Game of Thrones Night (and more of the blog challenge)

I’m a couple of days late for the blog challenge now but have been flat out over the weekend and today, and then tonight was Game of Thrones night in our household.

Game of Thrones night is like a sacred ritual in this house. We make sure Jacob is asleep in his bed and that Jared is pretty settled (and mostly asleep) before we begin. We often have chocolate-laden desserts prepared, or at least a nice hot drink. Over the weekend, Jacob and I made pumpkin choc chip muffins which are to die for – top that with Aldi salted caramel ice cream with a hot chocolate and you’re all set for an amazing experience. (No wonder I’m not losing any weight lol!)

But anyway, I just need to say that Game of Thrones is SOOOOO good! Yes, I know that it does have a bit of unnecessary nudity (particularly in the first season) but the storyline is so full of twists and turns. But you probably already know this…

I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed, (no, I’m not) but I was at Aldi the other day and I noticed they were selling a whole lot of kids winter clothes including fleece pajamas. I saw this design and could not pass it up! It wasn’t too pricy at all (just over $10 each) and I now have wildling babies.

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I am going to cover “One thing that you could teach others” and “What inspires you” in one blog post.

One thing that I could teach others

I’d like to think that at the age of 26, I have accumulated a wealth of life experiences and that I’d be considered “learned” in certain areas of life. I have been a jack of all trades but I admit that I’m pretty okay in some areas.

However, perhaps the thing I feel I can teach others most is about music. Yes, I can teach you how to play the piano if you like (I’ve been learning since I was like 3) or guitar or ukulele. But I can also teach you how to sing and to just appreciate music for what it is.

I’m no prodigy – in truth, there were a number of times I made my own music teachers cry because I was just that bad. I’m not a concert pianist, and I lack technique (because I don’t practice, full stop) but I’ve been told that I’m the type who ‘feels’ the music. So if you’re that type of musician who wants to learn that way, I’m the person for you.

I also used to write songs – and sometimes still do but lack the time to pen things down. This (embarrassing) video was taken 6 years ago, and it was the reason I named my previous blog “Reality Hits”.

In all seriousness, I’m thinking of working on the music side of things and potentially starting to teach piano lessons. Of course, I will have to work out my syllabus and refine my own technique (which is hard as I barely get a moment to myself at the piano – the toddler always insists on joining in) but I’m thinking it will still be a good thing to upskill and to share my talents with others!

What inspires me

I suppose I have different inspiration points at different times of life. Sometimes it’s budding young entrepreneurs that inspire me, and sometimes it’s strong female figures who seem to be able to juggle a million things at once and still come up on top.

Lately, I’ve been feeling inspired by people who, despite the odds, are able to rise up above their circumstances and make a new future for themselves. Someone I know has exhibited that – I don’t know her that well, but even in just seeing the progression of her life on Facebook, I’m just so impressed and happy for her.

Basically, she had a baby (who is just the most gorgeous thing!) and had to drop out of high school. She tried to make things work with the dad but it didn’t work out. So there she is raising her little boy with help of her mum (and now I believe she has a new partner). But she was also working hard in the background and was just accepted into Uni!

I love hearing stories like these – stories of real people who just keep trudging on despite the trials and the stigma. People like these dig themselves out of a rut and come out on top of a mountain.

I’m not sure if she reads my blog, but if you do, I just want you to know that you absolutely inspire me! 🙂

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Just a quick one before the weekend…

I had planned for today to be highly eventful day but time just slipped away from me. Possibly because I slept in til 9.00am… I know, complete luxury, right? Jacob slept all the way from 11.00pm to 5.00am, then had a feed and slept til 9.00am. Pure bliss – I have not known sleep like this for a long time!

Anyway, the reason why I was trying to busy myself was because it’s our church’s International Night this weekend. For some of us, this is a long-awaited event and we look forward to flaunting our culinary prowess. Okay, honestly I’m not a great cook but I make do.

