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Make A Wish this Christmas!

It’s the Christmas season, my favourite time of the year – & today my office had a really early Christmas celebration (whilst everyone is around and not on leave… as people tend to be in December)! We played a few games and had a very fun/stressful time gift wrapping hampers for each other while the timekeepers yelled at us & here’s what my team came up with :)

With the joy of construction paper, wrapping plastic, double sided and scissors, we entitled our creation

Make a Wish this Christmas”

It came with some obligatory bullshit of course, haha! The wand with the star symbolises the magic of Christmas, the mistletoe is to hang over your significant other to get a kiss, & the stars pasted all over will make all your wishes come true :)

Yay! We won best team for presentation wise, but because we weren’t violently grabbing the goodies to stuff in our hamper, we kinda lost out on Overall Best Hamper. haha.

the BF & his sis also had their own Christmas gift exchange, & she got a Krups Coffee Machine! Retailing at $199 SGD at most stores (we bought this one from NTUC Fairprice), this tiny baby might not be one of those fancy gourmet coffee machines that uses those tiny little cups of coffee, but it certainly did the job. Plus, it’s not that expensive to maintain. at $10.90 a box for a refill of the Nescafe coffees, it works out to approximately $1+ per drink, which is way cheaper than Starbucks. I tried out the Ice Cappuccino and thought it was pretty good! very frothy, but a tad too milky for the BF’s taste.

And as is tradition, we accompanied the celebrations with a huge feast at her place. She always prepares too much! I ate more than enough for 1 day’s worth, because I spent the next day waddling around HAHHA.

& my gift to the bf was a RAZER mouse – the Death Adder! I don’t know what it does but it has a laser something which will help him perform better at gaming ( & he just purchased Modern Warfare 3 anyways so yeah!)

surprisingly, on his recent trip to KL, he noted that it was actually cheaper there by a few bucks! I always thought most electronics would be cheaper here in sg, but seems like I was wrong..

Enjoy the Christmas Season everyone! May your days be filled with joy, good health and self-fulfilment! :)

i think this is insanely adorable! 

all pictures taken & edited with the iPhone 4S

mostly, with the smart-journal app Path

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Procrastination, thou art the Devil

Lately posts have been slow coz knowing how to get that work-life balance doesn’t seem as easy as it should be. The concept seems easy enough, but with a long work day that’s exhausted you physically & mentally, a work-life balance kinda seems impossible. particularly because my work involves quite a bit of writing, sometimes i just mentally shut down without thinking & stuff like this happens:

At the end of it all, procrastination is way easier than getting up to have a social life :( & it’s an addictive method of time wasting, i assure you.

so I look for interesting things that could spice up my life. Projects that aren’t that hard to accomplish & ones that could be really fun to do, you know?

Tada! An insanely simple way of making a pretty wrap that could be perfect for the office. The sleeves are missing, but getting a nice printed wrap could really spice up a muted work outfit, particularly if you’re meeting friends for a girl’s night out! :D Especially if most of your work clothes (like mine) are mostly made of muted colours or monochromatic ensembles. Here are a few prints I wouldn’t mind getting for this project: 

Geometric prints, animal prints, polka dots & flower prints.. these are a few of my favourite things! Too bad most of my work wardrobe doesn’t consist of such prints – so having a colourful & fun wrap would really brighten up my day :)

Another thing I’ve been thinking of doing is re-look at my eating habits. i.e. Eat more “negative calorie” foods, which are basically foods that take more energy & calories to digest than the amount of calories inside them! Smart way to diet without sacrificing on amount, eh?

Besides, looking at this list, I really do love quite alot of these foods, so it wouldn’t be a struggle to eat them, but I do have to make a more conscious effort / choice to eat healthily.

I love hush puppy shoes because they’re so damn comfortable, but the colours available are so bleah. I know it seems like a crime to vandalise a pair of $100 + pumps, but I’m seriously contemplating pulling a fairy godmother stunt to turn a plain pair of pumps into really pretty sparkly shoes

check out the glitter shoes tutorial on Pixie on Pump’s blog!

