cosy, content


may your days be merry & bright

this year is much quieter compared to last, but my family is happy and healthy, sam got the long weekend off from work and we had a cosy christmas eve. i am content, and carry a song in my heart and smile on my face this week. i think this is what they mean when they say ‘let your heart be light’.

(photo of my parents in central park, my absolute favourite photo from our trip. only have 3000 more to sift through :)

Moments from the new year


It’s supposed to be a bright year ahead for those born in the year of the Snake. Zodiac predictions proffer luck, romance and windfalls, but the only promise I want fulfilled is the adventure of change and new beginnings, with the courage and speed to power through. In a spur of the moment I went for an interview last wednesday. The next day, I found myself armed with the job and a plan for the year ahead, and you talked with me about buying a house.

It feels like the future is here. Some days I resent it for feeling like it’s not going to stop for any movie afternoons or book nights, not going to give me any comfort about my thesis draft deadline which is in exactly a month. On the other hand, some days it feels like — bring it on, bring me to the next stage of a butterfly’s life cycle, amaze me, move me, take me any way you like. All I can think about are these lines from Go to the Limits of your Longing by Rainer Maria Rilke: let everything happen to you / beauty and terror / just keep going/ no feeling is final



Standard. Reunion dinner steamboat, my grandparents lovingly fussing and offering us drinks, then oranges, then ice cream — easy, comfortable chaos. Then, day one breakfast of peanut porridge, yam cake, glutinous rice at Kent Road. We move on to our grandaunt’s place later for bowls of chap chye, and sweet drinks in the same crystal glasses with the pewter saucers we’ve been drinking out of for twenty years. This year, mostly thanks to new media and age I feel a bit closer to my cousins, and our cousin Jason is visiting from Scotland all on his own. I watch him in conversation with relative after relative, the occasional friend, and think about how brave he is to fly solo on such a mammoth, potentially intimidating holiday.


Alex and I with our handsome dad, a gentle warrior at 50. My parents continue to amaze and surprise us with their sartorial choices. My mum looked gorgeous in a cream cheongsam with peonies this year, and my dad wore some slim cut dark, dark jeans. They both don’t fancy our usual shopping habits very much either, but that got turned around real quick when they encouraged us to go out and find all the necessary happy/red/kumquat-coloured components for a complete CNY wardrobe. We’re talking top level dress code commitment here, people.



Reunited with my sisters this year for cny. The night before, we played blackjack on my bed, using multicolour plastic beetles, elephants and deer as our kuti kuti gambling chips. Overslept the next morning, hugged our parents and received our angpows with our hair slightly stringy and damp. Throughout the day Alex and I mouth the lyrics to Beyonce’s Love on Top and do micro versions of the dance moves, and sing if you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it over and over, slumped on the couch with our little cousin, tummies filled with lou hei crackers, shredded radish and slivers of raw salmon…is there any other way to say, blissed out?

Let your heart be light




I am happy to report that my Christmas eve was spent in the company of loved ones, their loved ones, and a huge feast we all chipped in with in the kitchen.

Introducing new guests into the family dinner table circle is always going to feel a bit antsy, i think, but above all I am completely grateful and glad for the evening and its players. I’m a shy singer but I found myself humming out loud, realised a split second later that I wasn’t the only one, and let myself enjoy the carols and jazzy finger snaps over the sharp shuffle of mahjong tiles. A candlelit cloud of an evening laced with the scents of cranberry, peppermint and portobello, the walls of my living room echoing laughter, dave koz & friends, and the click of my camera shutter.

Wherever you found yourself this year, I hope your Christmas was very merry, and send you the warmest wishes for 2012 :)

Continue reading “Let your heart be light”

I’d rather dance with you

Photo on 2011-12-04 at 23.00 #3
Photo on 2011-12-04 at 22.55 #2

Dad set up the christmas tree and we decorated, and got our december on with the sounds of she & him and foam antler hats. We are finally all done with studying at the same time, and it feels like I have my sisters back. There is dancing/singing/sims-playing/complete family dinners happening. Every time I look at these girls, I see so much joy, honesty and the conviction to live righteously. And then I keel over laughing because someone has pulled a face or cracked a joke, and I want to shower them with kisses all over again.


