2016 Summary

Another year, another summary! I wasn’t sure if I was going to write one this year because I just don’t have an orderly manner of keeping track of my life anymore. It’s getting harder and harder to recap a whole year with pictures, because I honestly don’t take that many anymore – and that’s what I usually rely on to write these summaries.

But when I look back at all the previous years I’ve done: 201520142013 / 2012 / 2011 – I just know I’m going to kick myself in the future for breaking the chain. So here we go… 2016, it’s been a hell of a year. Here are the most notable events:

  • We got married. Yes, after 7 years together we finally got married, exactly 90 months from our first official “date” in fact :) Although the weather was less than perfect on our big day, and not everything went according to plan – at the end of the day I married my best friend, my soulmate – in the company of our dearest family and friends. And that was pretty damn special. What a crazy, magical day that we will remember forever, for all the great moments and all the mishaps that will at least make for hilarious stories we can tell our grand-kids some day.

wedding

  • Our honeymoon. In all honesty, Tung and I were looking forward to this just as much, if not more than the wedding itself ;) Our first trip together as husband and wife! Also our first trip with no proper itinerary, no schedules, no alarm clocks. In each city we visited, we slept in as late as we wanted to, researched what we wanted to do that day and just rolled out of bed to start our adventure! We explored the beautiful streets and canals of Amsterdam on bikes, visited palaces, castles and got dressed up for the opera in Vienna, hiked the scenic cliff faces of Santorini and basically lived in our private jacuzzi for 5 days, bathed like kings and queens in the famous thermal springs of Budapest (also got food poisoning, but let’s not go there), reflected on humanity and the terrors of war in Hiroshima, got willingly swarmed by adorable bunnies on Okunoshima, Rabbit Island, and ate and shopped our way through Tokyo and Osaka! Great times :)

honeymoon

  • I turned 28. And I actually had a birthday this year :) Thank you Tungy for taking me out to Momofuku and surprising me with flowers at work (it’s the first time he’s ever sent me flowers), to my sister and bestie for taking me out for my favourite cuisine – Vietnamese! And to Messina, for offering us leap year babies 4 free scoops of gelato.

birthday

  • I got laser eye surgery. This was never something I ever contemplated or imagined myself doing – partly due to cost, partly fear, partly I couldn’t be bothered doing all the research because I’m lazy like that. But with the wedding coming up and knowing I did not want to wear glasses or contact lens on the day – I decided to do it. Although the recovery took way longer than expected and I was super frustrated and impatient, it was still one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I can’t begin to express how liberating it feels to not have to reach for your glasses when you wake up every morning to see where you’re going. The only thing I will say is, I see glasses as a form of self-expression and I do sometimes miss wearing glasses as a fashion statement. Some of you may be aware I was known for my signature “your glasses are way too big” look.

lasereye

  • Velvet’s abscess. Our poor bunny grew an abscess on her lower left jaw, which was, I quote the vet, “one of the biggest” she’s ever come across. What then followed was 5 months of regular visits to the specialty vet, which was unfortunately located about an hour’s drive away, a number of surgeries, daily pus cleaning, wound dressing, oral medication and penicillin injections (which was the hardest part because I’m squirmish with needles). I must say the whole ordeal was physically, mentally, emotionally and financially straining – but certainly worth every effort to give Velvie a fighting chance. And in hindsight, I am so thankful it happened early in the year and not in the lead-up to our wedding, or worse yet, while we were away on honeymoon.

velvet

  • We got into cycling. Well, moreso Tungy than me. But the funny thing is, it all started from me wanting a vintage cruiser for my birthday. So Tungy bought one for me, and a second-hand road bike for himself just so we could go riding together. The more we rode, the more he loved it. He has since upgraded to a fancy carbon-fibre bike and continually thrown money at the latest and greatest accessories, haha. While I don’t condone the frivolous spending, I do feel very proud of him for finding a hobby that he can be so passionate about and better yet, keeps him fit and healthy!

