Monday, October 28, 2013

What my two mothers taught me

No, my dear father did not re-marry. And at this very moment, my parents are enjoying growing old together.

Anyway, my workaholic mum once told me that I could be anybody - a doctor (which got me dreaming to be a gynaecologist), a teacher (which inspired me to be a tutor in school), or a nurse (which turned me off completely). Anyways, her reminders are still loud and clear that whoever I choose to be, whichever job I end up with - be the best at it.

“Yes, even if you end up being a janitor,” she would say, “be the best janitor ever.”

My mum taught me to study hard (2.5 decades ago, there wasn’t such a thing as work smart) and work hard for a brighter future. As much as I am prescribed with short-sightedness, back then my vision was truly as far as my arm's length. I couldn’t see that far off to a bling-bling future. What I did see was studying hard and getting scholarships every semester to help lessen my parents’ financial burden. So I made it my goal and nailed it.

Lesson from my mum: I can have anything, so long as I set a goal and fight for it.

My go-getter personality is balanced out by what I learn from observing my homemaker mum (in law). She teaches me about patience and making peace, and while career is important, so is family.

I think her “kungfu” in the kitchen does reaffirm the saying that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. But truth is that besides being healthier and cleaner, cooking is one of the languages of love. Some buy jewelries, some pick flowers, some make cards as an excuse to drop by. Hence, I bake (sometimes).

And by taking care of the family, you learn more about each family member - their likes and dislikes, their personalities and moods. And by understanding their behavioural patterns, you can be more than just a wife or a mother or a grandmother. You can be a friend whom they can turn to... No wonder mothers (in general), they can sniff you out in an instant.

Lesson from my mum (in law): I can have anything, but if I don’t, I still have my family to fall back to.

Of course, I’ve learned a lot more than this work-life balance from two of my mothers. This is merely one piece of the overflowing nuggets of wisdom I’ve pocketed so far, and still pocketing. *blessed*

Here's to my awesomest mothers and all the great mothers around the world… you are the queen of my heart!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

How to eat clean with sweet potato

Honestly, I'm not much of a cook. The thing I dislike most is cleaning up after. Not just the dishes, but the floor. OMG! The floor feels yucky, but cleaning up has to be done anyways, after a tiring cooking feat.

Hence I resort to steaming and oven-baking. My meals may look as if it took me hours of hardwork in the kitchen to prepare them but truth is, all are prepared under 45 minutes, and sometimes a mere 15 minutes.

Many of you asked about the oven-baked potato or sweet potato.

Oven-baked sweet potato

A friend or a page posted it on Facebook and I thought it was easy enough to make.

Sweet potatoes or potatoes
Extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 200 degree Celsius.
2. Clean to potatoes thoroughly Remove skin to your preference.
3. Slice the potatoes (as thin or thick to your preference).

I place a chopstick next to the potato so that I don't slice it all the way down.

4. Rub the potato with a pinch of salt.
5. Place on a baking pan and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil.
6. Bake for 30-40 minutes, the longer you bake, the crispier the outside of the potato.
7. Allow it to cool and enjoy!

Simple or what, right?!?!

While the potatoes are in the oven, you can prepare the main dish. In my previous post on making Fish 'n Chips, I sliced the sweet potatoes into strips to make them look like chips/fries.

The other evening while the potato was already in the oven, I made a simple Garlic Shrimp Steak, just because I have left over shrimps from my attempt to cook Fish 'n Chips.

Garlic shrimp steak

3 cloves of garlic (sliced)
2 eggs
Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce

1. Season the prawns with Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce and garlic.
2. Boil the eggs until cook. Drain and let it cool.
3. Drizzle a pinch of salt over broccoli and steam until cook.
4. Put the prawns into the cooker and steam until cook.
5. Shell off the eggs and serve together with the cooked items.

