Sunday, December 31, 2017

Rainbows of 2017

As 2017 comes to an end, I'll just leave these two photos of rainbows here which kinda sums up my life in 2017. There were rain and thunder, and there were sunshine and blue skies. But all in all, I have no complaint. It was a beautiful and colourful year, and very much as per my life motto of experiencing the full spectrum of life: whether its the high or low, new and lost friendship, home or abroad. Life goes on through it all.  

As 2018 approach, I'm gonna go catch the first sunlight over East Coast Park or Changi Beach, and hope that 2018 will also be filled with rainbows and unicorns, jumping across running river and falling into it, new songs and newly discovered old songs, simple and delicious food, and most of all, memorable conversation, dances that you can get lost in, and books that tears your heart apart. 

Happy new year 2018 everyone! Thanks for being here.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Nano Block Memorable - Colosseum

While spring cleaning my room and trying to declutter, I came across this nano block that my dearest made for me. I thought I'll share the story this nano block on this blog today. Frankly, I hate nano block, I have two (inclusive of this one above), and I outsource both to other people to assemble it for me. I don't get the whole concept of it at all. But the one above was one I bought for myself in 2017. My colleagues and I were having dinner at Changi Airport one evening, and they have these nano block event on. With a minimum spending, I could purchase two nano block at a cheap rate (I think it as around SGD9). I bought two, one for my dearest, and one for myself. I specifically pick the colosseum cause I knew I was going back to Rome in June 2017. Btw, just to clarify, my dearest is actually a colleague from my office. No romantic link at all. I just happen to always start my email with "Dear....", but with her I always start with "Dearest ...." just for kicks. It kinda stuck till now.

She was nice enough to assemble it for me, with a box casing and everything, and return everything else back to me. Apparently nano block comes with instruction manual and spare parts! I did not know that. I guess like Ikea DIY kit, the spare is in case you lose some parts.

The kit even came with a miniature me! It's so cute. See, that's me standing in front of the Colosseum! Apparently I am blond in the nano block world!

To fix the blond-liness, I thought I'll share my actual photo of me and the Colosseum too. Above is a picture of me taken in 2013 on my first trip to Italy. I went with my husband, and am still one quarterly through of blogging it! Lol. You can read some of it here in the older entries. 

And this is a cooler version of me again, taken in June 2017. I felt fortunate to be able to visit the beautiful ancient city of Rome twice in my life time. Maybe that coin I threw into the fountain actually worked. Actually I can't remember if I threw anything in. I didn't really like Rome when I was there the first time. On my second trip I stayed at the other side of the river and spend more of an ordinary day like a residence instead of tourist there shopping for cheese, truffles, risotto and prosciutto. Will try to catch up on my blog one of these days! That day is coming up real soon as I am headed for retirement! (hopefully... I am still working. My goal of retiring at 40 has failed. Cause well, money.)

Friday, December 29, 2017

Innisfree Christmas Present for Myself!

While still in a Christmas mood, I thought I'll just blog about a Christmas gift which I got myself. And actually, it only cost SGD50, and it's from this Korean branch call Innisfree. Above shaped like a Christmas tree, is all the things I got for SGD50 for myself! If I buy all the things individually, it would cost be around SGD80+. I was already planning to get a face moisturiser from them anyway after seeing so many of my Facebook friends recommending this brand. I was running low on my own moisturiser, and since there was a Christmas sale on, I thought, why not! 

This is what it looks inside. I actually just wanted the Orchid Anti-Aging Moisturiser cream. That alone cost SGD48 for the big one, and I wasn't sure I will like using it. And since this box set let me try most of the products, it was kinda like a no brainer. Plus if you spend SGD50, you get a Christmas gift like the one below! Woohoo, I am so girlie these days! I don't really like using cosmetic, but I do like a clean and clear complexion. And with age catching up, I am more aware of the fine lines that are starting to form. So to the rescue! The only product that I will use on my face is moisturiser. Everything else is just temporary fix. 