cycling

  • We got a new car. Tungy got me an Audi Q5 as a pre-wedding gift :) I’ve always wanted a 4WD. Great timing too, it totally came in handy for the wedding because we had so much stuff to take down to the Southern Highlands, where we got married. Sadly I did have to give up my scooter though :( Tungy’s never been too happy with the idea of me riding so selling my scooter was kind of my gift to him in exchange. It’s been a fun 7 years but I suppose as a married woman I should take more responsibility for my life and well-being, haha.
  • We moved houses again. Although moving is never ever any fun, since we only just moved a year ago, settling into a new place felt like an appropriate fresh start as we begin the journey of married life together. It’s great to finally move on from apartment-style living too. We’re in a two-storey townhouse now, which is a new and exciting experience because I’ve only ever lived in one-storey abodes! We love our cute little courtyard and our own garage – which Tungy’s super happy about :)
  • Coldplay came to town. Yes, this is worthy of its own bullet point. It’s not every year I have the privilege of being in the presence of the best band on the planet! I can’t begin to express how happy and delirious and euphoric I feel at a Coldplay concert! Every single one I’ve been to is an unforgettable experience, and always with Tungy by my side. Thank you, Coldplay, for another amazing show.

And here are some more random photos from the year that was…!

2016

While 2016 was an important year for us, namely getting married, it was also quite a tumultuous and stressful one actually. Thinking back on it, I don’t know why I feel an undeniable sense of disaffection and uneasiness. Perhaps it has something to do with all the political controversies or the tragic number of cultural icons that we’ve lost this year – something about 2016 just felt a bit eerie. Frankly I can’t wait for it to be over and start afresh in 2017! Looking forward to a bigger and better year ahead, wishing you all peace, love and joy :)

2015 Summary

I think the older you get, the faster the years just seem to go by. Our lives are so much busier and it seems like we’re always chasing time. This past year has flown by so quickly, I can’t believe it’s already time for another yearly summary. (See previous years here:  20142013 / 2012 / 2011). Here are the main highlights:

  • The biggest event of the year would have to be our engagement :) Yes, Tungy finally decided to propose after 6 years together! He popped the question on top of a mountain in Hakone, Japan – a country that we love dearly and share a lot of memories in. I’ll have to explain the whole story in another post some time :) We are super excited to start the next chapter of our lives and embark on this journey together.
  • The next biggest event would have to be moving out of our home of 4 years in Wentworth Point! Oh we sure have had a lot of memories in our humble little apartment. But unfortunately we just outgrew the place, it was getting much too small and difficult for Tungy and I, my stationery business and our 2 bunnies. Now we have a massive 3 bedroom apartment, with a courtyard too! It’s so exciting to finally have an outdoor area :)
  • Celebrated my 27th birthday with Tungy at Bathers Pavillion, with my sister and brother in law at WAQU and with friends at Din Tai Fung (nothing makes me happier than Asian food, lol).
  • Celebrated our 6 year anniversary at China Doll. Happy to say it’ll be our last one as “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” :) I guess from next year onwards we’ll be counting wedding anniversaries instead?
  • I finally mustered up the courage to get my wisdom teeth out. Those damn things have been bugging me for years and years but I was too afraid to have them removed, haha. No thanks to all the horror stories everyone shares with me. Anyway, although the whole experience was a little scary and unpleasant – I am so relieved that I finally did it!
  • Tungy’s brother and sister in law had a beautiful baby boy, Noah! He is just the cutest little thing. It’s been such a joy watching him grow over the year :) And it’s so cute to see Tungy interacting with him and bringing out his paternal instincts, lol.
  • Went to Japan twice this year – we just love that place so much – the food, the shopping, the culture, everything! The first time was in June, which coincidentally overlapped with Linda & Andrew (and some of her friends) so it was heaps of fun travelling and sharing experiences with our dear friends. The second time was in November – and I came home with a fiancé :)
  • Started a video diary/journal project where I documented (almost) every day in tiny little snippets, and compiled them into weekly/monthly videos here. It was a lot of fun! I managed to keep it up from April – July but life got too hectic afterwards. I might try to revive it in 2016 :)
  • Found myself a part time job at a small business and I have to say, I am so content with my work-life balance! I am the happiest I’ve ever been since leaving UNI. I’ve learned a few important things:
    • I will never work for big corporate companies again. While the perks were good, the management styles and work politics just drained my soul. I’ve worked for 4 major brand names and was miserable at all of them. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met some wonderful people and made lasting friends, but that sort of work culture is just not for me. The place I work now genuinely values my efforts and makes it known all the time. They are so flexible and willing to accommodate my needs. And I love that we are just a small team, working together and helping each other like a little family!
    • I know it sounds cliché but seriously, do what makes YOU happy. All this time I’ve felt like I had to build a career upon my university degree, even though I wasn’t finding any joy or contentment in what I was doing. Until finally I stopped and asked myself, why am I forcing myself into this mould that was created by myself in the first place? Who the hell am I trying to impress here? Don’t be afraid to make a bold move in pursuit of happiness. You only get once chance at life – make sure you live a happy one doing what you love!
  • I’ve had my best year yet with tj stationery :) I am so humbled by all the love and support! It’s been a crazy year of markets, fulfilling wholesale orders for new stockists, bringing out new products/designs and working on a variety of custom projects. I am so so grateful, thank you.

