In Between Travels

Been busy lately, did a bit of travelling for the past 2 weeks, plus hosting Photography Meetups.

We went for a short trip in Okinawa, from 4-7 March. This is not the first time we go Okinawa, but rather covering the parts which I didn’t go previously. This time, we went with Jimm & Anna’s family, church friends.

We had so much fun eating & venturing Okinawa. Faythe & Vyktore even brought along UNO and we had quite a few games of UNO during idle time.

Earlier this week, Hon & myself made a trip to Shenzhen, for acupuncture, shopping & eating. Shenzhen is a shopping heaven for us because it has our favourite sports outlet, Decathlon. Time to get some new gym wear to replace the old ones .  This the first time Kat go to Decathlon, she also had a great time shopping at Decathlon.

Prior to that, we paid the acupuncture Sifu to torture us. I’ve been having this naggy pain behind my right knee for months. After the previous round of massage in Nov with Loong Sifu, it went off for a while, and then came back again. No amount of stretching and resting helped fix the situation. Kat recommended us to go to her acupuncturist in Shenzhen. After 15 minutes of needles poking, it was such a relieve that I could now bend my knees without much pain. Apparently there’s some blood clog at that area. I still need to go back for 1 round of acupuncture to get it fixed entirely. Meanwhile, Hon got his feet acupuncture due to numbness. He complain he couldn’t feel anything at all. Probably dead nerves? He was screaming like hell when the needles were poked through his feet. But after that, he was glad that the numbness is gone. He too need to go back for another round of acupuncture.

We had a great lunch & dinner at Shenzhen, eating at our favourite restaurant, Grandma’s Home.

We will be travelling again next weekend, not sure yet where to, but March is surely a busy month.

The Foodie Vyktore

Vyktore has very much grown to a foodie since we moved to Hong Kong. I remember he used to eat just fried rice & grapes. That was before he discover the delicious sweet & sour pork & maggie mee. Thereafter, he was unstoppable when it comes to food (except for seafood).

We always have funny conversations when it comes to Vyktore eating food. Here are some conversations that I previously noted down.

On eating Steak
VHMK: Mommy, the steak is so good
ME: Yes
VMHK: Suck the blood first…..*slurp sound*….then eat meat
ME: 

On eating fried chicken – 2 Jan 2017
VMHK: *Slurp*…*Slurp*…
Faythe & ME look at Vyktore
VMHK: I’m sucking the oil Mommy
ME: 

On eating seafood – 22 Feb 2017
FHMY: Vyktore’s worst nightmare would be prawn wrapped in bacon!! That’s a Trojan Horse!! Looks good on the outside but inside is the nasty surprise
ME: LOL
FHMY: It’s a trojan horse except that it’s a prawn. So it’s Trojan Prawn. 
VHMK: Then, I’ll block you and barricade the house, block you in email and what’s app
FHMY: You can’t do that cause it’s our house and we live together
VHMK: Then I’ll do the lock down, like in spongebob. Squid ward
ME: 

On Her Birth Arrival

This was a little conversation I had with Faythe, on the day before she turned 12.

Conversation took place on 5 Jan 2017

ME: Did you know 12 years ago at this time, u didn’t exist?
FHMY: Yes. I’m still in your stomach waiting to be pooped out. Preparing my grand entrance. I was busy tearing…
ME: Tearing what?
FHMY: Tearing down your stomach wall. And because there’s no rubbish bin, I ate it all up, the wall paper (stomach wall)
ME: 
FHMY: The colour of the wall was purple. Purple has been my favourite colour since the dawn of time
ME: Whoa, really huh…

Faythe is very imaginative and she always chooses the best word to describe during our conversation that entertains me all the time. Since you like Purple, I shall colour all your conversation in purple .

Mommy’s Flying Eyes

People always say kids say the darnest thing. I’d say my kids says the most imaginative & entertaining things ever. I’ve been writing their conversation down for years, but so far haven’t put them for laugh in my blog. So this is going to be the 1st of many.

