you can’t fall if you don’t climb, but there’s no joy in living your whole life on the ground.

31 Dec 2014 § Leave a comment

2014.

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A year where I was fortunate enough to move into yet another lovely new home (my 7th move in 12 years!).

A year that saw my daughter enter the next phase of her schooling life – she began Primary Year 1 in September and is currently thriving in the amazing environment of her new school.

A year where I met people with a shocking lack of integrity as well as individuals who lived their lives with beautiful personal values and principles.

A year that reinforced my cynicism about marital fidelity yet at the same time, gave me a renewed sense of hope that in an age where romance is an emoticon and instant gratification is a swipe away, faithfulness and loyalty is not a thing of the past and love can flourish in the most unexpected circumstances.

A year where some individuals I knew brought out the very worst in me, while others brought out the very best.

A year that was marked by four memorable holidays spent with people who are nearest and dearest to my heart.

A year where an unorthodox birthday celebration led to a newfound love for rock climbing – a passion which has taken up much of the second half of the year, and is now shared by the little one as well.

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While 2013 was a year of rediscovery, a year where I gained clarity about what I wanted…2014 was a year where I finally took a leap of faith, and in doing so, learnt that some risks are worth taking, some things are worth fighting for and if it’s right, it happens…nothing good gets away*. After the highs and lows of 2013, this year has truly been an upward journey, very much like an awesome climb that continues to take your breath away the higher you go.

Above everything else, 2014 was a year where I was infinitely and immeasurably blessed with so much joy, love and grace.

And for that, I am humbled and grateful beyond words for a year that has been nothing short of beautiful.

*quote by John Steinbeck

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five.

20 Jan 2014 § 2 Comments

My little one turned five over the past weekend and the lucky girl had three celebrations in total – one at school, one with myself and her grandparents and another one with close friends! I was in the midst of uploading the pictures taken during her pool party onto Facebook when I was hit with a wave of nostalgia and decided to compile a series of photos taken from all her past birthdays.

I’ve always looked forward to planning her parties, and while writing this post, I realized that the little one has slowly risen the bar for me each year – god knows what she’s going to ask for next year!

Some friends tell me not to bother having such an elaborate party every year…”it’s not like she’s going to remember!”.

But truly, that’s not the point. As tiring as it may be, I love the pre-planning stage…sourcing for and making the decorations, deciding on the menu and venue, preparing the party packs. It really doesn’t matter whether she remembers this a year later or 5 years later, what matters to me is that look of amazement and wonder on her face when she sees the theme that she has asked for come to life as she walks onto the party venue.

And that tight hug I always, always get with the accompanying heart-melting whisper into my ear…

“Thank you mommy, this was the best party ever!”

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One

  • Venue: Bijou @ Mont Kiara
  • Birthday cake: Fruit Pavlova from Just Heavenly
  • Food: Bijou @ Mont Kiara
  • Theme: Pink
  • Decorations: I printed 52 photos of the lil one and placed it all over the restaurant, one for each week of her first year. M&Ms and old skool sweets. Balloons courtesy of Bijou.

one

Two

  • Venue: Stuff Your Face @ BSC
  • Birthday cake: Strawberry shortcake from The Haute Food Co.
  • Food: Stuff Your Face @ BSC

two

Three

  • Venue: Multi-purpose hall at Challis
  • Birthday cake: Chocolate strawberry cake from The Haute Food Co.
  • Food: Citarasa Uniq
  • Theme: Pink and blue
  • Decorations: Balloons, banners, pom poms, lollipop cake, clown, bouncy castle, face painting…the works!

three

Four

  • Venue: Artis Kids Store @ Publika
  • Birthday cake: Tinkerbell themed chocolate cake from JC’s Simply Delectable Cakes
  • Food: Cupcakes from Wondermilk, macarons from Nathalie’s Gourmet, Garrett’s popcorn, homemade mini cream puffs and Oreo pops, popsicles from The Potong
  • Theme: The Fairy Arty Party
  • Decorations: Balloons, handmade cupcake stands, handmade fairy flower wands made out of felt for the girls and Peter Pan caps for the boys and the pièce de résistance…a fairy crown for the birthday girl, made out of small individually-created felt flowers painstakingly glued together using my trusty glue gun!

