i would like to retire by 45

Posted by Gingerblossom at 9:48 AM

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Earlier if possible :)

The challenge is making sure Dan & I have enough for a comfortable retirement.
That brings me to the next challenge - how to achieve that!

Working the way I do is certainly not an option. I've determined  ( to be more accurate, my friends have determined for me) that it doesn't matter what job I take, I will pour a lot of effort into it. Sometimes I think I just take too long to finish something because I think too much about getting it the way I want... which means I fiddle a lot with something even after it's done and give myself more work ( dumb right?). Or maybe I just don't realise how many things I've taken on and take more... ( even dumber right?) . So it doesn't matter if it's a part-time or freelance. Work will always be the same - painful.

So, the best option is not working. I either do and give it everything I've got or I don't and make sure I have enough to do everything I want.  I like the sound of the second option better.  Doesn't everyone?

So back to the problem - what do I need to do to be able to retire at 45?  Assuming I live till 65, that's another 20yrs to provide for!! There's also the cats to feed!

Damp Depressing December

Posted by Gingerblossom at 8:17 AM

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's December. I am sorely missing my boots, coats and hats...

December in Singapore is somewhat dismal because it rains everyday. All our stuff gets moldy because it's so damp ( there goes Dan's fancy leather shoes and jackets). Clothes never dry (thank goodness for our washer + dryer) and my shoes are like water receptacles each time I'm caught in the rain.

Dining boredom

Posted by Gingerblossom at 8:22 AM

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I never thought I would say this of Singapore...dining here is boring.

It's gotten so expensive that a "nice" meal at a restaurant would set you back at least $80 per person with a glass of wine. I wouldn't mind it so much if it was $80 well spent. But more often then not, it's NOT! Even a dinner out at a mid range restaurant sets you back $20 per person. 

What annoys me most is if the meal doesn't have any character or hint of authenticity. I am not a fan of the funky Japanese meals that have popped up all over Singapore. It's good value but not my cup of tea. Give me a good ole bowl of ramen, sushi made with fresh ingredients or chicken skin yakitori. No weird stuff with cheese and mayo all over please. 

It pains me to admit that eating here is boring especially when I have these really high expectations of eating in Singapore. These expectations are the result of having had to eat oily, msg-laden Northern Chinese food for lunch, for 5 years in Beijing. I guess the deprivation of a lot of familiar foods  made me think very nostalgically of eating in Singapore, when I wasn't in Singapore.

I have to admit now that there was a lot more international variety in Beijing. Whether the food's good is debateable. At the initial opening, a lot of these restaurants put in effort to create an authentic meal - whether from Morocco, India, Japan or Korea - after a while, they either train local chefs to recreate the dishes perfectly or it starts going downhill. There was always a new affordable restaurant to try out each month, so when the "flavour of the month" starts serving crappy food, there's always a new place to replace the old.

Sadly, that's not the case in Singapore. Well, at least, "affordable" is not necessarily the case. Or should I say value for money? I guess the best value and best food are the local favourites - the Ba-chor Mee ( Minced meat noodles), Roti Pratas, Nasi Padang etc... I love eating these. Afterall, I grew up on them.

But once in a while, I like to have something NOT local. If it comes at a high price, so be it. But it darn well better be a good meal. Not one that leaves me 1. annoyed  2. still hungry 3. sick!!!

Hello Hanoi.. super delayed post

Posted by Gingerblossom at 8:40 AM

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

In fact, late by almost 2 months...This is about our first trip to Vietnam. And i actually wrote this while in Hanoi! I'm too lazy to edit it as a post-travel entry.

Funny how most Singaporeans would have travelled to places like Hanoi, Bali and Phuket but we 2 mountain tortoises haven't. Well, these past few days, Dan & I spent enough time wandering the streets of Hanoi to say that we've actually been here.

I can't say Hanoi is particularly enticing with its historical sights nor it's shopping. I think it's a lot less exotic for Asians to see one temple and pagoda after another. Particularly given that we've been seeing the massive ones in China for a good 5 years... It takes out the excitement a little. But some of Hanoi's religious sights are still worth a look for its history and it's quite interesting to see how everything in the temples are written in traditional Chinese but enunciated differently in Vietnamese. If you're one for war history or mausoleums, then there might be more for you to see. Unfortunately, I like neither.

For me, the best sights are the old houses lining the streets. Many look like they've been transported straight from Paris or Eastern Europe. The European architecture is evident in many of the buildings in the Old Quarter. Some have fallen into disrepair but with a little imagination, you can almost imagine how beautiful they once might have been - an elegant oasis offering their occupants relief from the oppressive heat and constant cacophony of city life.