Conversation took place on 20 Jan 2017

Received this text on my whats app.
VHMK: Mommy, I’m currently in the toilet
ME: Yes I know
VHMK: How?
ME: Flying eyes (actually I saw him going in, while I was busy in the kitchen)
VHMK: Oh…I didn’t see that coming
ME: It’s invisible
VHMK: OK

When he came out from the toilet, he came to me and said.
VHMK: Mommy, I want to have that special power also
ME: Huh, what special power?
VHMK: The one you can see people…
ME: Oh you mean the flying eyes?
VHMK: Yea…so I can keep an eye on things and make good use of it
ME: Oh this is special power, only for mommies
VHMK: So I can’t have it?
ME: No. Exclusive for all mommies only
VHMK: So all mommies in this world got?
ME: Yes
VMHK: 

My kids are always amazed how things get to me so fast. Why I know certain things even when I’m not there. I told them I have flying eyes and they used to freak out when they were younger. But they have come to accept it that it’s not scary, but it’s some sort of power I have LOL. So they always behave, cause I told them those eyes are always there watching you.

Yes, I’m naughty Mommy. And this is how I keep my kids on toe .

Lou Sang Entreprenuer

Two years ago, when I was still with HP and we didn’t go back for Chinese New Year, I attempted to make Lou Sang at home for our own consumption with the help of my maid. I was pretty happy with the outcome, and we all had a good supply of Lou Sang throughout the entire CNY. We even gave some to our Church’s Pastor family to try.

This year, some crazy idea came to my mind, since I’m making Lou Sang for my own consumption again, why not make a business out of it. Lou Sang is a common dish in KL. We eat them starting from weeks before CNY, up till Chap Goh Mei itself. But in HK, it’s either too expensive (those selling in hotels) or difficult to find. Even pre-packed ones are not easily made available. So I decided that I should test market. Who knows it can be a hit in HK.

I started preparing the ingredients and market my Lou Sang during Church Christmas Party. Prepared 2 big dish for everyone to try to get some feedback. There were a lot of positive tone. At the same time, I also told my church members I’ll be selling these during CNY, they could order from me.

I also bought different sizes of zip lock bags for storing of the ingredients. Initially I thought of just putting ingredients into the paper back, but Hon gave me idea to put them in aluminium foil tray, together with chopsticks so it’s like ready to eat anywhere anytime. It was great idea, but sourcing of the tray was a pain. Good thing, he managed to find some tray in Daiso, Narita during his night stop, so he bought some for me for the packaging.

Then I prepared flyers, so I could distribute it among friends via whats app. Wasn’t too difficult to get this done using photoshop and some of my digital scrapbook material. Hon helped to do the write up after he complain my write up was rubbish . Aside from the flyer, I also prepared a more detail write up on the Lou Sang, meaning of all the ingredients & how to eat Lou Sang in style . I also manage to get my friend to help translate both the flyers & write up to Chinese so it could reach a greater community.

I sent them all to my friends in HK. I also put it up on my instagram and finally revive my Facebook to post this important flyer on my Facebook page.

Orders started pouring in. At first it was rather slow. Then I decided to prepare some for my Zumba friends to try (mostly Filipino). Whoa they love it and all of them ordered from me.

Things started to get really hectic 2 weeks before CNY as I had to prepare all the materials before hand, do the packaging & delivery as well. At the same time, I was being ambitious, I baked some cookies for CNY celebration as well (not for sale OK).

I had an excel worksheet where I keep track of my cost, my capital investments & orders.

It was like running project again, but this time of a different scale and not involving IT.

It was tiring, but I sure had fun and some great sense of accomplishment. For once I felt like I’m a Project Manager again, after leaving the workforce for more than 1 year. Workaholic Syndrome hahaha.

Today, is the last day of CNY. I am also delivering my last order of Lou Sang to my church friend’s Chap Goh Mei Party. Business been pretty good (unexpected) and I’m sure next year I’m going to do this at a larger more capable scale. Now I need to start a business plan .

 

Yet Another Year

2 blog post in a year :

I’m so lacking and so not motivated to write/update this blog. How can I do better? Set a reminder to sit down every week to pen down something? Gosh…

So 2016 has ended, and we are into 2nd month of 2017. So fast!!!

Before I write down my 2017 Resolution (yes again, another resolution blog post hahaha), lets review what I’ve achieved in 2016. Here’s what I wrote for 2016. I’ve reviewed them and I’m quite proud that I managed to achieved 4/6 resolutions.