And now to finish it off, here’s a summary of 2015 in pictures!

JANUARY

2015-01

FEBRUARY

2015-02

MARCH

2015-03

APRIL

2015-04

MAY

2015-05

JUNE

2015-06

JULY

2015-07

AUGUST

2015-08

SEPTEMBER

2015-09

OCTOBER

2015-10

NOVEMBER

2015-11-01

2015-11

DECEMBER

2015-12

Here’s to another great year ahead! Wishing you all the best for 2016 xx

 

Weekly Videos / April & May 2015

Life is made up of moments! And we ought to capture them hey? :) So I’ve started this project for myself where I record little snippets of each day and compile them into weekly videos, like a visual diary. I wasn’t sure how long I could keep it up, but I’ve managed to maintain it for 8 weeks now! Here are the videos for April & May. Enjoy!

2014 Summary

And so another year is coming to an end… I feel like the older you get, the quicker the years seem to go by. Can’t believe the time has come again for me to write my yearly summary. I honestly didn’t feel like doing it this year, but since I’ve kept it up for 3 years now (2013 / 2012 / 2011), I didn’t want to let myself down. So let’s just jump straight into my 2014 stories:

  • Started the new year in another country, a first for Tungy and I! We spent NYE at the Siloso Beach Party on Sentosa Island, Singapore. That was lots of fun :) And then we made our way to Langkawi for a relaxing getaway. The highlight of this trip would have to be our jet ski adventure to the surrounding islands, particularly the Pregnant Maiden, when we discovered the hidden freshwater lake, which is separated from the sea by a very thin ridge of limestone. It was incredible. I mean, the whole idea of literally riding out into the sea, as far as the eye can see, just Tungy and I on a little jet ski. It was both exhilarating and terrifying!!! (I have a massive fear of water). We actually ventured out far enough to be surrounded by endless sea over the horizon. Amazing experience.
  • There was no 29th of February this year, but nonetheless I did celebrate my 26th year since birth. Tungy took me out for dinner at The Bridge Room and spoiled me with the Prada saffiano tote that I’ve been eyeing forever! My sister and brother-in-law also took me out for dinner at Little Darling Diner, and my dear friend Linda surprised me with a Masterclass at Sake with executive chef Shaun Presland :) Super cool!
  • Celebrated our 5 year anniversary at Quay. It was probably the last fancy Sydney restaurant we had on our list. Though we’re really not that into fine-dining any more. It just didn’t seem right to celebrate a momentous occasion without getting all dressed up, being ushered to your seat, having the menu explained to you in great detail, then eating your food under dim lighting with classical music playing softly in the background, and paying a hefty bill at the end of it all. Happy 5 years! :)
  • Spent a month in the USA (with a stopover at The Bahamas too)! I’m slightly disappointed in myself for not writing a post about our trip, so that I could link to it right now. You wouldn’t believe how much shit happened to us – cancelled flights, missed tours, emergency landings, just to name a few. But there were positives too. The highlight would definitely be visiting Simpsons Land at Universal Studios, Orlando. For those who know Tungy and I, you’ll understand how much we love The Simpsons. It’s the foundation and driving force of our relationship, hahaha. Okay that’s a slight exaggeration, kind of, not really. Tungy likened the experience to a pilgrimage because The Simpsons is pretty much our religion!
  • Finished up my contract role with the Woolworths Group in September, and have since been enjoying “funemployment” ;) I considered finding a new job, but with only four months left of 2014, I thought I may as well cruise to the end of the year and start afresh in 2015. But it hasn’t all been sleep-ins and brunch dates, I’ve also been spending more time and effort on tj stationery. Our calendars have been going nuts! Each one is hand-made so that keeps me really busy! And I’ve also been working on more custom projects :)
  • Spent a lot more time with my bestie Linda! She has been taking me through a course to better understand Christianity. When we first met, we were both atheists. In 2005, she became a Christian and this unfortunately affected our friendship. But as the years went by, I began to realise how much it really means to her. And of course our friendship means a lot to me, so I wanted to at least hear what she had to say and find out what it’s all about. I’m still not a believer, but I’m glad that I understand it a whole lot better and I’m actually open to discussion. I guess this is what Linda would call, God working in my heart. Whether this is true or not is something I’ve yet to discover for myself. But I’m thankful that she has taken me on this journey, which we will continue to share.
  • Adopted my second bunny, sweet little Velvet! She is the cutest thing, it’s hard to believe she was dumped in a small bird cage down a dark alley in the city :( The bonding process with Heffie is still a work in progress, but hopefully they will be best buddies in 2015!
  • Attended four weddings. Congratulations to Wayne & Jenny, John & Mai, Derek & Mylinh, Roy & Mai! No matter how many weddings I attend, I still get so excited about each one :) Every couple has a unique story and it’s such a beautiful thing to witness.
  • Finally got my second tattoo, which I had been wanting for years!
  • Sneaked in two quick getaways to Hunter Valley and Tasmania ;)