This time round, I’m doing Malaysian food AND German food. This is going to be interesting because I’m baking a black forest cake with no oven! I’m also going to make my all time favourite honeydew sago – and I almost forgot to get the sago for it, silly me. This is going to be a fun weekend!

If any of you are in Adelaide and want to drop by, here’s the info:

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Today I was chopping vegetables and listening to Nickelback. I actually searched for “Lullaby” on Youtube and Nickelback’s song was one of the first hits. You should watch that video – it is so sad (but touching)! Nickelback is probably my favourite band because their lyrics are meaningful, their songs are catchy and man, is Chad Kroeger’s voice sexxay.

Songs nowadays have such unimaginative lyrics – half of them (if not more) talk about people dancing in a club, raising their hands and drinking themselves silly. Sure enough, some have catch tunes (or autotunes) but I like songs with some meaning beyond the emotional depth of a one night stand. Am I getting old?

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“Hmm, I don’t know mum… maybe you are getting old!” Sorry, I know the picture is blurry – I really can’t stand it when people put up blurry pictures but it’s so hard cos he moves so much!

Since it’s the Sabbath (took me THAT long to write this post, til the sun set), I’ll share one my favourite gospel singers – Nicole Nordeman. Her songs are powerful, lyrically and spiritually. Here’s one of my favourite ones:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waYUzxK8TYA

Til next time… The next post will be full of food pictures and possibly a Jacob video production – stay tuned!

24.

September is my favourite month, because it’s my anniversary month (by choice) and my birthday month (by default)! I can’t believe I’m 24 now – part of me still feels like a teenager. I have to admit that I do feel older than 24 sometimes – not many of my friends my age are married with kids. I am indeed blessed though – this is exactly how I would have liked my life to turn out.

That isn’t to say that I haven’t done things in my life that I do regret – rather, I prefer not to dwell on a past that I cannot change, but rather on a future that I can.

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In conjunction with my 24th birthday, I’m going to list out 24 things that have happened in my life (which I don’t regret!):

1. Being born a girl! 🙂 At times, I wondered what it would be like to be a boy, but there are a lot of good things about being female. Like getting a guy to change your tyres by just batting your eyelashes. But I also love being a not-so-girly girl.

2. Growing up in Malaysia. Yes, I don’t have that British accent I always wanted (and I don’t think I ever will – I’m terrible at accents), but it was a good experience. While there isn’t much to say about things like safety, the education system, the drivers and the corruption, children get by pretty well and do enjoy themselves.

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3. Learning to play the piano. This I give credit to my mother, who started me at the age of 3. I must admit that my piano is my hiding place – it is where I pour out the deepest emotion, and it’s one of the few things that can turn a bad day good again.

4. Dancing lots. One of the biggest things in my growing up was doing dance performances. I learned ballet as a child, but that wasn’t really my thing. I remember dancing to songs like ‘Bring it all back’ by SClub7, ‘Larger than Life’ by Backstreet Boys and ‘No Strings Attached’ by NSync. I even did cheerleading in high school.

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5. Writing poems and songs. This formed a huge part of my later childhood and teenage years. It was a means of self-expression but also was something I took pride in. I sometimes look back on the collection that I still have to see where I was at that stage of life.

6. Going to both government and private schools. There are several stark differences between the two types of schools, but I had fun in both places. I remember running wild in my government high school – dealing with things like truancy, gangsters but building some of the best friendships ever. Private high school had its perks too, and probably helped me become a bit more serious about my academic achievement.

7. Winning a writing competition and going to Dublin. I met up with winners from Thailand, the Czech Republic and the US – we had a ball of a time! Goodness, I look so nerdy though:

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8. Learning to drive in Malaysia. Believe me, it’s a challenge (and I think I’d be scared to drive there now, cos I’m so used to driving in Australia now). But we also can drive FASTTTT and not get caught. 😀

9. Starting my first job at 16. I was an ‘Aunty’ at Tumble Tots, which is a child play program – a funny choice for a person who had never dealt with kids before. It was good fun and I earned RM5 an hour. I think it wasn’t so much the money I earned but the ethos of the whole situation that taught me that money doesn’t grow on trees.