And with SGD50, they let you join their membership too! And give you three more samples to try! I am already loving this brand. Super value for money!

The above SGD50 free gift isn't too shabby either. I get 4 small bottles of even more sleeping moisturiser cream! It says to share with someone. I think I'll share them between my left side and right side of my face! Lol. 

They even give you your membership card instantly! Super efficient! I haven't started using their products yet, except for the sample for a start. I am still trying to finish my old stocks before starting on this.

Ok! Enough of the girly talk! I think this is my first post on skin care and cosmetics and girlie stuff! To balance it off, above is a dinosaur powder I got from Hanoi in a Korean shop call Mumuso. It only cost me SGD6, and it is actually just talcum powder. But I got it because it has a monster on the cover, plus the talcum powder comes in shimmer. Meaning it makes your face sparkle! hahahahaha. Bye!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Spring Cleaning My Desk

With two consecutive long weekends, plus me clearing my time-off one day each week, I was motivated enough on the first long weekend to spring clean my study room! So from a messy desk, I clear clear clear and voila! Clean desk! Above is the end result. Isn't it lovely?

Up close is Ms Hokkaido Office Lady with lavender Hello Kitty. She follows Markus everywhere he goes and kinda sits on top when Markus is in used. Markus is the name of my macbook in case you don't know. Lol. 

This year, I finally decide to get rid of my old speakers and downgrade to a wireless speaker. This is actually a free speaker which I got as a door gift from my office Dinner and Dance this year. Next to it is a Buddha leave image, a souvenir I got from my first trip to Mumbai, and the lovely paint-by-number unfinished painting is still the backdrop of my desk. I still think it is lovely. And Mr Andy is guarding the speaker. All of them seated on a lovely lace cotton from the island of Burano. 

I decided to also bring out my Starwars cloth and used it as a notebook cover. I got these fro Aeon Hokkaido last year. It kinda just fits in :) 

So study desk done. Maybe I'll even mop the floor next!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Pu Er Tea

My office colleague gave me this beautiful individually wrapped Pu Er tea the other day after she found out I was a tea drinker. She gave me 3 of these which she say she bought from TaoBao. I decided to try them during the long weekend afternoon. But first, let us appreciate how beautiful the above photo is, taken with the backdrop of the tea pot I used to make the tea.

So this is what it actually looked like. The pot isn't really that big, just enough to brew two cups of tea. I got it from a shop in Penang and love using it. But recently I have been toying with the idea of getting a nice Japanese tea pot.... we'll see....

Anyway, back to the Pu Er. This is what it looks like when I unwrapped it. Doesn't look that appealing. Kinda look like poo.... And I didn't really know how to brew it. So I brew it like Vietnamese dripped coffee! Lol. I let it soak in hot water for 45seconds, and drain the first brew, kinda to wash the tea leaf as well. After that I added the hot water (filtered water too!), and let it sit for 30 seconds before pouring it out for drinking.

It looks really dark! But it smells of barley. It wasn't bitter at all. I drank about 4 cups of it. It didn't taste acidic at all. In fact, I really like the barley fragrance of the tea. I still have two more of these at home. In returned, I actually packed some houjicha and genmaicha for my colleague. It is always a pleasure to try out different type of tea. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Rose Tea

I'm starting my tea drinking ritual again. Actually I've been pretty hooked on houjicha, and it has been my go-to drink at home. But recently, I ran out of pre-packed houjicha, so I have to have a sit down and do the manual packing of tea again. And this time, I have a new tea to pack - Rose Tea! Well, actually its just rose bud. I haven't really tried them yet, but I thought I'll just pack some and try when I'm free. I was recently at a high tea at Colony Ritz Calton (will post about it in future soon), and I ordered French Rose Bud tea, and it was served with 6 rose bud in a tea pot. It was surprisingly soothing, so that's the effect I am aiming for at home....

