The organised chaos


When I was a kid, Chinese New Year was an exciting time for me. 25 years on, it still is something that I really look forward to, but in a slightly different way.

While it used to be about the new clothes, the ang pows and the chance to play with the cousins, I now love having the excuse to hang out with my family. During this time, the kids can all lounge around lazily without the parents making us feel guilty about doing nothing and just catch up with news of our lives. Broken relationships, new partners, unreasonable customers – all these and more come tumbling out as we sprawl onto any comfortable surface, happily sipping our well-loved home brewed teh si and munching on bak kwa. Occasionally, we would get free entertainment by the nephews as they try to get our attention through performing monkey antics and spouting outrageous remarks that go along the lines of “see, I told you Mummy passed me all her blur DNA”.

CNY, in other words, is a time for renewing bonds and serves as a reminder of how strong our family is and how lucky we are to love one another so much in such an unconditional way.

Because, no matter what, you know that your loud and doting Hainanese family will always be there for you, even when you make mistakes. Yes, they will see the wrongs but no matter what, there will never be grudges held, and they will always see you as the kid whose hand got caught between the lift doors, causing her granny to faint in fright and her mother to turn blue with anxiety and fear. You will always be the little baby whom they fussed about like a pretty porcelain doll, the toddler who stood by the gate waving them goodbye as they went to school and then waited patiently by the gate to welcome them home, and the girl who took an eternity to finish her food that Granny, who was feeding her, fell asleep face forward into the bowl of rice.

We’ve been through so much together in the past – the loss of fathers and husbands, the demise of an independent and loving matriarch, breakups, marital woes, career slumps, depression, anything you can think of. And now that the next generation has arrived, we will still be together in the future, nurturing the young ‘uns as they become better people than we are.

Yes, no matter what happens, I will never be alone. We may share different surnames but there will always be someone there for me, who will never let me fall.

Because we are family.

[Let’s play tag! , , ]

Little Miss Shopaholic

Gorgeous iPod cases


Ooh lah lah, Little Miss Shopaholic is back with a vengeance!

Now that I am the proud new owner of a two-months-old fifth generation iPod with video, I have been on the lookout for sweet leather cases to keep the smooth backside of my precioussss from getting scratches.

However, the problem with most of the leather cases is that they often add bulk to the svelte lines of the iPod, and they tend to look stale and boring, undermining the gorgeous form factor of the gadget. In my quest for the perfect iPod case, I have unearthed several swoonworthy cases that will enhance the sexy streamlined look of the iPod. The flip side is (and there always is one) that beauty often comes at a price.

iPod shuffle
“!(imgleft)!(Coach iPod Shuffle case)”:

This colourful calfskin leather case from Coach is, by far, the prettiest case I have seen for the iPod shuffle. Of course, I am extremely biased because it is made up of colours that I love – red, pink and purple.

It comes attached with a 12″ leather strap, enabling you to hang the funky gadget with its funky leather cover around your neck. The little Coach metal tag gives the case a classy and stylish finish. Makes me want to buy an iPod shuffle all over again.

The damage: USD$58 (ding!)

iPod mini
Before we begin, let us maintain a minute of silence over the iPod mini‘s demise on September 7, 2005 as it died an early death to make way for the iPod nano.

“!(imgleft)!(Coach iPod mini case)”:
Right. The moment I saw this leather case from Coach, I fell in love.

This is from Coach’s latest Spring collection, with its renowned bags and accessories boldly emblazoned with the poppy flowers splashed out in vivid shades of red. It’s bright and refreshing without being obnoxiously loud. To add on to the luxe value, the inside of the case is decked out in suede, and it also comes embellished with a 12″ leather strap and a Coach metal tag.

The damage: USD88 (dinggg!)

iPod nano
As if the iPod mini or the iPod itself were not celestial beings of gadgetry, Apple topped itself last September with the introduction of the iPod nano. It made suckers out of everyone whose eyes were blinded by the unbelievable lightness (and thinness) of the itsy bitsy nano. It made girls want to buy it as a fashion accessory that emits music, and boyfriends to buy it for the girlfriends who want it as an accessory that also emits music.

“!(imgleft)!(Juicy Couture iPod nano case)”:

Anyway, my point was not to wax lyrical about the nano but this cute little Juicy Couture leather case for the nano.

It’s in a girly shade of pink and embellished with a removeable gold chain strap. The key to the case is in its strap, or rather, the charms that are attached to is – whimsical charms of a red enamel ladybird and a heart-shaped locket stamped with Juicy Couture’s logo. These two little details enable a typical leather case to stand out and be original among the sea of fuddy duddy cases.