10. Learning Ninjutsu. And yes, I kid you not – it’s not some fictional art to turn me into Naruto. I learned so much in my journey – not just the actual techniques, but also how it made me grow as a person. It taught me how to carry myself and how to handle people in different circumstances, and is part of me. It made such a huge impact that I have a tattoo of 忍 on my back – it’s the ‘nin’ in ninja and it means strength & perseverance.

11. Going for National Service in Malaysia. What an eye-opening experience! We experienced insect and frog infested dormitories, using a squat toilet for 3 months, food that made us sick and activities that tested us physically but also emotionally (and perhaps racially). I did love my time and have made some amazing friendships there too.

Stop – coffee break time! Don’t overwork yourself or you’ll end up as tired as this:

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12. Finding Jesus. I didn’t grow up going to church, but I was also searching for something more in terms of spirituality. And I’m so blessed to have found it, and also found not one but two loving churches (USJ SDA Church in Malaysia and Birdwood SDA Church in Australia) to accept me and help me grow.

13. Studying hospitality, particularly focusing on Food and Beverage. It is a vibrant, fast paced industry that is honestly not for everyone but I love it. I love how busy it can get; I love being run off my feet but in the end, doing a good job and being appreciated for it. The downside is that I have high standards at restaurants, and do not tolerate poor service.

14. Moving to Adelaide. I had the choice of doing the course locally, in Switzerland or in Adelaide. In retrospect, Switzerland may have been cool too (though I would have FROZEN in winter – I really hate the cold!) But I really do love Adelaide for its quaint personality, lovely people and the fact that I believe that I was always destined to be here.

15. Working in Port Douglas for 6 months. Yes, this turned out to be an amazing adventure for me. Imagine working in a huge resort, where you did housekeeping in the day and worked at the restaurant at night – exhausted myself completely, but managed to save up some cash. And it was from there that we went on an epic trip in Far North Queensland. I absolutely adore that area and cannot wait to be back.

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16. Working in Melbourne instead of Dubai for my second work placement. I had a job offer from Dubai and was preparing to go, but then changed my mind and remained local. It was the best decision I could have made in terms of my love life, and my husband and I got engaged during that time.

17. Being Asian. That means I can get away with taking epic photos like this:

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18. Having loved and lost before. I honestly don’t regret my past relationships, though perhaps there are some elements of some of them that I would have rather done without. But I think everything is a learning curve, and in some relationships, we have a mutual agreement that it was best not to be together.

19. Marrying the man of my dreams. And getting married young too – I was 21 when I walked down the aisle. But I honestly knew that he was the one, and we are more than happy now!

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20. Having my wedding the way I wanted it to be. Obviously, everyone has an idea of a dream wedding – I knew I wanted my ceremony somewhere, either on a beach or in a garden. I wanted a smaller reception where I could be more personal with my guests. I also wanted to have a specially choreographed dance with all the fancy moves. And I got all that and more. 🙂

21. Honeymooning in Phuket. Staying at a gorgeous resort with a private plunge pool. Going on tours of the gorgeous coastline and islands. Checking out the markets and touristy attractions there, but also getting a local’s perspective from my friend Mann who lives there. And most of all, spending it with my awesome husband!

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22. Getting Skittles. Yes, she is a menace. She has eaten more plastic than any dog I’ve ever known, destroyed most of our garden, run away and killed a neighbour’s chook, and the list goes on… But I love her to bits!

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23. Buying our house. We had been shopping around for a bit and had seen a few that were really not up to mark. I’d driven around to a few real estate agencies and we were told we could view this place that very afternoon. Saw it and fell in love. It’s got a lot of great features, and I just love the fact that it’s so close to a lovely reserve!

