What makes me happy

It’s finally over! The 100 Days of Happiness Challenge thing! I did it!

*sigh of relief*

*then, overcome by emotion, hangs head and starts to weep. Shoulders start to shake violently as wrenching sobs take over. *

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Not really! But most of the time it was fun trying.

That’s it? A mere sigh and some tears of happiness? No dammit, this calls for fireworks!

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Gif from Buzzfeed, via the Pinterest of ‘Great Walt Disney World Tips’. Click to go there.

I have to admit, the first pangs of regret started to creep in after a few weeks. It seemed like a fun thing to do… before I started doing it. I don’t know what the heck I was thinking, doing this when I already knew I’m just not a daily poster. It’s just that, it seemed like a meaningful thing to do. I still feel that way about it, actually.

I’m prone to whining to myself about the small things. This 100-day challenge was going to challenge me to take a closer look at some of the small things around me that at the back of my mind, I knew made me happy, but I didn’t really appreciate properly. Things I perhaps tend to brush aside, and all while whining and complaining about other stuff.

A few times I wanted to give up the challenge, thinking, “Oh, this is silly. What’s the point, really?

I think I’ve said “Because it’s important to me that I finish what I start.” And even, “Because I don’t like not finishing what I’ve started.” as if I’m the epitome of discipline or something, when I’m not. It’s actually just about pride, haha. I’d be embarrassed if people see I’ve given up, that I’ve quit, even though really, who cares. It was like announcing to friends and family my previous attempts to stop smoking. When I lit up again, it was always embarrassing. It’s such a relief to finally quit some years ago, by the way.

(Edit 4th May: Having said that, about the previous failed attempts to stop smoking, I must add that any effort whether involving success or failure is still an important part of any journey, and always useful for the lessons it teaches and also serving as another stepping stone to the next effort.)

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Some things the challenge taught me about myself:

  • I love and appreciate flowers more than I realised. I didn’t realise I like orchids all that much. They’re so common. But they are now officially my favourite flowers, specifically purple ones.
  • I love food a bit too much. I’ve always known this, but the challenge forces me to face it more than I want to. I’m not obese, but I’ve been needing to lose some kilos since… forever. My love for food is why even though I exercise regularly, I just can’t shake off the weight. I think different bodies work differently, and for mine to be trim, I need to focus 75% effort on diet, 25% on exercise. At the moment it’s the reverse. Oh, this is old news. Just something the challenge shoved to my face time and again.
  • I realised (I’m actually startled, to be honest) that perhaps I might kinda somewhat not appreciate my partner enough. I think it’s because we don’t just live together, we work together, so we already spend so much time together during working hours. So when we get home, we tend to retreat to our own space and be engrossed with our own things. And also, I look sloppy and dress like shit when around just him, whether at home or out! Just because I don’t need to impress him!
  • I’ve found I enjoy hanging out in the kitchen while he cooks, to chat more with him. We should do more stuff together instead of just work or sit slumped on the sofa watching TV, without a word. I need to blog less and spend more time with him. We both need to spend less time surfing online.
  • I actually really love long walks, much more than I realised. I do it not just for the exercise, but for my need to get away from the congestion. Long walks are effective in helping me find some peace of mind. I should get Bert to come with me.
  • I’m a lone ranger. I’ve always known that, but I’m at my happiest and calm and secure when it’s just me and Bert.
  •  I didn’t realise I enjoy art so much. For example, I like looking at sculptures when I happen to come across them. They’re not just something pretty I glance at quickly and then move on. I should get out more often and visit our museums and see more exhibitions. Explore more parks.

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Related:

  • The post by Peter of the blog Peterisms, which introduced me to the challenge.

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Day 100 of ‘100 Happy Days‘.

:-)

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The Grand Gem restaurant

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The entrance of the restaurant at the lobby of Grand BlueWave Hotel.

This is an Indian restaurant my sister brought us to in Johor Bahru. She’s been wanting to introduce it to us for some time as the food is really good and the prices are very attractive. We totally agreed with her.

The restaurant is located at the Grand BlueWave Hotel which is mere minutes from Causeway CIQ (Customs, Immigration & Quarantine) centre. So it’s very convenient for Singaporeans who just want to hop over to J.B. for a few hours like, say, shopping mainly at City Square.

They serve a buffet lunch for Ringgit Malaysia (RM)25. That’s like Singapore (S)$10! And it’s nett price!

