Friday, January 31, 2020

116 apps and counting

I was searching for an app in my phone when my colleague commented, "wow, you've got so many apps!" 

I know I like to look for apps when I want to get something done using my phone but I thought it's a norm that phone are filled with lots and lots of different apps. There are so much you can do with them!

I download a lot of them but since my Razer Phone 2 only has 64G memory, I try to cut down on the apps in my phone and remove those I seldom use. 

Right now I have 116 apps installed.

Too many? Too few? Or a norm? 

How many do you have?

Oh yes, a shout-out to Quimchee, the webtoonist of I Love Yoo, from where I took my phone wallpaper from as you see in my screenshot above. I love her work!


Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Throwback #2: Mattress Hunting

I was having lunch with my colleague when the subject of mattresses came up.

This was because I was complaining about the mattress in a hotel I was in recently. It was so soft I had to wake up everytime I wanted to change my sleeping position. And I'm lucky I didn't get a back ache sleeping on it.

My colleague then commented that she needs to change her Getha mattress she bought 5 years ago which is now too soft for her comfort.

I remembered blogging about my experience in buying my mattress only to find out it has been 9 years since I purchased it! 

Wow...I thought it was just 3 or 4 years ago.

I wanted to buy a Getha mattress too but found a more affordable option - Naturatex. And I did list down some good tips when shopping for a mattress. Go check it out if you are interested.

My Naturatex mattress is still in tip top condition. And I'm sure it will last for many more years to come.

But just for the record, I've only paid RM1 for each day of the past 9 years.'s my most comfortable spot to come back to every day.


Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Conversations in Outlook?

I'm back at work today, not taking any days off for the Chinese New Year and as I was viewing through my emails in my Outlook, I  nonchalantly thought about how I wished that my emails in Outlook can be in conversations like in my Gmail.

But I did an about-turn. And asked myself more seriously, can Outlook actually do that now?

I did a search and yes! You can view emails in Outlook in conversation form.

Check it out here on how to make that happen in your Outlook. 

But being a slow day at work today, I have not had the chance to really try it out. So I'll reserve my comments till when I can really test it out. 

A good discovery nonetheless.


Monday, January 27, 2020

Where's the hook?

In the recent music workshop I attended a couple of weeks ago, one of the electives I attended was song writing.

I picked this because I wanted to attend something new, something I have not ventured in before. 

Though I did co-write two songs, both wedding songs, which were presented during the weddings but they are now lost and forgotten. 

Anyway, I found the session very interesting and there is this one thing I learnt that I keep trying to look out for in the songs that I now listen to.

It's the hook.

Any good song has one. A hook is the x-factor of a song: a melodic, rhythmic or harmonic phrase that adds a particular interest to the song. It's the part that makes the song stand out. 

Apple Music had this new song in my playlist recently and as I listened to it...there! that's the hook! 

Do you hear it?


Sunday, January 26, 2020

A day in the forest

My hubby and I spent a great day in the forest with family in this awesome looking house in the hills. 

It's like my idea of a dream house, which is house-with-glass-walls-on-a-hill, except that it's so much bigger. 

And here's my hubby setting up his drone to take videos and pictures like the one above. He had a lot of fun.

The weather was cool and nice, in the range of 24°C. Though the skies were a bit dark and the sun didn't show itself... it a darker side to the scenery.

One could really just stay the whole day here and look out to the stretches and stretches of green foliage and white greyish cloudy skies. 

It was peaceful...

...except that city people (I assume that they were) do not realise that sound gets amplified quite a lot in the forest and the people occupying the premises opposite us were making so much noise that it became really irritating.

We tried not to be bothered by it the best we could. And here we are all lazying on the floor. The place has yet to be filled with furniture but no one minded because it's still quite comfortable.

The house is a 4-storey building and here's the 2nd floor overlooking the 3rd floor and the loft.

And my favourite? Yes, the loft. It's the coziest of places. 

We had steamboat for lunch al-fresco in the temporary shed at the entrance of the house, since the kitchen isn't quite ready yet. 

And here is one of the adorable residents of the house who was tailing everyone just to get a bite, and many a bite did he end up getting. 

We had a wonderful day. 

I'm looking forward to coming here again, when I really need to get away from the noisy city to a quiet place for a quiet retreat. 

Ah, provided that the noisy city people remain in the noisy city. 


Saturday, January 25, 2020

Happy New Year Everyone!

My father side of the family, or at least part of us, gathered for lunch today and it's so good to see each other again. 

