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Mention Tiong Bahru to an older Singaporean and most would find this downtown neighborhood synonymous for its historical relevance to times dating back to the Japanese occupation during World War I and also as one of the oldest residential areas in Singapore. Mention Tiong Bahru to a younger local and what you might hear is that it's one of the coolest neighborhoods in town with hipster coffee joints and indie bookstores. What I love about Tiong Bahru is that it's a refreshing confluence of new and old. Alongside the modern stores that have popped up in this area, you'll find old shophouses with colorful doors and perhaps even an elderly auntie peeking out through the window. In the same neighborhood, the trendy yoga studio and cozy brunch spots coexist with the local market and hawker centers with seating spilling into the sidewalk. There's a laidback charm to this place you can't deny.

This past Sunday, we decided to go for brunch at Tiong Bahru. There are about 3-4 restaurants on Yong Siak Road alone, all of which are good! I particularly recommend Open Door Policy and 40 Hands. Plain Vanilla was a delicious-looking bakery I happened to walk by and made a mental note to visit next time. After brunch, I always like to browse through the bookstores on that street. There is one bookstore for grown-ups (Books Actually) and one for kids (Woods in the Books), both of which are just so cute that I could get absolutely lost in them forever! Once I'm able to pry myself away from the books, then I usually have to repeat the same for my son. Oh, he's a book lover alright!

If you enjoy exploring, there are even murals painted by local artists Yip Yew Chong depicting idyllic times from the artists' childhood days in the Tiong Bahru estate. These murals are utterly charming in their depiction of how things used to be in the olden days - street vendors selling laksa,  or someone's old-fashioned living room with rattan chairs and an old television box set. There are also animal murals by another artist Earnest Goh, which my son loved seeing and posing in front of (see below!). All in all, a lazy Sunday brunch and stroll through Tiong Bahru is highly recommended!
Tassle off-shoulder top: Morning Lavender | Jeans: Gap | Sandals: Express | Purse: Coach | Sunglasses: Cole Haan | Neclace: Stained glass locket from Venice (purchased years ago) 
Mural by Yip Yew Chong
Mural by Earnest Goh
Singapore seems to have no shortage of candy-colored buildings. I had blogged about the rainbow-like building of the Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth previously. Today, I visited the Rochor Center, a set of government housing blocks each painted a different primary color. These buildings are a landmark of the Bugis neighborhood and hard to miss whenever you drive past them. Unlike the glitzy new buildings that seem to have taken over downtown Singapore, the colored buildings of Rochor Center are iconic of 1970s Singapore. Longtime residents of different ethnicities have lived here harmoniously for generations. Walk around the shophouses on the ground floor and the old uncles at work, and you can feel the character of the place and the stories behind it. 

Unfortunately, nothing last forever and later this year, the Rochor Center will be torn down to make way for new developments and an expressway. Before that happens, I made a visit to this place and soaked up the view of the city from its rooftop. While there are still some residents there, most seem to have moved out along with many of the stores. It's sad indeed as this iconic landmark will be missed once it's been removed from the ever-changing cityscape.

Top: ESP (Bangkok) | Pants: Zara | Purse: Rebecca Minkoff Round Sofia Crossbody Bag
Shoes: Mumbai street shopping | Sunglasses: RayBans (Nordstrom Rack) | Bracelet: Nakamol
I've always loved the look of "dhoti pants". There's something so effortlessly stylish and chic about them. What's more, they're incredibly versatile. You can pair dhoti pants in a number of ways, be it with a traditional Indian kurti top or something more Western. For those not familiar with dhoti pants, they are an Indo-Western look derived from the traditional Indian attire typically worn by men. They are a type of pants with a relaxed, loose fit with folds. They're very popular in India but I think they can be worn adapted into anyone's wardrobe quite easily. 

I got these dhoti pants from Global Desi (they have a great collection of modern Indian wear) on my trip to Mumbai last year. Since then, I've worn them so many times. Incredibly breathable and lightweight for the hot, sticky weather in Singapore. On days when you don't feel like wearing shorts and want to look more put together, dhoti pants are perfect! Here I went for a casual "modern-desi-meets-hippie look" (is there even such a thing?) by pairing my dhoti pants with my Forever 21 top and adding colorful and chunky accessories. I'm also in love with my clutch with its embroidered ethnic design, a gift from a friend in India.

For those of you who feel stumped on how to incorporate dhoti pants into your closet or how to style them in a more modern, Western way, check out this link: http://www.outfittrends.com/dhoti-pant-outfits-20-chic-ways-to-wear-dhoti-pants/. It has some great looks taken from Bollywood celebs! 

On a side note, I took my pictures in front of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth. I always pass by it in Singapore, and it's so eye-catching with its multicolored windows and doors. It's just such a happy building! See the last photo below for a full view of what it looks like.