As always, here is a quick summary of my year in pictures:

JANUARY

2014-01

FEBRUARY

2014-02

MARCH

2014-03

APRIL

2014-04

MAY

2014-05

JUNE

2014-06

JULY

2014-07

AUGUST

2014-08

SEPTEMBER

2014-09

OCTOBER

2014-10

NOVEMBER

2014-11

DECEMBER

2014-12

 

Wishing you all a fantastic 2015!!! Let’s make it even bigger and better than the last :) I hope it is filled with love, peace, joy, good health and fortune! xx

 

Sydney Cafés

Tungy and I have been making a habit of visiting different cafés every week for the past few months. The other day I joked about not being able to imagine a world where people go to cafés and just eat their food without feeling the need to take a photo of it. Honestly, I still feel a little embarrassed to be one of those food-snapping people, sometimes even standing up to get a better shot, haha. But Tungy made a really good point: it’s food-snapping people like us who spread the word, create buzz, get people talking and help their business grow. We’re the best thing to happen to cafés!

So having said that, here is a collage of our cafe adventures:

Cafes

Hello Fresh

Hello Fresh is such an interesting and unique concept, they want to help time-poor people (or just plain lazy, ie. me) change the way they think about cooking! Basically they send you recipes, along with the exact amount of ingredients you’ll need (minus a few pantry essentials) and you cook your own meals at home with easy step-by-step instructions! They have cleverly identified and solved my two main barriers to home cooking: (1) meal planning and (2) grocery shopping. I love how the ingredients are perfectly rationed, there’s nothing worse than looking up a recipe that says you’ll need 1 teaspoon of something so you end up buying a whole can/tin/bag/bucket of it, knowing you’ll probably never use it again. Or worse yet, not even knowing what the hell some of the ingredients are (or where to get them) so you have to forgo the whole recipe altogether.

I started with the Classic Box – 3 meals for 2 persons. Normally $64 but I had a $30 off promo code. My recipes were Thunder Chicken, Spring Lamb Salad and Chickpea Tagine.

Here’s a summary of what I love about them:

  • Flexible week-by-week subscription – no long term commitments!
  • You can look up last week, this week and next week’s recipes on their website
  • If you decide to order, they’ll let you know in advance which pantry items you’ll need
  • Recipes are super easy to follow, with helpful nutritional info, cooking tips and even random trivia
  • Essentially, you’re building up a recipe collection, which you cook from again in future
  • Loyalty program that encourages you to achieve ranks and be rewarded with surprise gifts
  • Delivery man was super friendly too!

