Photo One: 6.35am – leaving the house for my hourly brisk walk with a co-worker before work
Photo Two: 6.50am – ‘God-time’ in the car while waiting for co-worker to arrive
Photo Three: 7.35am – South Beach, the halfway mark of our brisk walk
Photo Four: 5.35pm – why coming home will always be something I look forward to
Photo Five: the view from our dining table
Photo Six: close-up shot of the native flower arrangement on the coffee table
Photo Seven: what’s in our fruit bowl now
Photo Eight: my current obsessions – fruity ‘Jubes’ from Pascalls
A girlfriend sent the above video to a few of us this week: “TED talks is one of those apps I have on my iPhone. It is a series of talks given by people sharing their ideas in less than 10 mins. So here’s one that makes me think about Ervina’s eclectic sense of dressing! Enjoy!”
For those who don’t have time to watch the video in full, below are some highlights and comments in parenthesis are mine:
“Secondhand shopping has allowed me to reduce my impact of my wardrobe has on the environment and on my wallet.” (Yes, another advocate of thrift-shopping!)
“It is almost physiologically impossible to be in a bad mood when you are wearing bright red pants.” (I am not so brave to own a pair of red pants although I do have red leggings…Does that count?)
“Fitting in is way overrated. Just be who you are. If you surround yourself with the right people, they will not only get it, they will appreciate it.” (Honestly, this is something I’ve only really learned entering into my thirties – choose a few people you will listen to and the rest is just ‘good advice’.)
“Embrace your inner child.” (Something I am good at, I think! In fact, perhaps too well, much to the aghast of Ben sometimes…)
“If you believe you’re a beautiful person inside and out, there is no look you can’t pull off. We should be able to rock anything we want to rock.” (So, what are you waiting for?!)
“Gold sequins go with anything.” (Time to look for gold sequins in my next opshop trip!)
“Developing your own unique personal style is a really great way to tell the world something about you without having to say a word.” (Bravo!)
“…it’s okay to let go. I don’t need to get emotionally attached to these things, because around the corner, there is always going to be another crazy, colourful, shiny outfit just waiting for me…” (De-cluttering is my fashion motto ‘cos I’ve realized by now that anything I haven’t worn in the last one year is never going to be worn EVER so it might as well go to someone!)
Since this post is fashion-related, this is what I wore for a casual dinner date with the Mr. last night.
Details: sunglasses – $2 brand-new opshop find; cardigan – Singapore; heart-prints blouse – Dorothy Perkins, Singapore; shorts – Rivers, Australia; shoes – Far East Plaza, Singapore; Esprit tote bag – $5 opshop find
Photo One: After months of slumbering, the plum tree outside the house is flowering again
Photo Two: Loving the smell of newly changed bedsheets
Photo Three: Preparing for dinner
Photo Four: The series of ‘keep calm’ fridge magnets were new additions and one of them was too raunchy to put it on, so that went to CS’ toolbox in the garage!
Photo Five: My stash of ‘to-read’ books
Photo Six: On the wall of the guest room cum craft room
Photo Seven: The top shelf of the fridge where the cheeses and strawberries are just crying out ‘eat me, eat me’!
Photo Eight: In my bag – one of my current reads (‘What I talk about when I talk about running’ by Haruki Murakami), ticket stubs to ‘Wicked’ performance, diary and wallet
Photo Nine: Monday dinner – stir-fry mustard greens and steamed fish fillets
Photo Ten: Another sign of spring in the backyard
Last weekend was our first ever church camp – two nights away in a rustic bushland with 130 people. Being one of the 2 key organizers, it was pretty awesome to see how we could pull off something like that in under two months. Thankfully, years of serving in church retreat committees came in handy.
Some favourite memories I took away from were:
1. The smell of crispy cold air in the morning;
2. Going for a mini bush walk with 5 talkative girls and seeing kids having a wild time roughing it out; childhood memories should be made of these;3. Eating toasted marshmallows straight out of the campfire.
