Category Archives: family & friends

Home-brewed goodness with NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto

I got a NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® Melody Automatic in my home a few months back. Other than gourmet coffee, the machine can also brewed a variety of 15 assorted beverages like lemon tea and peach tea.

It is also able to dispense drinks that are hot or cold!

The machine has integrated into my family life and routine. My two year son loves it the most.

Even though Asher is too young to drink tea or coffee, he loves to see the Dolce Gusto Melody Automatic at work. I taught him how to operate it and it has become his hobby to make coffee and tea for everyone who visit our house.

See how easy it works:

Every time someone visits, he will approach the guest and ask “你要喝茶吗 (Do you want tea)?”

Asher picking out which tea or coffee to serve to our guests
Asher picking out which tea or coffee to serve to our guests

Every morning when I wake up, he will ask me: “ 爸爸,你要喝咖啡吗 (Dad, do you want coffee)?”

Preparing iced peach tea for me
Preparing iced peach tea for me

In the afternoon or in the evening, he will ask me if I want tea.

A two-year-old can operate the Dolce Gusto Melody Automatic
A two-year-old can operate the Dolce Gusto Melody Automatic

Sometime, I will be “pressurized” by Asher to drink up to three cups of gourmet beverages a day!

Asher watching the machine
Asher watching the machine

I like the simplicity of the Nescafe Dolce Gusto Melody Automatic. It is so easy to use that even a two year old boy can operate it (disclaimer: it doesn’t say so on the manual. Asher makes beverages with the machine under our supervision to ensure he do not get scalded or upset the machine).

Tada! The drink is ready!
Tada! The drink is ready!
Love the froth
Love the froth

The capsules used to be also available for sale at limited places, but they are now available at NTUC supermarket which makes it very convenient for replenishing. You can also order the capsules online. 

On a hot day, I appreciate a frothy glass of iced peach tea or iced cappuccino:

 

On rainy days when I want to snuggle in at home with a hot cup of latte macchiato or mocha:

 

On mornings when I need to perk up, a shot of espresso will do the job.

The Nestle Dolce Gusto Melody Automatic is one machine with many functions, enriching our lives in so many ways. 🙂

All about the machine

The NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® stands above the competition as the only single-cup coffee machine which delivers a professional 15 bar pressure, guaranteeing a perfect cup and fine milk froth every time. It prepares each drink variety, Hot or Cold, in a matter of seconds. The NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® coffee machine comes complete with a 2-year warranty from KRUPS®.

This unique machine combines the expertise and history of NESCAFÉ® coffee making with innovative KRUPS® know-how, engineering and technical perfection.

All about the capsules

The innovative easy-to-use capsule system, exclusive to NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto®, is specifically designed to ensure that each cup of coffee you make is fresh and contains only the best Arabica roasted coffee. The airtight capsules optimise the extraction pressure for each flavour variety, delivering the best coffee quality, texture and milk froth!
Capsules are avaliable at retailers near you or via their Online Shop.

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Cruising with the Family in a Volkswagen Sharan

About two weeks ago, I had the privilege to own the Volkswagen Sharan for a week, courtesy of Volkswagen Singapore. The car is a 7-seat MPV with a 2.0 TSI engine:

I will get to drive this for a week! How exciting! :)
I will get to drive this for a week! How exciting! 🙂

According to the sales representative from the Volkswagen Singapore showroom, the model is selling well in Singapore, with batches often sold out.

Rear view from the side
Rear view from the side

When Rachel and I went to collect the car at the Volkswagen showroom, our heads were filled with plans on how to best utilise the car’s spaciousness.

Rachel hatching plans on how best we can utilise the car for the week
Rachel hatching plans on how best we can utilise the car for the week

Before my son Asher was born, whenever we go out together with my side of the family or her side of the family (both of us have a younger sister), there will be five of us to fit nicely into a standard saloon car.

After Asher came along, my sister or Rachel’s sister will have to take public transport to sacrifice a seat for Asher and his bulky car seat.

With the Sharan, this no longer will be an issue:

The car is really spacious!

Loaded Asher into the car
Loaded Asher into the car – spacious?
There is still room for two more pax behind Asher!
There is still room for two more pax behind Asher!

Beside having a seven pax seating capacity, you can pack all sorts of camping gear, your bicycles and even a canoe into it. The last two seats in the last row are easily foldable to allow for more storage space if you are not carrying so many passengers.

