Original Sprout

Original Sprout

A girlfriend told me recently that she’s been plagued by breakouts for the whole of this year. Like me, she’s 40, and I was relieved to hear that from her as the same thing’s been happening to me.

I wouldn’t say my skin has ever been totally in the clear, but in my late 20s and 30s, I enjoyed a reprieve and only saw the occasional zit or two. At 40? I now have a dermatologist that I consult when I feel things are getting out of hand–nothing fancy like Sloane, just good ‘ol National Skin Centre. Currently, I’m on the Retin A-AHA treatment that I’ve seen recommended on some beauty/health web sites, and it is working for me, especially when I remember to be kind to my skin.

When Original Sprout contacted me some months ago to send me products, I didn’t decline, for once. I’ve been using Original Sprout on my face for years, after buying the Hair & Body Babywash to test on Z. I was perfectly happy with it, but I attempted to switch to Cetaphil last year thinking that it was cheaper–and dermatologist-recommended–but it triggered a breakout that warranted a visit to the dermatologist. Subsequently, I was prescribed a cleanser from La Roche-Posay, but my skin reacted to that too (redness, itch). Then everything calmed down until we took a family trip to New Zealand, and the weather changes made my skin flare up again.

I’ve become pretty sensitive to fragrances lately as well, so other organic baby brands such as Gaia and Aveeno don’t make the cut where I’m concerned. I’ve decided it’s worth the extra trouble heading to our nearest Kiddy Palace to stock up on the Original Sprout Babywash, which Z and I share. (Update: I didn’t realise the brand was available at Watson’s and Guardian! Click here for the list of SG retailers.)

Based on my experience, I trust Original Sprout’s choice of ingredients, which you can read about here. As for the other products we were given, I use Head & Shoulders daily to keep dandruff at bay; dryness is an issue but I prefer to use an oil spray over conditioners and hair creams, so I’ve passed these on to Layla. I think they do their job, but I don’t have a point of comparison either. Original Sprout does carry a Tahitian Hair Oil product, which I would be interested to try, but I’ve not seen it in stores. Likewise for the skin cream; Layla has used it, just for fun, but it’s not something we really need. But I would pick up their sunscreen product if I see it.


One-Hit Wonder


Z’s best bud Matt is bunking with us for two days, and his mom (my girlfriend Stephii) and I were discussing food options:

S: Do you need us to get groceries?
Me: Don’t worry about it, Alf’s been cooking a lot, and I can make anchovy pasta.
S: Your famous anchovy pasta!
Me: LOL! I really should expand my repertoire.
S: You are specializing!

This is why I have an inflated sense of self-worth… my friends are always making me feel good! But the truth is that I have been unreasonably faithful to one recipe all year. It’s a wonder that protests haven’t erupted at the dinner table, and I still get thanked. And it’s not even my recipe but a Gordon Ramsay knockoff–I’ve been cutting corners lately by omitting the capers and olives. Here it is in its full glory, if you want to try it too.


Father’s Day


I showed Alf a Father’s Day post that I found particularly touching, and reminded him that I’ve cleaned up my Facebook feed to mostly follow the best writers, thinkers, and creative personalities that I’ve come across, in the hope that some of it will rub off on me. As an afterthought, I added:

“Oh, and I also married you!”

“Well… we all make mistakes.”

“No, I’m actually very selective.”

My mother always told me to choose a guy who’d make a good husband and father, and I have to admit I never followed her advice when dating–I had other things on my mind! But my mother also told me I was born lucky, and when I look at the husband that I have, and the father that he is, I think that must be true.




I was reading this “9 Questions” feature on Vox and thought I’d love to hear from my friends too. So please feel free to leave your answers in the comments! Here are mine:

First piece of media consumed every morning? The NY Times, mostly because it’s always first on my feed.

Someone I disagree with but still read? I just started following local political commentator Calvin Cheng, after having instructed FB to hide all his posts from me a year or two ago… to be honest I disagree with his approach and would prefer if he substantiated his claims with relevant reading material (to save me googling time), but on recent rereading found that some of his views resonated.