She used cheap shoes so I’m thinking I might practice my skills on a cheap throwable pair before trying it out on a pair of hush puppies. haha.

so yep! those are the few things I’m planning on doing! :D It’s always great to find inspiration. I just hope that I don’t end up like this:

HAHA. have a great week ahead everyone!!

Cute Lunchboxes

with my hectic work schedule, it’s a wonder that I ever get to eat regular meals, particularly since my average work day ends at 8+/9pm. I’ve pretty much been on a heavy-breakfast, medium-lunch, light-dinner type of diet, so it hasn’t affected me greatly, but that hasn’t stopped me from fantasizing about bringing a cute lunchboxes to work! :D Of course, I say this all without thinking about making the extra effort to wake up early to cook & pack food, but hey! It could be the best way to ensure that I don’t oversleep AND I save money (since I spend less buying outside food) AND I can “force” myself to eat healthy! haha. oh plus it could really amp up my cooking skills. *hmmm* now this option seems more & more attractive..

I’m not into cartoon characters etc, but I have to admit that this domo-kun is pretty darn cute XP In case you’re curious, domo-kun (hello boy), is the official mascot of Japan’s NHK TV station. i wonder why Mediacorp Channel 5 doesn’t have a similarly cute mascot! haha. That said, the Japanese are the best at coming up with weird (but cute) things.

Simple & elegant design. very work appropriate. Adults wouldn’t look foolish bringing this to work – & I have to admit, the design of this seems to inspire images of salad and other healthy foods. I somehow can’t picture putting a fat juicy sausage in it. eeks. I’m unsure about this, but for $24 USD, it’s not too bad. Check it out at the Omoi Zakka Shop

I used to have something like this as a kid!! I loved WONDER WOMAN, she was soo much better than HE MAN or the THUNDERCATS. but of course, Ninja Turtles ruled all. hahaha. Unfortunately, whilst tin boxes are very cute and vintage, they really wouldn’t be suitable or convenient for the workplace at all.

Honestly though, I’m not really hunting for design or specific colours/characters per se, I’m inclined towards the practical! (*sigh* a sign of growing old.. practicality over impulse..) I wouldn’t mind a plain container, with shiftable compartments so that I can partition my food. I’m quite particular about my food touching each other, unless I have no choice. Perhaps I shall take a look at the little boxes in Daiso, they seem like quite a good option!

Oh but seriously i would die from self satisfaction and pleasure with a cute lunchbox like this!

Another concept I really like though, is the bowl concept – or as the Japanese prefer to present it, the pokeball concept.

Looks really cute to carry around! Especially if there’s no space in my workbag :)

So yep I’ll be hunting around for the perfect lunchbox. What kind of lunchboxes do you prefer? The cute type? the practical type?

Falling in love with Prints

Lately I’ve been thinking of sprucing up my room &/or office with some pretty prints. I’m not so sure about overwhelming swathes of prints on my bedsheet or curtains, but I’m feeling rather keen on using prints in a way that accentuates the overall colour scheme of the room.

Cue in Brainstorm, a really cool group of designers who make pretty awesome prints:

So if I had these, what would I do?

Hmm I could go completely overboard…

or I could be more subtle about it..

Being subtle with prints doesn’t mean using less prints, but it does mean being less bold about your choice of prints, and the way you choose it. That said, after looking at all these, I think I’m most inclined to using one bold print (perhaps in a standalone furnishing piece) rather than immersing the entire room in print, though I might be persuaded to have a section of the wall wallpapered over with a bold print.

Well, so what do you think? Prints – yay or nay?

Dissecting the Housing Issue

Disclaimer: The following article is meant to be an informative and analytical exploration. The author’s opinions are her own and (as far as possible) not influenced by any particular party. They are merely observations made post-analysis. 

