A Rare Afternoon

What did I do to deserve this? A Saturday afternoon not running around, scrambling to complete assignments or get projects together. I have showered, I have eaten, I have rested, the kids are down for their naps, and then, like a ray of sunshine creeping through a crack in a window (of opportunity), I suddenly find that I have time to read. 

I got this from Kevin for my birthday and started on a chapter almost immediately. And then, at lightning speed, we got to August and I have neglected to upkeep my book-reading habits.

I read Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things eleven years ago. I was living in New York, 23, and had never felt so hungry for the world and the knowledge I thought I could amass from living so far away from my home; starving for the experience that everything and everyone else around me seemed to have. It took me a long time to realize that I had mistaken that hunger for a worldly discovery for something else. I was hungry. But it wasn't the need to "see the world", it was the need to see myself. And in that time of complete wide-eyed naivety, it was through the pages of Roy's book that I saw who I was. And in turn, who I wanted to be. 

At 23, I was living by false truths that I had told myself about the world and the people that I loved then. When you're blind, it doesn't matter if others can see. You trust in the words that you hear and you live by your instincts and what you feel. So even though you live in a world made up of a myriad of intentions, catalysts and uncovered emotions, you only trust what you think you know. For me, it turns out it wasn't much. 

It was there in that book that I was reminded that everyone is human. Seems like a silly reminder but the truth is we forget all the time - always expecting and demanding a new standard from our parents, partners, children, friends. She reminded me that everything can change in a day; that a single choice could change the course of your future forever. That life will always be a battle of the heart and mind, and that a different winner would be deserving of that win every single time. 

Eleven years on, and twenty years after The God of Small Things was written, I find myself at a new byroad. I can't pinpoint exactly what my options moving ahead are but I do feel like I need some guidance. I'm curious to find out if her writing is still as invigorating and filled with teaching as it was so many years ago and I guess there's only one way to find out. 

Off to read. 

Making It Matter

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The question of purpose and our existence often requires introspection but it's also a discovery that comes with looking, and stepping, out. The beauty of diving into the unknown is knowing that you're not alone in your search and when you find a group of people that share the same heartbeat, suddenly the deep end isn't so deep anymore and you start to feel your feet touch the ground.

Late last year, I spoke to the team at MATTER and asked if we could work together to produce a capsule collection of head wraps motivated by their mission: to inspire consumers to value provenance and process, and pioneer industry change and sustainability for rural textile communities. I was confident they would say yes, and that I would have the opportunity to partner with an amazing team who would guide, support and teach me. What I didn't expect was to gain a family that would remind me that it is possible to reach beyond myself, and in the coming weeks, discover a true sense of purpose. 

MATTER WRAPS is a collection inspired by the Creators, Dreamers and Warriors in our lives and we can't wait to share it with all of you. Co-designed with MATTER and produced by SukkhaCitta's Field to Fabric initiative in the Jlamprang Village of Semarang, the wraps are handcrafted in the ancient art form of batik, with all proceeds going back to the initiative to cover land rental for another three years and build an Indigo Vat and workshop. In the last year, the initiative has provided stable employment for 10 women, of the 150 women in the village which engages mainly in coffee and rice cultivation.

There is so much to share so I will have to do it in parts. In the meantime, you can follow our journey to Jlamprang on all our socials and keep close until the launch. #MakeItMATTER #KampongGlam #AkanDatang.

Photos by Cherlynn Lian

March Must-Dos

It's ironic that the weekend I choose "RELAX" as an activity over anything else, is the same weekend all these great events kickstart around the city. Instead of doing what I usually do and throw out my own plans to make room for these (because #FOMO), I'm going to stick to this relaxing post-anniversary weekend with Kevin and share this list with you while I binge on TV and Krispy Kreme at The Warehouse Hotel.

The Frontliners in Action showcase at the National Design Centre.

The Frontliners in Action showcase at the National Design Centre.

 

  1. GastroBeats @ iLight Marina Bay - iLight is one of my favourite riverside festivals and it runs from 3-26 March this year. The Bayfront area lights up with a series of light art installations all made from sustainable materials and it's quite a sight! See you at GastroBeats for FOOD + MUSIC + PLAY.
  2. Noise Art Mentorship Showcase: Between Home and Home - There isn't much time left to check this out. The showcase runs till 12 March at Objectifs. Noise Singapore is dedicated to making noise about the creative talent of young people and a movement I love. Discover more art while you're at the Centre too.
  3. Singapore Design Week - Running from 3-12 March, with some showcases that will stay for longer, discover the future and innovation of design with over 100 local and international events and activities. This weekend, the Frontliners in Action showcase is open at the National Design Centre and it looks beautiful. 
  4. Beauty & The Beast - The live action version of Disney's 1991 creation is out on 16 March! Equally exciting is the launch of Carrie K's limited edition collaborative collection for the film. Trust me when I say the collection is very cool (read: very wearable). The collection launches 6 March.

That's it for now! Have an awesome weekend, you guys.

Our Love.

Once upon a time, it seemed like everything in the world was against us. In fact, sometimes the very things that stood between us were ourselves; so sure about who we were and what we wanted that it scared even us. But everyday, as sure as the sun rises, I am grateful that we are fighters. That we fought hard for this, for love, for us. So that now I have you.

Always yours.

It Was Grand

I miss it. Our BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer. It was ours to use for only a weekend but I miss it. The only other car that had me feeling this blue when we parted was a 1971 Volkswagen Beetle that I used to have some 6 years ago now. She was the first car that I ever owned after moving back home and in the few years that I had her, became my one constant during a time filled with change and adjustment.

It wasn’t just about the convenience of getting around, or knowing that I could do more in a day because there was always a place to reset; put things down, pick things up, change – the car made life feel complete because I could be more of who I wanted to be and do more of what I wanted to do. I got to drive my late grandmother around to church on the weekends and to visit her friends for mahjong and bagar whenever she wanted. I got to pick my brother up from camp, make extra stops on the way home if a friend needed a ride, or pick up a loaf of bread for mom for the mornings if she forgot. My Beetle and I - we took every chance we got to make things easier, better, loads lighter.

In the weekend that we got to drive the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer around, I got to relive that sense of providence I felt with my old car. Life seemed to have a little more balance. 2016 had been dashing by and our schedules unforgiving but having the car suddenly slowed everything down. I wasn’t less busy, in fact I had more to do, but getting through daily activity became seamless and I saw so much more of my friends and family, together. 

Out of all the memories we made that weekend, the one I recall the most is looking over my shoulder to check on Ari and seeing his eyes get heavy watching the trees go by while Zola went on about the animal balloons we had packed into the boot of the car. “Can I keep them in my room, mom? The turtle is Ari’s right? But mine is the pig. Like in Charlotte’s web. I looooove piggies, mom! Can she sit next to me at the picnic? Ari can walk his turtle himself. It’s soooooo cute! He’s going to love it! I love you, Ari.” It was in that moment that I looked over at Kev driving and felt like, suddenly, life was just as it should be – complete. 


Here’re a few features about the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer that we loved.

1. Extremely Efficient Fuel Consumption - The BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer runs on diesel and has extremely efficient fuel consumption. The full tank that we ran on for the weekend was only 1/3 used by the end of our weekend of driving around with the family. 

2. A Multi-Purpose Ride - The BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer is proof that compact dimensions, functionality and variability can be combined perfectly with a dynamic design. From sporting activities, driving holidays or for day-to-day use, the Gran Tourer offers all the dynamics you expect of a BMW while meeting needs.

3.  Comfort & Versatility - The BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer offers outstanding flexibility right down the line. From the versatile cockpit to the adaptable rear seats and then on to the spacious luggage compartment, which can be fitted with an optional third row of seats for two extra passengers – there’s always enough room for everybody and everything.


From now until 11 Feb 2017, Parkway Parade is running a Lucky Draw to giveaway the all-new BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer. Visit the BMW roadshow this weekend to find out how you can stand a chance to win this ride and why we grew so fond of our 4-wheel drive. 


This post is in partnership with Parkway Parade. Photos by Cherlynn Lian.

Thank You, 2016. You were a knock out.

At the end of last year, I decided that 2016 was going to be my YES year. I would say yes to new opportunities, to things that were possibly a bit scary, to people I loved, and to filling my life with as many experiences as I could. There were definitely moments of defeat, but in retrospect, they are now all bookended by chapters of victory.  

Some of the best things about the year have been the new friendships I've made, and every time I chose to be present instead of worry about what was outside of my immediate control. 

It feels timely that I finally caught Rogue One on the last day of the year. I was reminded that as much as we try to do and be, there is a greater purpose that we must fulfil; that even if we are but stardust in this massive creation that is the universe, even the tiniest of specks can create hope and effect change. 

For 2017, I hope all of us reach for hope a little more and be unafraid of the night. It's in the darkness that we see the stars. 

Now, to spend this day with the stars in my life who shine even in the bright.

Here's to 2017, everyone. Happy New Year!

 

CHRISTMAS MEMORIES, OLD & NEW


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Christmas has always been my favourite time of the year. Christmas with children, has made it even better! I get to relive all my childhood Christmas memories with them – like putting up the Christmas tree with the whole family and staying up way past our bedtimes, to late night drives through the city, sticking our faces against the windows of the car to see what the malls have put up, all in the name of making our Christmas bright. Many years ago, the huge patch of land next to Parkway Parade was prime ground for the most amazing carnivals, and every year my parents would take us there over the school holidays leading up to Christmas. All these memories have contributed to this time of the year being so special to me now.

The carnival grounds may not be there anymore but it’s so good to see that year-end Christmas fun is still something that happens at Parkway Parade and new memories can now be made with my family. It even adds to the throwback that they brought in "grass" to the Christmas activity area - carnival grounds for the new era! 

From now until Dec 26, it's a sweet affair at Parkway Parade's basement outdoor plaza. Featuring the cutest Moomin characters and a pop-up store that Zola Mae took her balloon animals on a tour around, the space also features two snow sessions every day! Details below.  

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Also walked through the Sweet Whimsical Fair at the Basement atrium to pick up more gifts for the kids and some bottles for gifting on our house visits! The fair hosts a mix of participating retailers like Bottles & Bottles, Choco Express, Isetan, Yankee Candle and many more. All of which will be there until the 25th so don’t miss out on some lovely gift possibilities.

WHIMSICAL CHRISTMAS ACTIVITIES, all at Basement Outdoor Plaza.

  • Fun in Falling Snow runs at 6pm & 8pm daily, from now till Dec 26
  • Moomin Pop-Up Store is open from 11am - 10pm daily, from now till Dec 26
  • Snowy Playtime runs from 12.15pm - 8.15pm daily, from now till Dec 26

 This post is in partnership with Parkway Parade. Photos by Cherlynn Lian.

East Side Gift Guide

It's the most wonderful time of the year! A season for get-togethers with good music, good food, and the wonderful tradition of gift giving (and receiving!) for friends and family.

Every year, the task of gifting is often surrounded by an element of pressure; compelled by our personal desires to find the perfect present for everyone. As it goes, most of us find ourselves shopping at the very last minute no matter how early we tell ourselves we'll start the year before and scramble alongside other late-shoppers as the 25th closes in on us. 

Ultimately, gift-giving is meant to be a joyful gesture at Christmas time with what we choose to give being the product of us paying attention to the needs of our loved ones, things we know they will love, and what they might find handy to have.

It's in that spirit of giving thoughtful and beautiful gifts that I wanted to put this East Side Gift Guide together. Because it didn't take me a trip to the City to find the perfect items to gift my friends and family this year, I just took a trip down to the old haunt to check-off a healthy portion of my gift list.

Read on to find out how you could pick up some extra vouchers to shop for your Christmas Gifts at Parkway Parade too.


CO: Home (Cotton On: Home) 

Nestled in a cosy corner within Cotton On on Level 1 (a section that I hope to see grow!!!) a stylish collection of throws, pillows and homeware in shades of grey and blush, marble and metallics, make for perfect gifts for the modern homeowner. 

So many pretty and affordable items meant that I couldn't leave without picking up some items for myself too!


Bed Bath N' Table

Another great spot to check out for a multitude of items for the home is Bed Bath N' Table. As its name suggests, everything that one might desire to decorate the tiniest corners of their home can be found here. Porcelain Chinoiserie Planters - check, Metallic Mesh Baskets for magazines, throws or toilet paper! - check, Ceramic Pineapples in every colour you require - check.

Me, I left with this sailorly French Bulldog.


Typo

I used to think shopping at Typo for gifts was the lazy way out but time and time again I've found the perfect gift for so many of my friends and family here. Their current collection is full of quirky and trendy little surprises that I know everyone will love.


Marks & Spencer

For the spontaneous house visit, there's always something already perfectly packaged at Marks & Spencer. This year the Christmas collection offers pre-packed spices to make your very own mulled wine! A welcome touch to the usual bottle of wine that most people bring to house parties. And if you're feeling extra fun, you can even record personalized holiday messages to accompany your gift! Now, I'm definitely down for that. 


GIVEAWAY: In partnership with Parkway Parade, we're giving away 2 sets of $100 vouchers to compliment your gift shopping experience this festive season. All you have to do is leave a comment below and tell us who you'd like to gift something extra special to this Christmas. The vouchers can be used at participating stores at Parkway Parade, but don't worry, you won't be confined to just homeware. Winners will be selected by 7pm, 16 December.

Parkway Parade is located at 80 Marine Parade Road. Open daily from 10am - 10pm.


Where you can find the list of stores:

  • Cotton On #01-33/34/34B
  • Bed Bath N' Table #B-41/41A/42
  • Typo #01-22/23
  • Marks & Spencer #02-28-32

This post is in partnership with Parkway Parade. Photos by Cherlynn Lian.

A Vote of Confidence

I was 8 or 9 when I first became conscious about my skin. It was suddenly no longer cool to scratch games of tic-tac-toe on the length of my legs. I wanted to wear my uniform at a cool above-the-knee length but everyday it got a little harder to hide the bloom of eczema that blossomed on the back of my knees. It was easy to pretend that it wasn't there, but hard to ignore the "what is that on your leg?!" interrogations at every PE lesson. Kids. They are equal parts curious as they are tactless. I was always certain the burn on my cheeks matched the colour of the weeping skin on my legs.

A routine health check in school finally led to an appointment at the dermotologist and I remember the doctor telling my mother that eczema was a very common skin condition that many children grew out of at puberty, so all I had to do was wait. Puberty? What was that? It sounded like a level in school I had to get to? Whatever the case, I grasped and revelled in the fact that my dry, itchy and raw skin would one day not be a problem anymore. 

I left with two containers of cream that I had to apply on my "problem areas" until my skin cleared and found myself in a tiresome cycle of having to renew my prescription every month. While using the steroid cream helped to keep the inflammation at bay, itchiness still remained a constant problem for me. 

It took me years to learn that many factors contribute to itchy skin and that there is no one sure way of getting rid of it entirely. But there are definitely some things that can be done to help it. One of the common reasons for eczema-prone skin is the lack of Filaggrin, a protein that helps maintain our skin integrity and is essential for the production of the natural moisturising factor to maintain skin hydration. A lack of Filaggrin in the skin makes it easier for moisture to escape as our skin barrier is compromised, making our skin prone to dehydration. It's when we get dry, that our skin itches, and we scratch! It's a cycle that I'm only too familiar with but also one that I've found a way to break out of.

One of the most effective ways to manage my dry skin is to ensure that its sufficiently cleansed and hydrated, and Cetaphil Restoraderm is the first skincare range with Filaggrin technology that is clinically proven to help sooth, hydrate and strengthen my skin's barrier.

I use both the Body Wash and Moisturiser on a daily basis for best results, and I recommend being diligent with your regime too. During a recent trip to Perth, I got lazy and left the bottles in Singapore only to suffer from a cold rash while I was there.

The kids have unfortunately inherited my skin deficiencies which has only motivated me to make moisturizing as much of a routine for them as possible. In the few months that I've used Cetaphil Restoraderm on Zola and Ari, I've noticed their skin conditions improve tremendously with Zola ceasing to scratch in the middle of the night too!

I guess I never grew out of my eczema but understanding the root cause of my itch-scratch cycle has really helped me to deal with my skin confidence and now short skirts and tactless kids are not so much a problem anymore. 