Top: Forever 21 | Dhoti pants: Global Desi (Mumbai) | Sandals: Mumbai street shopping | Sunglasses: Ray Bans (Nordstrom Rack) | Ring: Reliance Trends (Mumbai) | 
Necklace: Lovisa (Singapore) | Clutch: gift from friend in Goa
On a recent trip to Chiang Mai (read my travel post about it here), I had mentioned about where I went shopping for local items. Among the places I recommended was the Saturday night market where you can find lots of local silver jewelry and clothing with ethnic designs. While I was there, I picked up this cotton top with a design commonly seen in Chiang Mai ethnic costumes. If you don't know what Chiang Mai traditional costumes look like, click here. They are incredibly beautiful and ornate with eye-catching details and colors. In my case, the embroidery and the pom pom detailing have been adapted into a modern top which I styled into a casual Sunday outfit. 

Here's to wishing you all a very bright and happy Sunday and week ahead!

Top: Chiang Mai shopping | Shorts: SeaFolly | Shoes: Express | Purse: Coach | 
Sunglasses: Polaroid | Bracelets: Lauren Elan Collections

I recently came upon an old letter I wrote to myself  two years ago. It was about my son's horrible sleeping habits. As a new mother, my son's lack of sleep training was the most troubling thing on my mind at the time and I constantly questioned whether I was doing things all wrong. Looking back at it now, I can't believe I fretted so much. My son's sleeping habits now don't seem like an issue of epic proportions as they did back then. This issue which plagued me so much eventually went away (through a combination of measures we took as parents and the fact that my son grew out of it).

As I currently deal with a new set of hurdles with a toddler who has a mind of his own, my letter-to-self is a reminder that each phase of raising my child will present with new challenges. At any given time, we're simply dealing with one leg out of the many more to come in this marathon, complete with highs and lows. I tell myself to keep things in perspective.

Here's to taking a look back and sharing something I wrote two years ago...

I watch my 9-month old son tensely as he sleeps in his crib, his breath rising and falling evenly. Ironically, this peaceful act of sleep has of late been the source of much mental turmoil and disturbance for me. I’ll admit it - I’m a member of Sleep Deprived Mothers Anonymous dealing with a baby with frequent night wakings. And yes, I’m guilty of the crime of nursing and rocking my son to sleep.

Modern day parenting guides tell me a lot of things that give me cause for concern - that my baby should be able to sleep through the night by now, that I’m encouraging an unhealthy dependency in my son on nursing and the rocking motion as a means to fall asleep. Apparently, I have failed to instill good sleep habits in him. As a result, he doesn’t know how to self-soothe and fall asleep on his own. Bad mommy.

I know i’m not alone in my agony in dealing with a baby that doesn’t sleep well. I see countless mothers in the online mommy groups desperately seeking advice, tips, and suggestions on all matters of child sleep habits - how to teach their baby to sleep through the night, how to encourage them to fall asleep on their own, how to prevent night wakings, and so on. It’s a whole field, I tell you. One that I never knew existed until I joined the Zombie Mommy Club.

And now, I find myself asking fellow mommies utterly ridiculous questions like, “What technique did you use to put your baby to sleep? CIO? Shush-pat? Modified CIO?” “What did do you if he cried upon placing him in the crib? Did you continue patting him or did you pick him up? If so, for how long?” Since when did putting a baby to sleep become such a science? Or rather, such a practiced art?

“I use a rocking sarong and play sweet lullabies in the backdrop”, responded one mommy I asked beseechingly for help. “I use an electronic rocking chair and it works like a charm. It doesn’t break the habit of rocking but at least you don’t have to do it yourself”, said another. Great…

Something like nursing and cradling my child to sleep that felt so right in the beginning has turned into a self-inflicted torment. Now I fret constantly that I’ll be rocking my son to sleep well into adulthood. I research ways to instill better sleep habits in my son. I even talk in baby sleep lingo, uttering terms like, sleep training, self-soothing, Ferberizing, and sleep consultant. My parents look at me blankly. These words never existed in their time.

I feel like we live in a generation where we try to mould a baby’s habits to suit our busy lifestyle. Add to that the volumes of sleep training books that exist, each dictating various schools of thought and causing us to overanalyze every little thing. I would argue that our mothers did all the current “don’ts” of parenting like rocking, nursing, and cosleeping, yet we ultimately learned how to fall asleep on our own. Maybe it just took us longer to get there but patience was something our parents seemed to have a lot more than us. There were no online forums, mommy groups, and BabyCenter for them to refer to. They simply did what they knew and what came naturally to them. And we all turned out alright, didn’t we? And so I continue to straddle two mental states. Sometimes fretful that I’m not doing enough to remedy this darn sleep situation. Sometimes assured in the belief that it’ll all work out on its own.