I have a mold problem in my home now…what do I do?

Our last post on “8 tips to keep mold and mildew out of our humid Singapore homes” has been getting a lot of traction, especially in the months of January and February. Could it be because it is the most humid months of the year?

We have also received some questions via email on exactly how we’d solved our mold & mildew (M&M), and booklice issue. As such, we’ve decided do a follow up post on this topic to give you some direction, should you be facing a problem with M&M.

Here are our suggested steps:

First: Keep things light-hearted and discuss the next steps with your family members. 🙂 These next steps may take some time to carry out so don’t pressure yourself to solve every single issue immediately.

Second: Assess the seriousness of your M&M issue. Are there M&M visible in many parts of your home, especially your kitchen and bathroom? Are you seeing bugs like booklice and silverfish lurking around your closets and shelves? Are you and your family members falling sick quite often? Does your home have a wet and musky smell? If your answer is yes to most of the above, then perhaps you have a moderately serious situation of M&M in your home. At this point, we want to say “Well done!” as you have taken the first step in researching about it and stumbling upon this blog post. 🙂

Third: Get a mold expert in for an inspection. We had invited a Mold inspector from AOM to visit our home. When he came, he had a device to measure the humidity of our walls. As we had been dehumidifying quite often at that point, he said that the humidity levels of our home is pretty good. At this point we still had some sightings of the booklice – which he said was normal as they would need some time (even months) to realize that our home does not have anymore food (M&M) for it and it will find its way out (yay!).

We had the inspection done at the end of 2016, and it was a free home inspection then, but please do check if that’s still the case. If you had to pay a small fee, we feel that it would be money well spent. After the consultation, the consultant should be able to advise your next steps. If it’s serious enough, they may even advise you to fog your home with insecticide and/or wipe down your walls.

(These next steps we had taken for ourselves are in accordance to our lifestyle. Based on the context of your M&M issue, you may need to alter this up or down.)

Fourth: We cannot stress this enough – buy a dehumidifier! At least for a start, dehumidify each room per week every night (close the windows when you do), beginning with the room that has been hit the worse with M&M. In the day, air your home as much as possible. Open the windows as big as you can, especially if someone is at home the whole day.

Fifth: Get this Bio-X spray and spray it generously on the walls and corners where you have seen booklice or M&M. This has been very effective for us, even though we know that it is quite pricy. For a start, spray it every alternate day, then 3 times a week, then weekly. We use this on our mattress too whenever we change our bedsheets. You can find BioX at Cold Storage or Selffix in Singapore. Typically I’ve found it cheaper at Selffix but you can do a price check. This spray does keep booklice at bay and prevent them from coming back. However, the root is still to remove their food source – which is M&M.

Sixth: Buy yourself some tea tree oil and gel. This helps to maintain a healthy indoor surface & air quality. It smells kind of herby as well, which isn’t a bad thing!

Last but not least: Follow the 8 tips that we have listed in this post. 🙂

All the best!

Simple One-Pot Salmon & Hash Rice Recipe (Using a Rice-Cooker).

The wife has recently gotten inspired by one-pot meals and was surprised that a rice-cooker is such an amazing kitchen tool!

So in the name of simple, healthier and fun (and also laziness) meals, here is a self-made-up recipe which we hope you’ll enjoy preparing too! This makes a huge batch (6 individual portions).

Defrost your salmon thoroughly, if you are using frozen ones.

Here you go, our…

Simple one-pot salmon and hash rice recipe!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of uncooked Hokkaido pre-washed rice
  • 2 salmon fillets (fresh or defrosted)
  • 3 defrosted hash (potato hash-browns)
  • 2 portions of tomato paste (we used 1 packet of Napolitan paste from Daiso)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small cube of unsalted butter
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • As much garlic as you want! We used about 7 cloves
  • Water needed to cook 3 cups of rice (use your trusty thumb or the pot measurement to gauge)

Directions

  • Pre-heat rice cooker for about 1 minute (ours is non-stick)
  • Fry garlic and olive oil in the rice cooker
  • Put salmon in (skin downwards first); cook for 4-5 minutes
  • Flip the salmon; cook for 4-5 minutes (please adjust according to the thickness of your fillets)
  • Remove salmon & set aside
  • Fry the uncooked rice with the remaining oil and garlic. Add water and tomato paste. Stir.
  • Add the crumbled hash, butter, salt and pepper on top. Let it cook with the normal rice timing (ours was 45 minutes)
  • After the rice is cooked, stir, then add the salmon back in.
  • Stir stir stir…and serve!