Hanoi is supposedly home to good french food. I think it's still best to stick with the local food. The Bun cha ( rice noodles with grilled pork) is my dish of the moment. I love the simplicity of rice noodles dipped in a sweet and sour broth, and flavoured with pork, chilli and garlic. I especially love how all Vietnamese dishes seem to be served with fresh basil, shiso leaves ( or something that tastes like it) and lemon mint. Bun Cha is found on almost every corner. Our hotel reception pointed us to a stall located at No 1 Hang Mahn Street. For SG$7, we had a standard set of noodles, herbs and fried spring rolls that we had difficulty finishing even as delicious as it was.

Another quaint side to Hanoi I enjoyed were the cafes serving cha phe (coffee). I love the intensity of Vietnamese coffee! Can't seem to get enough of it. I wonder how I'm going to revert back to regular coffee off the vending machine at the office...

Bia Hoi ( freshly brewed beer) served along the roadside was a great experience too. The beer was light and cheap (no more than 7000 Dong/ SG$0.40 at the more "premium" corners); and it offered a great way to watch Hanoians rush about their daily business. Bia Hoi was harder to find than we expected. And when we did find it, the tiny roadside stall would be packed with foreigners enjoyed a pre-dinner drink. It was rather funny watching many largely built caucasians perched on the tiny plastic stools that the Vietnamese seem to favour. I'm short and it's already slightly uncomfortable for me. I wonder how those big guys felt balancing their weight on those flimsy stools!
I have another 3 days to go on this trip. Hopefully there's more interesting sights to see, interesting foods to eat!
Eventually, I did have modern french food at a place called La Badiane. The food and service were both excellent. We had a 3 course set dinner which was under SG$50 and had a nice variety of dishes to choose from for each course.  Daniel had a slightly strange sounding dessert that had coconut, mangoes and berries in it. It was AWESOME. I could have licked the plate clean. So, if you're going to Hanoi, you have to make a trip to La Badiane at 10 Nam Ngu street, Hoan Kiem. Tel: +84 (4) 39 42 45 09

6 years ago

Posted by Gingerblossom at 8:35 AM

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

6 years ago, in September, I felt my heart crack into little pieces. It was the first time I had to experience the death of a pet.

It was the day I woke up to find the cold body of my cat Paws in the bathroom. Paws was the second cat I adopted, after Pisase. Paws lived for almost 2 years with us after we brought her home as a kitten from a catwelfare society adoption drive. She wasn't a very strong kitty, falling sick every month at the beginning and being subject to all sorts of medication. She got better and with better food, a loving home, she got healthier. But she never grew to her full adult size, remaining the size of a kitten all through her short life. That made her look adorable.

But what really made her a favourite around the house was how loving she was. Paws was a lap cat who enjoyed curling up with us as we watched TV, worked , ate dinner or went to bed. Paws was the best alarm clock I could have. She woke me up at the same time each morning by standing on me and meowing - telling me that it was time to wake up and feed her.

ays leading up to her death, growing skinnier each day. I was planning to take her to the vet the next day after she seemed disoriented and refused to eat that night. She howled in the middle of the night and I woke up to see what was wrong. She wanted water and wanted to huddle in the bathroom - a place she seemed to like, probably because the floor was cool. I pet her, gave her little head a rub and told her we'll be going to the vet in the morning.

Morning came. Paws left. Till today I still think of her. September, the month of her death anniversary is when I think of her most. This year particularly, memories of my furry friend are more vivid than usual. Because after 6 years, this is the September I'm actually in the house where she lived and died. I have to say, it still hurts to think back to that day

Why I haven't blogged

Posted by Gingerblossom at 8:02 AM

Monday, May 23, 2011

Because I'm glued to the TV when I'm free.. making up for the period where I couldn't randomly select a channel and find something to watch. I am truly a TV monster...

New Kitchen, New Job

Posted by Gingerblossom at 2:15 AM

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Completed kitchen

Built in bookcase in the old dining area.. to hide a gas pipe!

The kitchen is well and truly done today after the gas man came and completed the final 1% of the reno works - connecting the gas supply.

It couldn't have been completed at a better time! I start work this Thursday afternoon with a client meeting. Ironically, it is the client I sought to escape from for a while by skipping from a PR agency to an experience marketing agency. Thankfully, I'll be working with nice client contacts here and this is just one project. I will still get to work on a variety of clients, which was the main reason I went back to an agency. It's tiring and you're at the mercy of clients but you really get to learn a lot and focus on getting work done rather than play internal politics. I've never been good at games or pretense.