It’s hard to ignore all the arguments and explanations with regards to the present political situation, so I’ve been doing my fair share of reading and analyzing, since it’s the responsibility of the citizen to actually find out what’s the origin behind each issue, instead of being distracted whenever the wind blows.

Close to my heart is the issue of public housing, especially since I’m at a stage of life where I’m contemplating my future prospects and juggling sums of money in my head.

I’ve always thought that the PAP’s mission to have each and every Singaporean a home owner to be a laudable one. Unlike other countries where their citizens move from rented flat to rented flat, Singaporeans generally do feel that they have a greater stake in the country due to the fact that they own a large material asset (the home) here. Comparatively, a home is a harder thing to discard and throw away than say a car, a job or even friends.

At the heart of the present debate, lies two main concerns:

  1. The definition of Public Housing
  2. The definition of the necessary costs with regards to Public Housing
Since I’m by no means a political/government administration expert, I turned to a few other government websites for help on the definition of Public Housing.
The Australian Government defines it as such:
State and territory governments provide some rental housing, called public housing, for people on low incomes. The rent is often a fixed part of your income. There is a very long waiting list for public housing.
The US Government is perhaps more definitive:
Public housing was established to provide decent and safe rental housing for eligible low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. Public housing comes in all sizes and types, from scattered single family houses to highrise apartments for elderly families.
but the best comparison would perhaps be Hong Kong, where its housing patterns are very much like Singapore’s:
to maintain a stable environment for the sustainable and healthy development of the private property market, as well as to provide subsidized public housing for people who cannot afford private rental housing.
Taking these definitions into account – have our Public Housing policies met these needs? I took a look at some statistics available at HDB.gov, but regrettably, I am unable to tell if our lower income group (as emphasized by the three separate quotes above) who form the bulk of HDB dwellers can comfortably afford a flat. However, what I did find was the following graph:
Bearing in mind that I have friends who hate graphs and there are people who feel blind after a long work day staring at a computer screen, I took the liberty of marking out certain areas:
Public Housing is for the lower-middle income group. As such, it would make logical sense for the prices of public housing to match their income, not the general income / overall GDP of the country. Certainly, as one looks at the graph, prices of our public housing were relatively stable from 2001-2008. In view of the events that happened (economic boom, economic recession then economic recovery) it seems that our government played its part in these years to stabilize the prices of public housing.

What then, happened from 2008 – 2011 for prices to begin its exponential rise of 75% of the overall price? Judging from this graph, buying a public housing flat will now cost approx 175% of what it cost in 2008 – compared to the relatively stable prices from 2001-2008, it’s a considerably huge rise in cost. And has the income of the lower-middle income group similarly risen in tandem with the rising cost of public housing?
“To continue to grow and prosper while slowing the intake of foreign workers, the same number of Singaporean workers must produce more. Otherwise, there will be a deflating economy, and knock-on effects on jobs and asset values. Instead of many job opportunities and rising asset values, including prices for resale HDB flats, the reverse will happen… fewer jobs, lower salaries, lower asset prices… pay will fall and so will the number of jobs and promotion,”  

Lee Kwan Yew, in his speech to Tanjong Pagar residents
Several factors have been pointed out by the opposition to be the cause of the rising HDB prices:
  1. the allowance for foreigners & PR residents to purchase public housing flats
  2. the matching of HDB flat prices to the retail market
Looking at point 1, which LKY similarly noted in his speech, there are both pros and cons in letting foreigners purchase public housing. At its relatively “cheap” prices compared to private housing, it is an affordable and attractive option for our foreign talent. This allows us to be competitive with our neighbouring countries for foreign talent. However, as opposition WP has pointed out, doing so raises the demand for HDB flats, driving up prices exponentially as the influx of foreign workers increases.

