Category Archives: Life

Amazing Amsterdam – Part 4

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn no time at all, we were bidding farewell to the beautiful canal-city of Amsterdam, with its unique architecture, complicated traffic system and yummylicious food. I really enjoyed our time there. I think it was mostly because it wasn’t infested with tourists – with the exception of the Diamond Museum and luxury stores, where a good proportion of the sales staff was Chinese!

Most of all, I appreciated how their urban landscape still retained much of its old glory and character. Coming from a country where most buildings seem to have been cloned from one another, I was pretty awed at how different each building was from its neighbour.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWithout a doubt, one of my favourites was their waffles, a delicious sweet snack that’s worlds apart from the fluffy pandan flavoured waffles we’re used to in the tropics. Waffles in Amsterdam are dense, slightly crispy and very sweet, with a touch of cinnamon added to the batter. Lightly dusted with icing sugar, I never failed to order this for my daily breakfast from our hotel (Novotel).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was interesting to see how icing sugar seemed to be their solution for everything. The bf and I tried this steaming hot round banana gooey bread thing with icing sugar dusted on top. It was ridiculously delicious in the cold weather.

yep. from the photo you can tell how crazy the wind was that day. What you can’t tell however, was that there were dozens of seagulls overhead, swooping and whizzing past me, attempting to steal my food! In fact, a few of them got too close for comfort and the bf and I were pretty shocked at their blatant boldness. We eventually huddled protectively around this delicious round thing and gobbled it up before the birds could bother us further. Quite a fun experience!

There were many other flavours at this food stall, mostly fruit flavours – such as apples and strawberry. However, they aren’t easy to come by and this was one of the few stalls we saw selling this mysterious gooey balls of awesomeness. Otherwise, I would’ve definitely dragged the bf to sample their other flavours! We paid 2 euros.

Having tried quite a huge variety of street food around Amsterdam, (see what else I sampled here), I think it’s pretty safe to vouch that the quality of street food is good. really good. With the exception of raw herrings, which according to the bf’s colleague – is an acquired taste. Try it if you dare!

Amsterdam is definitely a place where i’d love to return – the people are wonderfully friendly, the street food is yummy, plus there’s lots more to the city that I know I haven’t discovered yet.  On hindsight, I think we would’ve appreciated Amsterdam more had we known about the horrors that were to follow… Hopefully the next time I swing by, it’ll be spring! Then i’ll get to see the beautiful tulips that everyone is talking about (:

In anticipation, I’ve already created a little list of what I’d like to see when I’m in Amsterdam next. I hope that comes soon!

  1. Antiemarkt De Looier – an antiques and curiosa market, specialising in furniture, jewellery, silverware and collectables. Located: Elandsgracht 109, 1016 TT
  2. Art Plein Spui – a market where artists sell original prints and small oil paintings. Located: Spui Plein, 1012 WZ
  3. Rijksmuseum – paintings by Rembrandt and antique objects of Dutch culture.
  4. Dick Bruna Huis – the house with everything Miffy! Dick Bruna is the artist who created the cross-mouthed rabbit of my childhood. Truthfully, I was really disappointed that there was no Miffy mania in Amsterdam at all, with only a tiny corner in the airport selling some tourist-ified Miffy plushies, the most adorable of which had a pen stain so I left empty handed. *sigh*

Any suggestions? I’d love to hear what’s more in Amsterdam that I can discover. Next up, London!

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Amazing Amsterdam Part 1

Having a pilot for a boyfriend is great! Having a job that has immense flexibility for leave is fantastic. Add the two together & tada! I jetsetted off to Europe for the first time to accompany the bf, who would be training in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Excitement aside, as we knew we were going to take lots of public transport around to save costs, it meant travelling light. & doing that isn’t ever easy for a girl now, is it? However, I persevered and with the bf’s help, managed to whittle down my luggage to a small handcarry. & I didn’t feel that I needed more on the trip! amazing.

packing light

All in all, my luggage was a featherlight 8kg, which meant it was really easy for me to lift it up the never-ending flights of stairs at the train stations of Italy (but that, I’ll talk about another time…). I might have been slightly pouty and hesitant to leave all extra stuff behind, but I certainly appreciated it throughout the trip!

