I Survived The Ultimate Blog Challenge

Yes!  I have successfully completed the Ultimate Blog Challenge (UBS)!  Boy! How not easy, at least for me, to have 31 consecutively blog posts!  This is the first time I took up this challenge & all I could say is I am glad that I have made it!

It wasn't easy for me, being new to blogging publicly.  I was very concerned that I might run out of ideas what to write.

So when I decided to take up this challenge, I gave myself 2 months to prepare.

I spent the 1st month conceptualising the daily content, listing out what I could blog on as much as possible.

Then I started some writing in the 2nd month.  Towards end of December last year, I have about 15 blog posts in my draft folder.

Slowly, as the day went by, I added more as more things/events happened.  It was only towards the last 5 days of January that I started to feel a little stretched as other responsibilities started to take priority.  So I told myself to finish up all the balance posts quickly & saved all in the draft folder.  Glad that by 26 January, I got all the balance posts ready & I could move on to other things.

Will I participate in the next UBS or in the future?  I am not sure yet.  I need a rest 1st!  :)


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新年祝词

祝大家:
一帆风顺, 
二龙腾飞, 
三羊开泰, 
四季平安, 
五福临门, 
六六大顺, 
七星高照, 
八方来财, 
九九同心, 
十全十美, 
新年快乐, 
万事如意, 
马到功成, 
恭喜恭喜!

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Homeschooling A High Ability Child

This is a monthly post on 'Homeschooling'. Every 5th week of the month I will interview parents who are homeschooling their children of age 7 up.


Today I have the privilege to interview Mr Eric Kong, a Boutique Fund Manager & Executive Director in Aggregate Asset Management, on why he & his wife homeschool their elder daughter. 


Here are some questions I have asked:

(1) I understand that your elder is currently being homeschooled.  May I know when did it start & how did you & your wife conclude that this is probably better for her?

My elder daughter Yann is an avid reader since K1. She started early because I read to her almost every night so she took on the reading habit.

When she entered Primary 1, she was quite unhappy. She complained that she hardly has time to read.  She thought that school was inefficient & has wasted too much of her productive time.

I bought some books on homeschooling from Amazon & read about it. I also spoke to a homeschooling family & try to look for Singapore homeschoolers. I find that this series of books by John Holt is particularly helpful. He is the person who coined the term "Unschooling".

After some research, reading, hemming & hawing, she finally left school at Primary 4. We took 3 years to make up our mind, as it was pretty scary to go it alone then. But, one can always rejoin mainstream school if things don't work out, right? So why not give it a shot?

(2) How old is she now & what level is she doing?

She is turning 16 this year. She completed the IGCSE O Levels at 14, taking 3 Sciences, 2 Maths & English. She is expected to take her A Levels this year.

(3) How is her typical day like?

There is no typical day.  Perhaps it can be broken down to work days & non-work days.  She will study on her own on work-days.  During non-work days, anything goes.  We can be touring on our bicycles in Sri Lanka or Sumatra.  We could be kayaking in Ubin or off Sentosa.  

During normal work weeks, she also does Taekwando, gymnastics & tennis.  She has also experienced teaching in child care centres, giving tuition & political grass root work.  So, anything goes.

(4) You also have a younger daughter who is in mainstream school, would you be considering homeschooling her as well?

She is in Primary 3 this year & she still enjoys going to mainstream school.  I always encourage them to exercise their choice.  She chooses to go to school now.

(5) What is your advice to parents who are considering homeschooling their children?

The 1st thing to do is to read about homeschooling. There are many books out there. But 1 good book to start is "How Children Fail" by John Holt. The other is "Teach Your Own" also by John Holt.



Admittedly, it is very hard for families in Singapore to take the homeschooling route. It is venturing into the unknown.  In Singapore, there are not many non-Christian homeschoolers, thus the network is not huge.

After many years of homeschooling, I realised that the websites or network of homeschoolers are not very "active" because homeschoolers are very busy enjoying their lives & are totally immersed in their activities & families to even update their blogs or websites.


1 usual admonishment from the regular folks out there is : "What about their social development?".  I usually ask them: " Is school a natural social environment? Your children are surrounded with others of the same age group & with the teachers as "policemen" keeping law & order. It is dictatorial & military-like & does not mirror real life at all.  Real life success is collaborative, not competitive like in schools.  So parents got to really ask themselves whether their kids will grow up better in an environment where they are being told what to do 24/7 or to give their kids a chance to be accountable to themselves & to have the freedom to explore & to grow.