four

Five

  • Venue: Poolside at my new place
  • Birthday cake: Blackforest cake from The Haute Food Co.
  • Food: Catered from The Haute Food Co., popsicles from The Potong
  • Theme: My Little Pony
  • Decorations: Rainbow balloons, customized My Little Pony decorations purchased via digital files from Etsy including centrepiece, cupcake toppers, birthday signage, happy birthday banner, bottle labels and food tent cards.

five

It’s definitely a party when desserts outweigh the mains. From left to right, top to bottom…we had: Bacon+onion+cheese quiche, egg+cheese+chives sandwiches, smoked chicken+mushroom quiche, red velvet cupcakes, black forest cake, vanilla cupcakes with strawberry frosting, mango and strawberry popsicles, roast beef sandwich and banana cream pie.

IMG_20140117_211342

The food all lined up…

food

Recycled last year’s cupcake stands, and bought more My Little Pony figurines for decor…

cupcakes

Love the personalized bottle labels from Etsy!

orange juice

The rainbow balloons were a hit…the kids ‘freed’ most of the balloons when the party ended, so adorable to see them squealing in glee as the balloons floated higher and higher and was carried off by the breeze into the clouds…

rainbow balloons

The girls having fun playing with bubbles…

bubbles

Behind the scenes…late night preparation!

preparation

Here’s my gorgeous girl on the night of her birthday. We brought her to her favorite Italian restaurant and surprised her with another birthday cake…she was so uncharacteristically shy when the staff came out with the cake while singing happy birthday! It was really nice to have celebrated her birthday there as most of the staff in that restaurant has seen her grown from a baby till now…sigh, how time flies!

dinner

And here she is on the morning of her birthday, celebrating with her friends at school…

school

Happy 5th birthday, my precious girl! You’ll forever be the love of my life and my partner-in-crime for all things sweet! ❤

loveofmylife

rediscovering happiness.

2 Jan 2014 § 4 Comments

A friend asked me, right before we left the office on 31st December 2013 – what are the two words you would use to sum up the year?

Took me awhile – after all, how do you sum up such a tumultuous year in just two words?

I finally settled for these two.

Rediscovering | Happiness.

Two separate words or a short phrase. Either way, it works.

2013 was definitely a year of rediscovery for me. Rediscovering myself – the things I used to like, the hobbies, the books, the movies, my personal style…things that had fallen by the wayside as I got too caught up in other matters. Rediscovering family ties that had drifted, unanchored, in the past couple of years. Rediscovering friendship – with my girlfriends, with my crazy group of boys. Rediscovering my love and passion for my work – something that has sadly disintegrated in the past 3 to 4 years (this was definitely one of the highlights of last year!). Rediscovering courage – to be by myself, to embrace and enjoy my ‘me’ time, to speak my mind, to say no even though everyone is urging me to say yes, to move out of my comfort zone instead of always opting for the familiar and the tried and tested, to do the things I want to do, the things that make me happy. The courage to say “eff it all, this is how I’m going to do it“.

And most importantly, rediscovering happiness.

In spite of some of the low points I’ve encountered in 2013, I realized that I’ve actually felt happier in the past 6 months than in the past couple of years. It’s the kind of happiness akin to bingeing on your favorite ice cream in bed while watching a rerun of your favorite series in your most comfortable pjs…at 3am in the morning on a working day. The kind that is also slightly tinged with a feeling of secret glee that can only come from indulging in guilty pleasures.

And with that feeling of happiness, comes conviction and clarity. I have more confidence in myself, I feel mentally stronger, I’m clear about what I want and when I want it. I know where my focus should lie and I’m contented with the decisions I’ve made and the things I’ve said.

My heart and mind are at peace.