  1. update my blog every once a week (at least) – failed entirely
  2. going gym/exercise 3 times a week (at least) – overachieve
  3. eating healthy once a week. I’ve set wednesday to be healthy day for the whole family – overachieve
  4. catch up with backlogs of photobooks & editing. Target to complete 5 books this year. – overachieve
  5. training Faythe & Vyktore to be more independent. I’ve given them task to do (chores at home) and we have started this in December as trial run. – achieve
  6. bringing my kids out of Lantau Island at least once a month to explore more of Hong Kong. – failed partially

So this year, I’m back with setting another string of resolution for my achievement. I’ve wrote this down back in Jan, but just didn’t have the time to post it up as I was really really busy during CNY with my lil Lou Sang Business in HK.

2017 Resolution as follow:

  1. Hit 60kg of body weight & build more muscle
  2. to update my blog once a month – trying to be less ambitious to restart the momentum LOL
  3. study the word of lord, 1 chapter a month
  4. complete all travel photobooks backlogs – I’ve done year book up till 2013, that’s not too bad, so this year target to catch up all the travel books (which are easier to do)
  5. Join 1 marathon (half or quarter) either in KL or HK – uphill task
  6. eating healthy with healthy breakfast mon-fri

I try to be more specific this year, cause last year was more generalist. Well, it’s time to get my butt moving and start to work on these resolution.

Wish myself all the best, you can do it .

Adjusting to Stay-At-Home-Mom Lifestyle

It’s been 6 months & 12 days I have left my previous job. I had a hard time settling into a proper schedule for the 1st few months due to all the changes in the family (outgoing maid, Christmas, travelling, Chinese New Year and more travelling). I came to realise that I needed a schedule for myself to work on so that I can manage things better.

I wanted to do meal planning on a weekly basis, but after trying for a week, I gave up. Too much planning, I kid you not! Fast forward to today, I’m glad that I’ve got my SAHM lifestyle pretty settle down and things are rolling smoothly.

My Fitness Plans

When I started the year, I target to go to gym or workout at least 3 times a week to shed some kilos and loose a couple of inches (I’ve gained 10kg the past 1 year…OMG). But only making 3 days effort doesn’t seem to flourish into anything except the urge of eating more LOL. A friend introduced me to an app call MyFitnessPal, which helps to track your food intake, exercise, and weight gain/lost. I started using this app late January, and it made me realise that if I don’t go exercise, I am confined with just eating 1200 cals per day. This is somewhat a problem for someone like me who enjoys food. Hence I started to resume my kickboxing class, alternating with gym session, but Saturday and Sunday is no exercise day. Then CNY and some travelling with friends kick in and it all went hair-wired (more eating, not much of exercise LOL). I came back to HK on 21st March, weighing 2kg more!!! Dang!!!

I decided that my workout plans are screwed entirely and I need to be more discipline (for food and workout). I started using the MyFitnessPal App extensively, tracking all the food I eat everyday and became more cautious with my daily food intake. I also use Record App to have a more accurate recording of my workout sessions, which syncs its data to MyFitnessPal (same company). I ensure that I go to gym everyday (including weekends), except on day I go kickboxing, then I’ll take a break from gym. And lastly, Zumba class, 4 times a week. I pushed for the first 21 days really hard, because apparently, once you start an activity and maintain it for 21 days, it becomes a routine in your life. I passed the 21 days, but going into 2nd month, it seems even harder than the 21 days itself. Struggle, but I told myself, the changes will come. Gotta be patient and continue workout. I started loosing my 1st 1kg end of March, which help motivated myself.

Fast forward to today, I’ve lost about 3.5kg, but since I’ve gain 2kg during CNY, it’s just 1.5kg I’ve lost from where I started. A lot of handwork and hours of sweat. Control my food intake (but still giving myself some treats once in a while) and I’m happy that I’ve reduced by 1 size. I still have a whooping 7kg to loose…so the journey hasn’t ended. But I’m penning this down so that I can remember it later down the line.

