Tuesday, December 27, 2016


I am super big on DIY presents for Christmas, a penchant born out of necessity rather than preference. Because there are a lot of people in my family and I am usually too broke to buy them actual presents. Over the years I have made necklaces out of felt and coloured paper, felt animal pen holders, tea bags, etc etc.

My most favourite of them all is the portraits I painted of my family. Unfortunately, everyone turned out looking really scary and nobody wanted to hang these on their walls so now my mum keeps them in a basket under a bunch of stuff to reduce the frequency that they are seen. I myself found them to be awful but the thing with DIY is that once you commit your time, energy, and pocket money to paint and canvas, there is no turning back.


The holidays have long been a source of stress for me. My tendency to grossly underestimate the time taken to make these presents also adds to the chaos. I didn't have time to paint my sister's family portrait and when they saw the other portraits, politely told me "it's okay!"

Anyway, since I've been working and saving a little, I thought this year I'd actually go to the shops and buy proper presents like a normal person does. Until one day in late October, when Scott and I were in a Uniqlo standing in front of a bargain bin filled with white jeans, he came up with the most brilliant plan.

Being the sucker that I am for DIY stuff, I was immediately like, "YASSSS!" (We both had no idea what we'd just sign up for.) In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we converted Scott's dining and living area into Santa's workshop - tinsel, bells, paint, PANTS all over the place.

I highly recommend everyone in 'serious courtship' to undertake a long and tedious project together to discover the ways in which you complement and/or get in each others way when life gets long and tedious.

Project Christmas Pants required us to be innovative and smart about making it happen. Scott tends to be very chill, good at lightening the mood and getting stuff done while I stress about perfecting things. In the beginning, I would spend 1 hour sewing 8 bells around the hem and then 6 hours shading dinosaurs on Quinn's pants. In that same time, Scott would have done a dance, painted 5 pairs of pants, made dinner, and changed the bedsheets. At the end of the day, I usually get frustrated at having done so little and taking such a long time to do everything so Scott would have to give me a hug and pep talk. Then we'd eat cake and fall asleep while watching How To Get Away With Murder.

Anyway, happy holidays to all. May the new year be filled with more love and laughter.

Ps- these are the same white jeans we used for Halloween. We planned our Halloween costume around "white jeans" because we had 15 pairs sitting in Scott's cupboard. Who knew white jeans would come in so handy?

Thursday, December 15, 2016


A couple of weeks back, Scott and I went to Boracay and were reminded just how therapeutic it is to hang out by the beach and do absolutely nothing. Our days were blissfully unscheduled and relaxing, although getting to the island was very tiring and a little bit of a hassle. 

The whole journey took us a good seven hours and involved a plane, a speedboat, and some travelling by road. Fortunately, our airbnb host recommended an excellent service provider, Southwest, which was very well co-ordinated and took us door-to-door. We booked our transfer online before the trip and I felt a bit cheated initially because as we were walking out of the airport I saw a lot of people holding up cardboards advertising their services for one tenth of what we had paid. But when we finally arrived at our apartment that evening, I was thoroughly impressed and satisfied with how swiftly we were herded from bus to boat to bus with minimal waiting time in between.

We stayed on Bulabog Beach - Scott calls it 'Ball Bag Beach' - which is a 15-minute walk from the main tourist area and less busy but still very lively as it is a popular spot for kitesurfing. We could only access our apartment from the beach so when the tide came right up in the evenings, we had to climb over our neighbour's hedges and were barked at very fiercely by their guard dogs.

Each morning we'd watch the kite surfers while eating breakfast and then head to White Beach for the afternoon. I usually come up with excuses to avoid going into the sea - sea water allergy, period, can't swim - but could not resist in Boracay. It was so shallow and clear, it felt unreal. Around mid-afternoon we'd get a massage and then buy some fruit, bread, and eggs on the way home.