Eric's wife (Kate), his younger daughter (Jann) & his elder daughter (Yann)

Eric & his wife took the leap of faith to allow their elder to be homeschooled & it has proven to be the right path for this young lady.  Do you have the same conviction & would take the leap of faith too?


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[Giveaway] Value Investing in REITs

Can anyone own multiple real estate for a small amount & collect regular income like a landlord every month?

Do you dream of investing in prime property & collecting thousands in rental income from your tenants every single month? I'm sure you do! The only problem is most of us (me, i.e.) regular folk don't have extra cash sitting around to simply invest in property at all.

But what if there was a way for you to own prime pieces of property without expensive downpayments, heavy mortgage loans & costly stamp fees? & what if you could own property & collect recurring passive income without having to search for tenants, chase them for rent & handle their complaints?

With REITs or Real Estate Investment Trust, you can!




Inside this book you will discover…

  • What REITs are and how to invest in them proftably
  • The advantages of investing in REITs versus owning high-priced property
  • How REITs can generate high, consistent dividends for you immediately
  • 23 real-life case studies that prove the income-producing power of REITs
  • Costly mistakes you must avoid that amateur REITs investors make all the time
  • How to analyse REITs in 6 simple steps and unearth exceptional ones that will mint you a tidy fortune safely and securely



Value Investing in REITs is written by Attlee Hue, who is an Executive Director of Asia Equity Partners Pte Ltd.  He is also a full time investor.

Attlee has been working in private equity for more than 5 years & was prior to that, a practising lawyer for more than 15 years in the area of corporate & law. In his private equity company which he founded together with 3 friends, Attlee was responsible for successfully completing several property transactions worth more than USD 600 Million !

Because of his expertise & experience, Attlee & his partners also established several funds with investors from the Middle East & Indonesia which has asset under management of more than USD 350 Million.

He now sits on the board of directors of 2 listed companies in Singapore as an independent director and audit committee chairman.  He is a qualified solicitor in England & Wales.  He is also a qualified advocate & solicitor in Singapore & Malaya.


Especially for all my readers!
A copy of Value Investing in REITs (retailing at S$32 in all major bookstores) autographed by Attlee Hue, sending to you via SingPost registered mail (to ensure you receive it).

Simply follow these 2 simple (& compulsory) steps to win!

1. Like Mylilbookworm’s Facebook page (thank you if you already are a fan!)
2. Like and Share this blog post (found in Mylilbookworm Facebook fanpage) on your Facebook wall.

Draw will be carried out by Random Name Picker mobile application & will be posted on mylilbookworm Facebook fanpage on 6 Feb 2014.  So do participate before 6 Feb 2014 (人日 so it is 'birthday present' for someone) to qualify.  Overseas readers can participate if you are willing to bear the surface mail postage cost.


PS.  I am not implying that it is the right time to buy REITs.  This book is for gaining knowledge.  When one has the knowledge, one would be able to know what to do when opportunities arise in the future.


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Share Builder Plan for the Little

This man is oh-so-familiar?

Warren Buffet

His investment strategy has been well published, read & known.  Almost everyone yearns to be like him (I think), yet not everyone is discipline enough to work towards it.   

I do not have deep pocket like Buffet does so  I follow this guy more closely instead.  :)


胡立阳
I admit that I don't model my investment strategies 100% after Warren Buffet.  I have a mixed one.  During the Lehman crisis in 2008, I took the opportunity to short the market (sell without scripts).  I turned long (buy) in 2009 & sold my holdings in 2010 when STI hit 3100.  Thereafter I only do swing trades, until now.  

But I understand the beauty of dollar-cost-averaging investment method (by investing a fixed amount of funds consistently every month over a period of time, dollar cost averaging benefits you regardless of price fluctuation. You purchase more units when the price is lower and fewer units when the price is higher).  As you can see from the Straits Times Index near 20-year monthly chart below,  although there are ups & downs, the mega trend of the Index is upward.  



So, after having discussed with the father about this, we decided to open a Share Builder Plan (SBP) for AJ.

As AJ is still a minor, he has to open a joint-account with me (or any related adult).  It is called a SBP joint-minor account.  We dedicate a sum of money monthly to purchase the stock(s) or the Index for him.  We believe SBP will reap better returns than regular savings plan offered in any banks.



There are many people out there wishing to be financially free but do not know how.  This is 1 way we, as parents, do our part to educate the little one.  He has already read The Timeless Gift & has some vague ideas what is investing.  Still, he is a young boy who is not mature enough to understand most of the things.  We will coach him along the way for sure.


