Starting right

I have a reputation for being an early bird, morning person, etc. And it puzzles my friends how I can wake up early, naturally. Of course, I had my periods of laziness and snoozing for gazillion times! But its actually really easy to kick start your day early and feel super productive.

Here’s a Business Insider I stumbled upon:

http://www.businessinsider.sg/how-to-get-up-early-2015-1/

My take on the tips? Definitely give it a try! Well…reading a book and not drinking alcohol before bed time is pretty much a no-brainer, yet something really hard to achieve. Because it’s really hard to put your phone away in the first place? haha…yeah I know…

But Getting sun as soon as possible is something I know works for me, indefinitely. It really helps reduce that dreadful lethargic feeling with the right amount of sunlight and “heat”. Drinking water chokes me in the morning but it helps, cause I end up trying to “wake up” so I don’t actually choke…

Yoga in the morning sounds too daunting, consider stretching your calf muscles by tip-toeing in bed, do some ankle rotations and stretch your arm all the way back above your head. Loosening up all that stiffness and you will be ready to spring out of bed!

Kickstart your day at work

Last tip, clear your morning. “The Most Important 20 Minutes of the Day” is usually in the morning right? Or so says famous founders, entrepreneurs, lala… I don’t disagree with that, but I do have a tip of my own.

Instead of planning, prioritising and organising your day in the morning, try this. My Daily Routine:

1. At the end of each day, look at your task list and check them off one by one. (Satisfaction!)

2. Reassess, and immediately create a new list for the next day.

I personally think that this helps you leave work feeling good that you’ve accomplished a quantifiable amount and knowing what to expect for the next day allows you to relax and rewind for the night.

3. The next morning, look at your list, and START! Keep the adrenaline pumping. If you have ad hoc activities, add them in as the day goes by but make sure its prioritised accordingly.

This is especially useful for me as it reduces the inertia to kickstart the day at work. You can give it a try and share your tips with me too! What works for me may not work for you.

Third Last Day of 2014

One of my Christmas cards this year wrote:

” 2014 has certainly been an exciting year for you 🙂 Wishing you a really Happy 2015! THIS IS THE YEAR FOR YOU 🙂 You know it…”

2014 has indeed been one of the most exciting year for me. I met lovely people along the way, I lost some along the way. It was a roller coaster year I will never forget! Every experience is a valuable lesson for me in 2014, which will pay off in 2015.

I’m thankful for the best friends who stayed by my side and always supportive. (Yes, don’t doubt yourself, you’re all the bestest ever!)

I’m thankful how I learnt to treasure my family more.

I’m thankful for how I’ve been through so much and became who I’m today.

I’m thankful for those who helped me along the way in every smallest action possible, because it takes a lot (inside) for someone to willingly offer a helping hand.

2015 will be a blasting year! I’m gonna be soaring and I know it! 😉

Stay healthy and happy everyone. And always be thankful of the little things in life.

Stop being jealous

It’s perfectly normal to be jealous of the success of others, especially those whom you think are not “that” much smarter or better than you are (or so you think).

Feeling envious of Mark Zuckerberg or any other billionaire startup founder and spurred on by them, is also a perfectly normal situation.

I’ve been there, the whole realm of jealousy. But we all know that is a tiring affair. And now, I don’t get jealous anymore (most of the time). I start to learn how to feel happy for others. The key to that is knowing what makes you happy. If success makes you happy, then define your success. It doesn’t necessary mean starting a billionaire dollar company, because I personally think that takes more than what you think to achieve, a lot of hardship, cold times, and a bucket full of tears/sweat.

Humans are born to want more. If we aren’t, then there isn’t globalisation, technology, improvements in the world, and you wouldn’t be reading this.

I recently learnt that, knowing what makes you happy is the key to happiness. And when you are happy with what you can or want to achieve, you will be happy for other’s success, instead of feeling jealous. Because that success is theirs to own, not what you want for yourself.

I am happy learning new things, working hard to gain a new skill, throwing ideas off different people, and having my daily coffee 🙂 I may not be successful now, but I am working towards happier days that sums up my life at the end of the journey. Baby steps yo!

Trying to come up with an out of the world marketing idea for the travel platform I am working on now, so if you have any crazy ideas, let me know! ANY, crazy ideas. No restrictions or boundaries.

Blueberry Muffins + Banana & Walnut Muffins

Somedays I wake up feeling like I want to bake something, although most of the time I will be stuck at what should I bake?

And today felt like a day for small, simple treats like muffins.

Muffin Batter

The original recipe was for Blueberry Muffins but decided to switch out the blueberries for Banana & Walnuts, which turned out even better.