Besides its fame for the red light district and the legitimisation of marijuana, Amsterdam isn’t really a popular tourist destination, so I wasn’t expecting much. So I was pleasantly surprised to see how vibrant the colours of the city were. One could tell that they really took pride in their architecture. Even in a row of seemingly homogenous houses, each building owner took the pains to differentiate his/her building differently, be it with a splash of paint or a smattering of tulips.

On a side note – friends I’ve met up with so far never fail to ask, how was the red light district, did you go?? My answer is… It’s really not what you’d expect. I have to applaud those women though, because even in winter, they’re still in bikinis, at the windows plying their trade (windows are closed of course), but they aren’t of movie-star standard… even though they come in many varieties for men to choose from. lol.

amsterdam

When I saw the majestic looking Amsterdam Centraal Station (bottom right), I was wonderstruck. It looked so beautiful! Orange and red seems to be a favourite colour for buildings around in Amsterdam – and the colour was still very striking. We saw various buildings undergoing cleaning and renovation to maintain the colour. The Amsterdam Centraal Station was a bustling hive of activity, with the train, tram, bus and boat public services all converging in one place.

One thing I was very amused by was their tiny little cars, which seem to be the only ones allowed on the smaller streets in the city, alongside motorcycles. They were mostly 1 seater, and when the average person sat inside, your head would touch the roof. so cute.

amsterdam map

Similar to Venice, Amsterdam is a canal-city, with a regular, grid-like network of canals. So it’s really easy to navigate around. One simply can count the number of canals you’ve walked past, or follow the canals to get to your desired destination – which helps, if you don’t speak Dutch and can’t remember the road names.

swans

I loved peeking at the barge like boats and got rather excited when one bridge I was standing on had to be evacuated so it could be lifted up to let a large barge go through. They do have a rather complicated traffic system of tram + boat + cycling + car network and we got rather confused at intersections because we didn’t know whether we were walking against traffic or not.

Without a doubt, the most exciting part of our time in Amsterdam was when the Dutch instructor (Andrew), invited me over for a visit to the bf’s simulators! It was getting somewhat lonely because the bf had to be away for 4-5 hours each day for his training, so I was delighted and privileged to have the honour of learning more about his work and experiencing a heart-stopping simulated flight (Andrew cut my right engine and I nearly crashed the “fake” plane).

Given that he had to be at the simulators on a daily basis, we stayed at Novotel, which was really close to the airport. The hotel was pretty great, I absolutely loved their breakfast buffet. Free flow of smoked salmon whoo!!

food amsterdam

The dutch seem to enjoy putting unique toppings on their bread – something I’d never seen or heard of before! I brought back a pack each for my family to try.

The top right shows a picture of a fried mashed potato croquette, or “krokette”. Very different from the japanese version in that the potato inside is really mashed, fluidy potato with meat.. and you buy it from a vending machine!! A person stands behind a whole wall of vending machines frying the goods. All you have to do is pop in 2 euros so that you can open a little transparent pigeonhole that has the food on a paperplate inside. It’s apparently quite popular in Amsterdam and can be found quite easily, by the company called FEBO.

amsterdam countryside

I did have a rather nice chat with a taxi driver who hadn’t heard of our tiny little Singapore before. As he drove me past the countryside, he talked about his home (similar to the cottages above) and was shocked that our houses cost so much. & that I live in a country with no winter. hahaha! With its great expanse of land, houses in amsterdam are really cheap. That said, I’d rather live in Singapore than anywhere else. Close proximity to family and friends is my ultimate joy in life (:

More about Amsterdam coming up the next post!

Cos I had a bad day

I’d like to think that bad days are few and far between for me because I’m generally an optimistic person who likes to look on the bright side of things but today was just too much. A combination of too many things going on at work that’s resulted in an accumulation of stress and emotional strain coupled with some personal issues and of cos the icing that takes the cake, the random events of today that just made things so difficult. I really tried to reign it all in but alas, today I finally cracked and had a complete meltdown.

