Health Goddess

Afternoon by the pool

After weeks of stress and late nights, I decided to treat myself to a quiet afternoon by the pool at the One George Street outlet last Saturday.

I’ve always loved One George Street; it was what made me sign up with Fitness First on the spot. The pool is gorgeous and overlooks the City Hall area, it’s really like a little slice of heaven in the city. The gym itself has a nice, high ceiling, and there is an abundance of natural light streaming in during the day. At night, you get to exercise to the bright lights of the town. It’s just beautiful.

Anyway, took some pictures with the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone. Loving the effects, loving the app!

Frankie, goggles, sunscreen, Coke, iPod and locker keys
Wrinkly toes
Lovely view
Photography, Travel

Kyoto 2009: Kiyomizu-dera

All these talk with Squirt and Popartgirl about Kyoto has reminded me that I haven’t finished recounting our trip there. Ah, well. Let’s just let the pictures do the talking then, shall we?

This is the Kiyomizu-dera which is perched on top of a hill in Kyoto. We had to go through a long and winding path up the ninenzaka and sannenzaka in order to reach the foot of Kiyomizu-dera. I’d be lying if I said that we didn’t huff and puff. Serious walking was done that day (though it wasn’t the MOST SERIOUS, as we would find out the next day). My boots turned dusty from all the effort. But yeah, these boots ARE made for walking.

But it was absolutely worth it. We got there at around sundown, which was fairly early at about 5pm during autumn, and saw a spectacular sunset over the city.

Entrance to Kiyomizu-dera
View from the main hall of Kiyomizu-dera
Love rocks at Jishu Shrine

This is one half of the love rocks at Jishu Shrine within Kiyomizu-dera. Legend has it that if you walk from one rock to the other with your eyes shut, you will find true love.

Sunset at Kiyomizu-dera
Oh so yummy!

After the SERIOUS WALKING up, we had to do some SERIOUS WALKING down too. And by then, as it was the end of the day, we were both zonked. The macha cream puff was a reward to ourselves for such heavy duty exercise and oh my goodness, BEST DECISION EVER. It was unbelievably light and refreshing. Yums. We downed it with green tea, of course.

For other Kyoto must-visit places, check out here.
For more Kyoto-Osaka pictures, click here.

Arts & Entertainment, Two of Us

Sparkle

What is it about Sex and the City that holds us in thrall? It’s been almost 10 years since I fell under the charms of Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte and still I feel the same for them today as I did before.

Now, the girls have “grown up” – well, all except Samantha. Everyone is dealing with marriage and motherhood and menopause (Samantha…of course). It’s ever so discordant and yet feels so right because we are all growing up together.

As always, I find myself identifying with Carrie the most. Call her what you like – whiny, spoilt, selfish – but she also represents all the insecurities that many women have. Her fears about marriage turning her and Big into a bored married couple resonates so strongly with me. How many times have I, after a hard day’s work, asked the very same question to Mr Thick while we are slumped on the sofa, watching telly?

I’m sure I’m not the only married woman out there who wonders about retaining that sparkle in the relationship. It was definitely a lot easier when we were just dating. Back then, all we needed to worry about was what time to meet and where. I’d put on a pretty dress, doll myself up and get all psyched up about the date as I jump and dance in my bedroom to the music drifting out from my iMac.

Now, on weekends, we are busy putting the laundry out to dry, vacuuming the mountain of cat hair that our two feline friends have miraculously shed despite our best efforts to groom them. By the time we are done, we are hot and sweaty, and in no mood to dress up and paint the town red. Most days, we just like to chill at home and enjoy what we have worked hard to put together.

We always have fun whenever we are together, oh we do. But almost two years into the marriage, there is definitely a line between comfortable banter borne out of love and oh-my-gawd-how-hot-is-he excitement. Which I think he is. Just saying! I mean, I married the guy!

Anyway, the movie was just fabulous. I laughed out loud at all the raunchy and unpolitically correct jokes (Jude Law? Haha! Lawrence of my labia? Hahaha!), and reveled in the fashion (love, LOVE Carrie’s Dior outfit at the suk). It felt like a big, happy reunion and oh goodness, how gorgeous is Aidan? But at the end of the day, it makes me happy to know that she went home to Big.

Cos I am just a big romantic at heart.

Two of Us

Kitchen

It’s been a fabulous weekend and I’m feeling a little bummed that it’s going to be Monday in a matter of minutes.

We hit the Pixar: 20 Years of Animation exhibition at the Singapore Science Centre yesterday and I’m so glad we did. We are both huge fans of Pixar and being able to see the hard work, blood, sweat and tears that went into creating films like The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille and Up was an amazing experience. It’s a little like the Ghibli Museum, although not half as charming.

Pixar was, ironically, followed by Shrek Forever After. Which was funny, fun and very clever. Go watch!

Anyway, I just wanted to put up pictures of our kitchen at east end because we’ve changed it up a little. It’s probably one of the smallest kitchens you will ever see, which is why I am constantly finding ways and means to store our things. Thanks to husband and a handy power drill borrowed from my father-in-law, we’ve added rails from Ikea and made the kitchen walls a little more useful.