My workout activities for a week:

Mon – Thu: 45 mins in gym in the morning (30 mins on the cross trainer, 15 mins for abs & legs workout – my problem areas) 

Mon – Thu: 60 mins in Zumba class in the evening (this is killer, but I totally love the sweat)

Fri: 120 mins kickboxing (this is another killer, but heck, gotta kick some asses)

Sat – Sun: same as Mon – Thu activities but I tend to cut it short to just 30 minutes sometimes due to weekend activities with Church and Family

I skip gym sessions when I have errands to run, e.g. marketing, school field trips, but I figure that doing these activities (walking) will also account for my daily exercise that I need to do, so it’s totally fine to skip gym session.

My Time in Kitchen

Now that I have my workout in place, I needed to plan my time in the kitchen as well. Life as SAHM is not easy life. No maid (just part time maid to help cleaning) means that I have to get up as early as 6:15AM to prepare kids lunch, wake the kids up, do all the marketing, cooking and whatever that the part time maid doesn’t do. And since I go for Zumba in the evening, I have to workout some meals that I can prepare earlier before my Zumba class that I can just quickly cook or heat up for dinner after Zumba class. The timing for Zumba class is not ideal (6-7pm), but it’s a FOC class, so it’s worth all these planning LOL. Not working mah, so gotta look for FOC/cheap alternative instead of spending more money right.

For lunch, I usually combine with breakfast since I only eat after I go gym, about 10AM. I will try take something heavy, sometimes I’ll eat with hubby outside, other times if there’s extra food from the kids lunch, I’ll just eat them. No additional cooking needed and keep it simple.

For dinner, I usually stick to soup with a steam fish since we have the tier-steamer, it’s very convenient. Soup boiling at the bottom, steam your food on top. Then a stir fry vegetables for the complete meal. Hon wants to cut down on rice as well at night, so sometimes we will just eat the dishes. If kids request for noodles or rice, I’ll just prepare for them. On other days, I’d prepare stews or casserole kinda food, which I start doing all the chopping and cooking at 2/3PM, and have it all done by 5PM. After Zumba class, just reheat and we have our dinner served. On Fridays, where I only go for kick boxing, I’ll cook something more elaborate since I have more time in the evening. Weekends are usually lazy day in kitchen, we either eat out or cook whatever I can dig out of the fridge.

I’m getting more skillful in the kitchen (AHEM) and challenge myself with more variety of dishes for the family. Photos can be viewed on my instagram account, jazzmint. I crawl the internet for new recipes and I use an app call PepperPlate to store all my favourite & tested recipes. It’s so easy with this App, so I don’t have to go to my bookmarks when I need to cook. Yes, I admit that I’m not a born Nigella Lawson. I’m never good with cooking and I’m still improvising them as we speak here. Having recipes as a guideline is really a beauty. If I need my food to be more flavourful I can also adjust the ingredients accordingly.

Needless to say, with all these cooking going on, there’s also a lot other activities happening in the kitchen, such as clearing of all the expired/old food and rearranging of things in kitchen. I wasn’t very happy with my previous maid. Not only she’s a lousy cook, but she’s probably the worst person when comes to keeping track of inventory in the kitchen. I found so many repeated food stuff stored in different containers in different parts of my kitchen. Frustrating is the word. But as of today, I’ve somehow sorted out 80% of the entire kitchen. I’ve cleared up plenty of rubbish in the kitchen and have an inventory of what’s in the kitchen at the back of my mind. I’ve rearranged the kitchen cabinets the way I like it (more organised) so I can find things easily. I’m still working on the kitchen drawers rearrangement, but I’m slowly loving my kitchen now :).

I’ve also started to explore new wet market in HK, because the one nearest to our home is very expensive. Just this week, I went to Tsuen Wan Wet Market and was delighted with the range of stuff available there, not forgetting cheaper groceries as well. I usually do marketing every 2 weeks, but since I discover this new market, I now want to go there every week instead.

Some before and after photos here as a record.

My Time with Faythe & Vyktore

Both of them are no longer toddlers, and they spend half the time in school. They leave as early as 7:10AM and comes home by 3:30PM/4:30PM depending on whether there’s ECA (Extra Curricular Activity) or not. They are both very happy to come home having Mommy to greet them nowadays. I ensure they shower and change into fresh clothing once they come home. Those days when I’m still at work, they won’t shower till when it’s near dinner time (roll eyes). I’ll also check if they need help with homework or not and we will do the homework usually before I go for Zumba classes. At times when they needed more homework attention, we will get to it after dinner. During exam month, they will have to work on worksheets after they finish their homework. Yes, I’m a 1/2 tiger mom LOL. Must have balance of work and play right.