Person who has most influenced the way I think? Probably my critical reading professor back in grad school. For him, I read Barthes, Derrida, Baudrillard, and more… and actually enjoyed it for a spell.

The last time I changed my mind? I read a graphic piece on a lynch mob exacting revenge on rapists in India, which I thought would be gratifying, but realised I couldn’t condone that behaviour either. I still have vigilante fantasies though.

Worst intellectual habit? Not finishing what I start.

What inspires me to learn? Believing that I am capable of learning or doing anything that interests me.

What I believe to get through the day? Anything is possible; there are no dead ends.

A view I hold but can’t defend? I’d be disappointed if God didn’t exist.

Book I’ve recommended most? Read into it what you will, but I’m more likely to recommend Modern Love columns or music than a book… In the last year or so, perhaps All The Light We Cannot See, and that’s maybe three times at most. If we’re talking about something potentially life changing (but not a book), I have recommended Seattle pastor Peter Chin’s sermons to many people!




My husband asked me a few days ago, “What do you like about me?” The correct answer to that, of course, is “Your body.”

But I also told him I’m often reminded of him when I read about yet another everyday hero who’s restored our faith in humanity with an act of grace or courage. I’m past the point of needing my husband to rescue me, but if you should ever land in a dire situation and find yourself standing next to him, count yourself very lucky indeed. For that, and for loving me—imperfectly perhaps, but unconditionally—our early anniversary lunch is on me today.


On Being


Everyone’s favourite ex-president (well this is limited to everyone in my tiny inner circle) made his first official appearance of the year yesterday. It was 1AM, our time, and as I was scrolling through my feed I noticed an irate friend’s comment on the “live” video, “Where is he going with this!?”

The bits that I caught weren’t too bad, nothing earth shattering, but some sensible advice and encouragements for college kids, and honestly, for anyone who’s questioning their purpose at the moment:

Don’t think about who you want to be. Think about what you want to do.


To Dos


I’ve kept to this notebook system of mine since October last year, and it’s probably the first time in my life that I’ve been faithfully using a notebook to get organised. The things that made a significant difference for me were the little checkboxes next to each item (I love ticking those!) and having category headers so I can see the spread of projects and also check on my work-life balance (will fix that in June).

Since I’m a commitment-phobe, I don’t fancy notebook systems that allocate a set number of pages for different functions; I like having the freedom to decide what each and every blank page should be used for. The stick-on tabs have really helped me with that—blue is for monthly deadlines and errands, and the yellows are for notes from meetings, workshops, and so on.

I would love to know how you get organised too!


Choose Your Own Nightmare


My friend Pat sent me this article today, along with the question, “Still want to go to Seoul?”

In the classic novel Heart Of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, the protagonist tells the tale of his steamboat voyage up the Congo River to a destination of unimaginable danger. Having to choose between unavoidable evils on his journey, he tries to pursue the lesser one, recognising that he has to be “loyal to the nightmare of (his) choice”.

The US Navy’s aircraft “supercarrier” – the USS Carl Vinson – and its accompanying fleet of warships that constitute Carrier Strike Group 1, currently steaming their way towards the Korean peninsula, is unnervingly resonant of that story.

My answer was a resounding “YES.”

As I told my friend June over coffee, it seems appropriate that I would find myself in Seoul at this juncture, as I take stock of my life so far and decide on my trajectory for the next 20 years or so, if I’m lucky enough to have time on my side.

In a worst case scenario, if something were to happen during my solo getaway next week (and if I managed to survive), I would think to myself, “This world is so screwed, but I’ve never felt more alive.”


Little Passports


We received a six-month subscription to Little Passports (for review) last year, and I’d meant to feature them on my previous blog. Unfortunately I experienced a technical glitch while transferring my phone pictures over to the laptop, and most of my Little Passports photos were corrupted and unusable thereafter.

Some background on Little Passports: It’s a subscription-based product that introduces kids to a new country every month. The two moms behind this were exposed to a variety of cultures as they were growing up, which motivated them to recreate these learning opportunities for other kids.

The reason I’m putting this up now is that we enjoyed the packages, and Z’s been badgering me to resubscribe. All pictures in this post are from the Little Passports web site.

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