We’ve not gone by The Minton for our usual weekly visit. The weather here has been both humid and hazy, making for any trip outdoors a relatively unpleasant experience. We’ll try to squeeze in one last visit next week though, assuming if Ling hasn’t delivered yet.
The new 17mm f1.8 lens got a good run-in during the weekend morning, with a few hundred exposures taken during our usual Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf brunch at Greenwich. Like the other fast lens I’ve picked up for the m4/3s system, depth of field is very shallow when shooting wide-open. It’s not too much of a worry when I’m shooting either of the two girls straight face-on, but it can be a real challenge if I’m off-angle by any degree. Color rendition seems very slightly less warm than the 14mm f2.5G but Ling at least likes its very natural color representation.
Mommy and Hannah.
Her activity books are a wonderful means of occupying herself while the both of us have brunch.
More cute conversations with Hannah too. We were at Fairprice a few days ago when a middle-aged lady approached Ling at the sauces and condiments, asking “Auntie ar, can you tell me where the sesame oil is?”
Ling turned slightly off-color at being addressed ‘Auntie’ (for our Ang Mo bud, the term is usually used respectfully for someone who’s old) but nonetheless helped the lady. But Hannah picked that up and for the rest of our grocery trip at the store, went: “AUNTIE!!!” at Ling LOL.
And Hannah has been looking forward to her coming baby brother, due anytime from a week from now. When in the car, she had this to share when we asked how she was going to care for him.
H: “I will take care of 弟弟 (little brother). I will help put him to bed. I will help him go to the toilet. Yep. I will help him change change clothes. I will help him change diapers too. I will also buy him orange juice.”
We should have recorded those promises she made. With a big sister helper like this, why would we need parents.=)
Just after shower. The humid weather has caused her lips to cracked.
The cheapo 14mm f2.5G lens I picked up earlier this year has become my current mainstay lens since purchase. It’s a delightful pancake kit, relatively sharp in the center and very quick to focus too. The one downer of this lens though is that it’s not really intended as an all-rounder. As with wide-angle lenses, the extreme sides of each frame can look somewhat distorted, which has meant that when I’m taking pictures of Hannah, I have to keep her right in the frame center. I already have the 25mm f1.4 lens of course too and that’s marvelous for portrait work, but it’s a little too long at the same time and not appropriate for half-body shots unless I have plenty of room to step back.
The fourth lens I’ve been keeping an eye on this year has been the 17mm f1.8, which offers a 34mm perspective with the m4/3s crop factor. It’s identical to the Fujifilm X100 I loaned from my student a year ago, and a wonderful compromise between the 14mm wide-angle and the 25mm normal perspective. The lens isn’t cheap at USD499 but I finally bit the bullet to pick it up yesterday afternoon after Ling’s pre-delivery EKG scan of our coming baby boy. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the lens’ price here approaches the US pricing.
The lens is made of metal and silver – not quite like the other black-painted m4/3s lens I have.
First initial pictures using the new lens:
Yes the price hurts, but with pictures like this, it’s worth it!
Another weekly update on the ongoing construction of The Minton. This might be one of our last visits before the project reaches technical completion next month or so – on account that our baby boy is due very soon. And when that happens, it’s very unlikely we’d be able to find time to go by to check this out. Still, the most visible signs of development since the last week lie again in the project’s signature recreational areas, and less so in the apartment blocks themselves.
Winding pathway at Tranquil World.
The cobblestone paving along Tranquil World is about half-done, with more crates of stones waiting placement.
The outdoor dining pavilion taking shape, with stone floor tiles placed.
According to the project layout map, the Dining Cabana – I think – whatever that is!
Water playground @ Fun World.
Significantly more planted greenery @ Tranquil World.
Many clusters of potted plants line the compound and getting ready for replanting into the many lawns.
The Treehouse playground has the foundational guard railing now too.
If you look hard enough, you’d see a new activity not originally specified in the brochure – rope swing between top floors of Block 14 and 12C. Not for the faint-of-heart LOL.
From this perspective, the place looks almost ready for moving in!
Hannah has turned four years old today! The both of us had to go to work regardless – we’ll make it up for her tonight and tomorrow evening too – but she had a cute line this morning while we dropped her off her Nanny’s.
H: “Will I be five years old tomorrow?”
It’s fun too to see how she’s transformed since her birth 4 years ago.
From this on 6 June 2009…
… to this!
While we were both looking forward to being first-time parents and well-briefed/aware of what comes out of parenting, there’s still that sense of amazement at how much joy our lively and (for the most part) easy to care for little girl has brought into our lives.
