A game of association – Codenames!

Not a new kid in the block, board game Codenames is increasingly dominating board game nights and more. What seems like an ordinary English word description game tests partnership, and what I call ‘similar frequency’ wavelengths among friends and family! This game is good for groups of four to eight people.

Here are the items in the box – many little cards with single words on it. These words are very random and are generally not in any particular theme, map cards (aka key cards), 16 agent cards, 1 double agent card, 7 innocent bystander cards, 1 assassin card, and a timer.

Codenames

To set-up, place 25-word cards on the table, in a 5 by 5 format. Split the players into two teams – red and blue, with one spymaster per team on the other side of the table. The spymaster will be given a map (key card) which plots which words their team members need to guess.

This word association game is interesting as the spymaster can only provide a single word as a clue to link as many of their words together! With each team needing to guess between 8 and 9 words per game, the time factor kicks in to see which team is able to guess all the associated words correctly first!

The game immediately ends if the assassin’s word is guessed by a team at any point of the game. Spy masters must be sure to ensure that their team members do not guess it.

Even if you aren’t a fan of board games, the novelty of the game and its team-building nature, makes Codenames a wonderful game to play with friends and family! (cue: background music in the video above during a family game just two days ago! )

Go check our codenames pictures if you are keen on being challenged further – I heard that it’s way more difficult! You can purchase Codenames here.

Zumba-ing the calories away!

COVID-19 has driven almost everyone indoors – but other than work, and probably binge-watching Netflix, how can one keep active during this period? Just before our country went into circuit-breaker mode, my family and I purchased a Nintendo Switch (review on a later date), and the first game we bought was Zumba Burn it Up!

Out of the four members of our family, only one person had ever gone for a Zumba class – maybe it’s because of the excessive movements, or the idea of semi-dancing outdoors, Zumba wasn’t an activity we’d easily consider doing while out in public – however, it’s a totally different story when you’re in the comfort of your own home!

This game comes with 30 songs, and each song comes with various intensity levels – low, medium and high. The low-intensity ones have fewer jumping movements and are less aggressive. The high intensity ones really get your heart pumping with the fast movements and jumps. One can choose to do a single song at a time or take part in the classes available.

There are three kinds of classes – short, medium and long. A short class, consisting of four songs, lasts around 15 minutes. A medium class has eight songs and lasts around 30 min. The long class has 16 songs and last almost an hour. Let’s put it this way – a short class can already give one a good sweat!

While playing, each player will hold a controller in his/her right hand. The controller vibrates a little with each beat of the song (this helps you get a quick grasp of the beat of the song). Other than being able to move along to the beat, a fun part of this game is that it tracks your accuracy level as well – this is tracked by the movement of the right hand that is holding the controller. Your accuracy and movement streak also help determine your overall score.

Each class can be tracked with up to four players holding a controller each. While my family only owns two controllers, our other two members will just move along, without their movements tracked.

The songs in this game are fun, allows a lot of different actions and movement, and are good in getting us to burn some calories. You can purchase the game from the Nintendo E-store here.

Travel without Travelling

Most of us are in some form of social distancing or another. With countries worldwide imposing restrictions on travel to minimise the spread of the disease during this season, many people are experiencing ‘cabin fever’. The lack of travel for those who just love traveling can be daunting for some, but there are many ways to travel without traveling!

Go travel around the world, virtually!

There has been an increase in the number of virtual tours available online for free during this COVID-19 season. Two of the museums which I’ve particularly enjoyed viewing virtually are the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul and NASA’s Langley Research Center.

The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul’s online viewing gallery not only has the overall image of the art piece involved and its background story, it also gives one a close-up on the strokes of the paintings. The level of details in the paintings shown on a virtual exhibit shows the effort to which the museum has curated its library, and all this is made free for all to view!

NASA’s Langley Research Center’s virtual tour is also commendable as there is so much to learn and explore. The research flight deck exhibit (as seen in the image below) has a high level of detail, and I like how they embed information and video links within each the virtual tour – it is as if you’re in the exhibit and looking at it first-hand.

Image captured from NASA's virtual tour on its Research Flight Deck exhibit
Image captured from NASA’s virtual tour on its Research Flight Deck exhibit

You can view more collated lists of virtual museums here, and here.

Reminisce via your old photos, videos and souvenirs!

If you can’t make a trip out right now, why not reflect or look back on the trips you’ve travelled before?

My father enjoys collecting bells – and for each destination we head to, he’ll make it a point to buy a bell from there. It may well be a small bell, and look insignificant, but this collection grows – and when it grows, each bell can serve as a reminder of the memories created in the destination! Have you looked at some of the souvenirs you bought from the countries you’ve travelled to? If no, why not take a look at it now?

Collection of bells

As the saying goes (more like a quote, heh), we take photos as a return ticket to moments otherwise gone. You can use this non-travel period to look through photos taken at the various countries and attractions you’ve been to!