Let me wish you:

In Cantonese:
zuk1 daai6 gaa1 san1 nin4 faai3 lok6
san1 sau2 ling4 wut6 jau4 jyu4 cung4 syu2
bei2 tin1 zuk1 syu2 jan4 gin3 jan4 ngoi3
hang6 fuk1 gin6 hong1 gei7 wui6 ping4 ngon1
sou3 bat1 zeon6 jau5 dik1 cong4

In literal translation!
Wishing everybody a Happy New Year
Body and hands lively like the squirrels
Compared to guinea pigs people see people love
Happiness, health, opportunity, peace
Counting unexhausted there is to keep

Gong Hei Fatt Choy! Wishing all of you the best of the new year!!! May we all be blessed and happy all year long!


Friday, January 24, 2020

Chinese New Year Eve Reunion Dinner

It has been many years since we've gathered for a reunion dinner at my mother-in-law's home. She has been away most of these years but she's home now and it's nice to gather again as a family.

She cooked such a delicious spread and we really missed her cooking!!!

Oh so yummy...

Gong Xi Fa Cai everyone!


Thursday, January 23, 2020

What are you reading?

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how I have not been reading much last year and that I wanted to catch up on it this year.

And catch up I certainly did. I was so much on the roll that I read 6 books in just half a month. 

I began with Bruce K. Waltke's Finding the Will of God: A Pagan Notion? followed by the rest you see below. The sequence is quite logical as I progressed on from one book to another. 

Then I wanted something a little lighter and decided to read Tolkien's The Hobbit. I'm still at it. It started off quite good and fun but got dreary as it moved along. The story gets harder and darker. Just like Bilbo, I wished he was back in his hobbit-hole in The Shire. And just like him, I'm good just staying at home with no adventures. And yes, this is how boring I am.

As a result of reading NT Wright's The Case for the Psalms: Why They are Essential, I started another reading plan in the YouVersion bible app to read the whole of The Psalms in 31 days. I am on track with the plan but I do find myself glossing over the Psalms at times and thought I should read it together with a good but simple commentary. I must say, I have many commentaries on The Psalms but Derek Kidner's TOTC version would be a good one to start with. 

Then I found this in my stash - Walter Brueggemann's From Whom No Secrets are Hid: Introducing the Psalms. I started reading it and it's really good.

However, I also have these two books still hanging in there unfinished. 

I'm still holding on to Jay Heinrichs's Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer can Teach Us about the Art of Persuasion. It's a difficult but good read, and I do need to acquire the skill of persuasion and so I will get back to it soon.

Finally, it's this one by Bonnie Hagemann - Leading with Vision: The Leader's Blueprint for Creating a Compelling Vision. It started off well but I'm not too sure if I'll get back to it though. 

There, my reads and current reads. 

What are yours?


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Goodbye...farewell and thank you

We started Grace Notes since year 2006 and we have been assembling to rehearse and gathering to minister to others in music and songs for 14 years. 

And we are so extremely grateful and thankful to Chinese Methodist (Cantonese) Church Kuala Lumpur for their generosity and grace in providing a place for us to practice and rehearse all these years

But it is time to say goodbye...

...the church will be undergoing renovation work and so we looked for a new place for our rehearsals and again by God's providence, we have been offered a place. 

With that, we will be moving and today is our final rehearsal in this location. 

I must say, some of us are indeed very sad to go.

Goodbye...and thank you.


Monday, January 20, 2020

Should we eat fast-food burgers?

I gave up on eating in McDonald's several years ago and I have not eaten fast-food burgers in quite a long time.

This was after I watched was it a documentary or a MOOC about food where they did a time lapse video on a homemade burger next to a fast-food one. The latter remained unchanged whilst the homemade one bloomed in white coloured mould pretty quickly. 

Until a Burger King joint opened at my workplace. I accompanied my colleagues there and soon enough I was eating it too.

I don't know but Burger King burgers seem to taste much better than McDonald's. And they seem more "real"? I may be wrong but it does feel that way to me.

And what more, its current promotional deal with TNG is very attractive. Today I chowed down a Triple Whopper, yes triple!, fries and a Coke for just RM9.88.

But I wondered if I should avoid it like I avoided McDonald's and so I went hunting for some information and found this very interesting article on the All-American Burger Experiment.

This is where they put seven burgers from seven different fast-food chains in separate glass jars for a month, and watch how and if they go bad. 

And the results?

The thumbnail picture you see above consists of the McDonald's cheeseburger on the left and the Burger King version on the right. 

Of all seven burgers, the Burger King one was the only one that was all covered in mould at the end of 30 days. 

And the McDonald's one? It was the only one that did not change its appearance. 

I was right after all.


Sunday, January 19, 2020

I need a really good book!

I have been doing considerably well in reading.

Until last year, for I only read 9 books! 

That is so few compared to the 30 to 50 over books I have read per year in the past years.

I hope for a comeback in 2020.