Sometimes, I’ll also prepare some light snacks for tea time for them when I’m not lazy LOL.

On nights where we finish dinner early, we spend time together. We will chit chat and tell jokes. I enjoy listening to all their crazy ideas. We also play games. I’ve recently started teaching them Bahasa, once a week. They seems to enjoy it so far.

I’ll tug them into bed (no bedtime story since they can now read themselves, just hugs and kisses) by 10PM.

Weekends, we will usually chill out at home or go to town if we feel like it.

My Time with My Other Half

Now that I’m not working, he doesn’t have any reason to get upset that I’m back home late LOL. We get to spend time going lunch dates as well, which is great to improve our relationship. But on the downside of it, because I’m around at home, I seem to be more busy when he’s around as I need to cook breakfast for him, cook lunch for him, fix his laptop, fix his printout…Now he’s doing his promotion course for his work, I’m also helping him up, like a pilot side-kick *sweat*

My Time for Myself

I have plenty of time for myself, now that I’m no longer working. I must admit that at times, I’m like driving an F1 car. I’ll be going to gym, rushing back to cook, go Zumba, work on photobook and so on. But sometimes, I’m just so slacking I can sit there for hours playing my Candy Crush, Soda Crush, Farm Hero and what have you. Bad and addictive. Trying hard to control myself, but when I get hold of my iPad, it just comes so naturally LOL. Which is why I’m choosing to update my blog today, cause I’ve done my rounds of games hahaha…I hope I can be better at controlling myself in another 6 months time.

I still have plenty of backlogs photos that I need to touch up. Not forgetting the phonebooks that I need to work on. So far I’ve only completed 3 books this year.

OK, I’m gonna leave this blog space now, after all the reflection of my past 6 months achievements and bloopers. I need to work harder to update the blog instead of crushing games :).

Ushering 2016

The year of 2015 is coming to an end in just another 15 minutes (at the time I’m composing this post). How should I describe 2015? Exhilarating !!!

This year, I’ve made the most travelling counting back to all the trips (with or without kids). We started off 2015 with a Trip to Okinawa. Then in April, we headed to Perth for Easter Holiday. Come June, Hon and myself went to Bali for a short stay. Not forgetting making 2 trips back to KL in Aug & Dec. The highlight was definitely our 8 days trip to Romania. And we wrap up our year with a family trip to Bangkok just before Christmas.

It has also been a roller coaster ride in my career and I finally decide to take a break from work and spend more time with Faythe & Vyktore. It’s a huge step for me, as I’ve never been a homemaker OR even stop work (maternity leave not counted in this case) since 19 years old!! Not earning a single cent is totally new in my personal dictionary, given that I have full financial independence for my entire life since I started working.

In fact, for the past 2.5 months since I resigned, I’ve been busy tending the family, sorting out our personal life and got rid of our full time helper as well LOL. Yeah, it wasn’t expected, although we have very much plan for that to happen (getting rid of full time helper) sometime later in 2016. Some how, my resignation has helped to fast forward some of the plans that we plan to execute in 2016. I’ve also managed to complete 1 photobook within a short time frame of 2 days.

So here I am now, a full time stay at home mom. Sometimes I feel quite empty inside me, especially when the kids go to school, my better half go to work. I’m just hanging around thinking of stuff I need to do, but just can’t get my butt off from the chair LOL. I guess all the late night & long hours of work for the past 4 years has taken a toll on me and I’m just glad that I can laze around haha…but not for long.

Alright, enough of talking about 2015, so what are the plans for 2016?

When I started 2015, I made a resolution to go gym daily…obviously it has failed, as I’ve not lost any weight in 2015…booohooo….So I told myself, lets not be so aggressive. And for the rest of it, I can’t really remember what were my resolution as it’s been 365 days ago!!!!

Hence I’ve decided that I should jot down my 2016 resolution here so that I can review them from time to time and keep it as a reminder. So here goes my list:

  1. update my blog every once a week (at least)
  2. going gym/exercise 3 times a week (at least)
  3. eating healthy once a week. I’ve set wednesday to be healthy day for the whole family.
  4. catch up with backlogs of photobooks & editing. Target to complete 5 books this year.
  5. training Faythe & Vyktore to be more independent. I’ve given them task to do (chores at home) and we have started this in December as trial run.
  6. bringing my kids out of Lantau Island at least once a month to explore more of Hong Kong.