Have you started teaching your child on financial literacy?




PS: I happened to chance upon this series of Young Investors by Money Mind (Channel NewsAsia) & I thought it is worth watching.  You may like to click on the link to watch.


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Snow Pear White Fungus Dessert

I  bought extra snow pears & was wondering what to do with them.  Then it came to my mind to make dessert with them.  So yesterday I made this dessert:



It turned out to be nice.  I just used 1 snow pear (peeled & cut to chunks), some white fungus (soaked overnight), some dried longans & a little organic raw sugar (a little as dried longans & snow pear are already sweet on their own).

After boiling them in 600ml of water for half an hour, I transfer the dessert to the thermal pot & the family consumed it 7 hours later.

The father gave thumbs up, AJ enjoyed it too.  Yay!  Success!




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[Media Invite] Rebirth of Rediffusion

Do you remember this?  
If you were born after 1990s, you probably wont recongnise this.

  

Rediffusion, a pioneered cable radio in Singapore, has touted itself as Singapore's only subscription radio service & the "1st in the world to broadcast on DAB+ (Digital Audio Broadcasting Plus). 

Founded in 1949, Rediffusion Singapore was a subsidiary of Broadcast Relay Services (Overseas) Ltd, based in the United Kingdom, until the late 1980s, when the British-owned Rediffusion conglomerate was broken up. In the 1960s and 1970s, the station's dialect programmes enjoyed a strong following, & many households were fitted with the Rediffusion set.  My mum's house did not have this.  But I remember my neighbour's house had. 

When the Speak Mandarin Campaign was launched, Rediffusion was required to stop all dialect programmes by 1982.  Facing the ban & increased competition from free-to-air radio, subscription plunged. By the 2000s, Rediffusion had become a shadow of its glorious past. 


In April 2012, Rediffusion went under receivership & went off air on 30 April. It’s branding & some of the assets were then brought over by Eduplus Holdings in June 2012.  You may read about the news here.  

The rebirth of Rediffusion was on 8 January 2014, with fresh content & a totally new identity, yet preserving its history.  The new Rediffusion produces original content that is distributed over multiple platforms like Video On Demand (VOD), cable, mobile, wireless devices, social media, etc..   Rediffusion now also has its’ own ‘Rediffusion Originals’ that include talk shows, news, entertainment, business, fashion, lifestyle & TV specials.  Rediffusion’s goal is to provide relevant, diverse, exciting & uplifting programming geared towards the international market.

I was honoured to be invited to visit the Rediffusion office during the soft launch in Novemember last year.  Here are some snapshots:

The Reception

The Global Reach

News broadcasting area

On air interview area

Acting studio

Library where they keep all the valuable old records

The bike Eeva On Air uses

With 2 of the staff
Do visit Rediffusion's website & like their facebook fanpage to get more details & updates.  You may also download Rediffusion app in your iphone or android phone.





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Tips To Avoid Chinese New Year New Dollar Notes Rush

Chinese New Year is just round the corner, less than a week!  Have you gone to the bank to change for new dollar notes?  It has been a tradition to pack sparkling new dollar notes into red packets (红包) before we, Chinese, distribute them to the young ones.


Source

Instead of queuing up in the bank to withdraw new dollar notes, you can actually do this to save you the hassle.  I have been doing this for years.  :)


Source

(1) I will keep all the S$2 notes from AJ's red packets.  We will count the collection together.  Say, if the total collection was S$100 worth of S$2 notes, I will keep those S$2 notes & exchange them for 2 pieces of S$50 notes.  In other word, we will not bank in S$2 notes at all.  Those bank in into his bank account will be S$10, S$50 & S$100 (if there is).

(2) These S$2 notes that are being exchanged (which are usually sparkling new notes), I will use them to pack for Chinese New Year red packets the following year.

(3) The rest of the denominations, like S$10 & S$50 notes, I will withdraw them via Automatic Teller Machine (ATM).  The machines dispense new sparkling notes anyway.

Thus, I saved my trip to the bank & use my precious time for something else.

You have queued in the bank & changed for new dollar notes already?  Never mind, follow my tips next year onwards & you won't have to queue any more!


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[Review] Soup House

My family loves soup.  I always thought that soup can be very nutritious if we cook it the right way with the right ingredients.  A few mom bloggers were invited by Soup House to taste their nutritious MSG-free soup.  Wow! Ain't we glad?