So far so good! We are only halfway through January and I have already read 6 books, and quite good reads all of them. 

I wanted to keep the ball rolling but I wanted something fun. The 6 books were pretty serious and heavy ones at that. 

So I needed something lighter but it has to be really good. 

What should it be?

I scrolled through the books I have and then voilà! 

I found it!

The Hobbit
by J.R.R. Tolkien

What could be better than Tolkien's The Hobbit?!

The only problem, though small, is that I don't have the ebook version. 

When I started reading again from year 2011, it was ebooks that got me a back into serious reading. I have never read a print book ever since. And I got so used to ebooks--the convenience, mobility and versatility--that I'd now prefer an ebook anytime. 

Alright, I'm mistaken. Now that I checked into my records, I did read The Hobbit in 2013, a printed copy. 

And so I'm doing it again this year, reading my printed copy of The Hobbit

I'm now at page 28 and I'm loving it.


Saturday, January 18, 2020

Very good replacement sofa covers

I have had my sofas for many years now and I know I have to change them already, until I saw this in Facebook, and with a 65% discount too.

When I watched the accompanying video, I like what I saw.

And so I checked out the prices...

...and it's going to cost me $58 + $49 for a quad and a triple, which will come to at least RM450 not including shipping. 

A triple sofa cover in Ikea will cost about that if not more and I thought maybe it could work. But to make sure, I went online to check out if there were any reviews of the product. 

But what I found was that these sofa covers are available in Shopee too! And at a fraction of the price. Notice that they used the same picture too.

I order a quad for RM64 ($15) and a triple for RM54 ($13), which brings it to only RM118 ($28) with free shipping. 

I fitted them on this morning and it is very good, for the price I paid. 

Take a look at my double sofa that needed a triple size cover. 

Not bad, eh? 

I'm happy. Now we can continue using our old sofas for a little while more.


Friday, January 17, 2020

Book Review: Jesus, Continued... by JD Greear

Jesus , Continued... why the Spirit inside you is better than Jesus beside you
by J.D. Greear

I read JD Greear's Not God Enough, Why Your Small God Lead to Big Problems in October 2018 and I like his writing so much I am looking forward to reading this one: Jesus, Continued...Why the Spirit Inside You is Better than Jesus Beside You.

And he did not disappoint. It is an excellent book about how one can and should work with God, not for God, through the Holy Spirit.

He captured me right from the very beginning:

A few years ago a young man sat in my office feeling deeply frustrated with his faith. Although he knew a lot of truths about God, he sensed very little relationship with God--at least, not the dynamic relationship he wanted. God seemed distant.
It seemed that everything God had done, he had done in the past: he created the world, died on the cross, and then inspired a Bible to tell us about it. then he gave us a mission and left through the clouds. God seemed like a busy teacher who had given an assignment and then stepped out of the room, leaving his students to get it done on their own.
So this guy busy at work, trying faithfully to learn the lessons, follow the instructions, and complete the assignments. He had a "relationship with God" in the sense that he prayed about his problems and tried hard to trust that God was working somewhere, somehow, to help him. Yet he lacked any vibrant interaction with that God.
This was exactly what I felt myself. The trying, the doing, and the striving to obey God seemed distant and as much as I wanted to build a relationship with God, I find it difficult to relate to him in a closer and more meaningful way. Yes, I read the Bible, I pray, I believe, but I knew it had to be more real than what I am feeling then.

Greear reminds us that Jesus told his disciples that he had to go: "Nevertheless, I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you." John 16:7 ESV

Greear said, "Do you consider your connection to the Holy Spirit so strong and real that you regard his presence in you to be a better advantage than even Jesus himself beside you?"

And that I found is the "best kept secret" though it is never a secret. The Holy Spirit is already in us when we received Jesus into our lives, and we have the power of the Almighty God in us to do the things he commissioned us to do.

And we have the Spirit already in us to enable us to build the very relationship that we yearn to have with him. 

There is also a chapter in there about prayer that I really appreciate. Greear reminded me that God wants me to seek him through persistent, faith-filled prayer. And that is one thing I lacked. I was not persistent enough. I thought I shouldn't need to "remind" God all the time, but that is exactly what God is asking us to do!

Remember the parable about the person who knocked on his neighbour's door for supplies at midnight until the neighbour had to open the door and attend to him? So from now on, I am going to keep asking until God opens the door, but of course if it is in his will and desire to do so...

...but I am gonna to keep on knockin'!


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Happy Birthday Mom!

Two pretty girls: my niece and my mom

Happy birthday Mom! Thanks for everything especially your care and your love for us which is in leaps and bounds. Where would we be without you?!!! I love you!


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Throwback #1: Air Fried Pavakka Bitter Gourd

I just had dinner in my neighborhood mamak store which by the way took 3 long months in renovations, and now they are back in business. 