Looking at point 2, the WP and NSP reason that since HDB purchases land from the government at a special subsidized price for residential purposes, this government subsidy should be passed on to citizens – so that flat prices will be cheaper. In comparison, private developers who build condominiums and private housing buy land at a far more expensive price, so it makes sense that their market value is higher and more expensive. As public housing specifically should cater to the lower-middle income group, pegging public housing prices to private housing prices meant for upper middle-higher income groups does not “make sense”.

Admittedly though, doing a sudden, dramatic pegging of prices to median incomes of the lower-middle income group will invariably cause a huge upset in our property market. Just think of it this way. Approx more than 2 million of our 4.5 million population (or even more, I give an arbitrary number) live in HDB flats. What would they think, if post-elections, the value of their houses suddenly dips by 75%? 

Honestly, even though it would be MUCH cheaper for me to buy and move into a new (and maybe better) flat, I’d be pissed that my assets have depreciated so much – which I guess is what MBT refers to when he talks of “asset enhancement” being one of the joyous things about the rising costs of our public housing.

Moreover, as MBT notes, the government operates at a deficit of about S$1 billion in housing and home ownership programmes and S$1 billion in home rejuvenation (lift upgrading and playground building) programmes. So reducing the government’s income from public housing would mean an “illegal raid on the reserves”.
Which then brings us to the next issue. What constitutes as “necessary costs” when it comes to public housing? Are Singaporeans too pampered to envision HDB estates without playgrounds, beautiful hotel-like lifts and prettily painted blocks?

Perhaps the problem lies precisely in our lack of knowledge and voice.

When the Town Council suggests lift upgrading, HDB residents are given a vote. Yes, or no. They aren’t told about other possible alternatives or options: no upgrading or newly painted blocks means a reduction of Town Council fees/a reduced payment to HDB for fewer services incurred etc. Instead of spending S$1 billion on “home rejuvenation”, what about using that sum to reduce the overall costs of HDB flats for the lower-middle income group?

What if upgrading became more transparent and democratic? Like all debatable decisions, it would definitely be a tough one, liable to turn violent and ugly, particularly when people don’t see eye to eye. (Think of the awful en-bloc situations we’ve heard of in the past). So while it is idealistic and visionary to envision a future where citizens get to vote decisively and knowledgeably on issues such as how and where to direct costs, and what necessary costs mean to them, I don’t foresee it to be an easy step to take.

These are pictures of the most basic and oldest public housing in Hong Kong for the lowest income group and the elderly who earn little or no income. To the HK government, necessary costs don’t include lift upgrading and pretty paint. But at what costs to its citizens’ living standards?

NSP suggests a re-adaptation of HDB’s pricing, to resemble more similarly, a rental agreement, (a policy that seems closely related to Australia’s and US’s public rental housing, as previously quoted above) which MBT rejects flatly, as it does not fit at all into the PAP’s mission to have each and every Singaporean own their own home in Singapore. Should the PAP be more flexible? And to what extent will this affect Singaporeans’ opinions and sense of belonging in their country without the factor of home ownership?

Personally, I believe it’s a matter of one’s priorities. There’s no determinable way I see at the moment that can assuredly say one political party’s point of view is greatly superior to the other’s. What I can hope for is that post-elections, the passionate debating of such issues will lead our government to take a close and hard look at how it defines the role of public housing in our society, for our society; and then re-adjust its policies for the welfare of the overall community.

Dressing It Up

If you’ve read the papers of late, you’d know that recently, one issue has been perpetually harped upon besides our General Elections 2011. Our local dress sense. Whilst I won’t lament the “awfulness” and lack of formality that youngsters feel these days (because I fully empathise), I do agree that sometimes, a little bit of pride in one’s dressing definitely helps. That said, how does one go about doing so?

Rather than contemplate the horrors of having to put in extra effort each day to painstakingly choose “presentable” clothes, why not spend a few torturous days reorganizing your entire closet and throwing out what’s no longer presentable? Get rid of the hoarder’s instinct & sieve out the good from the bad, leaving yourself with no choice but only the good stuff even when you’re off for a casual meetup or to run some errands.