Anyway, here is a close up of the red rose bud I got. We actually bought these from Sapa, Vietnam. They cost us SGD6 for 200g after bargaining. In HCM market, they were selling it for SGD6 for 100g. I still don't know what is a good price for these. When we bought them from the market, the lady gave me one bud to smell. I put it in my sweeter pocket through out my trip and smell it ever so often. It was so lovely. I gave a petal to some aborigine tribe lady who keep following around. She told me these were used to soothe the tummy. I just love the scent of it. 

So I am trying to put 5 buds into a pack, meant for one cup consumption. I am rather happy that I can finally use my pink Taiwan tea container for what it was always meant to be used for - Rose Tea! Now just waiting for the right moment to savour this sweet smelling tea.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Present 2017

Had I pleasant surprise this year in terms of Christmas presents. I have stopped giving out Christmas presents to colleagues in my current workplace. Correction, I've never given them anything. If I did gave anything, it was only to a few, and it is usually vacation souvenir given way before Christmas. I don't like gift exchange cause I don't like clutter in my home. But this year, my desk table was filled with gift when I came back from a day off. I was pleasantly surprised. And I really really hate it when people just leave presents without stating who it is from! I spend the whole day asking around for my secret santa. Thank you all for the very lovely and extremely thoughtful gift. Let me tell you what they each meant to me. First was a bag from my lady boss. She gave me a gift every year, and thick skin me have never returned any gift ever! Not because I am stingy, or I don't like her or anything, but because of NO CLUTTER POLICY! 

Next, I received this lovely cute dragon? Dinosaur from my Kak Ida. (Actually I am older than her lah, but she will always be KAK Ida to me). I love it cause it has the first alphabet of my first 'real' name on it (yes my first name starts with "A", not "C"). And it is special because I love dinosaurs or dragons, depending on how you look at it. (my husband say it is a cicak a.k.a. house lizard). I'm keeping this gift for life! So adorable.

Above is from another alien colleague name E.T.  (no real names exposed on this blog to keep their privacy, but if you know me and know who I work with, you can guess :P) I love books!  And when I saw it was a Murakami, I was thinking who on earth would be so thoughtful to get me a book of one of my favourite author! I have read most of Murakami's book on my kindle, but I don't really have many of his book physically. In fact, I think this is like my third real book from him! And this is one of his especially dark stories too! And it's wrapped in such a lovely green translucent paper too! Totally love this! Thank you!

I also received this lovely unicorn from my dearest. She took me out for high tea, and suddenly surprise me with this. I am 40 years old this year, and I get a magic unicorn for Christmas! How awesome is that. I am sleeping with it now, seriously! She knew I love unicorn, and it was so thoughtful of her to got me this cute one. The magically unicorn is meant to feed on my sadness and make me happier! Thank you dearest! And NO, unicorns are NOT GAY! 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas 2017

Merry Christmas 2017 everyone! This post is to capture the christmas decoration in my home. And we will start with the above title photo of my main and only Christmas decoration at home this year. It is located on my marble dining table next to the window with my beloved lamp, couple cat, and totoro stained glass jigsaw! Isn't it a lovely sight?

I've given up on having a Christmas tree a few years back cause my husband hated it, and it was so much trouble putting up and pulling it down yearly. So we threw the tree away, and above are kinda all the type of trees we have. These are musical boxes which I used to get yearly. I love them, but most of the musical boxes have stopped working due to old age. But they still look lovely, so now I used them as Christmas decorations.

To get some feel of lighting, I use tea candles in a glass bowl with flowers floating on it. It creates a lovely ambiance to the room instantly. Placed on top of laced cotton cloth from the island of Burano... Each and every beautiful things in my home has a special memory attached to it. Above the couple cat is from the island of Bali on our first trip there. The totoro jigsaw is from a Tokyo trip I went with my girlfriends. The marble table is the  most expensive furniture I have ever paid for :P

Above is what it looks like in the evening. I just love the greeneries outside the window. 

And when it is finally dark, the candle light shines bright and illuminate the whole living room, together with the lovely lamp of course. 