The Soup House is located in Blk 82 Whampoa Drive at a coffeeshop named Tiong Shian Eating House. 

The current stall owner Andy Yuen, a former TV director with MediaCorp, took over the stall from the previous owner just last year to pursue his passion - food.  He is a Hong Kong native who has lived in Singapore for more than 20 years.  He is a firm believer in pure, natural tastes, thus you will not find Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) or even salt in his soups.


Nutritious soup at affordable price

When we got to the stall, we were met with awards & newspaper coverage presented on the wall.


All the soups are double boil, which means the soup pot is placed over another pot of boiling water & let everything cook slowly at a lower temperature.  The soup is cooked using the heat from the boiling water and not directly from the original heat source.  It is believed that this will let the soup ingredients slowly release their nutrients into the soup & the nutrients with its flavour are "locked" in the soup.


Menu for Saturday's patrons

Here we have Irene (another mom blogger) interviewing Andy Yuen

The 1st soup that was served to us was Mingmuyu Soup (明目鱼汤).   It is known to be good for eyesight, liver, kidney & complexion.  Some of the ingredients include Mingmuyu (a kind of shellfish), old cucumber, carrots, sweet & bitter almonds & red dates.  This soup was mild & light.  Very refreshing, no fishy taste at all.

Mingmuyu Soup (明目鱼汤)

The 2nd one was Winter Melon with Pork Ribs Soup.  After I tasted this, I know the one I cooked at home was a far fetch.  This one was so full of flavour!  We noticed barley was added in.  Another mom blogger, Diana, said this helped to make the soup milky. Oh! I learned something!

Old Cucumber with Pork Ribs Soup

The 3rd & 4th soup dishes were served to us together since they were all Chicken Soup.  The one you saw just below was Herbal Chicken Soup.  Normally, people drink this type of soup for nourishment because it uses lots of Chinese herbs.  I love this a lot, the herbal taste wasn't overwhelming.  Most of the time, those sold in other places have soup that were cloudy, this one, however, was clear.

Herbal Chicken Soup
The next was Herbal Black Chicken Soup.  Not many places in Singapore sell this soup, & even if you can find a stall or restaurant selling it, it is going to cost you a leg or an arm.  Usually, the Herbal Black Chicken Soup I have tasted has a sour after taste but this one did not.  Andy said it was because of the Chinese wine he added just before serving.  We gave this soup thumbs up! 

Herbal Black Chicken Soup
The 5th one we tried was Shark's Fin Melon with Pork Ribs Soup.  Don't worry, no shark's fin there.  Fin melon is a type of melon that looks like Shark's Fin when shredded (see picture below).  Diana was super impressed with the culinary skills of Andy that he could cut the melon like this.  Usually the Shark's Fin Melon would not be presented this way in the soup, it would just be shredded up, but this one was specially cut this way.

Shark's Fin Melon with Pork Rib Soups


Shredded Shark's Fin Melon

Our last soup was Papaya & white Fungus Soup.  The papaya Andy used was Hawaiian Papaya which is generally sweeter.  This soup was very refreshing, taste much like a dessert than soup.  I love this the most!

Papaya & White Fungus Soup

When you dine there, you must order their Yam Rice to go with the Soup.  Yes, it is a must!  I have not tasted such nice Yam Rice before, not even my mum's cuisine.  The Yam Rice was generously filled with yam & the rice did not stick together.  The water content to cook the rice was just nice so you can see & taste each fragrant rice grain.  Andy told us he cooked this with olive oil.  I suspected he also used premium rice. 

Irresistible Yam Rice

The soups from Soup House were so healthy that Estella, another mom blogger, did not hesitate to let her toddler drink them too. 


Andy & I

Seriously, at these kind of prices, one can hardly find quality soup with quality ingredients.  I am so glad that I have discovered Soup House.  Now I know where I can get quality soup if I were to eat out.

Oh, one thing to note is you can call them to place your order before going down to consume or takeaway.  This way, you 'secure' the type of soup you like because it may be one of their hotsellers!  Most of the time, customers who went late without pre-order would have to ask 'What type of soups are left?", i.e.  they can only buy those which were not sold out yet.  Surely, you won't want that to happen to you. 


The Soup House
Blk 82 ,Whampoa Drive ,Tiong Shian Eating House
Singapore 320082
Tel: 8511 2511
Operating Hours: 11am to 4pm (Tues to Sat)




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I was invited, together with 3 other mom bloggers, for food tasting.  All opinion are my own.


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