One of the old-timer waiter was so happy to see me again, and I have to say I feel the same. They have been closed for way too long.

I had my favourite fried vegetable: fried bitter gourd or pavakka and it reminded me of an old blogpost I have written way back in 2016.

Air Fried Pavakka (Bitter Gourd)

I have posted the recipe here and reading it again I think it's time I buy some bitter gourd, slice it up and pop it into my air fryer again. 

A dry crispy plate of pavakka...yummy


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Feels like I just attended a kpop concert

I had a long and full day today with back to back meetings and discussions and it is a good day. However, I had to find some time to think through a proposal deck, through the storyboard on how to present it to management. 

I needed a place quiet enough to sit down and think without anyone disturbing me and so I took the lift down a few floors and walked to Starbucks.

But it is no longer quiet. It sounds like I am in a kpop concert. Starbucks's neighbour has undergone massive renovations and the new outlet now plays their music at maximum volume. 

I got my Chamomile Tea--since I better not take in any caffeine at this time of the day--took my seat and tried to concentrate. 

It was not ideal but it was a productive hour in spite of the loud music. I was quite happy about the results of my thinking. 

Back in my school days, I used to listen to Japanese songs when I study. I didn't understand the songs and so it wasn't a distraction but it did help me concentrate. I don't understand much of the Korean songs either, but just that it's just too loud.

Looks like I need to find another quieter place to think, unless the mall do something about it. 


Monday, January 13, 2020

TNG eWallet went berserk today

I wanted to buy some stuff from Watson's during lunch today but I didn't bring much money with me and so I thought I'd use my TNG eWallet.

However I only had about RM70 in it and so I had to top it up. But it tells me that connection is bad and it kept asking me to retry. I have no idea how many times I did that, and before I knew it I had RM670 in my eWallet!

I hope it stops there and I don't wake up tommorow morning with the connections improved to have RM4000 in it. 

On top of that, 5 minutes after paying for my purchases and leaving Watson's with the stuff I bought, the payment was cancelled and I got the RM110 back. What?

I walked back to Watson's in the evening to report the matter but the problem is not solved. 

Nothing like that will ever happen with cash and credit cards. 

I could not talk to anyone from TNG and the email I sent is still sitting there without any replies. This is not a good thing. For a financial service provider, they cannot remove the human side of service, like we can still call in and talk to a banker because money is involved here. 


Sunday, January 12, 2020

After so many years of iPhones, this is a very frustrating phone to use

Some of you would know that I have always been an Apple person since I owned the iPhone 3G in 2009; followed by the 4 (2011), 4S (2012), 5S (2013) and 6S (2016). 

I even became the go-to-person among my friends when they need help on Apple and iOS stuff. I don't know why but I suppose I always make myself available to help them and I'd always try to figure things out for them. 

It all changed when I started to use the Razer Phone 2 and Android in 2019, when I run into so many problems I can't solve.

Maybe it's more the phone than Android. 

Android is alright. I find it hard to compare between iOS and Android because one is simpler and more intuitive while the other is more accessible and practical. I don't mind using one or the other now that I have used both. 

The problem I think is my phone. 

I keep having problems with it. My latest problem is that I have now lost access to my Internal Storage if I use the native Files app. I can no longer move my files to my Internal Storage because I can't get to it.

I wrote to Razer for help and I just got a reply to factory reset my phone. I don't know. I don't want to do that afraid that I will lose my stuff. I have never needed to factory reset any of my iPhones before. 

So now to move my files around, and particularly my photos, I am using three, yes three, apps. Google Go as a gallery app (yup, believe it or not, the Razer Phone 2 does NOT have a native gallery app to view photos), File Manager by Xiaomi to move my files and photos around and Files by Google to easily view where all the files are. 

That's too many and I'm bound to ditch one. So far File Manager by Xiaomi looks good except that all the icons and thumbnails are so small. I am sure the designers of the app are all in their 20s who do not realise some of their users would need a magnifying glass to use their app.

Let me go buy one now...


Update: ah, I found the solution! I fixed it and in a way where the Razer people should know since it's their product! And not ask me to unnecessary factory reset my phone!!! 

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Equip Music Ministry Conference 2020 Day 2

It is good Day 2 which began with a sermon by Philip Percival on 1 Corinthians 14: Singing in Mind and Spirit. The takeaway from the session is that singing is a ministry of the edifying word and when we think about what our giftings are, it will work better if we look at our church and see what needs to be done and do it. And in our song leading, it is an act of engaging the church with Christ.

After which the Emu Team gave us a Church Music Masterclass which was very helpful to me. I learnt about harmonic and rhythmic layering and a bit on texture and how to work all the vocals and instruments together to engage the congregation worship in music and songs. 