The damage: USD58 (dingg!)

iPod video
Ahh, the wonderful companion of my life. It stops the noises created by the rest of the riff raff from penetrating into my world, allowing me to ignore loud-mouthed aunties on the train, annoying salesgirls who keep following me and pesky insurance agents outdoors.

“!(imgleft)!(Juicy Couture iPod case)”:

One of the cases that made me go weak in the knees is this mint green leather case from Juicy Couture. It is simple and elegant, featuring a spring green leather shell that allows the iPod to be kept snugly within. The attached gold chain strap not only makes a loud statement but it also enhances the green. A heart-shaped applique on the case, with Juicy Couture’s signature letter J adds a sweet touch to the case, as does the J-shaped gold charm swinging from the chain.

“!(imgleft)!(Kate Spade iPod case)”:

On the other hand, for those who like a bit more shine to their lives, there is also the Kate Spade Broome Street Jaine iPod case to consider. It’s in a vavavoom shade of champagne, exuding sleek lustre. A cowhide exterior, linen-patterned calfskin interior with matching gold hardware gives this case a touch of class.

The damage: USD38.90 for Juicy Couture, down from USD78 (ding!), and USD75 for Kate Spade (dinggg!)

However, when it comes down to dollars and sense, I probably would not purchase any of these cases. There are just too many accessories to covet and plonking a huge amount of money on one case just seems too exorbitant. In the end, I would probably go for the pink version of this:

“!(imgcenter)!(Belkin iPod case)”:

This is the Belkin Kickstand case for iPod 5G. This cool leather case is light and does not create bulk in the iPod. Furthermore, its unique design features an integrated display stand, which allows me to place the iPod on my lap while I am watching my TV shows while on the train, instead of stressing out my poor hand.

Best of all, the damage to this one is only SGD48. Economical, practical and cute.

[Let’s play tag! , , , , , , ]

Silly things

Simple pleasures

The dude likes to tag me for such stuff. Maybe it’s because he knows how much I delight in such memes, jumping late onto the bandwagon along with the rest of the blogosphere.

Anyway, the meme goes like this: Name five of life’s simple pleasures that you like most, then pick five people to do the same. Try to be original and creative and not use things that someone else has already used.

But because I want to appear intellectual and sophisticated, I will actually do two versions of the meme. Okay, I am kiasu, can?

The Intellectual version

  • Reading the newspapers from end to end. Of every section, minus Recruit and Classified
  • Staying engrossed in intriguing books before bedtime or on a lazy Sunday with the rain pouring outside my window, while tucked snugly under my toasty quilt
  • Taking an accidental shot that ends up looking fabulous, if I may say so myself
  • Travelling the world to soak in the different cultures
  • Hearing the chords fall neatly into place to form harmonious melodies as the choir sings

Now, for The Bimbo version (don’t laugh!).

  • Finding a pair of pants or shoes or a top that actually fits perfectly, without the need for alteration, and does not kill my bank account
  • Having a phone conversation with my four-year-old nephew, talking about the most ludicrous things (“No darling, your saliva won’t reach me if you spit into the phone, it doesn’t work that way”)
  • EITHER sticking my legs onto his lap while he is driving to get a foot massage and a ride home at the same time OR physically abusing him in various ways, such as bitch-slapping (no more than ant bites, really) his arm and stomach and kicking his arse. Can’t make up my mind (OOPS does this consider as two simple pleasures?)
  • Immersing myself in In Style magazine and then thinking, Ah hah! I have this, this, this, and this so now I can have the perfect outfit!
  • Pigging out on nasi lemak, chendol, rojak, char kway teow, roast duck and Hainanese chicken rice all in a day. Shiok, huh?

I’m supposed to tag people but really, I think everyone should do it once you have actually taken the time to read through my wonderful list. Go on, unleash the inner bimbo in you!

Foodnotes, Friends

Exploring the land of food

Do not let my skinny slender form deceive you. Beneath the tanned skin and pointy bones lies a lean, mean eating machine, who is always on the lookout for great tasting food. Anyway, this is in three parts because I am reminiscing about three different food places.

“!(imgleft)!(Rafee and I – groupie shot)”:

Part I: I love my tea, any sort of tea ranging from the chi-chi earl grey tea to the suburban teh si. I drink at least two cups a day. During my six-month stint at the-horrid-company-that-shall-not-be-named, I found myself a regular at Rafee’s Corner, a wonderful teh stall on the second floor of Amoy Street food market.