Even after cooking the main, I still had more than enough time to slice up 2 pears for dessert. So dinner was served within 40 minutes. I believe we all have 40 minutes to spare to cook for ourselves or our family. Because they deserve this littlest touch of love. Try it and tell me what you think.

Enjoy cooking and have a great weekend with your family!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Eat clean without cleaning out your wallet

In general, healthy eating quickly reflects higher expenses. While it may be true if you opt for organic produce, leading a healthy lifestyle doesn't necessarily clean out your wallet.

I grocery-shop at AEON and all in all, it amounts to about RM6-RM7 per meal (including snacks: fruits, baked sweet potatoes and 3 loaves of banana bread). That amount may be the same as if we lunch at coffee shops with drinks, without fruits or banana bread. Imagine how much more you'd be spending at fast food or restaurants.

I'm still rather new in clean eating and I'm still looking for new recipes weekly to keep our meals creatively balanced. For now, half of each prepped meal is vegetables, a quarter of protein and a quarter of protein, complete with a serving of fruit.

Last week's recipe was brown rice with baked garlic chicken, steamed carrots and broccoli.

Rectangular lunchbox for him - bigger portion of everything

This week calls for brown rice with everything steamed - purple cabbage, carrots, broccoli and garlic chicken.

Square lunchbox for me

The accompanying fruits (not shown) for brunch/preworkout snacks are bananas (1 whole per serving) or dragon fruits (a quarter per serving) or pear (halved per serving) or grapes (12 pieces per serving).

We decided to dine like the royals once a week, so I made this for one of our dinners this week. Well that was my excuse because I was craving for fish 'n chips *wink* It tasted nothing like fish 'n chips but I think my mind managed to pull a few strings and I was satisfied with this steamed peppered salmon (750g) and shrimps (2 pieces) with steamed vegetable sides (recycled from lunchbox) and baked sweet potato (as chips).

Homecooked at approximately RM7.50 or maybe RM8 only.

Giving. I think it runs in my blood. My family finds joy in being able to offer food to others. Whenever my mum cooks petai curry or any of her signature dishes, at least 3 of her friends/our neighbours will savour a share, and my dear sister will never fail to treat us lunch/dinner whenever we meet to catch up.

I believe that the people who give you their food, give you their heart. To the many friends and family members whom I have cooked or baked for, thank you for putting up with my occasional imperfect servings. I give you my heart - rare, medium and well-done.

Happy serving and enjoy eating!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Cravings for health

I have a sweet tooth. An extremely sweet tooth. Like, I would shamelessly attack the dessert line first at buffets.

The thing is, I started clean eating last week and my body is not as strong as my will. And I'm craving for sugar.

I had wanted to bake the regular moist banana chocolate chip muffin which calls for ingredients such as chocolate chips, butter and milk. But it will not serve my current health/fitness goals.

So I opt for the low sugar, low fat wholemeal banana prune bread.

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
4 ripe bananas, mashed (I use DOLE bananas)
100g pitted prunes (I use Sunsweet)
2 cups organic wholemeal bread flour (I use Radiant Whole Food)
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
*I got all the ingredients from AEON, Queensbay Mall.

1. Preheat oven to 175 degree Celsius.
2. Grease the baking pan with extra virgin olive oil.
3. Mix sugar, oil and egg until creamy.
4. Add mashed banana.
5. Fold in flour, baking soda and salt.
6. Stir until completely smooth.
7. Scoop the batter into the baking pan.
8. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the inserted cake tester comes out clean.
9. Allow it to cool before removing from pan.

Perfect as breakfast or tea time snack ;)

Now who says clean eating is tasteless and unappetising?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

L'Occitane releases the all-new Immortelle Divine Lotion

I have to admit... I love, LOVE L'Occitane products after my first encounter with the brand. Mostly for being made from natural ingredients.

Some of us, bloggers and media, were honoured to be invited to the casual meet-the-press session and tour the new L'Occitane boutique at Gurney Paragon.