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Just to take randomness one notch higher, cocoa powder and Herseys chocolate chip buttons were added to the batter. Stuffed a slice of banana in to the center before popping the tray in to the oven. So there you go, Chocolate Banana Muffins 😉

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Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients A (Sifted)

  • 436g Cake Flour
  • 10g Baking Powder

Ingredients B

  • 220g Softened Butter
  • 200g Fine Sugar (Adjust accordingly to your sweet tooth)
  • 8 Eggs
  • 120g Fresh Milk
  • 125g Blueberries

How To:

  1. Beat butter and sugar till its fluffy (slightly pale yellow)
  2. Mix eggs and milk in a separate bowl and add into the whipped butter gradually till its well incorporated.
  3. Add Ingredients A and beat on low speed
  4. Add blueberries and mix with a spatula
  5. Spoon (or pipe to avoid mess) the batter into muffin tray with paper moulds
  6. Bake in preheated oven of 180 deg cel. (depends on your oven actually, so if its too hot try to reduce it a little)
  7. Turn off the heat when the surface starts to brown and continue till its golden brown

I ran out of paper moulds halfway through and realise baking paper works even better & looks prettier (if you are using a muffin tray).

Do share any recipes with me so I can try it out!

Lucky Five

Friday is usually the best day of the week cause WEEKEND is knocking! Some days you will feel like “Gosh, finally the tough week is over”, other days you will feel like “eh…that was fast, what did I do last week?”.

I’ve decided to post a Lucky Five, just photos I took over the week 🙂

Supper with silly peopleSweet Treats from JapanBirthday BoyMa Maison Strawberry Tart   Magic DoorMangosteen

Have a good weekend everyone!

Ma Maison Japanese Western

Hidden at the most inaccessible part of Central @ Clarke Quay (which in itself already known for its weird floor plan and configuration), a homely & cosy little French/British-look-alike restaurant with Japanese Menu.

I was never a fan of Ma Maison till I decided to try Tonkatsu by Ma Maison @ Mandarin Gallery and fell deeply in love with it! It is a must-try I recommend to most of my friends, because its on par with my #1 favourite Tonkatsu in Kyoto – Katsukura.

So Ma Maison Japanese Western Food has been around for a good 4 to 5 years, and I think it warrant a try, although I am not a big fan of fusion food.

Ma Maison Japanese Western IMG_2693Ma Maison Japanese WesternMa Maison Japanese Western

The number one plus point is definitely the cosy, homely wood furnishing, feels like you are having a meal in someone’s home 🙂 Although you don’t really see much consistency in their fusion-inspired decorations, a bit of British, a bit of French, a bit of Japanese, a bit of American. But it somewhere to go to relax, and chat over tea/coffee or Ma Maison Wine! (Yes, they have their own wine which I am trying for sure on my next visit)

And of course, the food came and I was sold. Another Go-To on my list 🙂

Ma Maison Japanese Westernj

French Onion Soup – Taste very Japanese actually, but managed to keep the original French flavours. Love the baked cheese (who doesn’t), but a little too salty as a whole.

Ma Maison Japanese Western

Mentaiko Seafood Spaghetti – I love all things Mentaiko but the thing that caught me of guard is the smokey taste infused. Try it for yourself & you will know what I mean.

Ma Maison Japanese Western

Finished off with their popular Strawberry Tart. The crew at this outlet are really polite and attentive. Our water glasses are never empty, no dirty dishes laying around, and when we asked for the dessert menu, she brought the entire selection of tarts to our table for us to choose from.

I am pretty sure I will come back again. It’s hard not to when the window seats overlooks the river, as the sunset, you catch a glimpse of bustling Clarke Quay, and great food! Ladies night – 20% off ala carte menu on Tuesdays!

Song Kee Fishball Noodle 松记鱼丸面

Personal Rating 
Taste: 2/5
Value: 2/5
Servie: 1/5
Ambience: 1/5

 I think I can safely say I’m not the only one who thinks it was a terrible experience, my family and the family who queued in front of me couldn’t stop raging about it. 

Song Kee Fishball Noodle 松记鱼丸面Song Kee Fishball Noodle 松记鱼丸面

Randomly suggested trying Song Kee Fishball Noodle 松记鱼丸面 because a few of my friends/colleagues mentioned that its quite famous. We reached at 640pm, realised its not opened yet and I googled to find food-lover ieatandeat.com advising on the opening time “Elastic time, may start anytime from 6.45pm to 7.30pm and end at 3am to 5pm”. 

