve noticed it or not, a lot of effort has gone into ensuring food safety standards at FairPrice. I’m definitely grateful that I can shop with peace of mind, thanks to the diligence of these hardworking men and women…

NTUC FairPrice Food Safety

SAFRA Punggol: Probably The Best SAFRA Club in Singapore

SAFRA Punggol

SAFRA Punggol had its soft launch on Sunday, 24th April 2016, and I was shocked at the huge turnout. From morning till evening, it seemed like the crowd never left. There were booths giving out all sorts of freebies – there were the usual suspects of popcorn and candy floss, but there were also truffle fries, churros, etc. I didn’t queue for any of them because I was more interested in the bike rental promotions (more on that in a bit). But first, here’s why I say Punggol SAFRA might be the best SAFRA club in Singapore. I love how pretty it looks at night. My pictures don’t do it justice, so do pop by after the sun has set…

[ The eve of the launch ]

SAFRA Punggol night view

[ Launch day itself. From across the Waterway, where we were cycling… ]

SAFRA Punggol at night

The dome in the middle is super pretty. And it looks it’s ringed by diamonds when it’s all lit up…

SAFRA Punggol pretty night view

What can you do at SAFRA Punggol? There’s yoga, cycling, bowling, darts, gym, karaoke, spa, more restaurants, and of course, enrichment classes for children! I do want to check out the Kidz Amaze indoor water playground, but I’ll wait till it’s less crowded. LOL!

As part of the opening celebrations, the bike rental shop at SAFRA Punggol, which is called Bikes @ Waterway, gave away one bottle of PLENISH isotonic drink and one ice cream cone with every bike rental!😀 ON TOP OF THAT, there was a 50% off promotion. So it was bike rentals at half-price PLUS freebies! If that’s not a good deal, I don’t know what is.

Bikes @ Waterway

Here are the usual bike rental rates:

Bikes @ Waterway

The free drink and ice cream I claimed after 2-hours of cycling:

Bikes @ Waterway freebies

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SAFRA Punggol is located across the road from Sam Kee LRT station. You can also walk to SAFRA Punggol from Waterway Point (8 minutes or so, depending on your walking speed).😀

The French Table at Waterway Point: Awesome Roast Chicken!

The French Table Waterway Point

We didn’t quite know where to have lunch at today, because we’ve been to Waterway Point too many times already. He didn’t want to try the Vietnamese food, while I felt that the Japanese food in this mall ‘CMI’ so we decided to head back to The French Table, which we’ve dined at previously. The lunch set menus are updated regularly and this time round, it was a pleasant surprise which awaited us: the half-roasted chicken at just S$9.80 before tax and service charge!

Because they actually have a standee for this promotion, I’m guessing that it’s going to be ongoing for a while. These standees don’t exactly come cheap, so yes, that’s my guess. And I sure hope it goes on for a long time, because the chicken is DELICIOUS!

The French Table Half Roasted Chicken

When the roast chicken was served, the couple seated at the next table on my right looked over, and the guy in the green shirt asked the wait staff if they could change the order he’d placed, as he wanted to order this same dish that had just been served to me. Hehehe! #copycat And the chicken really tasted as good as it looked! I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t any of the yummy potato mash that The French Table used to serve with their braised pork belly. But the sauce beneath this half-roasted chicken is SEDAP, OISHII, and YUMMY all rolled up into one. And the chicken was so tender and juicy! Even the chicken breast (which I do not eat, and do not like for being dry and tough) was so tender! Amazing! Totally worth the rather long wait for the food. *Bring a book or surf the Net using your phone, because The French Table doesn’t serve fast food. They serve good food.

What was actually served to us first, before the chicken came, was the pork bolognese baked rice with cheddar and mozzarella. It’s part of their set meal, which includes soup and a drink, for just S$9.90 before tax and service charge.

Waterway Point The French Table

It’s tasty, no doubt. But we would have LOVED if there were more ingredients within. It’s just a thin layer of cheesy goodness and minced pork on top (and perhaps a few other ingredients) and LOTS of rice beneath. If you’re ordering this on its own, you might not be able to finish eating all the rice.

But once the roast chicken was served, we mixed the yummy sauce with the rice, and it was delicious. You’ll end up scraping every grain from the claypot.😀

Here’s the lunch set menu that was available today. Do note that it might be different when you visit as the chef likes to surprise customers with something new each time:

The French Table Set Meal

This meal for two ended up costing just S$23.20 all-inclusive. *I like that the server (with the big eyes and spectacles) brought over a cup of iced water without my having to ask for it, since we’d only ordered one drink. Hehe! We’ll be back again, for sure.:)

The French Table is located at #01-31 of Waterway Point. Tel: 6385 8052.