After the luncheon and introduction of the brand, company and the recently launched Immortelle Divine Lotion, we were impressed with their generosity of presenting us full-sized products for use-and-review!

Can't wait to use them all... and slow down my skin's aging. I hope this will not be just another affair but will develop into a worthy relationship.

Stay tuned for the review but in the meantime, if you have been thinking of trying L'Occitane products, today (12 Oct 2013) is the day! Because their Grand Opening specials at Gurney Paragon ends today. Or if you're loyal lover of L'Occitane, get more out of the promotions today.

The outlet is located on Level 2. I'm not sure which wing or zone, but you'll find it if you walk one round, nearer to the side where Debenhams is.

Happy shopping!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Find your balance

As a little girl, I had always dreamt to be thin. I started the no-food diet from as young as 10 (as vain as I was!). Then, there was the weight rebound when I started to eat normal again.

Oh, on a side note (lucky me!), I was at my heaviest and "roundest" self when I met my then bf, now husband.

Anyway, over the years as a teenager, I developed gastric and constipation from the inconsistent eating habits. Those health issues became so much a part of my life that I thought it was normal. It was until I met Herbalife that my health took a turn to better. In the process of getting healthier, my weight did too. So if you ask me if Herbalife works, I would say yes. After all, it's a nutritious drink.

But if like me (I don't believe in luck, I believe in hardwork), you prefer something more conventional and challenging and if you have the time, why not invest in fitness?

It doesn't need to be a gym membership, it can be running in the park/beach, hiking the mountain/hill, swimming in the pool, training in your garden, walking/running up the staircase, lifting bags of rice/sand or Yoga/Pilates on YouTube... whichever fits your schedule and your liking.

It's a great pasttime, a healthier hangout option, it may give you the curves and develops the stamina (depending on the type of training) that no diet plans nor pills nor meal replacements ever will.

Try it for 30 days consistently and tell me if it didn't make you feel better in any way ;) *mwah*

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

So you woke up breathing...

Congratulations, you've got another day. Another chance.
To live it right. To make things right. Again.
Indulge in what makes you happy. Engage in your passion. Slumber when you can.
Don't let anyone's opinion stop you from living your reality.
You can't please everyone so make it a point to please at least one person. Yourself.

You only live life once, live it the way you want.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The scale is not your best friend

For many women, myself included, the scale is our first best friend when starting our fitness/weight loss journey. We rely on this best friend to tell us directly that we are losing 'weight' and indirectly that we are looking good. But I want to tell you that the number on the scale is not the 'ultimatum' when it comes to your health or your appearance!

I know many women still believe the myth that weight training makes girls “bulky” or “manly”. But that is not true.

Instead, you'll come to a point that you're shrinking in measurements and seeing more definition but your best friend wouldn't budge any lower. Why? Because when you build muscle, it takes up much less space because it is denser than fat. Still don't believe me?

From the photo, you know how much I weighed before. So can you guess my weight now?

Friday, August 2, 2013

A charming addiction

It is a trend from the ancient days. And now in the 21st century, we've fallen back in love with charms.

In fact, it is called a charm bracelet for a reason. Way back then, charms were worn as amulets or trinkets for good luck and protection against evil spirits.

You see, I got a Thomas Sabo charm bracelet as a birthday gift, and it's only natural that I feel the need to visit the store to familiarise myself with the brand and its sterling product.

The salesperson was kind enough to suggest that, "A charm bracelet must have a lucky charm - a cloverleaf or a horseshoe."

Hope I wasn't too rude to reply, "Oh, I don't believe in luck. I believe in hard work."

I may be attracted to the charms and addicted to the charming trend but I'm not charmed to the tradition of luck.

Can you guess which I picked?

I know I'm not the fashionable chic but I wish very much that I am.

Hence I chose fashion's capital city that leads the latest and most coveted collection for each season. Yes the lush charm with a rose gold plating Eiffel Tower is accompanied by a Sterling silver heart with syn. pavé zirconia and a golden stiletto.