As of today, I finally own a pair of leopard print ballet flats, thanks to the kind sponsorship of my mother. Lauren actually picked these out for me because she knew I’d love them, which is amazing because I’m not usually the crazy shoe type. It’s important that things pass the sister test. Anyway, help — what to wear this with? Are these shoes condemned to a lifetime of pairing with classic chambray/silk shirts and neutrals? I must confess that I’m a bit scared of crossing into scary-aunty territory..

I ain’t the way you found me, I’ll never be the same

for sequin magpies only

The brightest thing of the week, amidst gorgeous grey weather and daily study time — sequins!

Life in (more than) 3 sentences:
1. There is always time for wine, a cuddle, and a movie. There should be.
2. Halfway to the end of exams, and a short pre-christmas trip to Penang, Langkawi and my dad’s hometown. Also Malacca, perhaps, either on family time or on my own?
3. After countless of emails regarding nightmare logistics, thesis research work is finally feeling rewarding. It’s been two days in a row that I’ve been amazed by kind women (and one man!) who have one of the toughest jobs imaginable, and I can’t believe how lucky I am to get to interview them! This is the easy part.

Happy Birthday Mum!


Happy 49th to my very gorgeous mama :) You are such a champion. Thank you for perfect saturday breakfasts, listening to me ramble on and for letting me de-stress by taking cat naps in your bed while you watch the news. I love so many things now only because you taught me how — from whizzing away at a sewing machine, to navigating my way between the oven and the stove, to enjoying the simple pleasures of music on a quiet morning, and the comfort of warm honey lemon tea in a peter rabbit teapot. Love you!

The Birds Sing For You

IMG_1713and the morning is for you/ yes and the air is free / yes the world spins for you / and your positivity

In my earliest and oldest memory, I am two years old, tucking into a packed dinner of porridge. The room is warmly lit but dim — perhaps it is evening? My father is standing by my mother, who is resting and sitting upright on a hospital bed, arms cradled. My baby sister has just been born!

Exactly twenty years later, that baby is a beautiful girl, one of the most determined, fun, thoughtful and fiercely independent people I know. We have completely different temperaments, but there is no soul closer to my own than hers, no one who knows my quirks and predicts my behaviour more accurately than she.

Being an older sister is the only role I’ve ever known from the beginning of my memory, and I’m so glad I get to be hers and Alex’s. Happy 20th birthday Lauren <3



The past week saw me in Hong Kong again with my sister and mother, who had to be there for a short work trip. We weren’t the most energetic trio around as Lauren had a nasty case of food poisoning on the flight over, and I was nursing a bad cough, but I think we still managed to relax plenty and enjoy ourselves. We…


…kicked off our shoes


…had the luxury of post-lunch downtime


…enjoyed the view from our room (and falling asleep to the twinkling lights and jet black waters at night)


…drank lots of honey water lovingly made by mum


…ate cherries from the Central wet markets out of a cold glass


…and rejoiced in finding little buys at H&M (lauren’s been wanting a cuff for ages)

Lauren and I also had an entire day stomping all around Mongkok, and Sam met us a few times for steamed fish and roast pork rice — drooling just thinking about it. How come Hong Kong food memories are always the most vivid!!

Notes & Animals


I grounded myself this week, in a bid to save money and “catch up on work” (i.e. finally watch Vicky Cristina Barcelona and work my way through season 2 of The Good Wife…among other things). These ideas always sound good in theory, but they kinda bum me out because the weather will be gorgeous and there are streets to roam and things to buy, and all that good stuff.

It started on Monday. I slept in, probably because my subconscious was rebelling against being placed under house arrest, and it got worse when I woke up bleary-eyed to an empty house. This usually makes me sad and want to crawl back into bed. This time though, I was greeted by a sweet little note my dad left me before leaving for a meeting. We are a family of note-leavers and list-makers, and seeing messages and post-its around the house always puts a smile right on my face. I got out my camera, determined to snap a photo of every note and other cute thing around. Right now, there’s a snarly cynical voice in my head calling this a Photo Expedition for the Bored, but I’m telling you —  looking out for cute things around the house? Easiest, best monday morning pick-me-up ever.

Continue reading “Notes & Animals”