It’s really a funny story because I was happily taking a train ride back from Clementi after meeting friends and was so thrilled that I got a seat on the train but it wasn’t long before we had an announcement blaring over the speakers to say that there’s a segment of the train tracks are faulty and this will delay the arrival of our train. Now this announcement would play every 5 mins or so whenever our train stalled and after awhile, passengers who were patient before, grew restless. Some would shift uncomfortably in their seats, others would start getting up and pacing around and some would breath heavily and palpably demonstrate their nervousness.

I tried distracting myself by msging Mark who was watching the Australian Open semi-finals between Murray and Djokovic but it was pretty obvious after awhile that this form of distraction was no longer working.

First sign of distress- ignore the tennis conversation

Trying to stay calm and showing some semblance of rationality

Trying to assess the situation and staying hopeful

Full on fear as people start quarreling. 

Now I have to say that I’m a peace loving person so I am very VERY fearful of conflicts and confrontations so to be in the thick of all the action was pretty darn scary for me. Sure it was interesting to see people’s reactions. Some would cower and shift to another cabin, others would voice their displeasure, some would try to keep people calm and tell them to take a chill pill. I remember a group of teens would could even joke about the situation, likening the MRT to the CTE traffic jam. I guess everyone reacts differently in stressful situations and it is the varied reactions that causes unpredictability.

A clash of opinions, raised voices, frustrated kicks, a very afraid yet very compelled audience… Let’s just say that I was so thankful that the doors opened at Outram Park and I could get out and escape from all the drama. But of course, being the scatter brain that I am, I somehow exited the MRT station and proceeded to get lost in Outram Park. And of course my first instinct was to walk towards the main road and hail a cab. Only problem was that there was no cabs and alas, my phone battery was like, 10%? It was a truly scary moment for me. I was gripped with unexplainable fear (which doesn’t even make sense cos who the hell gets lost in Singapore? In retrospect, this sounds kind of loser-ish) and I just had a meltdown. I remember standing in the middle of pitch darkness crying because I felt so helpless and lost. It was a shitty, shitty feeling.

Thankfully, that 10% battery lasted long enough for me to have a conversation with Mark where I proceeded to describe my surroundings (I dunno how he understood me through all the sobbing and lousy directions eg. ‘there are lots of trees *gulp* and I can see the health promotion board sign in the sky *gulp*’) but to cut a long story short, he rescued me. And the next thing I remember doing is crying even harder in the car because I felt so grateful and so loved that he just dropped everything to come save me. So perhaps that is the silver lining to my story.

Despite the awful experience of today (I dunno how I am ever going to trust SMRT again) at least I know that someone cares (actually alot of people do cos I received alot of msgs from friends who expressed concern and I feel so so blessed!) and I think it is times like these that reveal so much about ourselves. It definitely dawned upon me that I’ve been too strong and proud for too long and sometimes it is okay to feel vulnerable and to let someone ‘save’ me. And it did feel really good to cry and let it all out. It was truly cathartic (as is writing and expressing my thoughts on this blog) and now I feel like I can pick myself up again and carry on.

Natural Born Hoarder

I love(d) to hoard stuff. I really, really loved doing that. I would spend hours poring over gorgeous things in bookstores, stationary stores, and knick knack stores and bring it home and hoard it. Mostly, I forgot about it.

So this CNY, as tradition demands, I turned to my hoard and decided to declutter. Probably the most agonizing and torturous experience I’ve had to cram into two short days, given my full-time working commitments (alas! the tragedy of the working adult..) but I persevered and discarded loads of things I haven’t (and won’t) be using while discovering other treasures that laid buried underneath.

The thing about hoarding is.. it stems from an impulse (to purchase) paired with a fearful nature (i.e. better to keep than throw). Of course, there’s a little bit of greed as well, since a hoarder wants everything instead of just the bare minimum.

My parents have always frowned upon my hoarding habits, telling me that it’s not good, it’s not healthy, it’s messy… but seriously, I really didn’t see things from their perspective (mostly because all they did was tell me to make it look less messy). To me, these things I hoarded were necessary! crucial! important!