Tip: If you have your photos hosted on cloud platforms like iCloud or Google Photos, one can easily search for photos based on countries traveled to!

Plan for your next trip

The headline of a Huffington Post’s article caught my eye a couple of years’ back. The article, which headline reads ’The Happiest Part Of Your Vacation Isn’t What You Think’ got me thinking, what makes traveling so exciting? And it turns out, planning a trip (while it can be stressful) is what makes vacationers happy because one tends to look forward to good times while planning for a vacation. So, why not begin planning for your next vacation during this period?

It may not be a detailed trip planned, but you can make use of the time now to create a ‘wander-list’ of places you want to visit and why you want to visit it. This can serve as a good start when deciding on your next trip. Whether the number of days, the attractions or even the food, having such details on what you like of place will make deciding your next holiday a lot easier when it is safe to travel again.

Social distancing and the lack of travel may be hard for us right now, but why not ‘travel’, without traveling during this period?

Three things you can do on a daily basis while social distancing!

Almost one-third of the world is currently under some form of ‘lockdown’, and here in Singapore, our Circuit Breaker measures are still in full force, which means many are currently working from home and have more time on our hands. Here are some of the things that I’ve come across in recent weeks that may be of interest to you for you to make full use of your time – the three activities mentioned below can be done on a daily basis (even on a workday!) –

Head to the kitchen and prepare a unique cup of coffee for yourself

You may be used to getting your morning dose of coffee outside, but the Dalgona coffee has been making many people learn how to prepare their coffee at home! The craze is still on, and if you’ve not made this wonderful, frothy drink for yourself (think inverted cappuccino – frothed coffee on milk instead of frothed milk on coffee!), why not try it out? Here’s a quick instructional video that has raked 10 million views!

My take on the Dalgona coffee – a simple and delicious recipe

Pick up a course or two online

I’ve posted on online sites where you can pick up courses before, but many do come at a cost. With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging on, many organizations and schools have decided to provide free courses for those who want to learn – and the list of schools includes Harvard University.

Photo by Julia M Cameron  from Pexels

These courses are free, taken on audit – which means you have access to the materials, but will not be provided a certificate at the end of it (to link to your LinkedIn account or as a memento), but you can easily purchase one if you think it will be of value to you! Check over 60 free courses offered by Harvard here – the range is pretty wide and I’m sure you’ll find something that you’re interested in. There’s another site that has more than 1,500 free courses and can be found here.

Do a workout and sweat it out

From classes that help you with your flexibility to Tabata classes that make you ‘sweat it all out’, many classes are easily available online and these are great resources you may want to make use online.

Photo by Li Sun from Pexels

Something fun that can have technology involved is Just Dance Now – you can use your mobile phone as the game control that allows both you and your partner(s) to dance along to songs, it’s a fun and good way to work it out. Alternatively, if you also own a Nintendo Switch, you may want to check out Zumba Burn it Up! – it has full classes that range from 15 to 60 min! I’ve recommended this previously in a post, but it’s so good that I’d highly recommend it again!

#stayhome #staysafe #strongertogether

Three online grocery stores to tide over this Circuit Breaker season! (great price, quality and speed!)

The Circuit Breaker measures are taking Singapore by storm, with a new law implemented today which prevents any form of social gathering (if the members of the party are not from the same household) in both public and private areas. While these measures still allow individuals to head out to buy groceries and food, many have turned to get their groceries online – but many are facing delivery slots limitation – so why not try other online stores during this period?

Here are three online grocery sites I’d recommend if you’re in search for options:

Amazon.sg + Prime now

If you have an Amazon prime account, delivery is free on the Amazon.sg site as well as through the Prime Now app. Otherwise, delivery is free on purchases that are more than $40.

One can easily find groceries on Amazon.sg (less fresh food and frozen food), and the user interface makes purchasing of items easy! For fresh and frozen food that require refrigeration, you will have to purchase these items via the Prime now app which allows delivery as soon as two hours. However, delivery slots are currently pretty limited and some items may be out of stock so you’ve got to try your luck there.

I’ve got to say that Amazon has pretty amazing service and the delivery guys are very friendly! Amazon.sg is one of my most go-to sites for groceries!

FoodXervices Inc

This company has served the F&B industry for more than 80 years, as a food distributor that serves the likes of large hotels and restaurants. They have just made their wholesale online store for consumers and this allows consumers to buy many items in bulk (think Costco!) – on top of that, they also provide free delivery on purchases >$60. Delivery slots are also ample. Delivery is the next working day for orders made before 4.30pm on weekdays (and before 12 noon on Saturdays), and two working days for orders otherwise. My family made an order (>$60) after 4.30pm on a weekday and our delivery slot was two working days later – pretty impressed with the slots availability!