There's not a lot of local culture in Boracay and most of the island seems catered to tourists. (Lots of Koreans!) Food is not great. We could not find decent calamari even though it seemed to be on the menu everywhere. We figured they were all using the same calamari supplier and after I asked "Oh! They have calamari too!!! Do you think it will be nice here?" one too many times, Scott made me promise to stop ordering it as we were only setting ourselves up for disappointment. 

Luckily we found one place that had good food. I can't remember what it's called anymore, so just look out for a spanish place that serves churros. We went there everyday and tried their churros, tacos, and olive pizzetta - all delicious.

We went to d'Talipapa market one night because Scott wanted to get his seafood fix. Quite fun because you can buy your own seafood from the market and then have them cook it for you in one of the small restaurants next door. They tried to rip us off but Scott is a master when it comes to the art of negotiation so in the end I think we got an all right deal. The trick is to not bring out too much cash with you so don't give in. Because you cannot afford to. (Note: their butter tastes weird. I think they use margarine.)

Anyway, the highlight of our trip for me was when we made the impromptu decision to go helmet diving and parasailing one afternoon even though Scott doesn't particularly like being high up and I'm scared of everything. It all happened so fast, we had no chance to talk ourselves out of it. One minute we were lazing on the beach while Scott playfully entertained a couple of guys who approached us with a laminated card showcasing the various water sports they offered and the next minute we were riding in a speedboat out to the diving platform. (It was so organized!!)

Since Sri Lanka, we've gone through a range of experiences that lend themselves to compatibility. Helmet diving and parasailing let us see each other in yet another different context - one where we both a bit nervous and didn't know what to expect. It was a fun way to see how we handle stress - big and small - and respond to the curveballs life sometimes throws.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

An Education

Just found this old video of Freja, Molly, and Quinn from 2010. Hahahahahaha good times. Teaching them about the Queen Bey because, duh. Isn't it weird that I hadn't figured out how to rotate videos by the time I was 18 years old? Look at me now - older and better. Yay life!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Japanese Man

Whether it's Halloween or an office dress up party, Scotty always brings his A game!

Thursday, November 17, 2016


I had a love-hate relationship with food while growing up. On a good day, I would only eat food that was prepared by myself or my mother. And even then, I always had a lingering suspicion that my mother was putting sugar and other stuff I did not want into my food. Even up till today, I'm notorious for bombarding her with my inquiries over the dinner table. (What's in this? Did you put soya sauce? Is there cornflour in the gravy? Is this a free-range chicken?) On a bad day, I would eat nothing but sweet potato or yam because I was terrified of refined carbs and sugar.

A few weeks back, I had to fill up a questionnaire for our corporate newsletter about healthy eating where I was prompted for some tips or 'rules' to help others sustain a healthy lifestyle. I giggled thinking back on the rules I'd previously subjected myself to: no carbs, no pork for blood type O, the caveman diet, vegetables only, vegetables and eggs only (I love eggs!), vegetables and eggs and tofu only, green tea and 300 kcal per day.

The rules turned eating - a joyful social activity - into a lonely struggle. Eating out became increasingly difficult, so I started eating at home more. And when tension escalated over the dinner table whenever I'd refuse to eat the food my mother had cooked, I ate alone. I wasn't able to abide by these rules for too long because they were extreme. I became lethargic and moody. And whenever I broke a rule, I would berate myself. So weak! No self-control! Disgusting! Not good enough!

It took me a long time to understand that the control I thought I had, I didn't really have. And even after that epiphany, it took an even longer time to get over the fears and re-establish a balanced relationship with food. But when I finally stopped withholding food from myself, I also stopped withholding love from myself and everything became infinitely better.

I'm glad that there are no more rules today, that I don't have to worry about being judged for eating "weird food," that mealtimes are no longer a great exercise in calculating calories, that I can reminisce on my tuberous roots days and laugh.