With the kitchen done and house 90% in order, I feel that it's about time to go back to work. I'll run out household things to do soon. As it is, the buying of lights, sinks, taps etc etc was driving me slightly crazy. I don't think I want to repeat the experience any time soon!

Happy Birthday Ms Qoo!!!

Posted by Gingerblossom at 8:41 AM

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Today is Ms Qoo's birthday. Though I miss the chance to celebrate it with her this year, I hope she's having a great time with family and friends in Beijing on this special day.

Happy birthday dear friend. Stay as beautiful in body, mind and soul as you've always been.

Missing you!

My first attempt at scrapbooking

Posted by Gingerblossom at 6:54 AM

Monday, March 7, 2011

Inspired by Miss Qoo and by the gorgeous bits and pieces at The Paper Market and NBC Japanese stationery shop, I decided to give scrapbooking a whirl.

Um... not very successful given I bought a base piece that had too many words!
Did not stick a photo on the page as this is meant to be sent to a friend for her to insert her own upcoming wedding pix...With a little ingenuity, I managed to create photo placeholders which are hidden by the 3D stickers.

Ah well! I learnt a few things from this first try. Maybe better ideas ( and end results) the next time.

Did I tell you about the day I delivered a plasma TV?

Posted by Gingerblossom at 6:07 AM

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

We bought this TV from Harvey Norman a couple of days after we got home. There wasn't any stock available and we were told it would arrive perhaps on Valentine's Day... a good 14 days after we paid for it. Dan and I shrugged and said ok. Dan said WE'd collect it ourselves. I raised my eyebrows at that thinking " you mean me?"

Couple days later, I got a call informing me that the TV was available for collection. Dan said, "go get it". I thought, " Told me so". So I proceed to enlist my dad's help to pick me ( and the TV) up at Millenia on XX day, XX time.

I got there early and my heart nearly stopped when I saw the box containing the TV.
1. It was 3/4 as tall as me ( placed on the side)
2. Stated on the side : "Box & Contents weigh 29kg"

First thought that came to mind : "SHEEEEEET! This **** thing weighs more than half of me!!! How the hell am I going to bring it to the car pickup, load it into the car, then after that, bring it up to the house????????"

After a lot of wheedling with the staff to help me move it to the pick up porch, muscle straining, box maneuvering and plenty of sweat, my dad and I managed to bring it home. I want to collect $50 from Daniel for delivery. Dammit.

what a mess...

Posted by Gingerblossom at 5:42 AM

BEFORE: Taken in 2008 before the house got a new coat of paint.

Home reno is tiring... I had to search for sinks, taps, lights, ceiling fans ... spend hours at Ikea with Daniel seeking inspiration for storage ideas... decide on laminates... ensure that the white paint I asked for is indeed pristine white.

And so far, this is what I have to show for it... ( ok, these pictures were taken randomly with my mobile. It's so messy I can't bring myself to photograph anything)

This is the bedroom after they tore down the built in cabinets

This is the kitchen mid-way of being taken apart

The mess seen from the living room.
Part of the wall is being taken down and replaced with doors...

This is the kitchen as of today.
If you're wondering why it's so grey, that's because it's going to have
2 plain concrete walls, dark grey floor tiles, one blue tiled wall and white cupboards.
Reminds me of Greece!

Anniversary No.9

Posted by Gingerblossom at 10:58 PM

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Yesterday marked our 9th wedding anniversary. How time flies! It feels like it was just yesterday that I met Daniel and thought, "Engineering Nerd" and mentally rolled my eyes. That was in 1996.

Then I took a bite of a sausage and cheese sandwich Daniel made and it probably might have been love at first bite. Love for the sandwich of course *wink*. Day after day, the sandwich was outdone by steaming bowls of instant noodles, toasted hot dogs, cheese melts and Haagen Daz ice cream. How could I refuse? And how do you not love someone who:
1. Feeds you great food
2. remembers your favorite flavor of Haagen Daz ice-cream after hearing it mentioned just once
3. allows you and your friends to use his super computer to complete your homework instead of having to walk through creepy night-time NTU to get to the computer room
4. Surprises you with thoughtful or romantic little gestures until today.

It's not hard to see how time seems to fly when you're happy.