2013: FB in review

2013 was surprisingly good to me in such unexpected ways, and I’m excited…truly, truly excited to see how 2014 will turn out.

Bring it on.

in a blink of an eye.

7 Jan 2013 § 2 Comments

It’s been too long since I’ve written…got a little caught up in living life instead of diligently recording down moments, I suppose?

There are a whole list of draft posts waiting to be completed and photos to be uploaded including a weekend getaway to Penang where we hunted down Ernest Zachaveric’s wall murals, an eating/shopping trip to Hong Kong right before 2012 ended and an occasion that has taken up most of my time recently: my precious girl’s 4th birthday party!

So while I work on getting this blog up to speed, here’s a sneak peak at what went on over the past weekend:

birthday

Happy 2013 everyone!

all hallow’s eve.

30 Oct 2012 § Leave a comment

With Halloween fast approaching this Wednesday, some of the malls around PJ/KL held early Halloween celebrations over the past weekend with costume competitions and trick-or-treatin’ for the little ones. It was so nice to see the normally more conservative Malaysians taking part in the celebrations – there were many well-dressed-up kids…we spotted Ironman, Jack Sparrow, Shrek, a zombie bride and groom and plenty of witches! My girl had a ball of a time going trick-or-treatin’ around the shops, collecting an assortment of sweet and chocolates in her costume – she dressed up as a princess on Saturday and a fairy (complete with wings!) on Sunday!

My little princess – decorating her ‘eyeball’ cookie

Japanese inspired zombies

MJ’s Thriller dance-off

Halloween decor @ Publika

My girl and her lil fairy friend going trick-or-treating

Walking dead spotted @ BSC

Sweets galore!

Off they go…

Trick-or-treat!!

Zombiefied construction worker and Shrek!

Another zombie standing at a dimly lit corner – creepy!

Mr. Pumpkin-head

This cook must be working in the same restaurant as the waiter, heh.

Yours truly trying to scare off the werewolf that frightened my lil girl…growllll!

Cooling down at BSC’s Epicurious Brunch 2012 with a Sparkling Pop from The Potong

Lost his head?

The loot at the end of the day

Happy Halloween!!

tanjong jara take two.

20 Sep 2012 § Leave a comment

After spending a wonderful weekend at Tanjong Jara back in February, we decided to head back for another trip during the Malaysia Day weekend with the little one in tow, together with another family and their two kids. An early morning flight saw us yawning all the way to the airport, only to be greeted by the unusual sight of a long queue snaking all around the domestic check-in counters at KLIA – at least half of KL must have decided to fly off for a short holiday! Lucky for us, we arrived just as the gate was closing – this meant that we could skip the queue and head straight to a dedicated counter for late check-ins and family traveling with kids!

The 55 minute flight to the Sultan Mahmood airport at Kuala Terengganu was pretty uneventful – the little girl had travelled on a plane before so she had no problems with seatbelts, take-off and landing. We’d earlier decided against booking the airport transfer service from the hotel (which costs RM300 per car per way, gasp!) and hired a cab from the airport instead (RM100 per cab). The one hour drive took us through small towns and gave us a glimpse of the charming East Coast beach, though my girl was more engrossed with reading e-books on my phone rather than the picturesque scenery outside as we journeyed to the resort.

We were greeted with a warm welcome upon arrival at Tanjong Jara, and personally greeted by Ms. Wai Gin, the guest liaison manager that we met during our first visit. Check-in was quick and easy, accompanied with cold towels and a refreshing cup of roselle juice which had my girl insisting that it was Ribena, heh! I had put in a request when I booked the trip for adjoining rooms located near the swimming pool as we were traveling with young kids and not too keen on the long meandering walk from one end of the resort to the other. However, those rooms were also situated near an area that was undergoing construction and apparently, my previous comments in the guest survey regarding ongoing construction after we’d stayed at Gaya Island had been duly noted as we were given an upgrade from the Bumbung rooms I’d originally booked to bigger Serambi rooms which was located away from the noise, and had a connecting door between the rooms. I thought this was a really nice gesture, and I’m impressed that YTL does take their guests’ feedback and requests into account even amongst their resorts. Thank you, YTL!