Now, Rafee and I became good friends ever since he noticed me queueing for my teh halia (ginger tea) almost everyday. We ask about each other, he tells me about his plans for Hari Raya and I told him about me leaving the company. When I went to buy my almost daily fix after my holiday, he even joked to me, “Ay, no wonder everyday when I count my money, it seems lesser! It’s because you not around lah.”

“!(imgleft)!(The wondrous cups of tea)”:

And oh how I love his teh halia. It’s nice and spicy, not too acidic (as stale teh-o is wont to be after a while) with just the right amount of sweetness. Plus, he really tariks his drinks, unlike other pretenders. Addictive stuff, I tell you. He’s made it to the front page of Sunday Life teh tarik coverage!

Part II: Last Friday, the dude and I went on a pseudo date. Pseudo because we didn’t really spend that much time together but I guess it’s not the quantity that matters, it’s the quality.

“!(imgleft)!(Nice ambience at The Cheesecake Cafe)”:

Initially, we wanted to pop over to Geylang for some smooth and slurpy tau huay but parking was just non-existent along that mad stretch of road. I was initially tempted to just park myself at a durian stall to feast on its deliciously pungent flesh but in the end, we decided to give The Cheesecake Cafe a try, since Hucks had waxed lyrical about it not too long ago.

I really like the place! We were shown into a seat right at the very back of the cafe, despite it being a Friday night, and it was rather cosy and comfy. We didn’t have to shout at each other in order to be heard and it gave us a chance to relax in the warm ambience.

“!(imgleft)!(Our food)”:

And the best thing is, the cheesecakes we had were fabulous! My strawberry oreo cheesecake was a tad too sweet but the lightness of the cheesecake more than made up for it. The boyfriend had a rum and raisin cheesecake which he deemed “wonderfully done” because the rum was at the right amount and did not overwhelm the cake.

Prices seem pretty decent ($25 for two slices of cake and two drinks) and the service staff were attentive and prompt. Yay, new hangout place!

Part III: Enjoyed a double date (sort of) with the Popartgirl and Joker tonight. While roaming around the newly revamped Marina Square (gack, I was completely lost in that place), we chanced upon Fin Seafood Cafe and decided to give it a try.

Baaaad move.

“!(imgleft)!(I is not liking this pasta)”:

While my fish and chips were pretty decent, Popartgirl’s soft shell crab pasta was a complete letdown. The sauce, which sounded exotic (“blah blah chili crab sauce”) on paper was disappointing to the taste. Eeks.

But well, we had a lot of fun and laughter throughout the evening. It reminded me of how it used to be during our undergraduate days, when we would whizz over downtown to go shopping or binge on food that we could not get in the far flung jungles of the extreme West. We sort of lost that along with graduation, maybe because we assumed that seeing each other once a week during choir practice would be enough. Anyway, I resolve to spend more time with my friends in future. We’ve made a date to go for some buffet feast in the near future. Yay!

To end off, here’s an unflattering and rather narcissistic photo of myself. I look tired because I have been spending my days playing shopgirl at my cousin’s boutique. Come visit if you feel the need to buy new clothes. Team Collections (rather uninspiring name but well….) is at the third level of the Arcade (Raffles Place). Toodles!

“!(imgcenter)!(Check out my eyebags)”:

[Let’s play tag! , , , , ]


The stars, they are a’changing

Everybody likes to say that the only constant thing in life is its constant changes. People come and go, the tides turn, the stock market goes up and down. Nothing ever remains as it was six months ago because we change, the environment changes and the time changes.

But changes can be rather hard for me to swallow sometimes. And last Saturday, during choir practice, it just hit me more acutely than ever.

“!(imgleft)!(VC’s costume party, Dec 2001)”:

Whatever happened to those times when we would always go out, after practices, for movies or drinks? Always the same group of us, always the same drivers, always the same fun. There were BBQs, Christmas parties, drunken revelry at clubs and crazy excursions across the Causeway. It probably changed at a time when everyone suddenly went solo and pursued their own lives in the different corners of the world. Some grew closer to one another, others grew cynical, sensing that the rock solid friendships that they once sought solace in were slowly disappearing. What we had was good, even I, who was mainly a spectator as the girlfriend of one who was in the circle, could see that.