We ate 2 portions (with a side of miso soup) for dinner and saved the remaining 4 portions in the fridge for another day! We wouldn’t keep it longer than 4 days.

Try this and let us know how it goes! 🙂

Actually, how neat are we? The truth behind our kitchen cabinets.

Inside a home’s kitchen cabinets, drawers, and inside a fridge – it’s usually where mess and clutter starts to accumulate. We have moved into our new home for 11 months now. Would you be curious to see how neat(or not) we’ve kept our stuff in our kitchen?


Above: our all-white cupboards. 


Here is what’s behind those white cupboard doors! Some kitchen items, plates, bowls, and cups. And honestly, we don’t even use them all enough. 


Here’s what’s behind the other door – our disposables, sauces and spices. 


And here is what’s under our sink! It smells fresh as we dehumidify the area around once a week. Also, there’re some moth balls in there to keep the bugs away. 


Our four levels of drawers, from the bottom to the top! Do you spot some toys in there? They are our little “spark-joy” items. 🙂


Here’s our corner cabinet that’s next to our fridge. This stores the bulkier items such as our mixer, rice cooker, kettle, pots, pans and some pantry items. 


Last but not least, the contents inside our fridge. 

We think we are doing pretty okay in terms of neatness, heh. 

How about you? 

We hope this has inspired you at least a little. 🙂

If you love design, don’t be afraid to “fight” for it for your home!

First things first, your happiness in your marriage / respect, love and patience for your spouse comes before all of this. Please discuss decisions with your significant other first, before making them. Your home space belongs to the BOTH of you. 🙂

Okay, so it’s a blessing that the both of us had the same idea in mind before designing our home: our Japanese-themed home (made practical for humid Singapore). 

We also had the privilege of living with our parents, while we waited for our BTO. This enabled us to learn about our living habits, about each other, and how we could make our very own home work for us (and not the other way around; but that’s for another post!). 

The wife loves white. White, white, white. With hues of brown. And the husband doesn’t mind. 🙂 

White and brown: it’s everywhere!

It is really amazing when most sights (working towards “all sights”) in your home, makes you smile, because it fits what your eye loves to view. How many of you get us? Raise your hands! 

A beautiful design does not have to be expensive (we get some of our stuff from Daiso). Also, don’t be afraid to think out of the box and make it your own. Most importantly, keep things minimal, practical and designed to what YOU love. 

Minimalism can save your marriage. 

How so? We aren’t being dramatic when we say so. 


1. We cannot stress how important an easy-to-clean house is to a healthy marriage. 

This is definitely not the only important factor into building a healthy marriage, but it’s definitely an ingredient in the entire recipe called love. 

In our hectic Singapore work culture, a married couple would be tired by the time they’ve reached home. This includes us. 

When you’re home, you don’t want to be seeing clumps of hair, dust, mess lying around. It adds unwanted stress to the individual and that’s the last thing you’d want. A home should be a sanctuary where you also don’t want to spend too much time cleaning (or fighting about why things are left dirty; and who should be cleaning/helping out more). 

We are thankful for a relatively empty floor, which enables Sarah (our iRobot) to clean away on a daily basis. Viola! 



2. Lesser belongings gives us a birds’-eye-view of whatever we own, and releases us to purchase new items without guilt. 

Up till today, even with lesser belongings than before, we still feel that we could do with less. This frees our mind and our hearts to truly be aware of what we really love, which results in us knowing what new stuff we can possibly purchase (but we are still super choosy in shopping). 

Our clothes are also cycled more often from the closet, to the wash, and back into the closet. This keeps stuff fresher = in general this leads to a happier and fresher home too. 



3. We get to do what we truly love!

Be it to paint, calligraph, watch movies, surf YouTube, read, doodle, bake, etc… we get to do this more often because there’s hardly any “weekend” housework to do, other than the occasional laundry, toilet-wash or changing the fish tank water. 


Try it, you won’t regret it. 🙂

We Are Grout-chy

One thing about us is that we are quite particular about cleanliness. So we did our best to renovate and build our home to be easy to maintain and clean.

As with every first-time (and probably second, third-time) home owners, we found some things that we could have done better or changed when renovating our home. One of those things is our Genkan area right at our door.

Our current situation is that we used relatively small tiles for the Genkan area, resulting in wide grout lines between tiles. So after about 7 months of moving in, with this being where we enter and exit our home, dirt naturally builds up in the grout lines.

By total coincidence, we discovered a product line specific for grout cleaning and protection – sold by Grout Shield Singapore. We bought a couple bottles of their Grout Shield and Deep Cleaner and gave it a shot on our Genkan.