The electives I took today were Songleading and The Ministry of Sound. There were good sessions but too brief to cover everything. 

It's a good conference though I wished I was able to also attend the other electives as well.


Friday, January 10, 2020

Equip Music Ministry Conference 2020 Day 1

I signed up for the Equip Music Ministry Conference 2020 and headed to Heritage Center today. It is a Friday and I expected that traffic will be bad and so I started quite early.

I signed up for these electives, the first two for today and the other two tomorrow:
1. How Do I Know If I Have Really Worshipped?
2. Songwriting
3. Song Leading
4. The Ministry of Sound

The conference began with a sermon by Rev Ong Meng Chai on True Worship based on John 4:1-26 and Mark 7:1-8. It is a good sermon that highlights on 3 characteristics of true worship. And if we have not worshipped in all 3 of these, we have worshipped in vain. And it also important to know that when there is true worship, there is also false worship.

Firstly, it's rational. It engages the mind, the intellect and understanding. Next, it's spiritual and not tied to any location. He warns us also not to think that spiritual is all touchy and feely but that the Spirit himself is the Spirit of truth and so it's back to the first point of being rational. And finally, it's moral. This is when Jesus asked the Samaritan woman in John 4 about her husband, which she had 5 and the man she is with now is not even her husband. Worship is a soul searching exercise, we are to repent and set our lives right in Christ. 

We then had a teaching session by Rev Andrew Cheah on what worship and church is. He spent a lot of time on Bible verses showing us how the Bible uses the word worship in 4 different ways (proskuneo, latria/latreuo, leitourgeo and sebaomai). In conclusion, the Bible stresses that worship is Gospel-centered, it's all encompassing in our lives in relation to God and in using music to help and love each other in church. 

The one thing I am not sure though is his interpretation of Colossians 3:16: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God" (ESV). He said that we are to sing songs to minister to each other in church but from the verse, I see that the "one another" refers to only teaching and admonishing, while singing is to God alone. I don't know. This is something I need to read up on.

For my elective, I was looking forward to the session on How Do I Know If I Have Really Worshipped? because as a worshipper, I have not always felt that I have worshipped. And as a worship leader, what do I need to look out for to lead and teach the congregation to really and fully worship the only true God. But the session was not as I had expected. The speaker spent all his time on the externals, like atmosphere and presentation and instruments, etc. I now need to do some reading and thinking to answer the question that they have stirred up in me. 

My final elective for the day is songwriting. I have not been trained on this before even though I have co-written two songs for weddings and so I had a good learning curve on this one. There is a lot to read up on, too many technical terms I need to check out. I found an online course on songwriting from Berklee College of Music and I might just sign up and attend. 

Oh, there is now even more to do in 2020 and it's just the second week!

But it's a good day of fellowship, of music and songs, of worship and adoration of the great Yahweh.


Thursday, January 09, 2020

Losing weight!

I began to seriously work on losing some weight back in September 2016 and I reached my desired weight goal in July 2017, losing 10 kilos in 10 months.

I did it by using the FitnessPal app, religiously inputting my food intake everyday.

I limitted myself to 1000 to 1200 calories a day but I don't really deprive myself of the food that I want to have. If I really want to eat something that is higher in calories, I will eat in smaller portions and will have lesser to eat in calories for the day. It's like a daily budget I have. 

It worked for me because I don't feel deprived. 

But after reaching my goal, I had some struggles trying to maintain it and I did gain back 2 kilos. 

But I wasn't going to give up. 

I knew I had to change my strategy since my body must have gotten used to my eating behaviour. And since I didn't do anything extreme--I eat like I always do, just in smaller portions--I was able to maintain my eating lifestyle, except that I found it very hard to maintain let alone lose more weight. 

Then I decided to skip breakfast. 

I know. I know. You may be the one who'd be the first to tell me that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But my response to you will be, "says who?" 

The thing is I don't feel hungry at all in the morning. And it's the most inconvenient meal. And I feel fine just having a good lunch and dinner. 

So I did that for several months and all is good. 

Then I notice my husband skipping dinner sometimes. And I must say, I sometimes get quite lazy to eat at night. I usually get home too tired and late to cook. 

So I began to skip dinner once in awhile. And I feel fine.

It was only until recently that I realised that I have inadvertently started practicing intermittent fasting without knowing it. Haha.

So I read up on it and did a bit of research. I know there are proponents and opponents. But what I do is to listen to my body. If I really feel very hungry and if I feel that I must eat, I would. I don't force myself. 

And since July 2017, not only have I maintained, I have lost 2.3 more kilos logging in at my lowest today.