Here’s wishing everyone have a great start for Year 2016 and may we be blessed with a peaceful year and abundance of joy.

Black & White Photography, 31 Oct 2015

Backdated post. 

Since I resigned, I try to ensure that I don’t work on weekends so that I can start adjust to my jobless life. I also start to fill my weekend with personal activities. Hence I join another photography meetup activity on 31st Oct. The theme is black & white photography. It seems easy topic, but the selected location is challenging. It’s Shum Shui Po. In such a busy area, how can we shoot something black & white that requires very distinct outline and contrast to give the effect of black & white. To make it even more difficult, it’s a night shoot (low light!!!).

Seriously, after walking for the first 10-15 minutes, I was struggling to capture shots because it was more colourful than black & white itself. I also try not to limit myself to jut portrait shots, but more to capturing the scene, surroundings & other things that might catch my attention.

We try to steer clear of the busy area and headed to Shek Kip Mei side to get better shots. I like how we are confined to shoot within a certain topic so that we don’t go click-crazy on the camera. I only manage to take about 30 shots or so, of which I’ve only shortlisted a few which I really like.

Here are my Black & White Night Shots for the day.

Backline of Shum Shui Po…like the effect of the stairs stacked up.

A lady packing up carton boxes in the dark alley.

A fruit stall with busy customers picking up fruits.

Fruit stall owner.

I took this shot because of the distinct shapes of the wine bottles vs. the crowd.

Lady at the vegetable stall packing some vegetables for the customer. This shot was taken at the Shum Shui Po Wet Market.

A quiet street.

Another quiet street, away from the hustle bustle of the heart of Shum Shui Po.

Pedestrians busy crossing the street during the red light.

A team of young kids playing soccer at the local housing area of Shek Kip Mei.

A New Jobless Life

I made a bold decision 1.5 months ago and tender my resignation from HP. It was probably a shocking news to many. What brought me to this decision? To be honest, it’s been a constant struggle at work for sometime. It was a constant battle of issues after issues which leads to me to believe that this project could be cursed LOL. The client was a total challenge and not having all the support needed from the management from time to time makes life at work even tougher.

Matters at the home front didn’t help either. I felt bad to neglect my kids as I was struggling with the demands of work and kids both at the same time. It’s really not fun having to work every other weekend and week nights when I was supposed to spend those quality time with both my kids and Hon.

After many months of consideration and discussion with Hon and both the kids, I have decided to take a break. After all, life is short. I resigned, without a job and told myself I’m taking this break to recuperate my brain cells. So here I am, updating my blog at a very rare time of the day, as today is my 1st day of life without a job after close to 15 years.

Many colleagues & friends ask what do I have in mind once I stop work. Seriously, there’s plenty of work to be done. I’ve put a lot of things on hold on the personal front for the past years due to busyness at work. So I can now sit down and work through that list.

My kids are both concerned as well but they both agree that I should take a break.

Vyktore: Mommy, so now you are jobless?
Mommy: Yes
Vyktore: So what are you going to do?
Mommy: Hmm…good question. Actually I don’t have a plan now. I’m just going to sit back and relax. I can spend more time to cook for you.
Vyktore: Yay!!!
Mommy: Then I might sit around and play game whole day, cause I’ve not been able to do that for a long time.
Vyktore: *Strange look at me*…Can I join?
Mommy: No…you still have a job, go school LOL
Vyktore: Then what else Mommy? What are you going to do?
Mommy: Give you more worksheets to do at home hehe
Vyktore: *Shakes his head*
Faythe: Mommy, so you can send us to school everyday?
Mommy: Well not everyday, some days. Will take turn with helper.
Faythe: Then you won’t have money to buy things anymore.
Mommy: Yeah..but I’m not gonna be jobless forever. It’s just for a short period of time. I can go for school trips and no need to worry bout work anymore.
Faythe: Yay!!!

I look forward to spend more quality time with my family. Catch up with blog writing, creating beautiful photobooks, reviving my rusty photography skills and sit back and smell the air.