And as Christmas morning arrive, the sun will hopefully shine in from the window and light up the house with it's warmth :)

Merry Christmas everyone! Tomorrow I'm gonna post about all the lovely presents I got this year. Almost everything is extra special and thoughtful this year!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Absolute Vodka Cocktail Recipe

Remember my previous post on watermelon cooler with a dash of vodka? Well 2018 is just around the corner, and there are two long weekends for me to fool around at home. So I thought I'll prepare myself by trying out some of the vodka recipe that came with my sampler vodka kit. Here to share are the full recipe booklet. The recipe looks simple enough, and after the watermelon cooler which tasted surprisingly refreshing, I thought I'll try to make more by referring to the recipe and getting some new ideas.

So what I've done is got some cans of soda water, as well as some juice from the supermarket. For today, I got yuzu juice. I also have lime and mint at home. I think fresh cocktails are the best. You feel less guilty drinking when you know there are fruits and herbs involved. Just add ice, vodka, something sweet and shake shake shake! I've even found a special mug to use for mixing the drinks! Will share more when I start making them! 

So far on my to-do list are: 
  1. Yuzu citron cocktail (Yuzu + Citron Vodka + Soda Water)
  2. Long Island Tea (Cold Brew Tea, Soda Water + Syrup/Honey + Pear Vodka)
  3. Surprise Sunrise (Orange Juice + Soda Water + Raspberry Vodka)

I think I need to get some cranberry juice, apple juice, and maybe some lemongrass....
Stay tune!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Homemade Banh Mi

I can't get the smell of banh mi out of my mind sometimes. And at the back of my mind, there is always this challenge to try making it on my own. Well last weekend, all the stars were align: 1) The same picnic library book that I mentioned in my previous post have a recipe on banh mi, 2) I was at a Christmas Factory food sale, and they were selling baguettes for SGD1.50, 3) I have lots of pate at home from my recent trip to Vietnam, 4) I suddenly feel like I could picked some vegetable! So let's do it!
Above are all the ingredient I used. The recipe calls for caramelised pork, I took a short cut and bought some roast pork from the market instead. It was also my first time buying cilantros. OMG, I don't even like those smelly vegetables! Age must be catching up on me cause they tasted great in the end product!
In case you are interested, the above is the recipe reference I use. I use it mainly to see how to make picked vegetable. In terms of assembling the banh mi, I have spend enough time in the queue in HCM to know how it was made. I knew I was gonna made it the HCM way no matter what the book says.
Look how pretty the picked vegetable look! I took some shortcut here as well but bypassing the turnip since this was my first try and I didn't want to make too much in case it turned out bad. I also peel the carrots and cucumber instead of slicing them cause - laziness. Added some chilli cause I recall how spicy the banh mi was in HCM. The whole picked thing took the most time, in terms of sitting in the fridge that is. A whole 3 hours. So I could only have a go at my banh mi as afternoon snack. 

And above is the end product. It tasted so wonderful! I now know that I don't ever have to crave HCM banh mi ever again cause I can always recreate it at home. The smell of the pate when I opened up the can brought back so much memories of the first time I had these. My version consist of: spreading mayo on one side of the bread, and a thick layer of pate on the other side. I skipped the butter cause I was on diet (lol). I also added tomato slices cause well, tomatoes are my fave vegetables. I think I also added raw onions cause well, I love raw onions. After that I top it with slices of roast pork, a generous helping of picked vegetable, and cilantros. And when you put everything together and took a bite of it, they just felt like they all belong together, and that they were all just meant to be! It was symphony in my mouth. I love it so much I'm gonna go make another one now for supper! 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Homemade Watermelon Cooler!

I love pretty books about food. I got this book from the Orchard Gateway library last Thursday on my day off. It looked so whimsical to have a picnic. The book is all about picnic food. And as I just had dinner at a friend's place on Saturday where they serve us watermelon juice on ice, I kinda crave it again on this Sunday afternoon. And since we usually have watermelon in our fridge, I thought why not!