I don't have to lose anymore. It will be ideal just to maintain it between plus one and minus one of my desired weight. 

But the danger I have seen with many who successfully lose a lot of weight is that it is never enough. Once you've reached your goal, you'd set a new goal and once you reach that, you'd be greedy and want to lose even more. 

We must stop somewhere. 

We must admit that we look good with a little bit of fat in us. Just a little bit... you'll look much better, younger and healthier. 


Wednesday, January 08, 2020


Do you know what this is?

It's jujubes, what becomes red dates when they are dried up. I have not seen it before, have you? It was selling in the supermarket today and so I bought some to try it out. 

Surprisingly, there is not much of a taste to it but it's still good and crunchy. 

But how does it turn dark red?


Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Projects for the new year!

I have said before that I have stopped making new year resolutions because I will never keep them, and that I will have projects instead.

I know. I know. Call a spade a spade. But humour me. I will have my projects for the year. 

I started it back in 2016, continued it in 2017 and 2018. Missed 2019 and so now it's 2020.

Looking back at Project 2016:
1. Cooking - never lasted even a few months.
2. Knitting - haha...what was I even thinking, I gave up before I even started though I did purchase all the materials.
3. SketchNotes - been-there-done-that kinda deal but it was fun though.

And for Project 2017:
1. Reading - met my book challenge of 20 books in the year.
2. Join a technical choral group - I auditioned for one, got through but after one session, it wasn't what I had expected.
3. Learn a new language - started learning Korean and also to improve my Mandarin.

And as for Project 2018:
1. Reading - I did better completing 33 books out of my 25-book challenge.
2. Language - very disciplined with my Korean though I slacked on my Mandarin.
3. Lose weight - met my weight goal, woohoo! and was able to even go slightly beyond that.

I didn't make any list for Project 2019 but perhaps I do have the same ones:
1. Reading - for the first time since I started my annual book challenge in 2012, this is the year that I failed. I only read 9 books.
2. Language - good going but my strategy wasn't working as well as I expected. 
3. Maintain my weight - success!

And now Project 2020. When I looked at year 2019, I realised that I had wasted a lot of time on a lot of useless stuff. And with that, I have decided to reclaim my time that is to be wasted if I don't change. So my projects for 2020 will be these:
1. Reading - a 30-book challenge. I've just finished one book. Slowing down a bit right now since I'm catching up on my travelogue. Looking forward to getting back into the roll.
2. Writing - get back to blogging again and put my many thoughts into words, and hope it blesses others.
3. New Testament in One Year - I signed up for a communal reading of the NT with friends at church.
4. Exercise - I usually just have 3 but I'm adding one more. I hope to get this much needed thing going. 

Crossing my fingers!


Monday, January 06, 2020

Reading the Bible in a Year

My church has started a very good communal practice: sign up to read Scripture together as a church. 

We have four tracks to choose to take part in:

1. The Old Testament and New Testament in One Year with D.A. Carson's For the Love of God via the YouVersion Bible app.

2. The New Testament in One Year with The Bible Project via the YouVersion Bible app.

3. Table Talk by Martin Luther printed or online. 

4. I can't remember what the fourth plan is. It's a light version of an introduction to the Bible and a reading of Galatians in 6 days. 

My hubby and I both chose Option 2. I was contemplating to choose Option 1 but I thought I had better not over commit myself. Reading 4 long passages and one D.A. Carson devotional per day is no joke. 

So I am glad I picked NT in a Year by The Bible Project. And their videos are very well done. I am very impressed with their introduction video to the New Testament.

Check it out here.


Sunday, January 05, 2020

I went to Seoul

I went to Seoul for a holiday last week, and I must say, it's the best trip I had, ever. 

It was a good trip because:

1. I went solo. Not that I don't like traveling with family and friends. I do, just that by being a solo traveler, it's a different experience. And I can do whatever I want and go wherever I want. The thing is I am not a planner and so I don't really plan my trips. I do have a rough plan but every night before I go to bed, I would then decide what to do the next day. So being a solo traveler makes it much easier in that sense.

2. I stayed in a hostel. Which I can only do as a solo traveler. It was my first time and I really like the experience meeting other people. Except that I only managed to meet and make friends with one person from Taipei. We went for lunch once and she was very helpful in directing me to the right supermarket to shop for things home. 

3. It was a very reflective trip. Before going on the trip, I read an article about the 16-type personality and their traveling preference. Check it out here. I am an INFP, and it says that I am an imaginative traveler. When I travel, I am not just seeing new lands or meeting new people. Rather, I'm telling myself a story inside my mind--one that educates, inspires and revitalizes me, every step of the way. Travel isn't about being in the moment; it's about reflecting upon the moment and coming to understand what it has taught me. This really hit the nail in the head for me and with that, I reflected on the day every evening before I went to bed. It was very fulfilling.