& so the years passed by..

It slowly escalated to the point where I was getting fearful of myself and started to realise the insane levels that my hoarding had reached. By this time, I had various collections of things – from valuable stamps to nail polishes to hair accessories and erasers and whatnot. Hoarding to me was now an artform.

Honestly, it was painful to declutter my entire desk, and til now there are still remnants of lingering regret and longing for my loot that is now deployed far more effectively around my house (and office space..), but I’ve definitely transformed my working space in my room to a more effective one, where everything I need is placed neatly in a specific place.

In line with my new desire to be neat and organized, before I started to declutter, I thought about what I wanted to accomplish:

It’s pretty self-explanatory, but the words Sustainability and Feasibility were really important to me. So I re-organized everything to fit my new lifestyle, the post-school adult lifestyle. I prioritized the placement of basic stationary over all the fancy artsy stuff (which I used to spend hours on), I filed all my financial documents and put them in order, I re-organized all my hair accessories and makeup at one side of the desk because I utilize them on a daily basis, but separated this from the “weekend” jewellery (i.e. bangles and more fancy stuff).

 

This would ensure that I would not only find it easier to find my stuff, but putting them back to where they belong wouldn’t be such a chore either! Of course, it all boils down to discipline so I’m going to drag out some willpower and stick to it because my desk is now pretty damn neat and next year i’m organizing my bookshelves. (yes, I organize my room in phases because I can’t handle it all!!)

 

I found lost photos and organized them into photoframes or stuck them on my cork board!

 

all in all, a bittersweet experience. I uncovered loads of nostalgia-inducing items, and made painful decisions. I think that til now, I still can’t believe that I finally let go of so much stuff. but it’s all for the best. It’s incredibly easy to get what I want now and I’m suddenly overflowing with an abundant supply of things I thought I’d run out of, so that’s some $$ saved! Plus, it made me feel really proud of myself for finally forcing myself to persevere through this, though after it I was so tired I pretty much conked out the rest of the weekend XP

My conclusion? It’s not so much about whether you’re a natural hoarder, or whether your parents are more (or less) “effective” in barring your hoarding habits. It’s about how you develop as an individual. For me, I’m reaching a point where I desire life to be less complicated, less cluttered and effective. It’s an occupational hazard, I’d say. So it took me a long while to reach this point, but now that I’m here, I’m slightly mournful that I’ve lost a little of my artsy fartsy, easy-going young self and replaced it with a more practical, straightforward adult. My parents are shocked, surprised – but to me it’s just part of my growing process.

Live your Life!

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

Bag Envy

At the supermarket checkout the other day, there were two little girls in front of me.   Cute as buttons, they were around 3 years old.  Gorgeous little things – one with dark pigtails and the other with tight red curls – they were chatting away like best friends.  ‘Dark pigtails’ had a pretty pink handbag which ‘red curls’ desperately wanted to play with.  As time went on and ‘dark pigtails’ continued to refuse to relinquish the prized bag, the tension grew.  ‘Red curls’ became more and more upset as ‘dark pigtails’ stubbornly stood her ground.  The incident culminated in tears, tantrums, confiscation and stressed-out mummies.  Amid the drama, I couldn’t help but hide a smile.  I was witnessing, first hand, the very beginnings of that exclusively female phenomenon – the dreaded handbag envy.

Bag envy isn’t limited to drooling over snaps of celebs in glossy magazines, parading around their Mulberries and Fendis.  Oh no – it is alive and well even among those of us who don’t yet understand what a designer actually is.  What on earth causes this insatiable desire to carry totes, purses and portmanteaus?  Did cavewomen fight over hairy mammoth-fur satchels?  Did ancient Romans hide their loculuses beneath their togas?  Is the urge to covet our neighbour’s bag as ingrained within us as our ability to multitask and our keen interest in Edward Cullen?  Is the bag an extension of our very womanhood itself?