The resort was running at full occupancy due to the long weekend, but to be honest, I hardly saw other guests except at the pool and during meal times when we were greeted with the sight of a fully packed restaurant. Here’s a tip if you decide to visit during peak periods: do pre-book your table at Di Atas Sungei for dinner – in the words of Chef Ann, the resident menu master, “What’s important is that you get a table!”

The breakfast buffet had a really good spread of food – pastries were baked fresh on-site (do try the croissants), and I happily satiated my cravings for nasi lemak on both days with a huge plate of coconut rice, anchovies, sambal and pickled cucumbers. We could also order off the breakfast menu, and I highly recommend the pancakes with bananas – it’s oh-so-fluffy and light and tastes delightful with the caramelized bananas. My daughter enjoyed it so much she had the same dish two days in a row. As for dinner, rest assured that the food quality was not compromised despite the crowd. The food arrived promptly and the portions were so generous that we could hardly find room for dessert! We had two types of starters and a veritable variety of dishes for our mains. The men enjoyed the butter milk prawns so much that we ordered a double helping on the second night, and other notable dishes were the ‘foo yong’ egg, deep fried calamari (which was served as a starter), sizzling Japanese tofu as well as the chocolate lava cake and deep fried banana fritters with ice cream.

We arrived on Saturday which meant we could bring the kids to take part in the ‘Kampung Life’ activities that was set-up just a few steps away from our rooms. We indulged in coconut juice and delicious ‘apam balik’ while the kids watched in fascination as the monkey climbed the coconut tree to pluck fresh coconuts and tried playing congkak before we headed off to the beach.

The beach is perfect in the evenings as it isn’t too hot and there’s plenty of space for the little ones to run around. There were plenty of little seashells scattered all over the beach, more than enough to keep my girl happy as she went off ‘treasure hunting’ – burying and digging out her little treasures.

I’d also brought along a kite and the weather was just perfect for kite-flying – no effort was needed as the kite was immediately swept up by the strong winds! My daughter was squealing in delight as she watched the kite flutter and fly in the breeze and couldn’t wait to have a go.

On the second day, we headed down to the pool next to Nelayan restaurant. Mummies should take note that there isn’t much shade at the pool side if you go in the afternoons, and it can get quite hot if there isn’t any breeze. I slathered on sunscreen on both myself and my girl and kept her properly covered up. As she was recovering from a cough, I only let her paddle in the baby pool for a short while. She probably found the weather too hot as well as she soon asked if we could go back to the room. The restaurant staff kindly packed our lunch for us and we ended up enjoying a picnic on the daybed in the cool relief of the room instead.

After dinner that night, the staff helped to set up a projector at an open area located near our rooms that looks like it was built for a ‘cinema-under-the-stars’ experience – there were chairs and a raised platform for us to sit on, and we happily munched on snacks that I’d brought along as we watched Shrek 4 – it felt like a personalized experience as we were the only two families there.

The other activity that the kids truly enjoyed was being able to feed the fishes that resided in the big pond located next to the reception. “Mommy, I want to feed the fishes” became an oft-repeated phrase and it was delightful to see them excitedly clutching cups of fish food and exclaiming in excitement whenever the fishes gobbled up the pellets.

The weekend passed too quickly and before we knew it, Monday morning dawned and it was time to pack up after a short early morning, post-breakfast jaunt to the beach. I knew my girl definitely had a good time when she kept on asking me if we could stay on longer when I told her that it was time to go home. As we had to leave the resort by 1.30pm, we didn’t have time to eat lunch and the F&B staff kindly helped me to pack some cheese sandwiches for the kids to eat during the journey from the resort to the airport. We had a wonderful send-off – everyone came out to wave us off – as well as an unexpected gift that was presented to us right before we left: two copies of a photo – one for each family – that the resort photographer had taken of us during the kampung life activity. What a lovely personalized touch!