Here is a wider picture that better depicts how much space there is inside the car
Here is a wider picture that better depicts how much space there is inside the car

The car is cleverly designed to let in more light with its large glass windows and a sun-roof, making the car appear even more spacious than it is for both the driver and passengers.

Pressing the electronic button to open up the car roof
Pressing the electronic button to open up the car roof
Panel to adjust the car roof
Panel to adjust the car roof
Asher showing off the open roof to his aunt
Asher showing off the open roof to his aunt
Asher with his aunt
Asher with his aunt
One problem I had with the Sharan was that Asher will get very upset every time I need to get him out of the car!
One problem I had with the Sharan was that Asher will get very upset every time I need to get him out of the car!

On the day when I returned the vehicle, I had to catch a flight to Seoul right after. I find it pretty amusing how small my luggage seemed when I packed it into the car boot as compared to a regular saloon car:

My luggage looks really small beside the Sharan
My luggage looks really small beside the Sharan
After loading my luggage into the car boot, there is still so much space
After loading my luggage into the car boot, there is still so much space

It feels great to be able to fit my wife Rachel, my 22-month-old son Asher, my parents and my sister into the same car with me and we still have room for one more person! I took everyone for a short spin on the first day when I collected the Sharan and the feedback from everyone was positive – the ride was smooth, quiet and there was lots of space for everyone in the car.

All the passenger seats are equipped with three-point seatbelts, which means that you can fit in up to six child restraints! The perfect car for those with large families.

The Sharan also comes with lots of automated and nifty tech features, including park assist with rear view camera, keyless igntion, electric handbrake, automated headlight adjustment, among many other cool stuff.

Using the car GPS to navigate around - it's pretty accurate and easy-to-use
Using the car GPS to navigate around – it’s pretty accurate and easy-to-use
It is a touchscreen btw - like how all screens ought to be these days
It is a touchscreen btw – like how all screens ought to be these days
Car dashboard
Car dashboard
All the buttons are lit, making them easier to locate even when you are driving at night or in a dark tunnel
All the buttons are lit, making them easier to locate even when you are driving at night or in a dark tunnel
Picking the radio station to listen to while cruising in the Sharan
Picking the radio station to listen to while cruising in the Sharan
Me driving the Sharan happily, chauffeuring my wife and son around
Me driving the Sharan happily, chauffeuring my wife and son around

Here is a video for a quick overview of the Sharan:

During the week when I had the car, I could hop on and drive off anytime easily, without having to fiddle with any buttons to switch on the aircon or even adjust the headlight since everything is automated. It made me feel lazy, but it also forged a personal connection between me and the car, as it seemed to intuitively understand what I wanted.

Happiness.
Happiness.

How was my experience driving the Sharan?

It felt very much like what this video depicts:

Exhilarating.

Making a turn - it doesn't feel heavy at all, despite the size of the car
Making a turn – it doesn’t feel heavy at all, despite the size of the car

The car is large and I was expecting it to handle like a bulky van when picking speed or cornering, instead, it purrs along fine like a smooth feline.

Me in the Sharan
Me in the Sharan

My son Asher loved the car so much he learned the word “Volkswagen”. Coincidentally, he has a die-cast VW model car which my dad bought for him sometime back. For some inexplicable reason, he was drawn to the car and picked it himself at the departmental store. He is able to associate the two together and recognises the circular Volkswagen logo.

When we first seated him in his car seat in the Sharan, he turned and pointed to the VW logo and said “Volkswagen” to me.

Asher pointing out the VW logo to me
Asher pointing out the VW logo to me

The few times when I drove him in the Sharan, he refused to get out of the car and would want to go for a longer spin! When I asked him if he preferred our current car or the Sharan, he replied without hesitating, “Volkswagen”! I kid you no.

Now I have to save up to get this car…

One converted Volkswagen Sharan fan, looking very pleased with himself with his car choice
One converted Volkswagen Sharan fan, looking very pleased with himself with his car choice

To find out more about the Volkswagen Sharan and purchasing information if you are interested to buy one or take a test drive, do visit the official Volkswagen Singapore website.

Bye bye omy.sg

Today is my last day working at omy.sg.