Buffet! Less than ten dollars! Nett! And it’s not even one of those buffets that are economically priced but then get you to fork out for expensive drinks. No. This one came with a free flow of drink too. Bert and I were excited at the thought of pigging out at a buffet for less than ten dollars. So far, the best deal we had experienced for buffets was at the then-newish Shangri-La Hotel in Chiangmai, which was the equivalent of about S$16. Yes, a Shangri-La hotel buffet for only S$16. Amazing Thailand, indeed. That was in 2009, though.

At The Grand Gem, the buffet is even better-priced. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be for us that day. Their buffet lunch is only from Thursday to Sunday, and we could only make it to J.B. on a Wednesday. However, Bert caught sight of a leaflet at the entrance that informed us there were set lunches for RM18 (less than S$7!). There were a total of 4 choices offered.

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My choice was this – called the ‘Non Vegetarian – Fish‘ set. The rice looks little but the metal bowl it comes in is deep and the portion was actually enough for 2 persons.

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While Bert went for the Naan bread set, served with chicken curry. He ordered two more garlic Naan, and that was RM6.50 (about S$2.50) each, and then found it was too much food for him. I was happy to help him finish.

My mouth is watering as I type this, looking at the pictures and recalling the deliciousness. Everything was delicious.

Other notes:

  • Only a few tables (about ten) were occupied when we were there at lunchtime during the non-lunch-buffet weekday we visited. Just how I like it: pleasant, relaxed and not noisy.
  • Service was attentive and gracious, with polite friendly staff with easy smiles.
  • The food took some time to be served, although we didn’t wait too long. Just how I like it. If it had came out too quickly I’d suspect it was just dumped in the microwave to be reheated.
  • Our RM18 sets each came with a sweet drink like mango juice or lassi, a delicious and refreshing yoghurt based drink. Generously portioned in a tall glass. Besides this, water was also served, cold or warm as we wished.
  • My sister was driving us and her carpark charge at the BlueWave Hotel was RM4. Her car was parked there for maybe around an hour and a half, I think.

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The decor was very nice. There were the touches you’d see in an Indian restaurant, set in an opulent yet largely modern and refreshing design. I didn’t take many photos and besides my photography is ultra basic, haha. For a better idea of how nice the restaurant is, please head over to the following blog for some really beautiful pictures in its review, including the buffet: JB Foodie.

Related:

  • Facebook of The Grand Gem restaurant – with information about their buffet and other promotions, as well as general info like address and opening hours.
  • Google Map – Grand BlueWave Hotel, Johor Bahru.

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Day 99 of ‘100 Happy Days‘. So, my lunch at The Grand Gem with Bert and my sister is the very last thing that made me happy that I’m noting for this 100 Happy Days saga. Tomorrow I’ll wrap it up on the 100th day by noting how freaking happy I am that I’ve done this thing, and what it is that I’ve learnt and discovered from the interesting experience.

Long live Bollywood

Just came across this video courtesy of Buzzfeed. I love it. The song, the colours, the handsome men, and of course most importantly the message behind the video.

The happy ending for the couple is the ultimate wish for those of us who love our parents and want nothing more but their acceptance and continued love. Behind the catchy music and the gorgeous sights, that’s the heartrending desire, but thanks to the festive vibe of the video it’s presented in a fun and sweet way, not as some preachy sob story. Nice.

The song and video, called The Welcome, is by the ‘United Nations Free & Equal’, which is an initiative of the United Nations Human Rights Office. Click here to go their website to learn more about them. I’ll be checking it out too. Looks interesting. The video features Bollywood star and Miss India winner Celina Jaitly, who, according to the page for the video, is their Equality Champion. I guess that’s what they call their ambassadors. Good work, Ms. Jaitly.

I also very much love the lyrics, lightly persuading the mother in the story, and us the viewers, to have love in our hearts.

It is a new look, it’s a new attitude

You might wonder where the old way of living has gone

But who is worried about who likes what

As long as in the world of love two people want to be with each other

You and me, me and you – are now unstoppable

So please don’t hesitate, you are always “Welcome” to my home

I love the colours! The joy and intensity. The jewel tones. They are a big part of why the video comes across as dream-like to me. Presented like a dreamscape, a joyous fantasy. If Bollywood ever does an ‘Alice in Wonderful’ type of movie, this would be a great opening, this garden party.

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A still of the video by the United Nations Free & Equal, via the Buzzfeed article. Click image to go there.

