Friday, 12 May 2017

In transit

It's been a while since I have done a more casual and candid post where I updated this space with all the bits and pieces that I have been up to over the past few months. I was scrolling through my camera roll and it was flooded with so many photos of all the food, events, and odd moments that have made this 'in between study and work' period of my life more bearable and enjoyable. Here are some of the snapshots that I've plucked from my photo album: 

I discovered and visited a lot of small boutiques and thrift stores last month in West End. Nook was one that I particularly enjoyed. It resides in a small and humble cottage in an unexpected spot and showcases products by small businesses, ranging from hand-made jewellery to quirky cards, vintage clothing and tea. They also have a resident cat that you might find napping by the window. Doesn't that all just sound like the perfect little shop?  

I also visited quite a few new cafes and food spots over the past months, including Miss Bliss Whole Foods Kitchen who were the ones who made the beautiful plate of food that you can see above. Other top spots included Nodo, Campos Coffee, The Jam Pantry, Smoked Paprika, Clay Coffee and The Smug Fig.

My friend, Jewel, bought me tickets to see Vallis Alps for my birthday. It was the first time I had been to a small gig in the valley. I wasn't sure what to expect but I loved every bit of it. I walked out of it very sweaty, with my heart pounding and very much in love with the idea of small intimate gigs. And I'm so glad Vallis Alps was the first to break my dry spell of small gigs.

For my 23rd birthday this year, some of my girlfriends and I went to Kith 'n' Chow for a Sunday lunch. I had never been before but have heard good things about it, especially the platter (featured above). Although we were hijacked by many flies during the meal, all the food was well made and it's close and convenient location makes it a place I would love to visit again. 

There was a moment in April where I was on a bit of an adventurous, creative and inspired streak. A product of that was me signing up to a polymer bead jewellery workshop on a Sunday afternoon. I had seen so many polymer bead necklaces on Etsy and at markets that I decided I wanted to know how to make them for myself. Attending a workshop was another 'first' for me and it was such a relaxing time (maybe rolling beads and kneading play dough-like clay has something to do with it). It's definitely something fun to do with your mum or your girlfriends. 

At the end of April, Daniel and I did a double-date day trip to Maleny. It was something that had been on our "to-do" list for a while and we finally found a day during the uni holidays where all of us were free. There were a few spots that I wanted to visit, including this really cute and rustic and everything-that's-in-it-is-perfect-and-charming cafe called Shotgun Espresso. It didn't disappoint. What was disappointing about the day was that it was bloody windy and cold which resulted in 3/4 of us getting the sniffles. But all in all, a drive to a quaint little town with fun company always guarantees a good time.

I chopped half of my hair off! My friend asked me to accompany her to get a haircut and I left with one too. Well...okay, I sort of planned it but I didn't plan how much to cut off. I found this google image of a nice short hair cut, showed it to the lady and I walked out with this^. It has taken me a while to get use to it and I can't tie up my hair without strands of hair falling out...but after buying some styling mousse and doing some trials with a hair curler, I think I finally know how to style this mop. 

Other highlights from the past few months included:
1. Eating my first (and probably last) HSP. 
2. Going the daunting process of job interviews. 
3. Celebrating one-year with the boy.
4. Further developing my small business idea.
5. Attending a weekly AUSLAN community class to learn sign language.
6. Seeing Adele and being charmed by her candid British-ness.
7. Rock climbing and meeting so many new friends.
8. Making some pretty smashing white chocolate mocha macarons. 

Even though there has been tough patches during the past few months where I would feel listless and pitiful, I have been thankful for the time that I have to invest in other people and my other interests (while also applying for every suitable job that is posted). I have to be constantly reminded of God's sovereignty and to trust in His timing. The wait may seem endless but so are His provisions.