Maybe they should learn to fix a non-elastic opening time and be more punctual cause they definitely kept a lot of customers waiting outside. I think this is what Singaporeans call “Dua Pai”… 

Gates opened at 715pm and because its my first time, I went in to look for a seat first instead of scurrying to queue (again) to order. So I waited for another 10 minutes before I placed my order. 

And we sat…with hungry stomachs for another 25 minutes before our noodles were served. 

Our orders: Mee Pok Dry (Small) – $4, Mee Boon + Mian Soup – $4, Mixed Soup – $6

Mee Pok Dry (Small) Mixed Soup

What’s Good

The fishball made with mushrooms and chives mixed in and the noodles texture were fine.

What’s Bad

The noodles were terribly salty! For someone who loves flavourful food, this is beyond my personal limit. The saltiness comes from adding too much chilli in the sauce mixture. Fishball were very tasteless, although I must say the texture saved it from disgrace (since its a fishball noodle stall). 

I read on ieatandeat about how nice the fish dumpling or 鱼饺 is, which I’m sure it must have been pretty nice, but the one I got didn’t have fish paste in it at all. It was more of a mushroom mixture and the skin was too thick. If you like chewy fish dumping, the chewiness is acceptable but too thick for my liking. 

DO NOT bother with the tau pok, it tasted like it was boiled in plain hot water. I mean, who doesn’t like tau pok right? Try it and you will not disagree with me. The soup was bad too, which I think affected the taste of the fishball and tau pok. It does not have the porky taste, not even a peppery taste. I thought the sight of some pork lard will help it (although I don’t like pork lard), but nope. 

Tips

I will give it the benefit of doubt that it just opened so the soup is still tasteless. So if you still want to give a try, here are some tips

  1. Go early – about 630pm so you get to be the first few in line 
  2. Head for the queue to place your order (while your friend/family head for the table) 
  3. Or at least make sure you don’t go there hungry 
  4. Do not mix in all the chilli at the start! Mix in a little and try it first. If you like saltier flavours then mix it a second time. 
  5. Order a milo-gao-ice to help with hunger or wait. The guy makes good milo. 

Or maybe, someone can go for supper much later in the night when the soup is better (boiled for a longer time with many rounds of cooking of meat and ingredients) and let me know if its good. 

If you agree with me, let me know and I will recommend a better Bak Chor Mee a few streets away that has equally good chilli, noodles, better soup, cheaper, with shorter queue 🙂

Address: 532 Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore, Singapore 534547

Opens at: 7pm – 715pm (approximate)

Nearest MRT: Serangoon, Exit A, walk straight down following the direction of traffic

What’s nearby: Wimbly Lu @ Jalan Riang

 

22 Days of Sydney

Sitting on my bed at 1AM, counting the number of days I have left in Sydney on my calendar – Twenty Two. I’ve missed everyone in Singapore for the past 2.5 months and it will go on for the next 22 days 🙂 

I’ve changed as a person, but some things don’t change easily. I would say this trip made me grow deeper yet again (gosh…I can imagine going back to a bunch of jokers who cannot stop saying I have an old soul). 

Every trip I take and every new city I stay in makes me a stronger person. But I think the downside of that is I tend to become colder as well…It’s a fine balance. Always reminding myself that being strong does not equate to being cold towards situations and people. 

Nonetheless, life has been pretty ok, loads of great food. I shall stuff my face for the next 22 days and worry about dieting later :p 

Have a great weekend! 

Rock & Roll

I try to find something new to experience or somewhere new to explore every weekend in Sydney and last Saturday was one of the best ever!

Located at Manning House, in the picturesque grounds of University of Sydney, just 15 minutes from my apartment on foot, Sydney Rock ‘n’ Roll & Alternative Market is one of the most coolest alternative market I have been to so far with all things rock & roll related.

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I consider myself pretty lucky to chance upon this lil gem cause its held every two months (and the next one is in April after I leave Sydney). It is a part market, part music festival + meeting place with really unique vintage + punk rock shopping. There were loads of cool stalls featured across all 3 levels of the Manning House (in and out doors). I’ve never seen so many beautifully hand-crafted alternative and vintage jewellery, accessories and artworks in my life! Of course they were really pricey too. The “flea” market was packed with stalls selling vintage clothing, oldies music including rock posters, cult DVDs, second-hand books, old Marvel comics, and make up stylists to create your retro hair and make up look!