On a personal note, the two things God began speaking to me last week (see previous post) was reiterated through the camp speaker’s messages: the importance of a disciplined life and being still before God today, not yesterday, not tomorrow.
This has been a ‘thought-ful’ week from the various regular blog posts I follow:
1) What gets me out of bed every morning – Chris Guillebeau whose goal is to visit EVERY country in the world by April 7, 2013 (that’s when he turned 35) and he’s done 151 countries so far – “what if you didn’t have the obligation; what would you get out of bed in the mornings for if it was completely up to you?”
2) Savouring the moment – beautifully worded by Andrea from Portland. Almost poetry. Wish I could write like that – “one moment folds into the next and then it’s over. and I am left hoping maybe this one will stick.”
3) Life Happens while you are doing something else – another well-written article by Donald Miller – “What gets built with God’s help, then, is less tangible. The Kingdom of God, at least on earth in our time, is perhaps a relational construct.”
4) Gotta share Improv Musical – a musical parody on social media in our daily life. Hilarious but oh-so-true!
5) Back to Silence – A local Freo blogger that I follow to know what’s going on in my community. I couldn’t agree more with him on this – “Why do people need all that constant music. Are they afraid silence will force them to think and connect with the inner self?” Which is why I love to drive in silence unless I am on a roadtrip. I had never found that weird until friends who had sat in my car were surprised that I don’t have any radio or music on while driving. But that’s how I like it. It is my quiet time when I can be still before God and even myself. When is the last time you did that?
April has been a whirlwind of a month. Is it because I’d turned thirty-six that I am feeling the urgency of time all the more? And there were many reflective moments.
We were back in Singapore for our annual visit. Not surprisingly, it was never long enough. ‘What, you are only here for 10 days?’ was the common refrain we received from family and friends when we met.It was, however, the best ‘homecoming trip’ we have had in all our previous visits. This time round, we deliberately scaled down our to-do list. Our last appointment of the day would be dinnertime so if it went longer than that, there wasn’t any stress about us being late for our next appointment.
We even managed to squeeze in time to do some touristy thing like visit Marina Bay Sands and Universal Studios. And I am happy to say that we were eating local food all the time. Almost. Because I still didn’t get to eat my bbq stingray and oyster omelette.
But the best part of our Singapore trip is always about people. Countless sharing was done over meals and drinks. And I am often comforted by the fact that distance hasn’t pulled us apart from the many relationships we have left behind. Thank you, dear ones, for your love and friendship. We are blessed indeed.
Interlude – Kuala Lumpur trip
Before coming to Singapore, we had actually spent the weekend in Kuala Lumpur so I could visit my best friend since secondary school days, SF. It was a good trip because I’d also invited my best friend since university days Liz to come along. So the trip had allowed me to spend quality time with 2 of these girlfriends who played an important role in my growing up years.
SF and Liz – I love you girls to bits. Thank you for loving and accepting me, just as I am.
Quality time with special couple – Joey & Huiyi
They are the third couple we have hosted and the couple we have the most intense quality time with. Perhaps because Joey and I have similar personalities, and we both could only do small talk for so looong; it wasn’t surprising that quality conversations were happening all the time. CS and I felt privileged to have had shared moments with this couple as they embarked on a new chapter in their couplehood journey.
However, what stood out most for me was talking to Huiyi over breakfast at Moore’s. It was a deliberate decision to ask Huiyi out. I’d wanted to know her better and hear what’s on her heart and vice versa. And what a beautiful morning that turned out to be. We shared openly as only sister to sister could.
Interlude – Rachael’s text
Thank you, dear, for the unexpected text message on Tuesday. It brought smiles and most of all, warmth to my heart. I am still bummed that we didn’t get to meet up when we were in Singapore. Next year, I promise. We would have long chats over drinks at Starbucks.