And I must have that green jacket. God knows where I will wear it to, haha! Maybe I’ll borrow it from him and slip it on in a dream later tonight. Would love to join, sing and dance, and get lost in that party. Oh my goodness, the jewel tone of that velvet green jacket. So beautiful. My next sofa will be of that colour and fabric! And of course I just love how there is so much glorious purple in that video. Long live Bollywood!

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Two hearts. This looks at home here in this post. From a visit to the Jim Thompson House in Bangkok, which I remember had been more interesting and delightful than I had expected.

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Day 98

Squirrel

I was just so happy when I spotted this cheeky little guy. Or gal. It’s not often that I’m lucky enough to spot such delightful creatures. Once in a blue moon, some exotic-looking bird, (exotic to me as in unusual colouring or marking even if a tad) would land on a branch within sight, and I’d get all excited. I’d be in such awe, haha. We live in such a concrete jungle.

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Gnawing away on a coconut to get to the delicious flesh inside.

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Ravaged! Those are some powerful teeth. I wouldn’t pet him even if he lets me, lest he’s neurotic or feeling cranky and decides to have a go at one of my fingers.

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So very cute.

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Day 97

 

Graffiti art in Kuala Lumpur

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When we were in K.L., there was a metro station just about ten minutes walk from our hotel, so it was convenient to use their excellent commuter rail system to get around the city for sightseeing. This is the street art we were treated to on the way there, along a canal drain we would cross to get to the station.

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My favourite panel. A kid gazing out a train window at what I’m guessing is the exact spot or area we’re at! The same canal, the same bridges we crossed, the same wall of graffiti. Neat.

Some of the other photos:

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Day 96

Dream garden in HortPark

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Of the many theme gardens at the park dubbed ‘the gardening hub‘, this is the one that makes me sigh and smile wistfully. Not nearly as conventionally pretty as the other more manicured gardens featured there, but I’ve always loved vegetable gardens, even before I came across the ‘Grow Food, Not Lawns‘ thing online.

So lovely to have your own space to grow some of your vegetables. Doesn’t have to be as big as this, not even by half, just a little bit of space. Doesn’t have to be your entire supply of vegetables if that’s not possible. Even the privilege of growing just a tiny bit would still be exhilarating and fun and fulfilling.

Some other photos from HortPark.

A few pictures from the Pinterest of Cristyane Lamastra-Conner that made me swoon. Click the images to go to her site.

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Not just a vegetable garden but a vertical vegetable garden. Wow.

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Day 95

Hibiscus

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I think this is a type of Hibiscus. I saw these gorgeous flowers for the first time in the garden of a client’s residence, and it tickled me a bit to be reminded of that monster from Ridley Scott’s Alien movies.

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Image seen on tv tropes. Click to go there.

The post on tv tropes that the above image links to also has a fascinating list of where similar creatures have made appearances over the years in different media.

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Day 94

 

Coconut Sugar

A new product I just saw for the first time today, and was curious to try.

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From the organic section of Jusco Supermarket in Johor Bahru. RM9.90 (about S$3.90). 220grams.

I try not to be a sucker for great packaging or for something just because it’s got ‘organic’ stamped on it. But the nice, clean and professional-looking label did get me interested to pick it up and read more, but more than anything I’m just curious what Coconut Nectar Sugar is and tastes like, as I’ve never heard of it before.

I tried a bit at home, and the taste immediately made me think of Malaccan Sugar (Palm Sugar or Gula Melaka), an ingredient I am familiar with since childhood and like very much especially in local desserts. So, to me the Coconut Nectar Sugar is delicious. I can’t wait to have it with my coffee tomorrow morning. I take my coffee black and I just know this will be great with it.

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I need to read up more about it. If the ‘Low Glycemic Index’ part might be true, that’s a bonus and I might get one for a friend who is diabetic, and maybe more for myself in future. You don’t need to be diabetic to have a diabetic’s diet, which is healthy. In the meantime, I will treat it as regular sugar.

Related:

  • Authority Nutrition – Coconut Sugar – Healthy Sugar Alternative or a Big, Fat Lie?
  • Summer Tomato – Is Coconut Palm Sugar a Healthy Sugar Substitute?
  • About.com – Coconut Sugar – Is it Really Low-Carb?

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Day 93

Liebster Award

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I’m happy to have an award called Liebster, kindly passed forward to me among other bloggers, from Steven of Moods Aplenty, a blog I love to read because Steven writes with wit and a friendly tone, about various topics including interesting game shows, and also posts his lovely artwork such as portraits.