Now playing: Hollow Coves - The Woods

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

4 Life Lessons

I didn't mean to lure you in with a clickbait heading but it's getting late and I really didn't know what else to call this post. As I'm nearing another year older, I thought it was a fitting time to do some reflection on some things that I have learnt over the past year from my readings, conversations with friends and personal reflection. Here are four things:

1. Venting can be a form of complaining incognito. 
There was a period of time where a lot of my conversations was filled with "venting". Then, I realised that many of my words were not very helpful or encouraging at all. What I thought was harmless venting was actually complaining and it was just clouding my mind with negativity and cynicism. Same goes with getting caught up with other people's "venting". This article sums it up perfectly: "Science has even proven that 'venting' doesn't actually fix anything - instead, it ingrains negative thought patterns into your brain and actually heightens negative emotions. Complaining doesn't help you and it certainly doesn't help your listeners!" I have definitely learned to think before I speak and become more wary of how I respond to people's "venting". 

2. God isn't going to tell you what He plans for your life. So stop asking and waiting. 
This one blew my mind a little. For a lot of my life I had been asking questions like "Does God want me to do this?", "Is this where God wants me to be?", "What should I do next?" And for the most part, I would be incredibly hesitant when making decisions or was afraid that if I took a wrong step, I might veer off the path He wanted me to be on. I've always known that He has a plan for me. But I've learned that it's not our job to figure it out. I've been reading a book by Kevin DeYoung that has been very helpful and I wanted to share a bit from it: "The problem is we think He's going to tell us the wonderful plan before it unfolds. We feel like we can know - and need to know - what God wants every step of the way. But such preoccupation with finding God's will, as well-intentioned as the desire may be, is more folly than freedom. The better way is the biblical way: Seek first the kingdom of God, and trust that He will take care of our needs, even before we what they are and where we're going." We can afford to take risks in life because God doesn't. He already knows what's going to happen.

3. A presumptuous mind is never helpful. 
I usually give people the benefit of the doubt but from time to time, I can be quite sensitive and take things the wrong way even if the person didn't mean it that way. I think this can happen quite often with online conversations where you can misjudge the tone of voice and for people who tend to read between the lines. I also sometimes find myself overgeneralising things people do and blurt out statements like "you always..." when in reality, they might have only done it once. It can create this false impression of the person that they're a certain type or assume their actions before they've already done it. It breaks down trust and potentially friendships. And that's never a happy ending.

4. You can love someone without liking them. 
This is probably the toughest lesson and a lesson that I am still learning. It goes against the grain of what most people believe and it can be quite controversial in the way that people may argue "Why should I love someone who irritates me? I don't need to be nice to them if they're not nice to me." And while it's much easier to love someone you also like, there is something radical about loving a person you dislike. It is something that was shown to us by God. We reject and rebel against Him and yet He loves us. He provided a way out of the mess we had created for ourselves through Jesus. Free of charge too. It changed the game completely. And so would showing undeserved love to someone who you would usually turn your back to. Of course, it's easier than done. But it can be, with much patience and prayer. 

I realise that I have only scraped the surface on these four things and I could probably do separate posts for each of them if I wanted to. I'm sure as I'm still growing through these and learning more 'life lessons', I'll have plenty more thoughts to share. In the meantime, my birthdayweek begins tomorrow and I am very excited to (low-key) celebrate with family and friends. Photos to come soon!

Now playing: John Mayer - Gravity (Live at Nokia Theatre)

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

I'm back with some recent favourites! These are some of the things that I have been enjoying during the past few months: 

1. Banh Mi from Scotts Road Deli and Takeaway. This is hands down the best Banh Mi that I have eaten. I ordered the Vietnamese roast pork one and the pork was juicy, the bread wasn't too chewy, all the ingredients were fresh, and the pork crackle was on point. Best of all, it only cost $5! 

2. UQ Alumni t-shirt. Over-sized, soft and perfect for lounging. What more do you want from a shirt?

3. Pentel Touch brush pen. This has been my go-to for lettering or doing any fancy headings. The brush tip is very easy to manipulate to get all those smooth transitions between thin and thick. You can find it at Officeworks for $3.10!

4. Australian Open. That mens' finals with Federer vs. Nadal though. SO. INTENSE.

5. Gippsland mango and blood orange yoghurt. You have to try it to believe how good it is. And the last time I checked, it's currently on sale at Coles! 