 

Speaking of multi-tasking, handbags are excellent multi-taskers – perhaps this is why women the world over are such fans.  Not only do they hold all of our money, cards, make-up, tissues, keys and goodness knows what else.  They can match our outfit, make a statement or express our personality and style.  Handbags, for some, are entirely indispensable.  Where on earth would Mary Poppins have been without her bag, for example?  Missing many of her essential perfect-nanny items, never mind part of her unique ‘Mary Poppins’ style.  It’s true that handbags have been traditionally seen as an ‘accessory’ to our outfit, but there are handbags out there which are practically works of art themselves.  Such bags are the signature piece in any ensemble and surely we should be picking our clothes to match these handbags, instead of the other way around.

We don’t all have the cash to buy Hermés, but luckily there are plenty of beautiful, stylish and practical bags which are way more affordable.  Handbags are excellent value for money too.  Unlike an expensive outfit which only enjoys a precious few outings, handbags can be used time and time again and really earn their keep.  They are fabulous presents too, because they fit EVERYONE and unlike clothes, there’s no embarrassing awkward moment when your gift doesn’t fit the giftee.  It’s a beautiful moment when the tissue paper is peeled back, that unmistakeable smell finds its way to the nostrils and the buttery-soft leather is revealed – it’s priceless.

Give someone a handbag this Christmas and replace handbag envy with handbag delight.  Perhaps ‘dark pigtails’ will get one for ‘red curls’ too ;)  Merry Christmas!

this guest-post was written by Rachael Stephens, who has been in the fashion industry for over 20 years. She works for Ashlie Craft, and she makes & sells leather handbags.

If you’d like to contribute a guest post to Quirkychic, simply drop us an email & we’ll get back to you! :)

A Dose of Black Humour

Work is pretty much killing me (as you can tell from the awful absence of my posts) so I’ll be indulging in a little black humour this tumblr tuesday.

Some classify black humour as dark, morbid humour, but i think of it as the-world-is-screwed-anyway-so-let’s-f***-it kinda humour.

no point wasting your life when it’s not gonna get any better, right?

one of my favourites is the webcomic cyanide happiness. awesome stuff.

sigh if only i could delete the tons of papers on my desk

sorry for the depressing post, but once in awhile, everyone gets gloomy.

and speaking of gloomy… Ann Demeulemeester’s Spring 2012 RTW looks anything but Spring. (didn’t we all have this perception that spring is all about singing birds and great weather and a burst of colour?)

i do enjoy her use of mesh though.

i feel like drowning myself in endless swathes of black fabric and freaking people out so that no one will make my life difficult anymore. MUAHAHHAHA.

Optimism died somewhat last week.

I will revive it, when I myself am revived from this dark, murky mood.

til then, have a great week!

Graduation Photos!

At long last, my graduation photos are here! They were slightly delayed because there were some complications & necessitated changes, so the photos kept bouncing back & forth, but finally all the touchups are done & they look pretty awesome :)

Tada! Me with my family. & oh my mom’s not peranakan btw, she just thought it would be nice to wear it for the photoshoot.

You know how some people look perfect with the graduation hat because their face shape is so academic & all? HAHAHA. well I don’t have one of those faces & was really glad to take off the hat for some of my shots. Here’s my favourite pic with the bf! We’ll prob be using this at our wedding too (not anytime soon though!)

As our Photoshoot Package included 3 touched-up photos and 9 other untouched up photos, the rest of the photos you’ll be seeing here on are entirely untouched – though I plan to go for one of those corporate sponsored Adobe Photoshop courses to learn how to make these photos look better, in the future.

It’s somewhat sad that (to my eyes), the ugliest bit is the studio background. but oh well! according to the bf, it’s not something that some tedious photoshop grafting can’t fix.

& it’s kinda strange looking at these photos. It’s been what, more than a year since I graduated? How time flies. It seems so distant in my memory, even as I look upon these photos with a wistful nostalgia. Already, the myriad of changes to NUS – university town! the circle line! etc. have made me feel that school already isn’t what I recalled it to be.

Nevertheless, I’m happy I have these photographs to solidify that moment I graduated, eternally. That’s the beauty of the art of photography :)

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!!

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