But if I had one rule - just one - it would be to eat everything in its natural form, nothing from cans or boxes where possible. (Unless you're making spaghetti bolognese. Then always get bottled tomato paste. And frozen peas in a bag - they're good too.) Processed/ready-to-eat food is one fear I haven't been able to rid myself of. And for good reason. 

Even apples that are too big and too red are scary too, because chemical preservatives and genetically-modified food seem unnatural and against the way of the universe. Scott says golden rice is good, though, because it is enriched with beta-carotene and has saved many lives especially the malnourished in the third world. I haven't read enough about it or thought of a good counter-argument, so my battle is currently against luncheon meat, gummy bears (although I loved them as a kid to the point where all my front teeth were rotten because I ate so much of them), crab sticks, canned sodas, and anything else that I can't really make out consists of what.

Just a word of caution about eating eggs out, always order them sunny-side up. Even though I know I'm eating an egg, some food establishments poach their eggs in advance, stick them in the fridge and then reheat them as and when they are required. And don't get me started on scrambled eggs and the possibility of making them from powdered eggs. Basically, trust nobody! Cook your own eggs! Cook your own meals!

Scotty made flatbread for breakfast one weekend
Adding some salt and herbs to our bread
Despite my many words denouncing processed food, we had our flatbread with chorizo and baked beans. Cheeky cheeky. Everything in moderation! Also on the plate is a fried egg and ribbons made from carrot and cucumber.
Even though dairy is not intended in nature to be human food - it is food for baby cow - and the stark fact that Scott is not a baby cow, he loves his milk and drinks it by the carton. We were only a couple of months into our relationship and it wasn't the right time for my inner control freak to shine, so I passively placed a glass of warm water with honey and lemon to his right. He drank both.


I spent 2 years drafting and draping in art school to sew Halloween costumes for my sister's children. Yay life! A couple of years ago I made them cloaks because they wanted to dress up as witches and wizards from Harry Potter. This year they asked for vampire capes. I'm lucky they don't ask for anything too complicated!

Scott and Bailey helping with the pattern cutting

Scott modelling the cape

Bailey the vampire dog

Quinn and Lulu testing their capes

We didn't have enough fabric to make 3 capes so Freja went as a pirate. Although Scott offered a clever solution, "just sew 2 more collars on here!"

Scott and I indulging in a bit of the old ultraviolence. Again, dressing up as the guys from A Clockwork Orange was Scott's clever idea. I'd never heard of the film before so Scott put it on before we went to the party to help me get into character. But we stopped watching about 5 minutes in because it made me feel very uneasy.

Mariah as a person with scary makeup, Tat as a 20s lady, Rah as a karate kid, Ame as a Mexican fighter. Nobody knew who we were :(

My cousin Emma saw our pictures and asked, "What the fuck were you guys? ..... Babies?"

My favourite dance partner

I hope everyone did something fun for Halloween too!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Chicken Pie

After a month of dating, Scott lured me to his place with the promise of tuna. Even though I am not a cat, this trick worked. I was very curious about our dinner because when a boy offers to cook you tuna, there's always a chance he is just going to crack open a can of tuna for dinner.

It was only then did I learn that Scott had worked in a kitchen as a teenager. And as I watched him manoeuvre his knife so swiftly – not just any knife, mind you, but his knife he's had for the last decade or so – did I realize that Scott only means serious business when he says he'll cook.

I didn't take a picture of the first dinner he made for us because I was too busy trying to keep my chill. But I was not able to maintain that juvenile pose for long. What's the point of pretending to be neutral, above it, unmoved by it? What's the point of trying to appear disengaged and apathetic? What's the point of imitating a stone or a slab of ham? Since then he's been cooking, and I've been snapping.