Hannah had birthday celebration in school a week ago already. There was something just remarkable watching how she easily interacted and talked with her other friends in class too. It’s not something we’d observed before in the few times we’ve been to her school.
Hannah cutting her strawberry cheese cake in school.
At the Meet-the-Parents, both her teachers also shared that our girl tears up easily and doesn’t take failure or correction well. We agreed totally, especially also the part where Hannah likes to tell everybody what she’s thinking and feeling LOL.
The evening birthday cake was our family favorite – Breadtalk’s Green Tea cake – which she enjoyed:
Her presents this year included clothes, swim wear, a set of markers and coloring book, a bicycle, and a Hello Kitty doll LOL.
Mommy got a little present too; a new handphone – the Samsung Galaxy SIII, which she got out of her recontracting of her mobile phone service plan.=)
I have put on at least 10 kg during this pregnancy and am feeling easily tired in the last trimester. I promised to bake rock cakes with Hannah a month ago and since both of us are having school holidays now, I better keep my promise.
Rock Cakes – crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside.
We went to supermarket this morning to buy a tray of eggs, the missing ingredient for the recipe, and started baking in the late morning. It was a simple recipe to follow and within 30 minutes the rock cakes were baking in the oven. I got Hannah to help in measuring the ingredients using the digital weighing scale, whisking dry ingredients, pouring ingredients and rubbing cold butter into flour. She was very excited since last night when I announced that we were going to bake the rock cakes together on the following day. She reminded me to buy eggs the moment she woke up in the morning and fished out her apron from her drawer to get ready. Below is the recipe we used.
- Plain Flour – 100 g
- Baking Powder – 1 tsp
- Cold butter – 50 g
- Castor sugar – 50 g
- Raisins – 25 g
- Egg – 1
- Salt – pinch
1. Preheat oven to 190 °C. Grease the baking tin.
2. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl to mix well.
Whisking the flour, baking powder and salt together.
3. Cut cold butter into small chunks and rub into the flour mixture.
4. Add sugar and raisins.
5. Add egg and whisk to a stiff batter.
6. Use 2 metal spoons to scoop and unload the batter in small heaps onto the baking tin.
7. Bake for about 15-18 minutes until lightly golden brown.
8. Take out the rock cakes to cool before serving.
Want to try my rock cakes?
Our small-group friend recently bought a bread maker machine. Ling does a lot of baking at home, though it’s been mainly pastries and the occasional cake. I’ve been packing quick ready-made sandwiches to work several days each week, so figured that I could kill two birds with one stone; surprise her with a baking machine, and secondly enjoy home-baked bread too.
I know next to nothing about baking though, so it was lots of the usual reading and finding out before I settled on the same machine – the Zojirushi Bread Maker BB-HAQ10 – that our friend bought. There were other manufacturers and models of course, but the general consensus is that while there are much cheaper machines with equivalent features, with the Zojirushi, you’re paying for quality and the brandname. I found a local store here that was selling the machine at a much lower price than suggested retail, and after double-checking that I would be getting the real deal and that it would be supported by local agent warranty too, we went by after Hannah’s birthday celebration event last TUES to pick it up.
Given how busy we’ve been this week, the machine was only finally used yesterday evening. Hannah was probably even more enthusiastic about the exercise than both of us were. Hannah, in her usual authoritative fashion, said the following to me to show she meant business.
H: “Daddy, Mommy and I are going to make bread. You can watch us. Go sit there and watch!”
The machine churned out Ling’s first attempt wonderfully well; crunchy crust and very soft insides.=)
Another weekly update on the ongoing construction of The Minton. There’s a couple of other very non-new home posts that we’re planning to do too – including our girl’s recent birthday celebration in school, and also a new baking machine that I bought for Ling – so for those of us who’re more interested in the regular programming in our blog, hang on.=)
Given that Ling’s now pretty heavy with our coming baby boy, it’s been pretty tiring for her to run around the very large compound to take videos (we still take a lot; just that they haven’t been posted here on our blog ). The Olympus 75-300mm lens has been real instrumental allowing us a view of little details of the work going on from a distance away, though a lot of times, the both of us are routinely guessing what exactly is a new structure under construction really supposed to be.
Blocks 8 and 8A against a sunny Saturday morning.
These should be the barbeque pits at Tranquil World.
The compound map notes this to be the rock n’ log outdoor chess set. As to what that is, I haven’t a clue.
Blocks 14 and 14A. There’s a lovely reflective sheen coming off the glass windows against the morning light.