As cited on Thomas Sabo's website, this particular charm is "a must-have for all those who love fashion!"

Are you charmed too?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

My papa

Haven't we all heard so many times over that our life is in our hands. Happiness, love, peace, success - all are within the grip of our palm, if we would take things into our hands and make it happen. And we also know that we can't change how our life begins. But we can change how it ends.

Then again, if given the chance, I wouldn't want to change anything from birth. Because I am who I am today because of my past. And if there's one thing I learn from my papa is acceptance. He taught me about taking life easy and live without regrets.

He accepts me for who I was and who I am and I believe strongly that he will accept me for who I will be.

He accepts that I am the quieter daughter (an attribute I got from him anyways *wink*).

He accepts that I'm a fighter because I'm not a natural book-smart (although I'm a fast leaner).

He accepts that I wanted to be a writer (although he had always wanted me to be a nurse).

He accepts that I have a choice of belief in religion and values (as long as my conscience is clear).

He accepts that I am different and I want different things (from how I see it now, I might have been a little rebel).

My papa and I, we have had our row of disagreements. He doesn't always agree with my decisions and each time, he doesn't fail to show me that he disapproves. Nonetheless, he let me and he always comes to accept my choices.

The way I turn out, I think my dad (and mum too) did an awesome job in letting me grow up in my own terms. And I know no matter how big or old I grow, I'll always be their little girl.

I'm blessed to be my papa's (little) girl.

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Pretty natural prom

Of course, don't leave out the final details of makeup. As Bobbi Brown said it, "Makeup is a way for a woman to look and feel like herself, only prettier and more confident."

I wasn't a fan of makeup until I started climbing the corporate ladder at the age of 24. That is even after I was urged and nudged by my then manager to put on some makeup.

I would say, my relationship with Bobbi Brown was a huge plunge. I only merely heard that you'll look very natural with Bobbi Brown, as if you didn't apply anything at all - that statement bought me over, and I fell head over heels for Bobbi Brown ever since.

What I love about Bobbi Brown is her unconventional view on beauty. Beauty is not about looking perfect (no one is perfect, anyways), but beauty is about celebrating individuality (because everyone is different). And Bobbi Brown Cosmetics allows every woman to enhance her unique beauty with formulation that creates a smooth, natural and healthy looking appearance.

These are my basic essentials: Illuminating Finish Powder Compact Foundation, Jet Long-Wear Eye Pencil,  Extreme Party Mascara (for endless volume lashes) and Instant Long-Wear Makeup Remover

If this is your first time and your face is going to lose her virginity (I mean purity), you ought to leave it to someone you can trust. And if you ask me, that someone is Bobbi Brown and for (makeup) virgins, the Limited Edition Bobbi's Basic is a must-have!

Includes: Bobbi Brown Eye Palette (bone, taupe, mahogany), full size Powder Pink Pot Rouge (for cheeks and lips), full size Crystal Lip Gloss, Dual Ended Eye Shadow/Eye Liner Brush, Black Lash Glamour Extreme Lengthening Mascara (for ultra long lashes) and Cosmetics bag

But if you'd like some colours to make your eyes pop, you'll love the new, limited edition Sea Pearls Collection. Yes, green, nude and peach do look pretty awesome together!

Sea Pearls Collection: Eye Shadow Shimmer Brick, Lip Gloss, Blush Shade, High Shimmer Lip Gloss Shades and Shimmer Nail Polish Shade

Happy glamming up for prom, or a dinner date!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Pretty prom

Although prom is not a big deal in Malaysia (or maybe it's slowly gaining in popularity), I love prom season! I can imagine the amount of anticipation and excitement for the girls, and guys too I guess ;)

'Tis the season where teenage girls eat, sleep, breathe and dream sparkly dresses. There's no doubt that most girls really want to dress to impress on their prom nights. And an evening as important as prom night requires only the most lust-worthy look that will stand out on the dance floor.