Here's a picture of the chicken pies we made some weeks later. He made everything from scratch! We didn't have enough pastry to completely cover both pies hence the rustic latticework.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Sri Lanka

I recently did something I'd been fantasizing about for a long time: I got on a plane with Scott and we went to Sri Lanka. I am saying it as if we made an impromptu decision one weekend even though we booked our tickets well in advance, because underneath our seemingly sluggish and rigid exteriors we really are just two very fun, spontaneous people. Except when we are tired, then we just want to stay in bed and watch movies all day – please do not disturb.

Our holiday was only for six days and I was allowed to plan everything – from which parts of the country we’d visit, where we’d rest our heads at night, what we'd eat to how we'd spend our afternoons. Being given control (and hence responsibility) typically annoys me because I am a super lazy and disorganized person who prefers to just ‘go with the flow’ and ‘wing it’ aka ‘let someone else work out all the nitty-gritties and just show up,’ but holding the reins in this instance actually delighted me.

Vacations are tricky beasts. You plan them with high hopes and the best intentions, but there are variable factors that affect how enjoyable the trip ends up being. Everything from where you stay and the weather, to how well you packed and the little unexpected moments – a secret hike that an insider tells you about, finding pretty shells and the sunbaked remains of a ‘turtle-fish’, or seeing a shooting star while dining on the beach – can make a holiday a lifetime highlight, or something you want to forget.

Immediately, I had to wrestle with the pressure of going so far away for so little time – how would we strike the perfect balance between chilling (very much needed at that time) and seeing all the shit we were supposed to (FOMO)?

This is no easy question to answer, particularly when you're navigating the issue with companions – or in my case, a boyfriend, whom I've never travelled with before. This added another dimension to the conundrum. We’d spent entire weekends together, but this was six consecutive days in a completely new and foreign environment. I was both excited and anxious because I knew that this could unlock whole new worlds of intimacy and self-awareness and good sex and personal growth. But possibly also turn our relationship into a carnival funhouse – the scary kind.

So without truly knowing what to expect or how things were going to turn out, we set off trying to find that sweet spot between doing and hanging, all the while trying not to scare each other off as we let our guts out and revealed our most relaxed true self to each other – gross habits and moodiness included.

We mostly got it right, achieving a satisfying mix of lazing by the beach and walking around absorbing, though it was not without my occasional cry to sit the fuck down and have some food. "Scott, I'm hungry! Food! Now!" I become a super crabby person when my blood sugar falls below a certain level.

One thing I completely overlooked is our very human need to defecate every now and then. Unfortunately, I did not have the foresight to practice doing this gracefully before our trip so I spent most evenings hopping around our room and contorting my body into funny angles on the bed. You would think that because I eat so much vegetable I’d have no problems dropping a daily deuce, but the world is full of surprises! By the end of our trip we were exchanging high-fives and kisses for every pellet I managed to expel from my bowels.

Anyway, here is my non-exhaustive list of must-sees and must-dos if you’re planning on going to Sri Lanka anytime soon. And if you don’t have a trip on the books just yet, let’s just say you might want to plan one soon! The island is magical.

We arrived in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, at 2am and then immediately set off on a long and nauseating car ride to Ella, a peaceful town on the southern edge of Sri Lanka’s Hill Country. If you are prone to carsickness and need to look far out into the wilderness, you may want to consider making this commute by helicopter instead as the roads are hella windy and narrow. Another smart idea would be to embark on this journey at a less insane time than 2am to avoid being tossed around the backseat of a taxi in complete darkness for six hours. And do not trust anyone who tries to entice you on this journey by making it seem quick and easy and, “just four hours.” It is not for the faint-hearted but sucking on some candied ginger will help.

Ella is all about the great outdoors – breathtaking views, adventures, and small-town vibes. It was such a treat for the nature freak that I am.