I have been with omy.sg for close to seven years. I joined the team before it was even launched in September 2007. Click here to read through all the projects and experiences I shared with the omy.sg team.

omy.sg's first ever print ad in 2007
omy.sg’s first ever print ad in 2007

I was there when we launched our first TV commercial. Yes, we had one at the very beginning:

I was there when we launched the first Singapore Blog Awards and the first Singapore Entertainment Awards.

I was there when we hosted Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during the launch of CLing, a Chinese learning portal, co-developed together with Business China.

I was there when we set up the omy Blog Club and developed it to what it is today with a strong, vibrant community of over 3,000 registered bloggers.

I was there when we ventured into mobile and tablet platforms, launching the Fong Fei Fei commemorative e-book and the Vice Ring Probe mobile news magazine app.

There are more exciting projects upcoming at omy.sg. We have to constantly innovate in order to survive as the industry is constantly evolving. I would love to be a part of all these, but the journey ends here for now.

I am thankful for all the opportunities given to me by my wonderful bosses at omy.sg, my supervisor, Kuan Fung, and our big boss, Chim Kang

I am thankful to all my colleagues, new and old for the great support they have given me, especially when I have to constantly trouble them with many last minute marketing projects. Janet in particular for having to support so much of my work whenever I am absent.

I am thankful to all the external partners, sponsors and advertisers I have worked with for omy.sg. Thank you for supporting us and do continue to shower your support for the omy.sg team.

It is bye bye for now as I am being transferred to market another website within the Singapore Press Holdings group.

I will still continue to watch omy.sg grow, but this time, as a blogger, as part of the omy Blog Club and as a news reader.

Adieus. 🙂

Driving the new Volvo V40 Cross Country to the Marine Life Park at Resorts World Sentosa

The Alvinology family at the car park of Resorts World Sentosa
The Alvinology family at the car park of Resorts World Sentosa

Thanks to the folks from Wearnes Automotives, I was invited to test drive their new Volvo V40 Cross Country on a trip to the Marine Life Park at Resorts World Sentosa with my family.

Asher checking out the fishes
Asher checking out the fishes
An interesting looking fish
An interesting looking fish
One of the many large tanks
One of the many large tanks
Dolphin spotted
Dolphin spotted

Swedish automobile manufacturer, Volvo, has always been well-known for their emphasis on safety. You can read the full list of their safety milestones via wikipedia. This includes the invention of the 3-point safety belt in 1958 which is now the standard for the front seats of all cars.

With a young son now, on top of comparing lifestyle and performance features, safety is one of my utmost concern when choosing a car.

The new Volvo V40 Cross Country brings an unique balance of ruggedness and elegance by establishing a Cross Country in the Premium C-segment of the car market.

The full technical specifications and features of the Volvo V40 Cross Country is available via the official website. The car comes with a 1.6-litre GTDi engine. T4 with 180 bhp is also fitted with start-stop and braking energy regeneration. Fuel consumption is 6.1/100km with CO2 emission of 143g/km.

Some of the key features include:

– Fully graphic interactive display in the instrument cluster with three themes – Elegance, Eco and Performance
– A tinted panoramic glass roof
– Seven different mood light options for the interior lighting
– Two-piece, 40/60, rear backrest that can be easily folded to maximise loading
– Two different chassis setups: Dynamic and Sport
– Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC) system that uses a roll angle sensor to identify any skidding tendencies at an early stage
– Corner Traction Control that uses torque vectoring so the car corners more smoothly
– Lane Keeping Aid to help the driver stay on course
– Road Sign Information that display road signs in the instrument display as they are detected
– Driver Alert Control that will detect and warn tired drivers
– City Safety (active up to 50km/h) that keeps an eye on traffic in front and automatically brakes if the driver fails to react in time
– Full set of crash safety features including a knee airbag on the driver’s side

City Safety sensor at the car front windscreen
City Safety sensor at the car front windscreen
Sleek interior
Sleek interior
Steering wheel
Steering wheel
Non-standard sports rims
Non-standard sports rims
Rachel and Asher in the backseat
Rachel and Asher in the backseat
Optional external airbag
Optional external airbag

Check out this video for a quick visual introduction:

The new Volvo V40 Cross Country is choked full of safety features. Rachel and I were impressed by the demonstrations of the various nifty high-tech features like the Driver Alert Control, City Safety and Lane Keeping Aid. These features make it seems that even if the car is driven by an unsafe driver, the car will still try it’s best to keep everyone safe!

