Friday, September 22, 2017

Buying Lights In JB

This is part of my Making Of Our Dream Home series. Click to read the other entries in the series.

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Are lightings cheaper in JB?

The answer is a definite YES.

The Mister and I made a day trip to JB two weeks ago to check out the lighting shops, and it’s true what people say – Prices are lower than Singapore, some as much as 50% lower. My legs ached badly the next day, after walking close to 20,000 steps but it’s well worth it – We found almost every lighting we need for our new house. We didn’t make the purchase yesterday – Just checked out the prices, dimensions, voltage etc, and will make another trip there to make all the purchases closer to the shift.

Taobao or JB?

Some people wonder if they should buy their lightings online from Tabao or from JB – My personal opinion is to go with the latter simply because the risks are much lower. You might be able to get lower prices from Taobao, but you will be paying money for big ticket items that you have not seen or touched. Follow-up maintenance and repairs is another issue to be considered – Some may not come with warranty, and repairs would be a hassle in the future - That is all assuming that the items arrive in one piece with no defects in the first place.

Where To Go In JB?

If you google, you will find several recommendations for lighting shops that you can visit in JB. We managed to cover two of them, and felt that there was no need to visit others because we were happy with the range and choices available. No photographs to show because all the lighting shops strictly prohibit photography. If you only have time for one or two shops, I would totally recommend the following two, in that order:

Starworld Lighting Centre
Address: 26-01, 28, 28-01, Jalan Titiwangsa 3/1, Taman Tampoi Indah, Johor Bharu, 81200, Johor Bahru, Johor, 81200, Malaysia

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Tampoi Lighting Centre

Address: 2,4,6, Jalan Titiwangsa 3/1, Taman Tampoi Indah, 81200 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia

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They are located in the same area, along the same stretch of shops, so just hop on to a Grab after you clear the immigrations if you are not driving. Both have a good selection of down lights, ceiling and decorative lighting for your house. Prices for the down lights are comparable, but if you are open to getting a no-brand down lights, Starworld Lighting has a house brand that is really affordable (A tri-light LED down light costs only RM28!). But of course, if you want to go for Philips or Samsung brands, the prices are slightly higher at RM35-39 each. Personally, I prefer Starworld Lighting because they have really nice lightings for dining and living room. In fact, they have a whole series of industrial vintage lightings that I wish I can bring everything home! Prices are slightly cheaper here as compared to Tampoi too, but service staff at both sides are helpful and well-versed in their product knowledge.

Factors To Consider

There are several factors to consider and take note of when purchasing lights from JB (Applies to furniture and every other purchase, really):

#1: Transportation

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If you are really buying a crazy lot of items, make sure you factor in transportation costs. If you have a car and the items can all fit in, then you save on that. Otherwise, you may need to rent a van and get a driver to transport the items over. I checked with one of the lighting shop staff and it usually costs about SGD90 for one trip.

#2: Limit For Purchases Exempt From GST

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Singapore Customs has issued an advisory that GST is exempt only for certain values. If you travel out of Singapore for less than 48 hours, then you will not have to pay GST for goods valued up to $150. If you are away for more than 48 hours, you are exempt from GST for goods valued up to $600. If you are merely going over to JB to buy the lightings, it is very likely that you would have to keep to the $150/pax rule. For purchases above that value, you would have to pay 7% GST for them. So, make sure you bring enough people with you to split the limits and avoid paying GST.

#3: Check Warranty of Products & Installation

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One of the downfalls about purchasing lightings from JB instead of locally is having to go back to the JB shops for any repairs required. This is not much of an issue for me since I stay so near to JB, but if you are staying further away, it’s something you might want to take mental note of. Installation has to be handled by your own electrician, or otherwise arranged at extra cost with the lighting shops -  Some may charge higher rates because they are required to travel from Malaysia to Singapore to do the installation, so just make sure you ask properly before purchasing to avoid hidden costs.

Of course, apart from the practical considerations, if budget is not a concern to you, then you can always scout around different places in Singapore to find lightings that are unique and fits the design of your new home. One of the most popular places Singaporeans go to is always Balestier. There are so many lightings, bathroom & kitchen furnishing shops ion that vicinity, you can check out everything on one trip. Because of the intense competition in that area, prices are generally quite good and if you are meticulous enough, you may spot a few designs that are unique in certain shops. Who knows, you may be able to find the perfect light for your home. :)

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Four-Tier Steamboat Buffet With Free-Flow Drinks & Ice-cream

Media Tasting

Rained cats and dogs the whole day – Craving for some piping hot steamboat? Why not make that four-tier - steam, cook in soup barbecue AND dip in some cheese fondue?

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The Flame Cafe, located 3 minutes away from Tai Seng MRT station, offers steamboat buffet packages in this four-tier gigantic pot for as low as $19.90/pax. If you like to have seafood as well, there are more premium packages going at $24.90 and $38.90. We were hosted there for a media tasting last Saturday and my kids made it extremely worth it by spamming crabs, baby lobsters, prawns and clams. Yes, we are seafood lovers and this buffet is great for us!

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The most basic package includes free flow of meats, vegetables and all the ingredients in the chiller, along with free-flow drinks (Thai milk tea, Bandung, lemon tea) and ice-cream. I would say that the variety is decent – the usual fare you would see for steamboat buffets, but the marinated meats are worth a mention – Well-marinated and taste great. There’s pork, beef, chicken and fish provided in the meat section, so if you are a meat lover, you would be happy. For this package, you only get to choose one out of four different soup bases – Herbal Chicken, Chicken, Tom Yum and Mala. As for the dip, you can also choose between cheese fondue, peanut sauce or the current craze – salted egg yolk dip! The cheese lovers in my family did not even hesitate and chose cheese right away - It’s great for barbecued meats!