Some negatives or possible room for improvement:

  • Not being able to choose which recipes you get when you order 3 meals instead of the full 5
  • Not being able to choose specific types of cuisine, eg. Asian, Italian, etc.
  • Would be handy for single people if they had a 1 person option too
  • Could get a little pricey ongoing, depending on the cost-efficiency of your regular meal plan

Few photos below :) If you decide to give it a try as well, feel free to use my referral code for $30 off! Just enter Z4KDY9 at checkout.

hellofresh1

Unpacking the box

hellofresh2

Perfectly rationed ingredients

hellofresh3

Chickpea Tagine

hellofresh4

Thunder Chicken

Second tattoo

Wow! It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. I want to try and make more of an effort to share snippets of my life, so to kick off the end of my hiatus, here’s a post about my recent tattoo.

I got a dragon on the left side of my back, firstly, because I’m born in the year of the dragon, and secondly because I love everything that it represents: strength, courage, wisdom, just to name a few. Dragon body art represents a flowing, fluid grace that conceals a reserve of power just beneath the surface. I like to think all of this embodies who I am. I may not look it at times, but I can be strong when I need to be. I also got the dragon encompassing my first tattoo, my Chinese surname, which I talked about in this post. It’s a reflection of myself, as a guardian, a protector over my family.

Now to answer a few popular questions (1) How long did it take? About 2 hours. (2) Where did you get it done? Authentink Studio in Surry Hills, they are amazing for custom design, especially with traditional Japanese tattooing. (2) Does it hurt? YES. It does. Anyone who tells you tattoos don’t hurt is either lying, or has an incredibly high pain threshold. Although I did find that the pain becomes more tolerable after the first 10-15 minutes. You sort of become numb to it. (3) Does outlining or shading hurt more? I think it’s different for everyone but I definitely felt more pain during the outlining. It was pretty intense pain. The shading was not a problem for me. Honestly, it actually felt quite relaxing after the outlining.

Second Tattoo

2013 Summary

Although I don’t post on this blog regularly anymore, I knew I had to at least come back for my yearly summary post! I love how this time of year always prompts me to reflect on everything that’s happened in the past 12 months. Here are some of the main events that have defined 2013 for me:

  • Started eating clean and being very aware of all the nutritional value in my food. I never thought it would happen to me, but I actually became a calorie counter! I was very conscious of the fat and sugar content in everything I was eating. But the reason I changed my diet was not because I was trying to lose weight (as everyone kept assuming and calling me crazy for), I simply wanted to be more healthy.
  • Following on from that, also started the weekly Sunday bay run with Tungy and my sister. Felt like DEATH in the first week but actually saw a big improvement in the 2nd week! Amazing what the body is capable of. We also made it a ritual to drop by Birkenhead Point to have gozleme after our run. Became something we look forward to every week :)
  • Had 3 different jobs, plus 2 months of voluntary unemployment… haha. Allow me to elaborate. I started the year still working at Sony. Those who know me, will know that I was not happy there. So when I was presented the opportunity to work for Panasonic, I took it, even though it was a 3 month contract. Yes it was a risk, but I’m a true believer in taking chances. You’ll never get anywhere in life if you’re too afraid to step out of your comfort zone! Looking back I have no regrets because I learned a lot in that time and made many wonderful friends. After the contract ended, I enjoyed 2 blissful months of just doing nothing! It was the best feeling to be able to decompress and just enjoy some me time :) But I did eventually get a little restless… and I was very lucky to land a job with the Woolworths group. I can honestly say this is the best job I’ve had so far. I have more responsibility and ownership of my role, which can be challenging at times, but also very rewarding. And I absolutely love my work mates, they have been so good to me and I think it’s such an important part of work life.
  • Went to Vietnam for Tungy’s cousin’s wedding, and spent some extra time there exploring the country. Was an interesting and eye-opening trip for me. You can read more about it here.
  • Tungy got his new car, or as I like to call it, his second girlfriend. Seriously, the amount of time, money, effort and attention he pays to it! Haha. To be fair, it is such a comfortable ride so I’m not complaining. Coincidentally, quite a few of Tungy’s friends also got new cars around this time so we kind of started a little convoy. We’ve been regularly taking short day trips together and making a day out of it with nice locations, good food and of course, great company!
  • Blessed to have had two very special bunnies in my life. Winky, if only for a short time. She will be forever in my heart. And Heffer, my little baby. He joined the family during my 2 month unemployment so I was able to spend almost every day with him. It has been such a joy watching him grow, and he has instilled such a motherly instinct in me! I love him to bits. You can read more about the Winky & Heffer story here.
  • Celebrated tj stationery & gifts’ 1st birthday! And was very excited to add a desktop calendar to our range this year, plus 8 new card designs, as well as specialty cards for Valentines Day, Father’s Day and Christmas. We also started selling at a few boutique markets, which has been a very positive experience so far, reaching more people and gaining new customers! Please visit our website and Facebook page if you haven’t already :)
  • Tungy’s brother’s wedding in the Yarra Valley, Victoria. What a stunning venue, and a gorgeous couple to match. We had the honour of performing a song for them at the ceremony and also emceeing at the reception. It was such a lovely weekend, being part of their special day and also getting to know the rest of the family.