I'm way past the age for prom but who can resist these lovelies! If you're shopping for your prom dress and perfect look, wrap up with these new collections from Topshop, Queensbay Mall, Penang.

Topshop petite 'Debudante' shoulder dress (mint)

Topshop embroidered prom dress (cream)

Happy getting prom pretty!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Entertainment and food

Does entertainment equate to food?

After all, business-related entertainment expenses have always revolved around luncheons, tea time snacks, dinners and even after-office-hour drinks. And especially in Asia, food is the centre of gatherings and reunions. We always look for ways to fill our guests' tummies because we believe it's a blessing to serve and to give.

But today, I learnt that food is not entertainment. Understanding this concept will help you change your dietary mindset and your eating habits. And it's not just about dropping the sizes and slipping perfectly into that little black dress or getting from fat to fit. It's about giving yourself the gift of life, from unhealthy to healthy.

Now don't flash me that look! I'm not saying that I don't enjoy food. I enjoy it tremendously. I share meals with loved ones. I have dinner with friends. I drink coffee with strangers, sometimes.

I believe in occasional cravings but I look at "comfort food" differently now. I don't turn to food to entertain me because that one minute indulgence is what it is. One-minute distraction from feeling lousy. And then after, you still feel like crap and you have just added another load onto your plate - now I have to run off these calories!

So instead of taking food for granted, turn to food to power your body, to make you feel great (and lean), to nourish your body and to keep you healthy. Then you're free to enjoy, not just the feast on the table but to enjoy the true meaning of living.

We've heard this over and over again: eat to live or live to eat. People may debate all they want on which is right and which is wrong. But the real battle is within yourself whether to lead a lifestyle of "eating to live" or " living to eat". The choice is yours.

Happy living and eating for the right reasons!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I have been cursed, I think!

The fact that this post even exists means I have this bottled-up feeling that I seriously need to vent. And hopefully feel better - out in the open than hidden within.

Many of you know that I started going to the gym last September to train for my very first half-marathon. But only a few of you have heard this incident. While I was panting heavily in the last 5 minutes trying to clock a better run, an uncle came onto the treadmill next to the one I was running on.

Uncle: Wow, running for one hour?
Me: Yes. Have to... *panting*
Uncle: Why? Got high cholesterol?
Me: No, I'm training for half marathon.

So then, I was 'cursed' by this uncle!

My point is, I went for my first blood test 2 weeks ago and the results came out last Sunday. And I couldn't believe my ears and eyes when the pharmacist told me my cholesterol level was slightly high and showed me the reading.

So now, I got high cholesterol!

To my Muslim readers, please excuse
this picture. Needed to show my
international readers what
'sio bak' is ;)
Source: What2seeonline
Pharmacist: You should cut down on the fatty 'sio bak' (barbecue pork meat).
Me: I have stopped consuming pork for over 10 years. My main source of protein is from chicken and fish.
Pharmacist: Then you should eat more fish than chicken.

So now, I should cut down on chicken!

Pharmacist: Don't worry you can bring it down. Just watch your diet and exercise more.
Me: I run on the treadmill 30-60 minutes, 4-6 days a week. So how much more exercise should I do?

So now, I should exercise every single day!

Pharmacist: Well, maybe it could be genetic. Do you think?
Me: I'm not sure...

So now, I could be genetically affected!

Me: Anyway, I've just started taking EPO and fish oil for a week now. It will help, right?
Pharmacist: Yes, and supplements will start to take effect after about 3 months.

So then, I can predict my 'need'!

Guess I didn't buy the EPO and fish oil by chance. It had been planned! I bought the supplements because I heard how good EPO is for women and how fish oil can help lose weight/fat. That was the reason I bought them the week before I got the blood test results.