4. I finally met my Korean friends. I got to know them from a language app one and a half years ago. So far, we've texted and chatted on and off, sharing about life and work, helping each other with our language learning. And now I finally got to meet them and we were really like old friends. They were also such excellent hosts and brought me around the city to so many places. 고마워 선영, 형래, 완용. 보고 싶어요. 정말!!!

5. I actually like winter! The decision to travel to Seoul was a last minute impromptu one and quite a few people were so worried for me afraid that I'd freeze in that city. The only person who was nonchalant and not worried about it at all was my husband! I should have listened to him and not stress myself up so much before the trip. When in Seoul, 형래 Heongrae and 완용 Wanyong bought me a padded coat, a pair of gloves and a cashmere scarf to keep me warm and God bless them, I felt so warmed up when dressed with enough layers and so warmed up in the heart as well. The weather was cold in the range of 0 to 5 degrees C and it even went down to -10 degrees C one bright morning. But I do like being bundled up warmly in the cold weather. 

6. And of course, Seoul is an awesome place. I was there 8 days and 8 days is not even enough to really see the city. There are so many places I have not been to. In the next trip then! Yipee!

As in my practice, I do do a daily blogging about my travel and I will do the same for this trip, though it will be back dated. 

So look out for it as I share with you my reflections as well as traveling tips in case you'd want to go to Seoul yourself. 


Update (Sat, 11 Jan 2020) took me 7 days to complete writing all my 8 days of travel to Seoul. But I am glad I did it. It's like traveling all over again but this time in reflection in my memories and they are indeed beautiful memories with friends. Here you go, my 8 days in Seoul:

Saturday, January 04, 2020

Peanut Cookies!!!

It's the Chinese New Year again! And I was at my good friend's house today making peanut cookies.

It all started a few years ago when she brought the cookies she made with her mom to the office as a treat for us. The moment I popped one into my mouth, I was in total nostalgia. It really brought me back to the good old days when my late grandmother made these exact cookies. They tasted the same. Really.

And since then, I have been looking forward to the Chinese New Year to eat these very cookies. 

I went to her house last year and since then I've made good friends with her family. I've been there several times both to learn and to make peanut cookies and butter cookies. Her mom called me her extra hands to help her with the cookie making, but they also have been so gracious to allow me to make cookies for myself there in their home.

This is a community activity I will never do at home alone. So I'm really grateful for being able to experience the warmth and camaraderie of making cookies with her family.

Thanks Wee Yin. And thanks for helping me remember my grandmother fondly. I really miss her after these 18 years since she was gone. 


Friday, January 03, 2020

Back to Work 2020

I had a very, very good year-end break and I am glad I took my hubby's advice to go travel and it was one of the best year-end break I ever had.

And now I'm back at work. My mom did ask me why I didn't just take the Friday off too and start work on Monday. It's a long story but here I am back at work. Which is a good thing too because I can take a slower Friday to catch up and reorient myself back to work. 

Monday is going to be a killer.


Thursday, January 02, 2020

I'm home

My plane touched down at KLIA 20 minutes earlier than expected and by the time I got my things cleared and luggage claimed, which took me the longest ever of all the flights I have ever taken, I headed to the taxi stand to get me home. 

The moment I got home, my hubby drove me out for a good local breakfast. Ah! Something I missed having: roti kosong, teh si kosong and rendang kambing. Hmm...I'm home...

When I got home and unpacked everything, I went to bed. I did not sleep much in the plane and I so it's nice that I had a good nap and then a good sleep.

I'm home.


Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Seoul Day 8: FOOD 음식 eumsik

Oh no! Today is my final day in Seoul! I don't want to leave!

Here is Jessie and I am saying my goodbyes as I am sure I won't see her again today. Thanks Jessie for the stay in your lovely place. You are a superb and excellent host! And isn't she pretty?

My flight is at 11:50pm tonight and so I still have some time to hang around Seoul before I leave. 

Jessie advised me to take the bus to the airport from the regular bus stop just outside the main road but I wasn't too sure about that. I thought the best way would be the trains or a taxi like back at home. 

I am to spend the day with 선영 Sun Yeong today and so I got out a bit early in the morning, and as I walked out to the main road where the bus stop is, I saw some people waiting with a lot of luggage. I had some time and so I walked over and sat down at the bus stop.

My KakaoMap app tells me that the bus should be arriving in 6 minutes. Oh good, I get to take a look. The bus was slightly late and when it arrived, the driver actually got down to open the luggage door at the side and helped put all the luggages in. Wow...I never expected that and here I am worried about how I am going to lift my heavy bag up the bus. 