1. Check out Ravana Falls

It’s a 10-minute tuk-tuk ride from the town center, which is essentially one street with lots of food places and Ayurvedic massage spas. The waterfall is steep as fuck so don’t try to climb it. The many kids climbing it will give you the illusion that it is easy and totally doable, but kids are nimble and also crazy – you are not. If you plan on skinny-dipping in the plunge pool, try going in the morning. We went in the afternoon when it was pretty crowded but still managed to soak in the negative ions and watched a local family bathe. If you are travelling with someone with really bad/no balance – not gonna use names here – it would be wise to buy some travel insurance.

2. Hike up Little Adam’s Peak

I lead a sedentary life and have almost no confidence in my physical capabilities but this was a relatively easy hike, which we managed to complete in a couple of hours. Personally, I think it is lazy and dangerous to go hiking in slippers, but we totally did it and live to tell the tale. We made the rookie mistake of hiking at noon and I forgot to bring sunblock out with me so Scott ended up getting sunburn. Then we went to cool down and fill our tummies at a cafĂ© in the 98 Acres Resort, a super fancy place with a great view of the valleys and hills in the area. (They have a helipad for their guests – I wasn’t joking about helicopter being a mode of transport into Ella.)

Not too far from the resort is the Nine Arch Bridge, so off we went trekking through more lush hills. Poor Scott had to wrap a tote bag around his neck and my t-shirt around his arm because further exposure to the sun was going to result in him bursting into flames. (Update: he has tanned to a nice beige now in case anyone was worried.)

3. Explore Galle Fort

We set off after breakfast on another six-hour car ride but to our relief, the roads started to straighten out as we left the hills and drove towards the southern coast. We got some sightseeing in en route and stopped to say hi to an elephant along the road.

Galle Fort is a bit more touristy but the streets are still quaint and make for a nice wander in the evening. A gemologist started talking to us while we were sat somewhere eating some food. (I realize that if I’m going to go into travel journalism I’m going to have to provide better details, but just bear with my vagueness in the meantime.) Scott, more amused by the fact that they had misspelled sausages in the menu as ‘sasusages,’ pretty much ignored this man and kindly declined a free lesson in gemology lest I ask him to buy me a ruby. (Hey! I love rubies! Just thought I’d very casually slip that in.)

We also bought some curry powder and nutmeg from a spice shop. (We used the curry powder to make Empire Chicken the other day – so delicious!!!!!)

4. Laze on Umawatuna Beach

For a long time I managed to convince myself and others of my allergy to sea water – I still think I am allergic – but I think more than my allergy is the fact that I have an irrational fear of getting into the sea. (Sharks and stuff.) Scott is big and less retarded than I am, so he enjoyed the sea while I watched from the shore. You can also do water sports but we opted to walk along the beach and pick a ton of pretty seashells, corals, and a strange thing we haven’t figure out but refer to as ‘turtle-fish.’ (Note: these precious items will amuse airport security, significantly slowing you down at the checkpoints, which is not ideal if you are running late for your flight, which we were.)

We had a nice seafood dinner on the beach that evening. Again, I do not remember the name of the place or what the prices were like, but it was delicious. Five stars. Highly recommend. We shared a banana split and saw a shooting star – not to be confused with the fireworks in the video.

5. Blah blah blah

Colombo, I wasn’t too crazy about so I’m not going to write about. Also, I’m getting a bit restless now. What we did was take the train from Galle to Colombo, an experience itself. We thought we’d spoil ourselves by paying the extra 80 cents to upgrade from third class to second class but I ended up sitting in Scott’s lap (first class) most of the journey because the train was so, so crowded. The train ran along the coast, making it very enjoyable as it was scenic and there was always a cool breeze flowing through the carriage. I also managed to miss the wide carriage windows when attempting to dispose of an apple core, which resultantly ended up on a man’s arm and some laughs.

Finally, relax and make your holiday your own. Travel books make other countries seem like magical escapes, but what they really are is an endless stream of fun little puzzles of adaptability. Take in as much as you can, enjoy the company you have – bring a book in case you fight. And beware of Sri Lankan ants because they will find their way into anything that’s remotely edible.