I wouldn't feel so disappointed and frustrated if I do consume pork and eat 'dirty' because then, I'd deserve the negative results. So it was a slap on my face... because I have been so watchful of my diet and I exercise so regularly until I earned myself the super glamour name of "Gymmie".

Sometimes it crosses my mind that what's the point of leading a healthy lifestyle if it doesn't make me any healthier. Might as well eat whatever junk I want since it makes no difference anyway!

But I'm not giving up on myself just yet. 

I think this gift of life that was given to me in the form of flesh and blood deserves a chance to be proven worthy. Similar to when I was accused of a sin I didn't commit, I deserve a chance to prove my innocence.

So now, I'm even more watchful of my diet and diligent in preparing my own meals rather than eating out. I'm even adding oats into my breakfast shake.

And if you feel bad for my health, my birthday is coming up next month *wink* I'd like a bottle of Herbalife Lemon & Hibiscus Tea Mix.

What a lame excuse to ask for birthday gift!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Recipe: Steam it up

After posting the baked meatloaf, a friend asked if there's a simple, quick recipe without the need of an oven. So I thought it'll be perfect to cook it and share it ;)

Let's get steamy in the kitchen!

  • Chicken breast
  • Broccoli 
  • Baby carrots
  • Extra light cheddar cheese
  • Pepper
  • Salt
Note: Portion to your preference

  • Steam chicken breast, broccoli and baby carrots to cook.
  • Arrange the all the steamed ingredients onto a plate.
  • Slice cheddar cheese into strips and place over the cooked ingredients.
  • Sprinkle a pinch of salt all over, and add pepper to taste.
  • Heat it up in the microwave for about 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese melt.
It's all prepped in about 12-15 minutes, if you steam all the ingredients separately at once.

Now don't say you don't have time to cook!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Recipe: Salmon Chicken Meatloaf

We've decided to do some spring cleaning for our body, and we'll be eating clean.

I know how the hubster falls out of line because eating healthy seems to be tasteless or unappetising or boring. So instead of the usual salmon or chicken salad or sandwich, I put on my creative hat and came up with this simple meatloaf recipe.

Put on your apron and enjoy!
300g ground salmon
300g ground chicken breast
1/2 cup carrot (thinly sliced)
1/2 cup broccoli (florets only)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon fish sauce (or any sauce of your choice)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 lemon
Extra virgin olive oil

  • Preheat oven to 170 degree Celsius.
  • Lightly grease the baking pan with olive oil.
  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mix lightly but thoroughly.
  • Slice lemon into half, squeeze half into the mixture. Keep the other half for serving.
  • Bake about 40 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and let it stand for 5 minutes before slicing.
  • Squeeze some lemon and serve.

It's so easy, it only takes less than 5 minutes to mix all the recipes and just leave it to bake while you dress up, set the table and blend some orange juice ;)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Topshop & Topman, Queensbay Mall, Penang

My favourite brand is back! Hotter than ever with amazing re-opening RM50 cash voucher giveaway for the first 50 at the door on 30 May 2013.

Yes you're hearing it right, RM50 cash voucher for the first 50 - to get your shopping started. Try beating me in line either at Topshop or Topman in Queensbay Mall, Penang!

Who's the biggest fan now, huh? ;)

Happy shopping!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Meet my new best friend - Coffee!

Coffee was once my best friend, and it has become such a norm of life that I've taken coffee for granted. A few years ago, I compromised our friendship and decided to cut down on my consumption of coffee. However, I still remember...

How she wakes me up every morning.
How she soothes my nerves during mid-day stress.
How she keeps me going when I'm feeling not-so-myself.
Oh, just her scent, her aroma chases away the gloomy clouds hovering over my head.

During the Origins EnergiZing Workshop yesterday, I learnt a lot more about the benefits of caffeine and I'm rethinking about my friendship with Coffee.

I'm not an Origins user, but simply by looking at the brand, it gives me an impression of being an organic brand. And how right I was! Even their packaging is made from recycled materials.