Listed above are 3 of the most important key things whenever I revamp my closet (for tops) – I tend to do this each time I enter a new phase in life or change my inclinations towards fashion. Usually, I either donate to the salvation army, pass it on to friends, or if I’ve got a huge load, hold a garage sale, which was actually quite profitable the last time I held it! :)

So stop procrastinating & get on with it – it’ll definitely help you find some “hidden treasures” from eons ago and help you prioritize your future purchases as well, as you’ll know what fits and what no longer does :)

Explore the world with a click

The magic of the world wide web never ceases to amaze me, and having been disappointed by failed travel plans recently, I’ve been browsing the unofficial National Geographic Tumblr Blog. Escapism no longer belongs solely to the world of book readers, but has been created, visually, through these gorgeous pictures :) So enjoy! Leave your little cubicle/desk full of books for a few moments as your eyes travel with mine…

Polar Bear and Cub, Svalbard
Photograph by Philip Dien
As we watched from our Zodiac, this polar bear gave her cub a lift as she swam across the fjord, shaking herself dry after emerging from the water with her cub hanging on. Polar bear cubs have been known to occasionally ride on the backs of their mothers as they swim together in Arctic waters, possibly to reduce exposure to cold.

Lightning, Arizona
Photograph by Richard T. Cole, Your Shot
This is a time exposure of four lightning strikes over Scottsdale, Arizona.

Eroded Landscape, Madagascar
Photograph by Pascal Maitre, National Geographic
Pockets of eroded earth create leaf shapes in the landscape in Madagascar. Erosion is one of the long-term consequences of forests plundered for the illicit rosewood trade.

Hermit’s Trail, Grand Canyon
Photograph by Akshay Sateesh
On the remote Hermit’s Trail off the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, a rare occurrence of rain brings joy to a cold November day.

I’ve always been curious about different perspectives – it can bring an entirely different feel of a subject when it comes to photography, or when it comes to design, an entirely different take and resultant creation of even the simplest thing. A tumblr blog focussed on design caught my eye, and I haven’t been able to leave its page ever since.

how useful is this! A great fashionable addition to paperbags across the glob.

Can you believe that this is an earring? If I had pierced ears, I would definitely want this.

must.have.something.like. this gorgeous organic looking bookshelf in my home. If I can afford it.

Having looked for quotes to frame and possibly put around my workspace, I stumbled across tumblr blog I Can Read, which simply stole my heart away with its artistically placed, motivational and beautiful quotes.

all pictures are from given tumblr sites. 

Have a great week ahead everyone! I hope you enjoyed this week’s tumblr tuesday :)

Adding an Oomph to Casual Wear

Word is, Singaporeans suck at dressing casually. & it’s not something that can’t be avoided. Rather, it’s a phenomenon of pure laziness to rid ourselves of those old rags in the closet. & sometimes, when it’s just for a casual errand, we think it’s ok. Then we see someone dressed more poorly than we are and think, oh god, that person’s worse! So I’m ok. 

Haha well, not to lambast all you lazy ones out there (I count myself as one of you), I’ll fully agree that sometimes, making the effort to dress a little bit nicer seems a tad horrific. So the solution? REVAMP YOUR CLOSET! You won’t be alone, because that’s what I’ll be doing in the following weeks. Getting rid of all those ratty, NON-fitting (I don’t mean stylishly loose-fitting) clothings will make it impossible for me to leave the house looking like an unkempt homeless person – I do exaggerate, of course. Instead, I’m looking at easy, breezy casual basics to fill my closet instead :)

I’m beginning to like the idea of knee-length flowy skirts. They seem so perfect for the tropics

a little bling with casual outfits might work

but what I’m most in favour of are nice-fitting tops with interesting detail. Tucked in, the first top looks less sloppy. I love the semi-mesh of the second top!

cute floral dresses also rank as one of my top casual favourites as well!