This is I think the second Liebster that has been kindly passed to me. And there are others too I’ve gotten before. I love and appreciate all of them!

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One thing about awards is that, as much as I sincerely appreciate and am truly thankful by the lovely gesture, I’m… oh God, I’m embarrassed to admit this. But there’s no other way around it if I want to be honest. The thing is that I’m too lazy to participate in the ritual of these awards. *covers face with hands*.

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1. The first ritual, or official rule if you choose to accept the award that I’m reluctant to participate is answering the list of questions to let other people know more about myself. I don’t really like to talk about myself. Maybe it’s lack of self-esteem or whatever, but I think I’m boring and I don’t want to bore other people. I think I bore even myself, haha. So don’t feel sorry for me. It’s not just that I’m afraid to bore other people, but that I know I will bore myself, and of course I don’t want to do that to myself, so… yeah. So I don’t like to talk about myself. I like to talk about the things I’ve seen and like, movies, books, food and flowers, whatever, but not about myself personally. And as I type all this, my fingers keep falling asleep at the keyboard and I keep having to correct typing mistakes! See, I told you I bore myself talking about myself! Now I’ll try to keep awake as I go on talking even more about myself.

Having said that, I will admit I love reading other bloggers talk about themselves, so I like reading their answers to the questions on their list. I’m nosey that way.

2. The second official rule if you choose to accept that I’m too lazy to follow, is to nominate maybe ten blogs to pass the award to. Okay, that just makes me a selfish jerk. I’m happy and flattered other bloggers thought of me and passed it on to me, yet the thought of coming up with a list of other bloggers to pass it to makes my fingers yawn and fall asleep at the keyboard again. Yep, no way to pretty that up or joke about it to make me less jerky. Guilty as charged. But please pretty please don’t dislike me! Because I’m really a mostly nice person! At least I think so.

3. The third official rule if you choose to accept that I’m hesitant to follow, is to come up with a list of questions for the bloggers you wish to pass the award to. I’m just not witty or clever enough to come up with a set of witty interesting questions that will make people smile or laugh. That is all.

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Now I wish to note WHAT I LOVE ABOUT AWARDS even though I’m too lazy to participate in them:

  1. The kindness of all the bloggers who have passed on an award to me. If you’re reading this, thank you so very much, sincerely and truly.
  2. Reading and learning more about all the abovementioned sweet bloggers, in their writing about themselves as part of the award.
  3. Seeing the name of my blog on the list of blogs that are ‘nominated’. It’s such a lovely and thoughtful gesture that always touches me.
  4. Seeing the names of the other blogs who have also been ‘nominated’. I think of this as an introduction to the awarding blogger’s reading list. I love this (being nosey and all) and I always check them all out one by one as soon as I have the time.

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I think what I will do sometime is to start a page to ‘compile’ the awards that had been given to me. I intend to display each one, and note down the name of the blogger who kindly gave it to me. Not having participated in the ‘official rules’, I guess that means I have not ‘chosen to accept‘ the awards as specified in those official rules, so I hope it’s still okay to display them not in a widget on the home page but in a dedicated page. I just want to acknowledge the kindness of the bloggers who gave them to me, and link back to them, as a matter of personal gesture of appreciation, even though of course I have thanked them on their blog.

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Day 92

Mosaic work on floor

On the drive back from a long weekend trip to the resort town of Port Dickson, my brother and sister-in-law very kindly decided to stop by the historical city of Malacca for Bert’s benefit as he had never been there before, and to grab lunch. We only had a few hours, so we only caught glimpses of three sights very quickly: the A Famosa Fort, the Malacca Sultanate Palace, and the Independence Monument Museum.

I’ll post pictures someday, probably when we have returned there to visit it ‘properly’, as Malacca is a very interesting city-state. One of the smallest states in Malaysia, but one of the most fascinating as it is rich in history and culture. It is in fact dubbed ‘The Historic State‘ and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Penang’s George Town.

Damn, wrong intro. After mentioning history and culture, all I’m going to show now are pictures from a shopping mall. Haha, sorry.

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Oh well, it’s just that, across where we ate was this mall with a lot of arts and crafts stalls. After visiting those, we went outside of one of the upper floors for a breather and there was this gorgeous mosaic work featuring what look like pebble stones. And that’s what I want to feature in this post, this really beautiful (to me) and large mosaic work.

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Day 91