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As I ventured up the stairways lined with paintings done by students from the university, I heard live band jamming away from Manning Bar on the rooftop. It was a cozy little bar, carpeted so you can sit anywhere you want to, with a dance floor right in front of the stage. I managed to catch 2 different bands amongst the whole line-up for the day from across the country and it was just so relaxing and enjoyable listening to the great rock n roll, people watching, dancing along and having cold cheap beers. Just so everyone knows, Heinkein here is better than in Singapore! Oh, and the awesome ciders! 🙂 

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Its a great place to hang out with friends and the fact that its housed in such a beautiful university makes me miss my school days even more. Yes, I am a nerd and I loved my university days the most 🙂 The friends, the times we spend together, the memories forged, the wild freedom and the late night suppers.

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Alright, back to work peeps. Have a lovey dovey valentine’s week everyone 🙂

Galloping in Sydney

Spent my 2nd Chinese New Year abroad, and this year its in Sydney! The thing about Sydney (especially the city) is that there’s tons of Asians – from Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, Malaysian, Singaporean, Taiwanese etc. All of which celebrates Chinese New Year!

Despite missing out on CNY goodies and gatherings with friends and family, I managed to get a hint of the festive spirit with CNY Eve dinner at Golden Century Restaurant recommended by a friend who works & stays in Sydney. It’s a clear popular choice cause we made reservations for 9pm and only got in at 945pm!

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Got my Yu Sheng fix and Char Siew at Golden Century although the Yu Sheng is vastly different from the ones in Singapore and Malaysia. The focus here is more on the Sashimi instead of carrots and radish.

There isn’t any Public Holiday in Sydney for CNY so we had to go to work nonetheless on 初一 and to reward ourselves for that, we had Si Chuan Steamboat for dinner. The only way to feel cheena here is to keep going for Chinese food :p But it was fun cause we kinda chat up with the Chinese waiter, you know, share the cheena love (:

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Extremely spicy and tasty soup with loads of my favourite dishes like fish, mushrooms, fried beancurd skin, lamp slices and wanton (: Aldrich & I are like 2 retarded kids all excited and dressed up for 初一… just missing the part where we go visiting and collect Ang Baos…

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初二 was Dim Sum day for us after our weekly basketball sessions with a bunch of Taiwanese/hongkongers who works here (: The australians call it Yumcha instead of Dimsum. Had pretty authentic (Hong Kong) Dim Sum on pushcarts at Market City! The restaurant was bustling with canto-conversations!

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Cooked my first meal in Sydney on Saturday night! Bak Kut Teh for dinner 🙂 Maybe cooking-bak-kut-teh-talents flows in my blood since most of my relatives are in that business.

I spent my Sunday fruitfully with Aldrich before the first working day of the galloping year today! The best part about Sundays is the fact that we can wake up at 1130am, wash up and just stroll to Glebe for brunch. Glebe is just filled with brunch spots in the day and pubs & restaurants at night! Best way to soak up the aussiness (: Its our to-do list now to strike off the different brunch places at Glebe every Sunday since its just a stone throw away.

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yupp…we will grow fat. #Diettomorrow!

Another great truly local thing to do in Sydney or Australia is to just hang out at the beach. Any beach! Grab your shades, bikinis and sunscreens and vrroooom off to some nearby beach. As recommended, we drove down to Bundock Park (Clovelly Beach), about 20 minutes away.

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It was a beautiful natural-outdoor-pool because of the clear blue lagoon surrounded by rocks and cliffs. The sky is almost always cloudless in Sydney so sunbathing, bikini girls and bubbly jumpy dogs are accessories to these beautiful beaches (:

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There were streets of cafes, restaurants and surf shops near the beach that’s great for a cup of coffee and beachwear shopping (: I always associated beer with beaches but unfortunately in Sydney you’re not allowed to have any alcohol on the streets and at the beaches.

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And to end the peaceful relaxing day, we found a random restaurant, with the perfect spot for CNY Fireworks viewing at Darling Harbour! We were pretty lucky cause we reached just in time (without knowing what time exactly) and found the perfect spot by the harbour,along with Lemon Lime Tart and Moscato. Although CNY doesn’t warrant a Public Holiday here, its still a big event with hours of parading in the city and 15 minutes fabulous fireworks to welcome the Horse year.

I’ve only been here for 3 weeks and it felt like 3 months~ Absolutely missing my family & friends back home. I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the well deserved CNY break! I will always be thinking of you guys during my time here although I can’t be Skyping often due to the time difference (: Stay healthy and happy! And to my dear colleagues, hang in there, March will be here soon

Something I learnt here is never to let failures burst your bubble. Try your best to get the momentum and motivation back in any way possible~ Easier said then done but that’s life. Not everything is well path and planned out for you. When you need to find your own directions, getting lost is part and parcel of knowing which route to not take the next time round.

Love you all,

Joan