24. Having a baby – who I believe is the most gorgeous baby in the world. Do you agree?

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The moral of the story really is that I am so blessed. There are always ups and downs in life, but I do my best to dwell on the moments that make life worthwhile.

The babymoon and other pregnancy luxuries…

I think I made quite good use of this first week off work. Some of my highlights of the week:

  • Wrapping up some things at work – I knew I would forget some things, like handing in my key card etc. I’m still not used to the fact that I’m not working – it just feels like I’m holidays for a few days and I’m expected to go back to work next Monday.
  • Signing up with Centrelink – it’s such a blessing living in Australia where they actually support you financially for a certain period of time when your baby is born. Of course, the process can take a while, hence why I’m trying to apply early.
  • Buying more baby stuff – I love shopping on Gumtree, honestly. Bought a Baby Bjorn carrier for $80 and the lady also gave me her vibrating rocker that plays music. I still have to head out and buy a few more things at some point.
  • Walking Skittles a few times – We managed to get a bit of sunny spring weather, so I took Skittles down to the reserve. Lovely blossoms all around!

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  • Routine blood tests for pregnancy – I’m so used to blood tests now…
  • Got my hair cut – I’m blessed with thick hair but it can get so incredibly thick sometimes! I swear I lose at least 500g (if not more) when I get a haircut.
  • Meeting up with my girlfriends – In a previous post, I might have mentioned that my girlfriends and I love having hot pot. We’re such creatures of habit (but it was yummy mind you!) Look at me stuffing my face, haha!

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Evidently, I’m quite tired today from all the gallivanting, so going to take it easy. My main goal today is to work on a playlist for my labour – mostly relaxing songs, but also energetic ones where I can chill out and sing along (probably only in the early stages anyway). Music has an amazing way of influencing emotions (and I’m hoping it’ll distract me from the pain too!).

This is my all time favourite song though: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1DRDcGlSsE
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f I was only allowed to listen to one song in this world, it would be this one (and even if I couldn’t listen to it, I can play it on the piano so it would resonate with me forever).

Anyway, the main point of my post today was really to talk about my recent Babymoon… Now, before you think that I am a woman of too many indulgences, we actually had a free 1 night stay on a loyalty card we had – and what better way to enjoy it but somewhere memorable yet close to home?

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We went to the Novotel Barossa over the weekend – it’s a relatively secluded resort set against the beautiful backdrop of the Barossa Valley, and it was also the place Daniel and I spent our wedding night.

We initially were planning to go out for some nature walks, perhaps explore the nearby town Tanunda – but it was a bit cold and rainy, so we spent more time indoors. I’m not sure what your idea of fun is, but we really enjoyed our time talking, playing board games, taking baths (separately cos the tub was too small – why are you so tall, Daniel?) and lounging around in the soft fluffy bathrobes. I love hotel bathrobes!

Another highlight was the food – we decided to be lazy and have both meals in the hotel restaurant. I can’t say much for the service (but then again, I have high standards as I used to work in F&B and pick up on any parts of the order of service that they miss) but the food was great!

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I had this for dinner – the salmon was cooked to perfection and all the other elements blended together well. A great hearty dish for a cold night – though a reminder to pregnant ladies, don’t eat too much fish to prevent high mercury levels.

For other expecting mums, I highly recommend taking a babymoon somewhere – preferably during your second trimester. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or action-packed (though if you want to, go right ahead!) – but it’s just a great way to celebrate the event with your partner and to enjoy being husband and wife before the many new duties come along!

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Anyway, that’s all for now! I should really head out to the shops to get more baby essentials. Enjoy your Friday everybody!

Where did all these ideas come from?

I realise I’ve been out of the game for a bit, probably because I’m having the cold of the year. I’m the type of person who (luckily) only gets sick once in a while, and unfortunately that time is now. It’s one of those head colds that I can’t stand, where your head, face, nose and everything in between aches.