“!(imgleft)!(Happy at Choir Olympics 2004 in Bremen)”:

Whatever happened to those times when we stood around the lobby of Siglap South CC, taking the longest time to decide what we should do after Choir Olympics practices? This time, it was always a different group each week. We went for drinks at Beach Hut, took photos every week like the camera whores that we were and hit the nearby KTV joint whenever we felt like it. How we changed, I do not know, I cannot tell. Suddenly, the informal lines vanished down the drain and in its place, a clique emerged. Where plans were made amongst certain individuals and private jokes were shared out of earshot.

I still love the choir, still love singing, still love the arduous journey of learning songs and going for overseas competitions. But the familial feeling is gone, and I don’t love the vibe that I am getting now. I feel myself getting detached and distant, nonchalant and unexcitable.

Maybe it’s time to move on to another phase of my life.

The organised chaos

Rule from Purple Palace

The Purple Palace is finally up and running!

The nice boyfriend came over this afternoon to help me with the painting. He’s certainly more ruthless with the brushes than I am, wielding each stroke with merciless strength and skill. But well, it must have helped because we completed the rest of the room in less than three hours.

Hurrah! A new room for me!

“!(imgcenter)!(Hard at work, the nice boyfriend is)”:

Painting is good exercise

“!(imgcenter)!(Good job done!)”:

Tah dah!

The organised chaos

Operation Purple Palace

Ever since we moved into the flat, the three of us have been playing merry-go-round. I was initially placed in the second-largest (or second smallest, depending on whether you see the glass as half empty or half full) because my sister agreed to take the smallest one in exchange for my not staying in hall during my university years.

Shortly after, my sister grew annoyed at her crappy carpark-facing room and demanded a change but I refused. So she got my mother to switch with her instead, since my mother normally rules the household from the living room.

Later, the sista decided to move out and we let her bedroom stay empty since my mother was not too keen on moving her things around again and I was perfectly happy with mine. A year ago, my mama opened our doors to let two of our distant relatives from China to lodge with us and it was then decided that I would take over the sista’s old room and let the newcomers occupy mine. And it is thus how I moved to her old room, which was painted green according to Her Majesty’s (my mum) orders.

Okay green is so not me and since I am now gainfully unemployed, I decided that I should take this time to tweak my room a little. Since I have not the money to buy a whole new set of furniture or tear down all the legacy shelves and stuff, I decided that painting the room was my only viable choice. So tah dah! Operation Purple Palace begins.

“!(imgcenter)!(The first step)”:

Lesson learnt: never write silly stuff on your wall while painting. Because later, you will definitely have to spend more effort to repaint over it to make sure it blends in well with the rest of the wall.

“!(imgcenter)!(Mama’s help)”:

I stopped briefly for lunch and when I was done, I was surprised to find that my mum had disappeared from the face of the earth. She was not in the kitchen, nor was she in her room or the living room. Surprise surprise, she was holed up in my room, helping me with the painting!

“I’m only here because I think I am better painter than you, okay,” she huffed. Haha.

After that, she left to prepare for dinner and do her own thang but she kept popping in to see my progress.

“So slow,” she said. I pointed out how I was more meticulous than her, taping the edges of the ceiling and windows and painting in the vertical direction while hers was horizontal.

“!(imgcenter)!(One down, three to go)”:

After a few labourious hours, some bruises on my knees from the kneeling, and a few blisters on my hand, my wall is finally done! Hurrah!

Now for the other three to be completed on Sunday, with some help. Tee hee.

The organised chaos

25 years and 3 days

The birthday came and went, without much pomp or fuss.
Midnight arrived, received a whole bunch of messages from friends, which continued well into the day and the next.

I remarked to Trevor about how it felt so low-key, so non-anticipated, as compared to years before when I would be really excited, like a child given a jar full of Kit-Kat. Maybe it’s because I am finally reaching the age where birthdays are just not that important anymore. Or maybe it’s because I am currently gainfully unemployed, starting each day at 12pm. Weirdly enough, I did not blow out a single candle, nor tasted a single slice of birthday cake.

“!(imgecenter)!(Min and Me)”:

That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy myself. I met up with my oldest friend in the world the day before the big two five, and had dinner in Royal Copenhagen Tea Lounge on a rainy and miserable Wednesday night. We have been pals for the past 12 years, having started our friendship in the choir room of our alma mater. I remember how, during a musical that the choir had put up in Secondary 2, she was playing the character of a fisherman clad in a white tee and some sarong. Inexplicably, her white tee shirt became really grubby and dirty. I had made a joke out of that and from there, our everlasting friendship was sealed.