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Many different sauces are provided at the side for self-service – They even have a seafood Thai sauce which is quite interesting.

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If you opt for the more expensive package which includes seafood, you get to choose two soup bases. The seafood are kept chilled, so you can order whatever you want (ala carte buffet style) on the chit provided, and the staff will serve them to you.

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We chose Tom Yum and Herbal Chicken soup bases and both were fragrant and tasty even before we started cooking the ingredients.

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The top steamer tier is perfect for steaming prawns, mussels, clams and crabs!

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The kids had so much fun barbecuing and dipping their food into the melted cheese fondue. The only pitfall about this style of steamboat pot is that it is a little hard to scoop food out especially from the bottom steamboat tier, as it’s quite narrow. Just need to be careful if there are kids trying to get food for themselves so that they don’t spill on themselves.

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We went for the $38.90 package, which included a portion of sashimi for the adults, as well as free flow supply of live crabs and other premium seafood. My favorite was the scallops – So juicy & yummy. For this package, you are also entitled to one dish of crabs prepared in either black pepper, chili or steamed.

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Thanks for a good time, Flame Cafe!

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The Flame Cafe
Level 1, 73 Upper Paya Lebar Rd, Singapore 534818
http://flamecafe.com.sg/

Disclosure: The J Babies was invited for a food tasting session for review purposes. All photos & opinions belong to us.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Recommendation: Gaston Luga Backpack (Discount Code In Post!)

Product Review

I begin by saying that I really, really, really LOVE backpacks.

Backpacks are easy to carry, comfortable on my shoulders, usually big enough to fit everything I need to bring out (including my laptop) and matches well with my daily outfits. I am usually decked out in jeans, comfy tank tops and sports shoes, so a lovely backpack really completes the look for me. Plus, I am really not a girlie kind of girl, so backpacks are totally my style. After I became a mom, backpacks became an even more integral part of my life – I can just dump everything I need for the kids in and be ready to get out of the house really quickly. In other words, backpacks are perfect.

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And it gets even better when I find a backpack that not only meets all my needs, but look good as well. When I was first approached by Gaston Luga for a collaboration, I checked out their range and was immediately stumped – I just couldn’t decide which one to choose for myself! Every Gaston Luga backpack looks good in whichever style and color! And so, guess what I went for in the end? =P

“Hello there, little Blackie!”

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Black is always versatile, and since I am not someone who changes bags often (I tend to stick to the same bag the whole week), this Classic - Black & Black backpack would match with all my outfits and would be less obvious when it gets dirty after some time as well. After using the backpack intensively the last two weeks, there are many things I love about it. Here’s sharing 3 reasons why I love my Gaston Luga backpack so much:

#1: Sleek & Chic

Need I say more? I’ve received compliments from so many people ever since I started bringing this backpack out. Not only does it match virtually all my casual outfits, I can literally bring it everywhere I go – Whether it’s to the office or a casual weekend outing with my kids to the beach or shopping mall, I would bring this backpack because it simply looks nice! =D

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#2: Durable & Hardy

When I received the backpack, I was really quite impressed by how hardy the material is. Made of strong durable canvas, the bag does not go out-of-shape, hardy against water and dust and can certainly withstand my heavy daily usage. Just this morning, I spilled water on the backpack accidentally but a quick brush and wipe easily solved the problem. The inner lining is made with luxurious 100% cotton fabric, and under the backpack are four metallic feet for greater stability and protection incase I need to put my backpack on the floor.

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The straps are made of faux leather, with magnetic closure. I find that awesome because it makes closing the bag easier for me.

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#3: Many Useful Compartments

One of the main criteria for me when choosing a backpack is that it must come with a laptop compartment as I carry one with me everyday. My Gaston Luga backpack comes with one spacious 13”-15”compartment for my laptop, together with two inner pockets for keeping pens, small notebooks etc. There is also an outer zipper pocket to keep other small belongings that are often used and have to be easily accessible. I keep my EZLink card, mints and keys there for easy access – Very convenient!

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At the back of the backpack is the unique Gaston Luga pocket for passport, travel documents or other important belongings that need to be kept safe yet easily accessible. It’s a perfect bag for travels! Water-resistant with many compartments to keep different items everywhere. =D

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The Gaston Luga Classic series comes in these pretty colors. Now, do you understand why I had a hard time choosing?? =P

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For all of us staying in Singapore, you’ll be glad to know that we get to enjoy 20% off as tax rebate (for non-EU country) as well as free DHL shipping always! That’s quite a big saving if you do your sums! For a bag of this quality, I think it’s well worth it because you can use it for many years to come. Plus, for readers of this blog, you are also entitled to an additional 15% discount when you check-out your purchase using the code – thejbabies. And there more! For a limited period only, you will also receive a FREE LEATHER ADDRESS TAG with every backpack purchased! (Usual price: $39)

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So, that’s 20% discount + 15% discount + Free DHL shipping + Free Leather Address Tag! 
What are you waiting for?? SHOP NOW on https://gastonluga.com/sg/
Remember to use my discount code – thejbabies !

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Disclosure: The J Babies received a complimentary Classic – Black & Black backpack from Gaston Luga for review purposes. No other financial compensation was received.