Singapore election fever
Even though we have been away for four years now, I still follow Singapore news to keep myself abreast of what’s happening. And with all the postings on Facebook about election news, it is hard not getting caught up in the electoral fever. So I find myself trawling through videos, blogs, political commentaries on the internet. For the first time, many people are sharing their political opinions openly. Who says Singaporeans are politically apathetic?
I think the proliferation of social media since the last election has played a big part in this. Previously, any political coverage was disseminated by state-controlled mass media like the television and the newspapers so any alternate voices are often drowned out or obliterated altogether. Now, everyone can make themselves heard through self-posted videos or public domains like Facebook and Twitter. And what a plethora of voices are we hearing so far! If anything, I think it augers well for the future of Singapore. So I am quietly optimistic about this election and will be following the live coverage come next Saturday.
Aging – can water be my answer?
Two days ago, I had a sudden panic attack – I am getting old! And then I started having mental pictures of
my face losing elasticity, due to loss of collagen.
For the first time in my life, I felt fearful of aging. So I turned to what any 21st century person would turn to for help – internet. I googled about what to do about sagging face and its prevention. And the best advice I got out of? Drink lots of water because it keeps your skin hydrated and thus, prevents loss of collagen. I am sticking to this advice since it is cheap and do-able. However, I also do not want to be someone who is obsessed about what is inevitable. Life is meant to be enjoyed to the fullest; sagging face or not.
I turned thirty-six today. But hey, who’s counting really? I liked what a young adult posted on FB when it was her birthday recently and she declared this birthday is not about her; rather it is about her mum who endured through labor pains to bring her up to who she is today. And so I thought of my mum who has always been the strong silent type yet so full of tenderness for her children.
Besides the birthday greetings from family and friends, I am also blessed by some people who went out of their way to make today a special one for me:
- Flowers from CS never fail to make me smile. And he ‘surprised’ me with a remote control timer release for my DSLR because I saw a church mate using it and exclaimed that I wanted one myself. It was a ‘surprise’ cos I found out what the gift was when I overheard a phone conversation between CS and the said-church mate where CS was asking him to get one for me on E-bay!
- Having had 2 birthday cakes baked by my boss. ‘All from scratch, Erv; not from those pre-mixed boxes!’ he proudly declared. And his lovely wife chipped in with her contribution of walnut and date slice cake.
- Receiving a phone call from the big boss after work apologizing that she couldn’t make it down to office to wish me happy birthday personally today.
- A text message from a friend who had moved back to Melbourne. Thanks for remembering, Rob!
- Mish who dropped by the office to wish me happy birthday and reminded me that we should catch up soon. Yes, we should, babe.
- The neighbour who brought over a cupcake in the evening and had intended to sing me a ‘happy birthday’ song with it; alas I was in the shower. And so CS had to sing it on his behalf instead when I came out of the bathroom!
- Two girlfriends who popped by the office today separately with their presents.
For our 10th anniversary, CS had wanted to buy me what I’d been eying on since I started seriously baking last year – Kitchenaid Mixer. I’d found that out only because he didn’t want to spend a bomb and buy me one in a colour I didn’t like so he decided to let me know earlier. To his surprise, I suggested why don’t we go camping to celebrate it.
Frankly, that camping suggestion was inspired by what Donald Miller wrote in his book, ‘A thousand miles in a thousand years’:
“A good movie has memorable scenes, and so does a good life.”
What he said really resonated with me. Not wanting to sound unappreciative, but if you asked me what CS had bought me in all our years together, I’d fail the test miserably. Life, as I’ve slowly come to realize, is not about the things we owned or bought or were given. It is about memories and shared moments.
So I am glad we went camping to celebrate our 10th anniversary because that will be remembered in many years to come. But just for the records, here’s our ‘memorable scenes’ from the trip:
* 1st meal @campsite: Mee pok dry with mum’s chilli and vinegar, along with a sunny-side up;
* Awesome seafood platter lunch on anniversary, with a panoramic view as backdrop;
* Received excellent service from an Indonesian lady at a local supermaket while buying cheeses and olives;
* Champagne, olives, cheeses, roasted almonds and biscuits for dinner;
* Brekkie @Bay Merchant cafe;
* Sunday market @ Albany Boatshed, buying live yabbies for dinner;
* Taking afternoon naps in the tent;
* Watching dvds with wifey in the tent.