6. Crank rockclimbing. I've been religiously going to rockclimbing every week for the past month now. This has been mostly motivated by a 10-pass coupon that a group of my friends and I got from Groupon (otherwise, it's quite expensive to go) and even after going a few times, I've already been seeing my overall body strength improve. 

7. Ed Sheeran's music comeback. I think you can be one of two different people: those who are still jamming to 'Shape of You' whenever it comes on the radio, or those who switch stations and get annoyed when that station is also playing the same song. I'm not ashamed to say that I'm still the former hehe.

8. Gilmore Girls. I could probably dedicate a whole blog post about Gilmore Girls but I will withhold myself. I feel like I had been vicariously living a Gilmore Girl life for the past few months as I watched from Season 1 all the way to the new revival. The withdrawal symptoms were quite real when it was all over.

9. Black Mirror. After Gilmore Girls, I didn't know where to turn to. I was recommended Black Mirror and although it's not my usual genre of choice, I really enjoyed it. It's a very suspenseful, thrilling and intriguing show. Each episode is a new story with a new cast but they all have the running theme of technology in the modern world and the uneasy and unsettling side of it that we often don't see. Definitely one to check out!

Monday, 30 January 2017


Hygge. (pronounced hue-gah).
I came across this Danish word a few weeks ago. It was briefly mentioned but the idea of it intrigued me. I filed that word in my memory and Googled it when I got back home. I immediately fell in love with the concept and realised it was the word that I had always been looking for to describe those little pockets of time that I so treasured. Those moments of stillness when you're sitting alone admiring a view or cozied up in a blanket cocoon with a book or TV show. Or those moments when you're with some of your favourite people doing nothing but talking and enjoying the little things...The moments that leave you feeling warm, at peace and smiling on the inside. 

There is no English word equivalent to hygge and we can only attempt to explain the moments that creates it. Hygge is not so much one 'thing' but more of a philosophy or practice that preaches the importance of simplicity, slowing down and creating special out of the ordinary with company and things that you love. Many have used the example of curling up in front of the fireplace with a book, knitted blanket and a mug of something steaming (and this is what you can see if you Google hygge and look at images). This particular scenario is probably more relevant in the country of the word's origin where this concept of hygge is embedded in the Scandinavian culture. Perhaps it has some relation to how the Danish are statistically the happiest population in the world. It might also explain why the aesthetics of IKEA have always been so inviting and pleasing to the eye.

Hygge seems to be branching out to the rest of the world where the idea of 'less is more' is becoming more attractive and the desire to find peace amongst chaos is ever present. Candles, minimalistic design and those coveted super chunky knitted blankets have come into play - all of which aim to create hygge in your life.

I have always found the idea of retreat and rest important. As an introvert, time alone
to recharge is very precious to me. And I thought adopting a few ways to create hygge might make the recharge time extra rewarding.

1. Technology free time. Imagine that in today's world. People might think you're actually crazy if you don't have your head in Facebook, Instagram or the likes. A detox from all of that might be good from time to time. Take your eyes of the screen and appreciate your surroundings.

2. Creating a space that is rid of any work. Someone from some time ago once told me that you shouldn't make your bedroom your workspace because a resting space shouldn't be mixed with feelings of stress from work. While I fail at this and use my bedroom for both rest and work, I can imagine finding a space that is purely dedicated for rest and slowing down recuperating for the soul.

3. Creating warmth by playing with your senses. While candles and fairy lights seem really cliche and overused nowadays, I do believe they can transform a space into a more inviting and warm one. If you add some friends into that equation, you've got yourself a pretty hygge-ish hang out. (Never enough excuses to whip out those lights, am I right?)

4. Decluttering. Minimalism is in and all the things that just take up space is should be thrown out.

5. Maybe buy that pillow, throw or chunky knit blanket that you've been eyeing...It's a wonder what being in wrapped a blanket cocoon can do to you.

(Other ideas here and here)

Now playing: In Control (Acoustic) - Hillsong Worship