So you see, casual chic ain’t so scary now is it! Granted, it’ll take a hell lot of effort to sieve out the stashes from the trash in your closet, but think of it as a once-in-ten-years exercise, with loads of benefits. No more freaking out when you see an old schoolmate, an old acquaintance or an ex?! when you’re in your casual wear. As they say, it’s a small, small world…

all images from lookbook.nu

Urban Outfitters Apartment

Usually when one thinks of Urban Outfitters, one doesn’t automatically associate it with furniture, bedding and the like. I usually just click Women Sale and browse through the awesome selection of clothes, accessories and shoes. Well, now that I’ve been bitten by the home decor bug, I clicked on the Apartment tab recently and boy was I surprised! Here are some of the things that caught my eye!

Birds of a feather

Somehow I’ve been quite drawn to the bird motifs recently and it’s hard not to! I love how the bird detail of the door hooks and the jewelry stand can give a room an elegant, eclectic feel while the toothbrush holder is so whimsical and cartoonish.

Picture Perfect

I saw this shower curtain and went, WHOA! It’s definitely something out of the ordinary and its gonna be one helluva conversational starter. Dunno how to do a photo collage? Never fear. this plastic collage maker has got you covered. Just slot in your photos in the designated pockets and you’re done! Easy peasy!

Nature Calls

Oh, there’s nothing nicer than to have a touch of spring in your room. Could be a tree in its glorious splendor all mapped out on your shower curtain, a flower embroidered rug or even birds and branches imprinted on your pillow. Either way, it adds that touch of femininity and life to any room.

Hope these have inspired you to shop for more than just clothes at Urban Outfitters. Have a great week ahead!

Pretty Notice Boards

Lately, Ruth and I have been thinking of ways to configure our office space and make it personal by leaving our own unique touches. While Ruth like the idea of flowers and how they brighten up the place, (see her DIY tutorial on flower arrangements), I like the idea of having a notice board. On one hand, it allows me to pin up all the important to-do lists for the week. On the other hand, it allows me space to make it personal. To pin up my favourite photos, quotes, pictures. To basically have a Tumblr of stuff on a board that defines and inspires me. Here are some board designs I love.

I love the colour combinations of both rooms and how both designs are rather minimalist so it looks easy enough to replicate. I think Ikea sells a plain board like that and with some trimmings, postcards and other knick knacks, it’ll be easy to decorate the board space and make it ‘me’.

Other innovative ways for decorating your notice board could also include using envelopes. And I think this is actually a great idea. I collect alot of forms from students and I have random pieces of loose paper lying around so these little pockets would be soooo useful to help me keep organized. Another idea I’m loving is to mount clipboards directly on the wall. Good thing about doing that is that you don’t even need to get push pins and the like because hey, you just need to use the attachable clip to secure things. It’s actually quite an interesting concept and I never thought that that would look aesthetically pleasing, but it does in this photo.

 

One other thing that I noticed and liked, are those fabric notice boards in colourful prints and patterns. I really think it brightens up the whole room and I don’t think it’s that difficult to DIY. All we need is some fabric from Spotlight and to just glue gun it to a cork board and voila! A pretty notice board.

I’m also toying with the idea of using multiple boards and to place them in panels. So I could have one panel for work related stuff, one for photos and one for quotes. But I don’t know whether that is too structured and perhaps it would be better for it to be more organic like this one here…

But I realised that the most important thing to look out for is really, a theme. It could be a colour, a pattern or even a motif. What really makes a notice board pleasing to the eye is whether or not the elements come together to reflect your unique personality. So given my rather organized and slightly OCD personality, and throwing in some girly-ness into the mix, I would think that my notice board would look something like this:

Simple, functional and pretty all at the same time. Now that I’ve got some inspiration, the difficult bit is the execution… wish me luck!

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