* Waking up to the sound of raindrops and rustling of the kangaroos while sleeping at night;
* Singing together to the music from our IPOD while driving;
* Lazy afternoons – watching movies and having a picnic just outside our tent;
* Climbing Mt. Clarence to the ANZAC war memorial in Albany – I thought the weather that day was befitting the occasion – overcast skies with drizzling rain;
* Looking out of the restaurant where we had our anniversary lunch – literally, it was a ‘top of the world’ moment;
* The conversation with the owner of Oranje Tractor vineyard and learning more about their story – I find that smaller vineyards are often better this way because they are more personable;
* All the meals we cooked at our campsite;
* Setting up camp and giving it as much a ‘homely’ feel as possible.
|Another digital slideshow by Smilebox|
While culling through our 2010 photos so I could do a back-up, many memories came flashing back while looking at the photos. So I thought it will be fun to do a recap of the year on a slideshow.
Putting it in words, 2010 will be remembered for these reasons (in no special order):
- I started baking and I mean seriously baking. From desserts such as cakes, brownies, muffins, cupcakes, loaves.
- CS finally took the plunge and went into his own business – starting his own driving school.
- Missed out on the freak hailstorm which hit Perth ‘cos we were holidaying in Phuket.
- We survived being away from each other for the longest time (2 months) when CS returned to SG to sell our flat.
- Became Australian citizens in August.
- Seeing breakthrough in the lives of the young adults in the connect group we lead in church.
- Did camping for the very first time.
- Experiencing off-road driving and sunset fishing during camping.
- Having mum-in-law come lived with us – a huge adjustment considering that we’ve always lived on our own since our marriage.
- Home improvement front – extended our driveway and had artificial lawn installed in our backyard.
- The passing away of J.R – the neighbour’s cat which we kind of ‘adopted’ ‘cos he was spending so much time in our home.
- All thanks to J.R, we started getting to know our neighbours really well. In fact, we now consider each other good friends and even hang out together!
- CS turned forty – self-explanatory, really.
- Being able to throw CS a proper birthday party with all our good friends around to celebrate with us.
- Our long weekend break in Yallingup – beautiful beach house minutes to the ocean, cooking using fresh produce from the market, each other. Really, we can’t ask for more.
- Growing in my new leadership role at work.
- Experiencing God’s grace in our lives again and again.
- The all-girls roadtrip was a blast but more importantly, it was a reassurance that some friendships can, indeed, stand the test of time.
- Starting my own herb garden – thyme, parsley, basil, mint, coriander, rocket leaves, spring onions, chives. Makes me feel like Jaime Oliver whenever I go out to the backyard and pick my own herbs for cooking!
- Started keeping a diary again ‘cos SF was sweet enough to send me a Starbucks one from Malaysia.
- Ironically, even though there is no Starbucks in Perth, my collection of the Starbucks mugs had actually grown – Lebanon, Portland, Bali, Seattle, San Franscico, Seoul. All thanks to friends who remembered.
- CS sold his prized Subaru Liberty GT post-Christmas cos he decided to ‘grow up’…all good except he’s now in the market looking for a 4-wheel drive to do off-road driving!
- First time we cut short our roadtrip downsouth to Nannup ‘cos it was too hot!
- All the summer stuff we got up to – beach time, snorkelling, outdoor movies, plays in the park, walk by the river etc.
- Receiving snail mail – A young adult from Singapore had sent me a handbound journal and calendar from her Nepal travel. She’s also enclosed a copy of her final year project – a publication commissioned by The European Commission for which she was privileged to travel to Europe for. Thanks Fen, for all the lovelies in the mail.
- Reading a random poem scribbled on my work document – courtesy of one creative staff member