The water playground area. Hannah is going to love this later!
I couldn’t figure out what this one was, but someone in the FB page pointed out that this will be the treehouse playarea.
Totally no idea for this one!
Tree planting going on in-front of Block 12C.
Tree saplings are grown off-compound and transplanted over.
The Retail Outlets block has gotten a new coat of paint.
Something a little disconcerting too. We encountered Aedes mosquitoes around the compound. Ling with her trained eyes spotted them easily. Those of us who’d been reading the local news will be aware that the first death this year from Dengue fever has just occurred. I sure hope that residents in our new home will be civic-minded enough to be watchful of the common breeding grounds of these pests.
Oh yes. A visitor to our blog commented recently too that our blog is currently the top and first hit when one Googles for construction of The Minton. Curious, I checked it out, and he was right LOL:
Back to our regular programming next.=)
Our once a month visit to the nearing completed Minton apartment has changed to fortnightly and now weekly visits. We normally visit in the mid-mornings and where possible only when I’m certain of getting reasonably decent lighting for pictures. Just for a change, we went by on the Vesak pubic holiday evening to check out what our new home looks like at evenings.
I’m not sure if there’s still construction on normal week day evenings, but all was quiet at least on the holiday evening, with just a couple of foreign workers relaxing in the compound chatting among themselves or calling loved ones back home. Not an easy shoot at all then, given the very small time window where there’s still sufficient light for exposure to near total darkness as the construction floodlights were all switched off. All the pictures were taken on the 14mm f2.5.
The last light of the day reflecting against the mostly glass front facade.
Several of the later pictures in the shoot were taken at 1/4s shutter speed and handheld. This exposure speed was only possible with the very unique 5-axis optical stabilization on the E-M5.
Exposure curves were tweaked quite a bit; there was a lot less light than this actually.
Pleasing spectrum of colors in this picture.
Once the apartment blocks are completed and residents move in, the only time when we’ll see our home like this is when there’s a blackout.
Staircase lighting for a couple of blocks are switched on though.
No, none of the residents have moved in yet. The lights are probably from some of the workers in the unit there.
Some homeowners were remarking that the much-discussed projected completion date of end-June will likely be a partial one too – i.e. the apartment units would be ready for residents to move in or begin their renovation work, but the facilities would still be undergoing final construction. Oh well; not as though we’re in a hurry to move in by mid-year anyway.=)
Yeah it’s been just 2 weeks from our last visit, but with many residents keeping their fingers cross (or hopes high) that completion is just a month away now, I decided to really pick up the pace of our visits. It’ll be real fun in the years to come later to look at these old pictures of our new home while it was still in construction!
The weather here has been quite humid and unpleasantly hot, but at least the bright sunny blue skies did make for nicely contrasting colors in the pictures. Most of the changes since the last visit were in the many tree and plant saplings that have sprouted up, removal of work fences in several areas giving us the first good solid look of the place from the front and at ground level, and also internal furnishings.
The 50m lap pool, one of three pools in the project.
The 20m heated pool. Not sure how useful that’s going to be in this kind of tropic weather.
Newly planted tree saplings near the Contemporary Bridge.
Straight lines against a blue morning sky.
Blocks 2 and 6 from Hougang Street 11.
Blocks 2 and 6 as seen along the pedestrian pavement at Lorong Ah Soo.
Where we’re at; Block 10. Tranquil World, the large landscape portion in front of the block still seems very much in-progress.
Several residents are already starting to talk to Interior Designers to propose plans for their dream home.
I wonder what the residents think of our monthly visits and going all photo-paparazzi at our home from their block!
Any one knows any good interior designers? =)
Another recent conversation with Hannah, and on last Friday just before Mother’s Day.
H: Mommy, mommy, I’m going to give you a surprise tomorrow!
M: Really?! That’s nice, sweetie.
H: The paint is still not dry. Tomorrow it will dry ok!
H: It’s a Mother’s Day card I made in school, you know.
H: It’s going to be a surprise ok; I will give you a card and there is a ribbon on it! *beaming to herself*
M: Hannah, you shouldn’t tell mommy about the surprise if you want it to be a surprise.
H: And there are 2 hearts on the card, you know. Teacher said must use two hands to give you the card!
D: What about daddy?
H: Father’s Day is many days later but I’m going to give you a toilet roll ok! It’s going to be a surprise too!
D: I’m getting a toilet roll…?!
Time for us soon also to change the title of this blog series to “Conversations with a Four Year Old” too!
Looks like the red hand of Sauron. Been re-watching LOTR over the weekend LOL.