The recipe from the book looked simple enough. We have lime at home, and woohoo vodka! I have lots of vodka at home! It was a dull Sunday anyway, so I decided to make an afternoon cocktail to cheer myself up.

My husband helped me blend the watermelon and lime juice, and with a quarter of a cup of ice, and a dash of vodka, my Sunday was suddenly beginning to look a lot better!

Served in my innocent Moomin cup, who would ever imagine that this was a cocktail with 40% alcohol contained in the vodka! Fun fact, my miniature vodka pack came with a cocktail recipe booklet! Oh man! I can't wait for all the upcoming weekend to give them a try! Hello Christmas! Hello 2018, and Hello Chinese New Year! My home is a party by itself!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Hanoi to Singapore - SQ Business Class

I'm back in Singapore, for like 3 weeks now. I guess I'll start blogging again since there is always backlog of things to write about. For today, I want to blog about my first experience in a Business Class flight, SQ no less, from Hanoi to Singapore. I got the flight for free (excluding taxes which I paid) by redeeming almost all of my Krisflyer points from  my 2.5 years worth of business trip. Could only afford a one way trip though, but it was well worth it for the experience. So let me just document everything down here as part of my life milestone.

For a start, did you know you could actually check-in earlier if you are flying budget as compared to flying Business Class! Bummer, right? But since I didn't have to queue as per economy class, I wasn't really bothered, although I mentally noted that they could improve by letting me throw my luggage in first!

As part of Business Class, you get complimentary entry to the airport business lounge. This was my 2nd time granted entry, so I wasn't really too bothered about it either. I wasn't particularly hungry either and only managed to ate 2 plates of fruits. Guava in Vietnam is so yummy! But what I did love about the lounge was how quiet it was, and how strong the coffee was. They had a Nespresso machine in there, so I helped myself to two cups of espresso. It helped so much to clear my mind! And it being so quiet in the lounge, I could finally calm down a hear my own thoughts again! I spend about an hour in there before headed to my gate.

Upon boarding the plane, which I get priority, I grab a paper, and headed to my seat. Woohoo! How spacious! Through out the flight, I didn't even feel like I was on a plane! I wish all my flights could be like this! And pardon the dusty boots. I have been hiking, and was not my glamourous self on the flight.
Unlike the normal earphone, SQ provided headphone and a very comfy pillow for me to hug. And yes there were in flight entertainment! Although the selection was rather limited, I managed to still watch a Japanese movie titled: I want to eat your pancreas. Needless to say, I shed tears watching it. How embarrassing! It wasn't even that good, but I guess the movie caught me in the wrong altitude! Lol.
Lunch was provided, and above is the menu. Oh yes, they served champagne before take off, but I opt for juice. I'm a hopeless luxury traveller. I don't really fancy much stuff I guess. I did however had Chardonnay with my main.

1st course was the appetiser, mango salad and scallop. Not too shabby! With full cutleries too. Needless to say, old habit dies hard, I only used the folk. 

The main was salmon cooked in tomato sauce. It was ok I guess.... Nothing fancy except the plates.

Dessert was chocolate brownie, which was kinda disappointing. I missed the haagen dazs they used to give in economy class on flights to/from Japan last time. Come on SQ! This is probably the only time I get to fly Business Class, and you serve brownies??? 

Anyway, it was just a 3.5 hour flight from Hanoi to Singapore. The flight ended sooner than I wish it to. We get to get off the plane first, and even my luggage came out first. Awesome. But I was stuck in the duty free shop like forever waiting for my husband to buy full quota of his happy juice a.k.a. alcohol.

And so that was how my 2 weeks adventure in Vietnam ended. There are tonnes of photos to sort through before I can update them here. Vietnam was beautiful, and comical and fun. But at the end of the trip, the smell of fish oil was kinda making me sick. In fact I didn't eat much the last few days. I really missed starchy rice and loaded up on that the first week I was home. 

So give me some time, weeks, month, maybe years, I promise to share my adventure of Hanoi here eventually....