Turns out that this is the Airport Limousine Bus that has four or more lines running across the city arriving at each stop every 15 minutes. I am impressed. 

So with that worry settled, I continue to sit and chill at the bus stop and took a shot for memory: the place where I go back to every day for past 7 days.

There were some misunderstanding about out meet-up place but finally 선영 and I met and we went down the road to 이화 Ewha for lunch. The odd thing is that every place she wanted to bring me was closed. 

We then settled for 치맥 chimaek, chicken and beer! Finally I get to eat it in Seoul.

You must be wondering why is that I talk so much about 선영 here and in Day 4 but I don't have a single picture of her. Well, it's her request not to have her picture posted and I have to respect that. Just so you know.

After lunch, we decided to ditch 이화 Ewha which proves to be too quiet on a New Year's Day--Happy New Year!!!--and go to 명동 Myeongdong.

To save time, since time is precious for me today, we took a taxi and arrived here at the Myeongdong Cathedral. 

The Korean people are quite open to talk about their faith and they would freely approach you with some gospel tracks. They didn't today but what happened was these three people arguing very loudly at the roadside about their beliefs. 

선영 was quite aghast to see and hear it and she told me this is what she dislikes about some Koreans.

We walked up to the church and we saw many people going in and we thought we'd check it out, only to find that there might be a service that is starting soon...

...and so we left.

Doesn't the church looks so grand. Hmm, but 선영 missed the most important part of the structure, the cross! Haha.

We then walked down to the streets and here we go: my first visit the to famous Myeongdong shopping street. What's in store for me?

Candied strawberries!!! It was 선영 who wanted to try it out and so we bought a stick and shared it. It was really good but I have a feeling I'm going to have a max out on sugar today! Oh no...

But the strawberries are good. The honeyed covering is very sticky and satisfying, and when it melts in your mouth and you bite into the strawberry, it's a different softer texture but it bursts out with a lighter taste compared to the honey. It's something you have to try once in your life...if you don't already have diabetes that is. Don't...

We walked passed a few earrings shops like this with a very nice way of presenting the earrings in wooden boxed up walls. 

The streets were busy...

...and we had some egg buns...

...but just a photo of grilled squids.

Then we saw this. 

It is not stated in the limited English on the signs but 선영 said that this is 한우 Hanwoo beef as stated here in the sign: 우리소 한우 Uriso Hanwoo.

She asked me if I would like to try and I said without any hesitation, of course!

If you check it out in Wikipedia, "The Hanwoo (Korean: 한우), also Hanu, is a breed of small cattle native to Korea. This breed is raised mainly for meat and is the source of Hanwoo beef, one of the most rare and expensive meats in the world."

I had to ask if it is really 한우 beef for just ₩7,000. 선영 asked the seller and he said yes. 

Okay, I'm going to take his word for it. And it is really good. Tender and juicy to the bite. I'm happy.

Then we walked past this and 선영 said that this is 시계 sikkyae, a rice drink and the white bits in there are not maggots like what some people thought they were but rice. Eeew...I hate maggots and worms or anything wriggly at that but I didn't want to think about, bought a cup and it was delicious. 

You know I said I will max out on my sugar today? I was tempted to get the tallest ice cream cone and it eat now in winter but I didn't. Wish I did.

We then stopped by a very nice teahouse 오설록 Osulloc, which serves tea from Jeju Island. The lovely thing about this cafe is that it has a tall station of free Green Tea Latte for you to taste. And five pots of gourmet tea for you to test out, which we did, a lot! Haha.

Then we sat down and ordered a bowl of green tea 빙수 bingsu, shaved ice. 

We also have been going into several beauty products shops. I didn't think to take photos in the shops, but this is my loot.

I bought a Nature Republic lip tint, a Laneige lip sleeping mask, a Tiny Moly peach hand cream, a Tiny Moly banana hand milk, and I was given some samples from the stores we visited. Not a lot but I'm happy with it. 

Finally we have to say our goodbyes. 잘가요 선영. Thank you so much for being such a wonderful friend and host. Will miss you so, so much! 

For the word of the day, at first I picked the word shopping but then FOOD 음식 eumsik would however be a much better choice, don't you think?

I got back and gathered all my luggage and headed to the bus stop and waited. The street is quite empty today. 

I got on the limousine bus and arrived in no time to Incheon Airport. 

I found the right line and lined up...

...and lined up and lined up and by the time I got to sit down after all the checking in and security checks and immigration... was two long hours. 

But all is in order, I boarded but I waited until almost all have got on before I got into the line. It was so much faster. I got in, put my bag in the luggage space and within 10 minutes, it's already taxiing to fly. 

안녕 서울. 또 보자! Annyeong Seoul. Ddo boja!
Goodbye Seoul. See you again!