The drive from the car showroom at Alexandra Road to Resorts World Sentosa was a short one. I had no problem adjusting to the new car even though this is the first time I am driving a Volvo vehicle. It runs well and most of the functions and features are pretty easy to figure out or pick up.

Asher in a baby chair in the backseat
Asher in a baby chair in the backseat
Getting into a Volvo V40 to drive off to RWS
Getting into a Volvo V40 to drive off to RWS

Rachel said the ride was comfortable, with not much noise or bumpiness. Asher was intrigued by the panoramic roof when we slided it open with the remote. I switched the graphic interactive display around to try out the different themes, amusing myself while driving.

On the road
On the road

If you are someone who values safety and want a good mix of ruggedness and elegance for your next car, do consider visiting the Volvo showroom in Singapore to check out the Volvo V40 Cross Country. The brand specialist for Volvo rightfully pointed out to me that this car model is a value buy in the Premium C-segment for continental car brands. 🙂

The Volvo car showroom in Singapore
The Volvo car showroom in Singapore
You can load bicycles on your Volvo
You can load bicycles on your Volvo
Various Volvo products for sale
Various Volvo products for sale

About Wearnes Automotive

Established in 1906, Wearnes Automotive Pte. Ltd. is the sole distributor for Volvo cars in Singapore and has consistently been one of the top Volvo dealers in Asia. The Volvo showroom is located along the prime automotive belt of Alexandra Road, boasting one of the most customer-oriented automotive facilities in Singapore. The premises accommodate a state-of-the-art service and repair workshop that gives special attention to the intrinsic safety qualities of a Volvo.

Introducing a new writer on Alvinology.com – my wife, Rachel Chan!

It is about time.

With traffic growth and higher exposure, I am getting way too much blogging invites and requests that I can handle alone. 

I tried to search for a regular guest contributor to collaborate with on this blog, but it is hard to find the perfect fit. 

In the end, who else knows my personality and blogging style better than my wife, Rachel Chan? 

Actually, she has written posts on this blog previously, but without proper attribution. You can read all of Rachel’s post on Alvinology.com here. 

A quick introduction on Rachel:

Rachel and son, Asher in Hong Kong Disneyland with Mickey Mouse
Rachel and son, Asher in Hong Kong Disneyland with Mickey Mouse

Rachel has nearly a decade of experience as a print journalist for my paper (English)and Straits Times Life! and has also worked as a news producer for Mediacorp Channel 8.

She won a nomination for a Special Award for Excellence at Singapore Press Holdings’ (SPH’s) annual English & Malay Newspapers Division Newscom awards in 2010 for her investigative story on self-proclaimed celebrity hairstylist, Jonal Chong.

Rachel has since made a career switch into education to spend more time with her young son and young Alvinology, Asher Lim and is a guest contributor to this blog.

With a stronger writing background than Alvinology, you can clearly differentiate her blog posts from Alvinology’s from the use of difficult and obscure vocabulary and more words than visuals. :)

Brunch at 7Adam Gallery Restaurant @ 7 Adam Park

Sporting matching Red Nose Day tees designed by Stella McCartney, Rachel, Asher and I headed to 7Adam Gallery Restaurant at 7 Adam Park on Easter Sunday for an invited brunch.

The Alvinology family in matching attire
The Alvinology family in matching attire

The dishes for the day were put forth by Chef Chey Reynaldo, who has trained with two-starred Chef Thierry Marx and held positions in acclaimed restaurants in Evian and Bordeaux, France, such as Relais De Margaux and Evian Royal Hotel 5-Star Gastronomique Restaurant.

We were looking forward to having a good brunch and family day-out.