But anyway, I’m making the most of it by lazing around on the couch (in Skittles’ spot, because she’s sleeping in mine!) and reading random things on the internet.

One thing I’m pondering at the moment is starting or buying a business. The problem with me is I don’t actually know where to start – I can’t seem to focus my efforts into one particular area. I’ve had the following ideas in the past year:

1. Starting an Asian BBQ & Hotpot restaurant in the North Eastern suburbs

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My friends and I love Korean BBQ and Hotpot – here’s one of our favourite places in the city, Kind Spring, which has a great buffet variety and an awesome glutinous rice dessert (which we usually have seconds of). I despair at the fact that if I want good Korean BBQ or Chinese Hotpot, I have to travel all the way into the city. And if there are any up this way, I haven’t yet discovered any (and believe me, I do my research!). So yes, to satisfy my cravings (and possibly the cravings of the Asian population up here), perhaps start my own?

2. Starting my own Childcare Centre
So what if I know nothing about childcare? There’s always the opportunity to learn (and I have a good reason to learn too!). There are also opportunities for family day cares, which you can run from home – I’ve subscribed to this one as it’s int he local area, and there is potential for more startups in my area: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Early-Childhood-Learning-Family-Daycare/422785871141790?fref=ts

3. Starting my own PT Business
Yes, I don’t know much about Personal Training either but I’m sure it’d be something I enjoy doing (I love coaching people and helping them achieve their goals) and I could get a qualification at some point too. My target market would probably be other mums who, like myself, will need to lose some baby weight. I could even take up a Zumba qualification (since I LOVE Zumba) and run some classes – see how it goes. It’ll certainly keep me healthy and fit!

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See, I once used to be fit and agile! XD

4. Teaching music classes
I’ve played the piano practically all my life and been through so many classes that I honestly should know a thing or two about how to teach it. Of course, my technique isn’t great and I’m more of a play by ear person than a Chopin person, but it’s definitely something doable (with little capital involved too, since I already have my beloved piano). I could also teach some basic guitar, singing, etc.

5. Buying over a small already-established business
I keep an eye out for different business opportunities – I would love to start one up from scratch, but I feel I lack the experience. I’ve been looking into various different options like spas and clothing businesses, etc. Obviously, this may give me a less personalised approach, but I’m sure I can work my preferences into it.

6. Buying an investment property
There’s a lot happening in the market now and the interest rate is at an all time low, so why not? I was also hoping that my previous experience in real estate would assist me. Of course, we’d need to come up with some capital and also make some calculated decisions. Frankly, I enjoy looking at houses that are way beyond my means, like this one: http://www.realestate.com.au/property-house-sa-houghton-113899063

7. Writing and more writing…
I’ve always enjoyed writing, and will always have it as my little niche. I would love to write a book though (as I mentioned in a previous post), and of course, smaller bits and pieces too like articles and blog posts. Perhaps someday I’ll monetize this blog, when I can determine my direction. But it’s always good to do something you truly love.

I have so many ideas, but I guess this shouldn’t be my main priority at present – I should be focusing on giving my little one the best upbringing I could possibly give him/her. This photo below is just to prove that he/she has little cute toes!

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Anyway, I also read this amazing piece of news about this man surviving both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing (being in a 3km radius of the bombing) and living on til the age of 93. The article is from 2009, and he died in 2010 of stomach cancer. Still, it was amazing that he was blessed with a good long life despite being exposed to such radiation.

You can read the story here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/25/hiroshima-nagasaki-survivor-japan

Keep well everybody, especially those in the Southern Hemisphere who are having trouble coping in winter months! 

“4 Chord Song” by Axis of Awesome

Music is one of my passions, and now that I’ve grasped a firm understanding of how chord progressions work (and learned to play by ear), I feel the many years of practice have paid off.

Some people insist it’s really hard to learn music, but it really depends on what you’re playing. If you want to play something mainstream, just pick up your guitar and I’ll teach you the four chords. 😉