Anyway, we both had delicious set dinners at Royal Copenhagen at the second level of Takashimaya. Costing $19.90++ each, I enjoyed a giant helping of rack of lamb cooked in lemon thyme gravy while she had the mini sandwiches set. Did I say they were delicious? They were awesome. I loved my rack of lamb, I wanna go back again.

“!(imgleft)!(Royal Copenhagen)”:

Because it was a cold and wet evening, the lounge was relatively empty and quiet, which was nice. I have been there during tea time during the Christmas period and the noise level was just too high, especially due to the small, enclosed area. The ambience was cosy and comfortable, despite the freezing temperatures, and I loved eating out of the quaint chinaware that is Royal Copenhagen’s trademark.

The next day, I had dinner with the boyfriend. We played the guessing game again, with him choosing a surprise venue for our meal. But then again, because I am such a smart girl, I knew exactly where he was taking me to, hur hur.

And the secret location was….Straits Kitchen at Grand Hyatt! It’s like a little Singapore encapsulated in a restaurant – you have a wide variety of local-styled food (think laksa, chicken rice, popiah etc) served in a buffet setting. Thumbs up for the great service and nice ambience. Foodwise, it wasn’t excellent but good nonetheless. We ate till we couldn’t walk. I love buffets. And him too, as an afterthought. Oops.

I want to add a shoutout to my friends, who very sweetly gave me a huge ang pow for my present! Exactly what I wanted. And asked for. Yay to Trevor! And to my sista who bought me this really funky bright pink pair of Nike track pants.

So nothing breathtaking, just simple nice evenings out.

I’m in my mid-twenties. ARGH!!!

[Let’s play tag! , , , ]

Arts & Entertainment

Stefanie Sun Live in Concert

“!(imgcenter)!(Sun Yan Zi live in concert)”:

If not for the free tickets that were given to my cousin, I would never have thought of going for Stefanie Sun Yan Zi’s live concert held at the Indoor Stadium.

Astonishingly, the songstress who is billed as Singapore’s Pride did not manage to fill up the whole stadium, with certain sectors full of gaping holes. But to her credit, she had thoughtfully constructed a stage that was open 360 degrees, which meant that she had to sell all the seats in the stadium. But it just felt a little sad that while she had managed to hold sellout concerts in Hong Kong’s Coliseum, she couldn’t accomplish that in her home country.

45 minutes after the stated starting time, the diminutive singer finally emerged from under a veil of translucent screens, belting out Feng Zheng, one of my favourite songs. While she definitely possessed enough lung power, she somehow seemed to overdo it and sounded as if she was shouting instead of singing. The terrible sound system did not help, as it ate up her words, especially during the faster tracks. As my cousin, who is not familiar with her music, pointed out, if the organisers had not been flashing the lyrics as she sang, nobody would know what the heck she was singing about.

“!(imgcenter)!(Stefanie Sun Live 2006: Songbird)”:

And therein lies the problem of the concert. The sound engineering was not flattering to her fast songs, and those were definitely her weaker points. I mean, most people listen to her because of her poignant and tremulous ballads. She had established herself as a singer, five years ago, with Tian hei Hei and from there, her path was laid out for her.

Indeed, she shone during the ballads, with her unique mellow voice conveying raw emotions ranging from despair to resignation to hope. When she moved on to the faster songs, her dance steps lacked conviction and her voice sounded hoarse and nasal, as if she had gone on stage without proper warm up and then had overdone the singing. Eeps.

Her stage presence reminded me greatly of Corrinne May. Both seemed rather shy, and lacked the showmanship that many other performers have perfected. And yet, those worked in their favour for every word that they say, every banter and every comment seemed sincere and honest, rather than staged.

“!(imgcenter)!(Yan Zi playing the piano)”:

At times, she seemed forlorn on the stage when bereft of the presence of her 12 hunky male dancers (as billed in the synopsis in Life!), the flashing lights swallowing up her petite frame, more so during the ballads. Suddenly, I felt a sense of inexplicable sympathy for her, a young woman whose every move is being scrutinized by the whole world. She may have chosen that path but somehow, it seemed sad that her relationship, when it started and ended, was splashed out across the papers.

Guest performers F.I.R and Tanya Chua (surprise!) were wonderful, drumming up the crowd to a new high. Tanya’s friendship with Stefanie is rather touching, their rapport and admiration for each other evident in the two songs that they sang together.

The concert was entertaining but it lacked the “oomph” that I had experienced in my previous two Jay Chou outings. But it did feel nice supporting a talented local artiste who had made good elsewhere. Nothing spectacular, though overall a good performance.

[Let’s play tag! , , , ]