And to wrap it all up, here’s a summary of my 2013 in pictures:

JANUARY

FEBRUARY

MARCH

APRIL

MAY

JUNE

JULY

AUGUST

SEPTEMBER

OCTOBER

NOVEMBER

DECEMBER

Wishing you all the very best for 2014!

Wallpaper

I haven’t been living up to the promise I made 2 years ago about documenting our DIY home improvements, the last post I made was in January last year. Well, here’s a new update!

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to wallpaper my bedroom! I’m glad I finally did it because it’s simply amazing what a huge difference it makes. It has changed the whole feel of the room, it actually feels like I have a new bedroom! I think part of the problem was not knowing which design/pattern to choose. So when I came across the gorgeous Graham Brown Linear wallpaper at Bunnings, I was super excited to finally give my bedroom its long overdue makeover! For some reason Tungy thought it’ll be a good idea to start the job in the evening with very little light, lol. He’s crazy like that.

Watching YouTube tutorials, lol  /  Mixing the paste  /  Cutting the sheets to size

Drawing a guide for the first sheet  /  Pasting the wall  /  Applying the first sheet! :)

Working around the powerpoints, such a chore!!!

Trimming the excess, the fun part :)

Pasting again  /  Aligning the second sheet

Poor baby getting sore arms, not to mention very tired and hungry!

Applying & trimming the last 2 sheets, the end is near!

Tada! Doesn’t it look amazing? :) Wish I took a before photo, haha

Vietnam

Vietnam is such an amazing country – from the buzzing whirlwind of scooters in Saigon and Hanoi, to the sandy beaches of Nha Trang and Da Nang, the historic jewels of Hue and Hoi An, and the majestic beauty and tranquillity of Ha Long Bay. It’s funny how Tung is 100% Vietnamese and yet this was his very first visit! Although my background is Chinese, my parents were born and raised in Vietnam, so they passed on a lot of Vietnamese influence in my upbringing also. I can’t speak the language (just a few common phrases), but I am familiar with the food, traditions and other little cultural nuances. It was such a great experience – particularly meeting up with my parents (they happened to be there at the same time!), getting introduced to my extended family whom I’ve never met, and riding on the back of a scooter with my mum & dad, visiting the neighbourhoods where they grew up!

Here are a selection of photos from our trip, please hover over for brief captions :)

Riding with my dad

Rooftop bar in Saigon

Vinpearl Land

Cute restaurant in Nha Trang

Hoi An

Riding in Hoi An

Marble Island, Da Nang

Marble Island, Da Nang

Climbing through tiny holes

Road trippin' along the coast

Taking a break from the road trip

Authentic "Bun Bo Hue" in Hue

Just chillin'

Inside the Forbidden Purple City, Hue

Very creative food!

Furama Resort, Da Nang

Lovely lanterns lighting up the lake

Fireworks festival in Da Nang

Enchanting Ha Long Bay

Treasure Junk

Romantic dinner and views :)

Swimming in Ha Long Bay

Delicious seafood

Yummy drinks!

Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi

Fancy shopping mall

Drinks on the rooftop overlooking the Hanoi nightscape