Here are the dishes we tried:

Creamy egg omelette in crispy yam nest
Creamy egg omelette in crispy yam nest
One... two... three...
One… two… three…
Deviled eggs with ponzu salad topped with ikura
Deviled eggs with ponzu salad topped with ikura
Trio of Capsicum Soup
Trio of Capsicum Soup
Pan seared Chicken Cordon Bleu and crispy truffle fries
Pan seared Chicken Cordon Bleu and crispy truffle fries
Asher eating his own main course
Asher eating his own main course
Asher having a good time
Asher having a good time
Baked beef tenderloin stuffed with oyster, wrapped with crispy bacon
Baked beef tenderloin stuffed with oyster, wrapped with crispy bacon
Close-up of the stuffing and wrap
Close-up of the stuffing and wrap
Orange flourless cake served with citrus segments and sweet walnuts
Orange flourless cake served with citrus segments and sweet walnuts
Strawberry tartlets with white chocolate sauce
Strawberry tartlets with white chocolate sauce
A rabbit came to say hi while we were eating
A rabbit came to say hi while we were eating

This is my third visit to 7Adam, but it was the first time I visited with my family. I like the restaurant’s location. It is housed in a historical black and white colonial bungalow, nestled among greenery on a little slope overlooking Adam Road.

7Adam Gallery Restaurant @ 7 Adam Park
7Adam Gallery Restaurant @ 7 Adam Park
Restaurant interior
Restaurant interior

Other than fine dining, 7Adam is also an art gallery, specialising in contemporary paintings and sculptures. The works of art are displayed throughout the gallery-restaurant and are changed every few months. If you visit regularly, you may get to see something new each time.

One of the gallery’s objective is to promote promising and emerging artists and help art collectors with planning their art selection and collection. There is an experienced gallery executive in 7Adam to assist you if you are interested to purchase any of the artwork.

We got to experience the fun, artsy side of 7Adam after our meal when we were invited to do some painting together with Asher:

Drawing and painting fun for kids
Drawing and painting fun for kids
Asher having fun painting
Asher having fun painting
Asher and I with Mr Rabbit
Asher and I with Mr Rabbit

The venue is also host to many interesting events, including cooking workshops and special festive menu like the Easter Brunch I attended. Do visit their website for more details.

7Adam Gallery Restaurant

7 Adam Park. Singapore 289926
Restaurant: +65 6467 0777
Gallery: +65 6463 0777

Opening Hours:
11am to 11pm daily (Restaurant)
11am to 08pm daily (Gallery)
Email: enquiries@7adam.com

Rise & Shine Carnival 2013 @ The Lawn, Marina Bay

Rise & Shine Carnival is an event organised by a group final year students from my alma mater, Wee Kee Wee School of Communication and Information (WKWSCI), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), together with a group of newly-minted mothers, who want their children to start their lives healthy, happy and strong.

The event focuses on raising children healthily in all areas: social, physical, intellectual, mental and medical.

Rise & Shine Carnival at The Lawn, Marina Bay
Rise & Shine Carnival at The Lawn, Marina Bay

The carnival took place last Sunday (3 Mar) at The Lawn at Marina Bay from 8.00am till noon. It made it into the Singapore Book of Records as the first and largest ever Breakfast Picnic in Singapore. 

Over 1,900 people turned up for the carnival, with Dr Amy Khor, Minister of State, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Manpower, showing up as the Guest of Honour.

My wife and I are not the usual early morning folks. Last Sunday, we made an effort to get up earlier to prepare our own breakfast to bring along for the picnic.

Rachel made some fresh pancakes while I buttered a few slices of bread and packed an assortment of fruits to share.

We reached The Lawn at around 10am. The place was very lively, with carefree kids running all over while parents lazed on their picnic mats.

Once we got ourselves settled on a cosy little spot, we had our breakfast, explored some of the booths and brought Asher around to have some fun.

Many people turned up for this event, despite the early timing
Many people turned up for this event, despite the early timing
Fencing trial for kids
Fencing trial for kids

 

Cricket trial - Asher had a go at this
Cricket trial – Asher had a go at this
Increasing contrast between the cold financial buildings and the family atmosphere on the ground
Increasing contrast between the cold financial buildings and the family atmosphere on the ground
Free face-painting for kids
Free face-painting for kids
The two top winners for the hot mum and kid contest
The two top winners for the hot mum and kid contest

Asher particularly enjoyed riding in this rental bike:

Asher had fun riding in this bike
Asher had fun riding in this bike

All in all, we had a fun family day out. I like the idea.

We should have more events like this in Singapore so parents with kids have more things to do over the weekend instead of just staying home to watch television or heading to shopping malls.

Come September, Rise & Shine will stage the world’s largest Children’s Health and Development Expo. The event will be spread over three days, with over 100 seminars, workshops and trial classes, and more than 120 exhibitors at Suntec Convention Centre. You can visit their official website for more details.