Up goes the new spice jars
And that's how tiny the kitchen is!

There’s a nice little story to share about the spice jars. Every time husband and I hit the nearby Ikea, I’ve always picked up the jars, sold in sets of four, and think about buying them. I’m anal about organisation – thanks to reading blogs like Apartment Therapy – and wanted to have identical jars for that neat, Stepford Wives look. But I never did buy them because I wasn’t sure it was absolutely necessary.

One day, when I was over at Squirt’s place, she plonked me in front of a few paper bags and told me to pick out whatever I wanted from the bags. Apparently, a friend of hers was shifting to a new place and was getting rid of some stuff, which were either new or near new. And in those bags were three sets of the very same jars that I had always wanted to buy.

Score!

And that’s the end of the post.

Foodnotes

Happy meal #22: Quinoa pudding

I lost my groove for cooking during the whole training period. Didn’t have the time to cook, couldn’t muster up the energy needed to chop and fry and do whatever is necessary to put a dish on the dining table. But after a week of recovery, I think I have recovered sufficiently to start planning our meals again. Coming up for breakfast this Sunday is oeufs en cocette, or eggs baked in ramekins, from Julia Childs’ masterpiece ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking‘.

The quinoa pudding was actually made a while back – I had shot the pictures and uploaded them to my Flickr account but I just never had the time to write about it.

When I saw the recipe on Honest Fare, I knew immediately that I was going to try it. I had a spare pack of quinoa sitting in my drawer, bought during those days when I had a lightbulb moment at the supermarket and subsequently neglected. It was so easy to make and is so healthy.

I had bought a punnet of Dole strawberries to go along with the pudding but unfortunately, the strawberries were horribly sour (I miss the sweet juicy Korean strawberries). Husband tried a spoonful and immediately made a face, healthy food is not his thing, really.

Give it a shot – it makes a great breakfast!

A cup of quinoa
We love Meiji milk
Stir, stir, stir
The end product
The organised chaos

A one track mind like me

I’ve been mulling over a few things over the past week – amazing, considering that I even had the mental energy to mull over anything other than my presentation. I just submitted my time sheets today and realised that I had clocked over 70 hours at work last week. No wonder I felt like death yesterday morning.

Been toying with a few things here and there: like requesting for a four-day week at work, taking up yoga teaching courses, going for basic photography courses, starting a new blog just for pictures and writing, learn to cook etc. All still thoughts but I’m hopeful that something will work out eventually.

I’m a little reluctant to go into a four-day week because of the financial constraints, obviously. Unfortunately, the reality is that I have to support my retired mother and the household and mortgage cannot sustain on just husband’s income. Between the two of us, we have been really lousy at saving, something that worries me greatly. Neither of us are financially savvy and our joint account is simply not growing quickly enough.

Sometimes, I get frustrated at what my “lot” in life. What am I not richer? Why am I not being paid more? Why do I have to be in the communications line, which is notorious for paying peanuts? Why do I have to support my mother? Why can’t I just quit and do whatever I want? Why can’t I just up and go for a holiday without considering my finances?

But we always have choices in life.

I could go on a four-day week and earn 20% less, but earn myself a day to do what I want to do. I could go out and shoot, I could stay at home and write, I could get some freelance gig, I could go help out at my cousin’s boutique. I could be me, basically.

I’m still mulling, obviously. But more and more, I am thinking that I don’t want to look back at my life when I am 40 and wonder about the things I didn’t do.

Light in the dark
The organised chaos, Werk

Hey hey hey

The course is finally over. Eight weeks of blood, sweat and toil, topped by the last week of frantic work, frayed nerves and determined solidarity.

We worked our asses off for the final presentation, all 25 of us. Staying back at the office till 1230am, 4am, 5am etc. on consecutive nights and still pulling in our weight at our day jobs – surely that has to count for something.

I’m glad we didn’t go into the final round hoping to win. All we wanted to prove was that we could do a good job, to show that we tried our darnest. And prove we did, because we eventually beat our peers and was named the best team overall, no mean feat because everyone was so amazingly talented and intelligent. We shone in front of the management, was celebrated by the entire agency and grew that much taller in the process.

What a journey.

The win almost made all the early mornings and late nights worth it. I say almost because today, I realised that victory came at a cost.

I missed out on helping a dear friend with her wedding. I was so tired at their ceremony today that I could barely keep my eyelids open. They have so sweetly requested for me to give a speech at their luncheon tomorrow and I have barely had time to think about it. Seeing them married made me smile with joy, but it was a smile tinged with exhaustion.

And going back to my mom’s place today, it suddenly struck me just how little time I have spent with her over the past eight weeks. I hardly called her because I was so spent at the end of every work day, and my Sundays were spent recuperating. Seeing her at home made me realise how lonely she was. Would I want to be my own daughter? I think not.

I’m such a poor excuse of a daughter.

So yes, I showed that I am an asset to the company in front of the bosses. They thought I was a confident presenter, and I am now part of a winning team. It felt good. But it is not without some guilt and self-reflection.

I need to step up.


(On the morning of the presentation, I had this song on repeat mode and it made me feel self-assured and confident. It made me feel like I could conquer the world. What an amazing feeling!)