It was an lovely weekend away, and more importantly, I managed to spend lots of quality time with my little one. We’re already planning another trip back to Tanjong Jara once the upcoming monsoon season has passed; the hospitality that we’ve experienced here surpasses all the resorts and hotels that I’ve visited thus far…without doubt, Tanjong Jara’s charm has truly found a permanent place in our hearts.

and i quote.

22 Jun 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve recently been spending quite a lot of my time on Pinterest – after a few half-hearted attempts at pinning, I’ve finally begin to appreciate the ease in which it allows us to immerse and lose ourselves in a virtual sea of beautiful pictures and beautiful words. The quotes that I would like to share below (and some of my accompanying thoughts) are amongst the ones that I’ve stumbled upon on Pinterest whenever life is getting me down – some of these are quotes I’ve found on days when I feel so emotionally fatigued that all I want to do is stay in bed, cut off all contact and wallow in my own thoughts and self-pity, while others appear like a well-timed reminder.

I’d like to think that everything – be it people, objects or words – finds us at the right moments and I hope one of these nine lovely quotes finds its way to you too when you need it most.

1. There’s more to life than just walking along the path ahead, routinely doing the things that we’ve always been doing, staying in our comfort zones. Dare to do.

2. When the strong needs saving, will anyone be there? I take comfort in the fact that my Superman savior takes the form of my parents – on the rare occasions when I truly crumble and break down, when trying to appear strong takes its toll, it’s my mother’s shoulder that I seek to wordlessly sob my heart out. I hope my daughter – as strong and determined as she may be (yes, her personality is very apparent, even at the tender age of three) – will cast me in the same role in future, if and when she has the need.

3. Noise and work – I deal with these just fine. But when it comes to trouble, especially the emotional kind that triggers my coping mechanism, I realize that I will begin to withdraw and distance myself  – outwardly trying to appear fine and at peace, while desperately trying to tame and stem the train of thoughts barreling through my head. I find that I’m very rarely calm in my heart and this kind of peace is something that I’m still learning to achieve.

4. Keep on stepping. Keep on moving. One foot in front of another. I thank god for my daughter. She is simultaneously my way forward as well as the anchor that keeps me grounded.

5. I’ve never been a fan of exercising, but by experience, the other two definitely works (short term solution, but I’m not complaining!). A good cry does wonders. A holiday by the beach, even more so.

6. I used to find it very hard to cut off friends that bring me down – I would agonize and fret over the things they do or say about me. But the past two years have taught me how to emotionally detach myself even when I’m in their presence, that it’s ok to put people like these aside – after all, their absence in my life only serves to make more room for the people who do matter.

7. This is from Tyler Knott, an author whom I wrote about here (I think it’s nice to tell people that you admire their work and I did just that a couple of weeks back with a short note telling him how much I love his poems and I even got a reply!). I actually found this quote today after spending the morning trying to shake off some hurtful memories. Forgetting is an act that I find very hard to do – I know in my head that I would be a much happier and better person if I could learn to forget faster yet my mind stubbornly clings on to certain things. Another work in progress, this.

8. When two people come together and the first flush of love has lost its sheen, incompatibilities are invariably revealed as individual personalities and quirks that has built up over the years, be it through nature or nurture, begin to clash. This quote is such a good reminder that at the end of the day, if love is still in both your hearts, the rights can outweigh the wrongs (don’t get me wrong though – there are some things that are impossible to forgive in my books no matter how many points have been gained in the ‘right’ column). I admit that this piece of advice is another one that does take some constant, internal reminding – sometimes, little squabbles does take its toll but despite everything, I am truly and eternally grateful (even though I rarely show it) that the boyfriend’s optimistic outlook towards everything does much to balance my infinitely more pessimistic, prickly and grumpy side, especially on particularly trying days.

9. I hope that when the time comes, I would have done enough to show my daughter right from wrong, but allow her to make her own decisions and choose her own path.

[/end of quote].

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