[Note: This is NOT a paid post – we are just sharing what we found that might help other home owners out]

Grout is usually a porous surface, hence it traps dirt and other materials which get on to it. Grout Shield essentially forms a layer on top of your existing grout and seals the pores, making it easier to clean off future stains as they don’t get deep into the pores.

It’s not a cheap solution, but it does save you quite a lot more potential headaches in cleaning or maintaining your grout areas in the long run. This one application should last 3-5 years.

Here we did the vertical grout lines first and you can see the difference between that and the horizontal lines which we cleaned but still couldn’t get everything out. (Recommendation is to do this before you move in or just after renovation for best effect. )


Application of the Grout Shield is pretty easy. You can do it yourself (and save some $$$) or you could get the company to do it for you. It’s a good work out too (seriously, our arms and thighs are aching from scrubbing, standing, squatting and cleaning) 😛

Here’s a quick overview of how we did it (after cleaning it with the Deep Cleaner solution):

So far the application on our grout at the Genkan area has reaped good results. We will also be using this on our bathroom shower area tiles as well.

Hope this helps some of you guys – wished we discovered this before we moved in!

See the difference between the section we haven’t worked on and what we did? 

Do you need a home-inspection / defect-checking company for your BTO?

After that exciting process of getting the keys to your BTO and immediately heading to your new home before sunsets (okay maybe that’s just us) to have a peek, checking out the view, opening and closing doors, etc…adulthood sets in as we needed to decide if we should hire a home-inspection / defect-checking company, or not.

Here’s a little brief for new (or soon-to-be…congrats!) BTO-owners. 

Timeline:

  1. Collect keys.
  2. Do defect-checking (by yourselves or by hiring a company).
  3. Report the defects (or anything suspected to be one) to your HDB’s contractor – who would have a temporary office set up at the void-deck area.
  4. Defects are rectified (may require multiple checks) and your ID/contractor can come in to start their work. 
  5. Renovations are done and time to clean up! 
  6. Move in. 😍

Firstly just let me state that a defect-checking company in Singapore for a 4-room BTO costs around $500 and onwards, depending on the package that you decide to go for. 

It is expensive and this money could go towards your brand new oven or even pay for a part of your dining set. BUT, there may be scenarios where it is wise to hire one.

Personally for us, we did not engage in one but for some people, it could be absolutely necessary to do so.

Here are several reasons that should lead you to HIRE a home-inspection / defect-checking company:

  • The floors feel uneven and there are many holes in the grout area. 
  • The walls look unfinished and the paint job isn’t done well.
  • The ceiling has holes and isn’t patched up properly.
  • The doors and windows creek and do not close properly.
  • The electricity power points do not all work.
  • The carpentry is substantially bad in quality (you need not focus too much on this if you are planning to overhaul/hack these parts of your home during your renovations).
  • You notice numerous sub-par work/materials such as rusting, leakages, mold build-up and ponding (when your “flooded” bathroom or kitchen water does not flow naturally into the provided drainage).
  • You are extremely particular and have no time/energy to do your own defect-checking. 
  • You would rather part with money, in exchange for a peace of mind.
  • You have noticed many defect-complaints online, regarding your HDB property.

Here are several clues to show that you NEED NOT HIRE a home-inspection / defect-checking company:

  • There are only about 1-3% of minor defects in your HDB-provided flooring.
  • The paint is generally well done and quite even (it is likely you would get your ID to do another coat of anti-mold/washable paint – please do consider this).
  • The ceiling does not need much rectification work.
  • The doors and windows close properly and have minimal creeking sounds.
  • All your electricity points are working.
  • The carpentry is of average-good quality (sad fact: we should not expect a 100% job well done for most contractors in Singapore).
  • There is hardly any ponding occurring when you flood your kitchen and bathroom floors.
  • You would rather take personal responsibility in checking every nook and cranny yourself. 
  • You have a tight budget and would rather spend the money on other parts of the house.
  • You don’t hear of many huge complaints online, or from your neighbors regarding your HDB property.
  • You have a general sense of peace about inspecting your house yourself. 

Ultimately, go with your gut feel and if you’ve purchased the home with your significant other, be sure to come to an agreement with him or her. It is important to collaborate and have a stress-less process, no matter what your final decision might be. 🙂 Relationships are more important than insisting on having your way. 

For those of you who are going to do the defect checking yourselves, we will be doing a post soon on how-to tips and a summarized checklist that we’ve put together (after researching all over the Internet)! 

Hope this helps and let us know what you think. ✌🏻