The product in feature is GinZing™ Energy-boosting moisturizer, which contains Panax Ginseng and Caffeine (derived from coffee beans) for energy; and Olive, Wheat and Barley for moisture.

I took a sniff and my senses felt awakened! Although it smelled very orangey, the blend of citrus oils included Grapefruit Oil for anti-irritant benefits, Spearmint Oil for energy and Lemon Oil to dispel fatigue and increase concentration. (Aha, that made sense!)

All ingredients combined, they give Origins GinZing™ Energy-boosting moisturizer the 'power' to refresh and revitalise dull, tired skin!

Too good to be true? You can be rest assured because it is scientifically proven that after only one application, GinZing™ Energy-boosting moisturizer boosts skin's radiance, improves skin's hydration and makes the skin appear smooth and dewy.

So now, I'm making a vow to rekindle my friendship with Coffee, not in a cup but in a jar. Let's see if she can wake my skin up as she did with my morning cuppa.

For only RM100, it's such an affordable addiction and I (really) hope I'll be able to ditch all those excuses for not staying out late LOL ;)

Oh, I also found out that you can call Origins and book a mini facial session and bring home samples to try. Yes absolutely free! So why not book your sessions today, no harm giving it a try, right?

Happy getting a new addiction!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Expedition to Gawad Kalinga, Tanay Rizal Community Village, Manila, Philippines

Can't believe the CSR volunteer service happened so fast. And we have been backed from Manila for two weeks now.

As I sit down to reflect on the vivid memory, all I can recall are flashes of smiles.

Not the blistered feet from my torn shoes. Not the aching body from the manual labour. Not the throbbing headache from the lack of H2O. 

But the smiles and laughter of the little ones, and even the antics of all the Ate(s) and Lola(s) who were ever ready to entertain us.

From the one-week expedition, we only did approximately 8-10 hours of manual labour. Now imagine, another 1,992 hours to go in order to earn a house! Yes, the villagers are required to offer their manpower on site for a total of 2,000 hours to be eligible for one of the 200 sq ft houses.

During the closing speech, 
Teacher Arlene said that they were blessed to have us. But we were so much more blessed to be there. To be a part of all the efforts and hard work... and not just being able to help them in the littlest way we could, but also being able to learn to see things differently and to appreciate life as it is.

We saw the mothers and grandmothers cry. But I know that they cried not because they were weak but because they have been strong for far too long. Mine was tears of thankfulness that despite the hardships they had to go through, they didn't give up on life. And I pray that their prayers be answered as I saw many "God bless our home" signs but there was one that read "God bless our home...?" My only hope is that they don't give up just yet.

All the aches, blisters, bruises, sunburns, cuts, sweat, nosebleeds and dehydration... They were all worth it! Because this is one of a lifetime experience that cannot be bought, not even with the greatest wealth.

You simply have to be there to see their need, taste their goodness, hear their gasps, smell their courage, touch their hearts, and hopefully change their lives.

Happy giving back freely to the community, as life was freely given to you!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

L'Occitane Opening Celebrations in Queensbay Mall

Yes, L'Occitane en Provence is back - brighter, friendlier and greener - in Queensbay Mall, Penang. And you wouldn't want to miss its Opening Celebrations from 12-14 April 2013.

The interior design exudes a certain warm aura that gives you a welcoming embrace as you walk into the boutique. Later, I found out that the new greenhouse concept boutique is designed and constructed with sustainable materials, in their effort to 'go green'.

The window display is so attractive, I'm beginning to think that it has magical powers that hypnotise people to walk in. *LOL*

The exploration started with a Lucky Dip at the entrance and woot-woot, I got a L'Occitane RM20 voucher!

When I see the crowd and queue, I can't help but assume all these people took leave for this Opening Celebrations. What do you think? Before you answer that, let me tell you... great minds think alike. So don't you agree with me?

My first stop is the Lavender field. