Routine

One of my favourite parenting mantra is, “Babies love routine!” And I love it when W is doing the thing he is supposed to be doing at the time he is supposed to be doing it. It makes me feel like I’m doing this whole baby thing “right”, whatever that means.

However, as much as I value structure in W’s day, my own seems to be…kind of messy. For someone who has been freelancing / working from home for the last seven years, I still have not gotten to that sweet spot where I am able to compartmentalise my work life and my life life. While there is a lot of negative things to be said about a 9-5 job, you can still physically leave the office every day (although you may still have to answer emails on your smartphone). 

When work and life blends into each other, it is not only annoying, but also a real bummer for productivity. At the end of every day, I always feel like I could have done more – and it is not about being a perfectionism or workaholic, because I am far from being either of that.

When I said that I could have done more, I not only refer to work, but also the things I love and no longer seem to have time for, such as reading and writing (for myself, like what I am doing here). As my 34th birthday looms, I realise that maybe it really is time to do something about this. 

Which got me thinking – Why don’t I try having a routine, just like W does? Maybe it would make me happy too. 

I have never been an ambitious person (because an ambitious person would never be in this particular predicament), so I would like to start small. However, in order to start at all, I would need to identity my goals. So, here they are:

  • To find a little time (20 to 30 minutes) every day to read for fun and without guilt.
  • To be less distracted while I am working (with social media, cute videos of W etc.) so that work is less likely to bleed into the nights and weekends.
  • To write my way out of my writing rut – on this blog, on websites and in magazine. (This means: pitch, pitch, pitch!) 

I think that three is a good number to start with. I’ll research on these and report back with hacks that work – hopefully!

Just wondering – do you have any productivity hacks / routines that really, really works?

A Solid Something

One night, out of the blue, that specific feeling she had for him came back to her, and nestled in her chest, feeling like a solid something.

She was surprised, and am aware that it could be gone at any time. Which was why she handled it gingerly, afraid to look at it directly, for fear that it would fade away into nothing, as suddenly as it had appeared.

That old feeling turned out to be unexpectedly robust, standing up to her gentle scrutiny for what felt like a long time. It felt soft, and warm. And familiar.

She was glad to see it again. 

It reminded her not so much of him, but of who she was – a person she remembers but no longer know.

Being Positive + Some Links

(Image via Genevieve Caron)

I listen to a lot of podcasts. I listen to them any chance I’ve got – during my commute, when I’m doing the dishes (which is never truly done), on the way to the coffeeshop with W (on mornings when I’m working from home), during solo lunches, and even when I am trying to get to sleep at night. 

It feels uncool, to like them this much – I once read that a growing fondness for audio documentaries and stories is a sign of advancing age. But I am older. So, goodbye popular music (except for really catchy songs like Despacito because you can never have enough of those), and internet radio forever (and ever).

***

An episode that really stood out for me this week is this one by Strangers:

This is actually a follow-up an earlier episode (which you can find here). In a nutshell, it is about a man named Franky Carrillo, who was wrongfully convicted of murder when he was just 16, and sentenced to life in prison. He spent the next 20 years behind bars, all the while proclaiming his innocence, until he was finally given a retrial and then released.

What is striking about this story is not how tragic it is, but how Franky came out of the whole ordeal – seemingly without a trace of bitterness. There is so much to be sad and angry about, but this guy still manages to be the poster boy for positivity. That, I find absolutely astounding.

Which got me thinking about my own outlook on life, about resilience (how do you stockpile this stuff?) and how I really should be doing more with my life and freedom. My conclusion: stop complaining so much, and start doing more.

I am really happy to know that Franky is now happily married with two children, and may even be running for public office. It is such a fantastic ending to a terrible story of injustice. 

And don’t we all love a good ending?

***

And here are a few things that caught my eyes on the internet lately:

  • An app that turns your iPhone into an old-school disposable camera.
  • These baby sandals are adorable – but at US$40 a pair, nah.
  • 101 books to read this “summer” as recommended by TED speakers.
  • And speaking of books, I follow Penguin Kids and Random House Kids on Instagram for lovely children’s books.
  • Want: IKEA and Danish home brand HAY came together to make some beautiful things.
  • A really, really awesome tiny house that feels like a loft apartment.
  • Neil Gaiman reads a story, so of course we have to listen.
  • How book covers are made, according to an art director.
  • I am kind of in love with the adorable creations by Tiny Supply, a Singapore-based ceramic studio founded by two crafty sisters.
  • Say no to overworking (but that doesn’t mean underworking).

***

Cannot stop singing along to this song – sometimes, while doing a weird (but fun) dance with W in our living room. 

Small

As I was saying to L the other day, life has been getting smaller. Not in a bad way, just in a natural, unsurprising way.

There are rarely huge excitements waiting right around the corner nowadays – instead, the days are sprinkled with tiny moments that I want to stare at for no good reason. There are good days, there are bad days, but always, there are also these bite-sized pieces of time that I want to freeze and keep forever.

Like when W and I play this kissing game through the rails of his cot during bedtime, even when I know that I really shouldn’t be making him laugh when he is supposedly to be sleeping.

Or when I cut up vegetables into teensy bits during meal prep and somehow it makes me happy – I cannot really explain it.

***

Part of the reason why I keep putting off writing here is because I am afraid that I may have “lost” that thing that makes writing for myself so enjoyable in the past. And I am tired of making promises about “writing again” to myself that I cannot seem to keep – so I freed myself from any such obligations a long time ago.

Yet, not nagging at myself to pick this up again has not made me any happier about the situation. It still sits at the back of my mind, quiet but present.

So I thought that if I will just post one entry here, it may break the spell – even if it is about nothing at all.

And here it is: one entry about nothing at all.

Red Lipstick + 5 Things To Want This Week

(Image via Alice Berg)

I am out-growing almost all of my clothes, even the loose-fitting t-shirt dresses that I have been living in for the past few months. [I opted not to buy any maternity clothes because 1. they are usually ridiculously over-priced and 2. buying something that would only be worn for a few months is just not part of my decluttering plan.]

Yesterday, I woke up feeling so unrested (trying to find a comfortable sleeping position is a real challenge these days) that I just reached for the most comfortable things in my wardrobe – a white t-shirt and sweatpants. At first, it felt like a kind of defeat, because sweatpants seems to be the sartorial equivalent of “letting yourself go”. However, after a day of feeling like I need a nap all the time, slouching around in soft cotton feels like a choice that I can live with.

To make myself feel more “street-chic” than “working in my PJs”, I decided that red lipstick is the answer. And many a morning, it does make me feel a lot better about stepping out of the house when I do not really want to – that slick of red is an instant face brightener and mood booster.

Currently, I am rotating among three lipsticks: Nar’s Jungle Red, Burberry’s Rose Pink and Tom Ford’s True Coral. A lip brush is a worthy investment in this case because crooked lines are so much more obvious in a bold shade – the Sephora one, featuring a retractable brush head, goes for just $19 and it works fine.

I am also a huge fan of Clinique’s Chubby Sticks (while not being exactly cheap, these are definitely more affordable than Tom Ford lipsticks, especially when you pick them up at the airport’s DFS), which are deliciously creamy and incredibly easy to apply. They come in a range of wearable reds, pinks and nudes that you can put on without the use of a mirror, which is great for quick touch-ups throughout the day.

What is your go-to trick for hiding a tired face?

***

I know that I am supposed to buy more consciously this year (I already have too many unnecessary things as it is), but that does not mean that I no longer want things. I figure that looking is harmless – I just refrain from reaching for the credit card.

Here are five of the lovely things that tempted me this week.

Birdhouse Bookshelf by Thing Industries. I have a pile of books perched rather precariously on my nightstand, which is actually a foot stool. This seem like a much neater (and cuter) way to organise bedside readings.

Leather Tote by mlouye. A super simple, all-purpose tote bag with a pretty surprise inside. I was actually looking for a potential diaper bag (let’s just say the conventional selection is not great) when I came across this. And really, why not, even if it does not have lots of convenient compartments and may be a little too small…

Designsix Geo Shape Clean Hair Clip by Designsix on ASOS. This is such an easy way to do something fun with your hair when you simply lack the magical skills of those girls who post hair tutorials on YouTube.

Png Kueh Girl Wristlet Bag by Ang Ku Kueh Girl. Because I am obsessed with cute, food-themed purses. The fact that I am currently using a purse that is shaped like a pineapple says it all.

Genuine Leather Ballet Shoes by Linge Shoes. I have a confession to make. I bought these – but that is only because I have been meaning to buy them for a good two years, and never quite got around to it. At my age, I feel like I can finally start buying decent shoes at not-so-cheap prices. To top it off, when compared to some other brands, these Linge ones are actually relatively affordable at US$49. (Shipping is going to cost a bit, but pooling purchases with friends would help to bring it down significantly.)

***

And I am leaving you with this wonderfully romantic video that features the haunting voice of Russian Red.

Too-Early Mornings, Diamond Rings + A Few Links

A photo posted by Ravi Vora (@ravivora) on


There are a lot of things to love about Instagram, but my favourite would have to be the “Discover People” section under the search tab. There is something incredibly awesome (and also considerably creepy) about how the app knows exactly what to bring up for me out of the thousands and thousands of users.

I can dwell on the question of “how much the internet knows about me”, but no, I am not going to go there because that would just be going down the rabbit hole and I love the internet too much to do that.

So, the plan is to regularly point you to accounts that I am smitten with for their good looks (yes, I am shallow like that) and/or creativity. Feel free to share feeds you love with me!

***

For some reason, I have been waking up a good two hours before the alarm goes for the past week. As a life-long deep sleeper, I find this early waking (sometimes coupled with short night wakings) to be quite disconcerting. I mean, I can almost always sleep in when I want to (although falling asleep at night is another thing altogether).

I suspect that it has something to do with the baby being particularly active during the night and early morning. Uncomfortable as I am with having my sleep cycles messed up, I cannot really find it in myself to complain about this – feeling the baby move feels like a mini-miracle every single time.

So, what happens when you are pregnant and find yourself wide awake at 615am, with falling back into sleep not being an option? Answer: You quietly obsess about being a mother in your head. I should know, because I have had a lot of practice doing that for the last few days.

Other than panicking in a general way about how everything is going to change, how you know next to nothing about caring for a tiny human being, and if eating (or even saying) something is going to be safe for the kiddo inside you, this is also the time to wonder (or more accurately, worry) if you are ever going to become one of those mothers in novels who are superhumanly inspiring and stylish, whose endearing “wrong decisions” are always forgiven in a heartbeat and who inadvertently become beloved icons for their grown children to model after.

Other times, I am fixated on the teeny, insignificant things – for instance, whether I would become someone who would put her hair up with one of those hair claw clips that are probably modelled after an old-fashioned animal trap.

On the bright side, I can always blame all of this on the potent cocktail of bad sleep and hormones. [Plus, I feel that I am entitled to an illicit cup of tea afterwards because this is obviously an emergency.]

***

He probably would have gotten married if he’d ended up with anyone else, but he liked the idea of two people choosing each other every day, rather than feeling stuck with one another, as though they were a failure if they couldn’t make forever happen.

- The Engagements, J. Courtney Sullivan

A little way into this book and finding it a breeze to read. In addition to the fascinating story about how the “tradition” of the diamond engagement ring was invented by an advertising agency for De Beers (whatever you may think about this, “A Diamond Is Forever” is a really great piece of copywriting), there are also several other related stories about “love, marriage, commitment and betrayal”. Nothing too heavy, but still emotionally engaging, which is just what I want right now.

***

:::A Few Links:::

Looking Forward, Looking Back

(Image via Garance Dore)

So, first things first.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

It is going to be a great one – you just have to believe it. Oh, and no resolutions, because when you are in your 30s, you should know well enough that they do not work.

Resolutions or not, there are still some things that I hope would happen in the next 365 days. I hope to read more books (although with the baby on his way, I will not be so hard on myself about this), have less stuff (decluttering is the goal and Carousell may be the answer) and be more content about who I am and where we are (which means to stop comparing myself to people with “perfect lives” on social media).

And one other little thing: I hope to not only survive motherhood, but actually thrive in it. There is no doubt that this is the most ambitious thing that I have ever set out to do, so wish me luck! I would definitely need truckloads of it.

***

(Image by Alex Mazurov and Anastasia Glebova)

Almost exactly 10 years ago, I came back from Copenhagen after a semester of being an exchange student. It is definitely one of the most memorable and cherished periods of my life to date. Naturally, I was reluctant to return home – I mean, there was nothing much to look forward to, with (what I expect) to be a gruelling final year ahead (and thesis-writing is not usually the most pleasant of tasks).

While I was moping around, suffering from withdrawal of my time away, the friends I made during those short months were enjoying another semester of carefree foreign student life. And during the summer of 2006, they made a trip to the Faroe Islands – I knew all about the magnificence of that magical place because they wrote me a beautiful postcard.

Ever since then, I have wanted to go there myself. Unfortunately, it is not the kind of place you go to on a whim, and the chance never quite came up.

In the meantime, before I get there, there are these gorgeous photographs by Alex Mazurov and Anastasia Glebova of travel blog Near The Lighthouse.

Enjoy.

***

If being grown up means being committed—to a business, a project, a person—then it’s impossible to peak. And the deeper the commitment, the deeper the meaning that can emerge.

What Separates the Peter Pans from the Pros, Jocelyn K. Glei

A thought-provoking quote via Swiss Miss, which feels just right for the beginning of the year.

What are you committed to now, and what do you hope to commit to in the future?

Faith / Science + A Few Links

Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.

- Albert Einstein

Don’t you love it too, when faith and science meet?

***

(Image source: Ginger and Milk)

With days left to Christmas, the internet is brimming with things that you should be buying for someone or other in your life. I am not a huge gift-giver (to make me sound less Scrooge-like, I am also not a huge gift-expector), but I do really enjoy browsing gift guides. It is like window-shopping without having to do the legwork (town is a nightmare with the holiday crowds these days anyway).

Every year, I have my usual suspects when it comes to Christmas gift guides – Cup of Jo, This Is Glamorous, Bloesem, Design Love Fest and all the other blogs I have been following for years for their very, very lovely images and feel-good writing. I’m sure you have your own list of such reads, which you go back to again and again, even as blogs become increasingly old-fashioned in an Instamgram-obsessed world.

Maybe I am just getting a little old-er. I feel snug and comfortable in these familiar spaces – especially when I realised that I do not even know what Snapchat does.

So, what are some of your favorite old haunts on the internet?

***

I love clicking on links, so I assume you do too!

  • Speaking of Christmas, I would really like this floating pearl necklace, these sweet crochet slippers and maybe one of these gorgeous, super-chunky merino wool blankets (even if they are probably too warm for Singapore).
  • A really thought-provoking read about internet fame and money.
  • Will definitely be making time to hit the Makers’ Market at the National Museum this weekend.
  • Going somewhere fun for the weekend? Here’s a list of travel-friendly make-up and skincare products that will fit in your carry-on.
  • What Jesus Christ may really have looked like.
  • Ted Talk: This is what enduring love looks like.
  • A mother’s “Winter Blues Cure Jar“, for when taking care of a little one gets trying. (Can certainly work in a place where there is no winter as well.)
  • Although I have known about “40 Days of Dating” since the project debuted in 2013, I only started to really read it recently. And it really is quite fascinating. I am now at Day 21.
  • If you like cats and Jenga, you will love Cat Jenga.
  • Watching make-up tutorial videos on Instagram is one of my guilty pleasures. @cosmobyhaley is my new favourite follow.

Bun

(Image source: Kei Meguro)

I have been so quiet on the internet over the last few months. I know that this blog has not been exactly active for a long, long time, but recently, I have retreated from even Instagram (actually, taking a break from the internet of things feels pretty good). There is a sort-of reason for that, other than the fact that I tend to go on and off stuff rather abruptly.

The truth is, I have been distracted by the bun that I’m growing. Only this time, it is not on my head (like the sock bun that I cultivated previously), but in my belly (which, I am happy to report, is swelling in a most satisfactory way). And this time, I am about a million times more obsessed than before.

So, I guess that there are three of us now : )

***

But I want her to know, that this world is made up of sugar. It can crumble so easily, but don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it.

-Sarah Kay, If I Should Have A Daughter…

I don’t know the gender of the baby yet, but when I think about having a daughter, one of the things that come to mind is this funny, touching and generally very lovely piece of spoken word poetry by Sarah Kay that I first watched a few years ago.

And with a little editing, it can definitely work for a boy as well.

White

(Image via Carolyn Raev)

White can look so great. It makes a space look cleaner and bigger, which is almost always a good thing. But there is something about white – white yellows.

And seeing white things yellow drives me crazy. It makes me feel like life is just one long battle against oxidation.

My white kitchen countertop is definitely yellowing – and the more I stare at it, the more yellow it becomes. And I am not even going to talk about the stains that can get on white surfaces, because that is a whole other rant.

While my brain goes into random overdrive about the un-whitening of my kitchen countertop, I realise that maybe white is just another secret test of life. You know, like how you react to its gradual decline in colour purity is simply a process to train your mind (like a Jedi) to not sweat the small things (although, is a non-white countertop that is supposed to be white, strictly speaking, a small thing?).

So, the solution: stop staring at the white.

That should fix everything.

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