This post is in partnership with Cetaphil. Photos by Cherlynn Lian.

 

 

 

Wrapping up 2016 Right and Starting 2017 Early

I’ve never been a fan of the “new year resolution”. If I wanted something done, it had to be done immediately. In fact, it’s when I wait to act upon my goals that the initial spur to achieve them wanes. I’ll admit that some of it is laziness, and a whole lot of it is just me finding reasons why a supposed goal doesn’t have to be on my priority list.

For someone who used to be really active, it’s almost shameful to say that I haven’t been consistent with an exercise routine since Ari was born. That’s a whole 16 months! Let’s not even get started on my nutrition. I don’t eat a lot of meat and so I pile on the veggies at every meal. It makes people think, “Oh, Aarika is so healthy” when in truth it’s really because a girl still gotta eat and veggies fill me up! No one is on my back about getting into shape or eating right, so I’ve been cruising by.

But parents and children have a way of reminding you about the importance of making better life choices. I spent a week in Perth with my family recently and as I watched my children run to my mother, calling out for her to pick them up in her arms, I was reminded that I have bigger responsibilities than just answering to myself. I have a parent who is getting older to care for and little ones to nurture and I’m not doing either of them any favours by not looking after myself.

So while I’m sitting here dipping my slice of bread slathered with crunchy peanut butter (not even the all natural organic kind) into my 100% caffeinated instant coffee, I’ve decided that I need a better plan for my health and it should begin now. 

Here’s my game plan and if you think of any other helpful pointers, let me know. And if you want to jump on this bandwagon with me, all the better! Let’s do this together. 

1. EAT BETTER

I often try to pick the healthier option at meal times and a sure way of knowing that I’ll have the best alternative is if I pack it myself. As much as I love strolling down every aisle at the supermarket to pick out my weekly groceries, I don’t necessarily have the time. A little hack my more diligent lunch-packing friends have shared with me: they get their groceries online!  iHerb and Redmart are favourites. And Giant has a wide range of choices too. If you’re like me, a little packing motivation like this Smart Planet Collapsible Meal Kit will help too.

2. DRINK MORE WATER

Friends know that I drink way too much soda – I love fizzy drinks! I still drink my water but I could probably use a lot more. 

Two ways I plan on keeping track of, and increasing, my water intake: 

Measuring Hydration with my FitBit  - I’ve had my FitBit Alta for awhile now and it’s awesome. I’m obsessed with tracking how much and well I sleep (which is not well and much at all haha) but I can also keep track of how much water I’ve been drinking by logging my water intake throughout the day. 

• Carry a water bottle - I find myself drinking more water when I have a water bottle. The vessel itself is usually bigger than a regular drinking glass so I’m automatically drinking more with each refill. I’ve started carrying around my Swell water bottles everywhere so now I use it even when I’m at home or at my desk at work. I’m digging these infusion bottles too!

3. GET ACTIVE

I need to stop using the kids as an excuse for being active and include actual muscle conditioning and cardio to my life. I used to do yoga or run almost everyday and I haven’t done that in months! 

For starters, I’ve renewed my package at Yoga Movement (soon to open their doors in the East! Woohoo!), and I’ve been looking around for a good yoga mat and weights for the days I can’t make it to a class. These mats from Lazada have caught my eye! And in true vain pot fashion, the right kind (read: fashionable and functional) of active gear while working out is also a must.

4. MAKE TIME FOR ME TIME

Lastly, I know I need to carve out time for myself – not to indulge in anything per se but to just give my mind a break. In the last year, I’ve found that my memory hasn’t been on point and I think it’s because I’ve been trying to do too many things and keep track of all of it at the same time, without much sleep to give it its due rest. It’s time to change that!

I think 4 steps to start the ball rolling is more than manageable. If you too want to complete your own resolutions to end 2016 right, start putting your list together and make haste so you can cash in on all the deals this Black Friday /Cyber Monday and holiday season as you invest in some items to help you on your way.

A big thank you to my family at PayPal for helping me with my personal fitness resolution.

PS: Don’t forget to check out these exclusive PayPal deals and shop with confidence with PayPal Buyer Protection!