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Read more of my reviews about Waterway Point:

  1. 6 Reasons Why You Should Visit Waterway Point
  2. The FREE Indoor Playground At Waterway Point: Exact Location And Opening Hours
  3. Food Review: BurgerUP
  4. Food Review: Rong Hua Bak Kut Teh
  5. Waterway Point’s Shaw Cinema: 500 Free Tickets Per Day During Open House Period
  6. A Guide to Waterway Point’s East and West Wings
  7. Food Review: The French Table
  8. 5 Best Value-For-Money Restaurants and Eateries in Waterway Point
  9. Food Review: Miam Miam
  10. Food Review: Buddy Hoagies
  11. Food Review: The Coffee House
  12. Food Review: Zakka Modern Thai plus a second review here.
  13. FREE Pizza: Pizza Hut
  14. Food Review: London Fat Duck
  15. Food Review: Cedele
  16. Food Review: Social Square
  17. Food Review: Squeezed!

Squeezed! Cold Pressed Juices at Waterway Point

Waterway Point Squeezed

The Squeezed! outlet at Waterway Point has been open for quite a while now, but I didn’t want to do a review till I’ve tried all their drinks. There are a total of 15 combinations for their cold-pressed juices, and having tried all of them, I can now tell you which are my favorites, and which caused me to cringe.

I’m not sure if the juice cleanse fad is over; there was a period of time when many companies were advertising their various juice cleanses at truly exorbitant prices. I guess this is why I’m attracted to Squeezed!’s offerings – not exactly dirt cheap, but you won’t have to break the bank for a good cup of juice either. Plus, there’s now a Groupon promotion going on.

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Usual Pricing: S$6.20 (500ml), S$5.20 (350ml). Current Groupon promotion: 350ml juice and 1 squeezed bun = S$4.90, 4 cups of 500ml juice for S$14.80, etc.

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Here are the 15 combinations for their cold-pressed juices, with my mini reviews regarding the taste (with my favorites in bold font)…

Natural Beauty: Tastes rather sour. I didn’t quite like it.

Beet It!: ABC-juice lovers will like this one even though it’s orange in place of carrot **

Aloha: Pineapple lovers will like this very much. Very refreshing and tasty ***

Pitch Perfect: Tastes very much like starfruit juice. Very mild. Nothing exciting here.

Citrus Circus: Taste the watermelon. Like healthy, tasty fruit punch ***

Guavitate: It actually tastes bitter. I’m not a fan of this one.

Granny’s Grammy: Tastes very much of celery. Great for people with high blood pressure.

Miss Spruce: Very sour.

Veggie Tales: Metallic taste of veggies. Not the most tasty combination.

Red Riding Hood: Your typical A-B-C juice, sweet, and with a little bit of pulp ***

Break of Dawn: I love the orange + pineapple combination! ***

Velvet Blend: If you don’t like papaya juice, you won’t like this. I didn’t.

Pink Lady: Really hard to guess what fruits went into this if you didn’t already know. Love the taste of strawberries.**

Peary Good: Though it’s made up of pear and apples, it tasted like grape juice to me. How queer.

Kiwini: Kiwi lovers will like this one. An interesting mix of sweet & sour. ***

So there you have it. My 5 favorites: Aloha, Citrus Circus, Red Riding Hood, Break of Dawn and Kiwini.😀

Bought 4 of them today, sans Red Riding Hood:

Squeezed cold press juices

If the Groupon promotion is over by the time you read this blogpost, there might still be the in-store promo with all 2nd items at 50% off.:)

Waterway Point Squeezed Menu

As you can see in the image above, there are 6 flavors for the buns. Tori Tori and Royal Rumble are apparently their bestsellers. The rest come with froyo, which I don’t really like. I really don’t think buns + froyo make a good combination, though other people may enjoy it.

Tori Tori comes with teriyaki chicken, bonito flakes and mayonnaise. It’s rather tasty, and best eaten when warm:

Waterway Point Squeezed Bun

Royal Rumble comes with melted nacho cheese and truffled macaroni (cannot taste any truffle, but mac and cheese is always a winner). It also has bacon bits.

When you’re at Waterway Point and want a quick bite, you might want to check out Squeezed! It has a small seating area, but is not usually crowded. Many people prefer takeaways. *They really should consider providing plastic carriers that can hold 2 drinks each instead of just 1. Getting 4 plastic carriers for 4 drinks seems a little wasteful.😀

Squeezed! is located at #B1-K8 of Waterway Point. 

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Read more of my reviews about Waterway Point:

  1. 6 Reasons Why You Should Visit Waterway Point
  2. The FREE Indoor Playground At Waterway Point: Exact Location And Opening Hours
  3. Food Review: BurgerUP
  4. Food Review: Rong Hua Bak Kut Teh
  5. Waterway Point’s Shaw Cinema: 500 Free Tickets Per Day During Open House Period
  6. A Guide to Waterway Point’s East and West Wings
  7. Food Review: The French Table
  8. 5 Best Value-For-Money Restaurants and Eateries in Waterway Point
  9. Food Review: Miam Miam
  10. Food Review: Buddy Hoagies
  11. Food Review: The Coffee House
  12. Food Review: Zakka Modern Thai plus a second review here.
  13. FREE Pizza: Pizza Hut
  14. Food Review: London Fat Duck
  15. Food Review: Cedele
  16. Food Review: Social Square