Re-adjusting to home

Posted by Gingerblossom at 8:31 AM

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Don't get me wrong. I love being home. There are just some things I need to re-adjust to.

1. Remembering family obligations - dinners, birthdays, CNY celebrations...
These are huge family events with hordes of people crammed into small spaces. I've forgotten the cacophony created by many elderly ladies put together. Gave me a blasted headache during CNY dinners. For the past 4 years, it's just been Dan & me on most festive occasions plus the 2 cats. I think I may have gotten used to just hanging out quietly at home - no constant chatter, no 1000 questions to answer, no need to turn on my work mode to make small talk with distant relatives whose names I honestly don't know after over 30 years. ( Before you think," superficial bitch!", let me just say that my siblings and closest cousin and even my mum don't know this relative's children's names.)

2. Having my actions "monitored".
I've always been the sort to do what I want, rules be damned! If you're expecting a rebel, well, that's just not me. I'm usually too well behaved and a stickler for rules. What I mean is having the freedom to make my own decisions ( hopefully informed decisions), going where I want, wearing what I want.. you get the idea. Coming back home, my parents try to dictate my life. My relatives try it too. It drives me nuts. I take advice but I do not take orders. And everyone's been trying to order me on renovating my house, even what I wear to go out for dinner. What's wrong with wearing a black tee with jeans?? What's wrong with my striped glasses??? I do not appreciate calls everyday asking where I am at the moment; questions on who I'm calling; who I am meeting with... It feels as if I need to report what I'm doing every moment of the day. If anything, this is what will drive me back to find a job. Least then I can simply say, I'm busy.

3. Seeing more foreigners than ever in Singapore
It's nice to see such a cultural mix but it's darn confusing to switch between accents especially when out shopping or dining. One minute it's heavily accented Filipino English, the next it's Chinglish and in the next heartbeat, Singlish or Malaysian- Chinese. I honestly didn't understand several Filipino servers at a restaurant - whether he was taking my order or asking if he could clear my beer. It went on for a good minute before my friend stepped in to "translate". Turns out, he was trying to tell us that happy hour was over. *slap forehead*

4. Multi-cultural lion dance.. this one had me look twice.
I was at a hawker centre and along comes a lion dance to celebrate the re-opening of stalls after the CNY holiday. The procession of 5 consisted of 2 indian guys clanging the cymbals, 1 Chinese on the drum, 1 eurasian as the lion's butt and 1 malay guy as the lion head. I took a second look just to make sure I wasn't mistaken. Uncle sharing my table at the hawker centre said to me, "That's what you call multi-cultural lion dance hor?". I agree with Uncle. Multi-cultural indeed.

5. Unpredictable downpours.
Note to self - bring an umbrella EVERYWHERE.
One minute it's scorching hot. I turn my back on the laundry outdoors and it begins to drizzle. 20seconds later, it's a thunderstorm. Same thing happens everyday. As I leave the house, the sun's trying its best to burn this island to cinders. I get to the mrt and 30mins later when I emerge, there's a apocalyptic storm taking place outdoors - the kind where you can't see a thing through the sheets of rain. I've gotten caught in several of these while on my way to visit the cats at quarantine. I've recalled - no jeans and no light skirts that can be blown around

Shopping on taobao

Posted by Gingerblossom at 9:09 AM

Friday, January 7, 2011

OMG. I cannot be allowed to stay home for long while on leave. Over New Year's we stayed home because Dan was ill and I was not feeling great. I got bored. REALLY BORED.

Our satellite TV's been out of service since Oct and I had no TV to watch. So I went online. Bad idea.

I was only looking to get cat stuff when it occurred to me that I should try looking for tank tops to bring home. Afterall, most clothes are made in China and they could be cheaper here. Being winter, you obviously can't find many tank tops in Beijing. But taobao should have everything right? And have everything it does.

Before I knew it, I was putting Zara work jackets, forever 21 tunics, random korean style jackets, jelly shoes, tank tops and goodness knows what else into my shopping cart... all i did for 3 days was trawl through taobao( otherwise known in our house as TTT) . I was even tempted to buy copies of Starck's Ghost Chair for our flat in Singapore. Daniel didn't like plastic so I didn't get them.

I eventually bought less stuff than what's in my cart ( because I went to the Zoo market and found my tank tops) but the terrible thing is, whenever I'm super bored, I'd think, "hmm, let my fingers do the shopping."

alamak - falling sick

Posted by Gingerblossom at 9:05 AM

thanks huh daniel. I must have caught your virus. I don't usually fall sick in winter lor!