Most products are sold in bulk, but consumers have the option of selecting smaller quantities for some products. I’d highly recommend this site for those looking to buy bulk items at a lower cost! They carry many brands and have ample stock on paper products and sanitizers too!

OpenTaste

Mainly for fresh fruits and vegetables, OpenTaste has a wide range of options that are good for families. I’ve ordered from the online store in the past and the items were fresh and delivered on time. This online farmer’s market is a platform where consumers like us can purchase a wide range of farm-fresh products with OpenTaste’s partners (more than 200 of them).

It’s also nice to have bulk purchase discounts, especially if you’re feeding a large family! Fruits also make great snacks – you’ll probably need a lot more now that home-based learning and working from home arrangements are in-force.

I’ve got to say, though, that it is harder to qualify for free delivery (minimum purchase of $150) but if you’re looking to buy from this site on a more regular basis, or if you’re looking to buy more items at once, you can try out OpenTaste premium where an order of $49 and above qualifies for free delivery (subject to a monthly membership fee).

Thoughts

There are many online groceries stores at the moment, and the three I’ve mentioned here are those that I’ve tried and I’d recommend to others as well because of their service, quality and price.

Let’s all help flatten the curve during this season and refrain from heading out yeah!

Eating your way through Queen Victoria Market

The middle of the city of Melbourne sits Queen Victoria Market – a market that has been in operation since 1878! This attraction not only has an abundance of stalls selling fresh produce, but also specialty products and cafes that are peppered within the 7-hectare land! Dubbed as the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere, Queen Victoria Market is a must-visit for locals and tourists alike.

Queen Victoria Market has various sections, and one of them is the specialty section that sells bags, shoes, road signs (which can also be customized), toys, and more! Souvenirs sold in this section are also really affordable, with t-shirts (the kind that screams ‘I’m a tourist’) going as low as AUD$5. Items here are very unique, but there was a shop that stood out – something that I’ve yet to see in other touristy markets globally – this store sold large images of one’s eyes. I don’t have an image of the store, but here’s the link to the shop, Iris Photo! In this store, one can get your iris taken and when magnified, it makes a really beautiful piece of art.

Another section of the market has a huge range of fresh produce – from organic vegetables to other kinds of fruits and vegetables, this market is a haven for those in search of fresh local produce. Produce here are reasonably-priced, and can be bought by box as well. My family bought a box of 10 mangoes on our last day in Melbourne, and it came in a box that was easy to pack.

In another area of the market lies the poultry and seafood section that sells a wide range of meats and seafood. Many purchase meats for home-cooking, and some of the stalls sell cooked seafood that can be purchased by weight. A highlight of this section (for me) is that one can easily buy a dozen oysters that can be eaten on the spot! A dozen oysters can cost around AUD$18, but do note that you CAN buy half a dozen oysters if you ask the stall holder! The oysters here are so fresh, sweet and juicy that I came back again for another fix of oysters.

Fresh Oysters

While researching on nice places to have coffee around the Melbourne city centre, I read a review that recommended Market Lane Coffee – a small bistro that sold coffee and pastries. I decided to visit it as I saw a long queue at the store (yes, I’m one of those that follows the crowd!) There, I ordered the almond crossaint, danish pastry, a latte and a cappuccino. If you are heading there, I would certainly recommend the almond crossaint and the cappuccino – a light, fluffy pastry with a very solid nutty filling that goes extremely well with a creamy coffee!

Thoughts

I’ve visited Melbourne City a total of three times over the recent years, and I’ve always made it a point to visit the Queen Victoria Market as it never fails to surprise me with local goodies and produce. Go take a look at this gem in the heart of the city!

Tip: If you’re looking to purchase fresh produce at a lower cost, visit the stalls during the closing hours as they tend to drop their prices at the end of the day!

50K meals for needy in Singapore

Source: The Food Bank Singapore

In such trying times, many low-wage earners may have lost their jobs. Food and beverage (F&B) establishments are bleeding as people stay home. Charities are experiencing massive drops in volunteer numbers and donations. Against this dire backdrop, The Food Bank Singapore (FBSG) has come up with Feed the City (Take-Away Edition), a community effort to feed the underprivileged while supporting local eateries.

The idea involves getting donors to pay for meals, food and beverage (F&B) partners to provide cooked meals at special rates, and volunteers to distribute 5,000 meals to needy households island-wide.

First to suppoort this scheme are electric retailer Geneco and online caterer Grain. The initial beneficiaries are expected to be needy senior citizens who do not have a place to gather following the cessation of Senior Activity Centre activities in Singapore.

“FBSG is committed to take on the crucial role during such uncertain times to continuously provide food to vulnerable communities and remain fully operational to ensure no one gets left behind. We are issuing a rallying call to sponsors and F&B outlets to come on board Feed the City (Take-Away Edition),” said Nichol Ng, Co-founder of FBSG.

The programme is expected to last two months but FBSG is prepared to extend it till the DORSCON level returns to green.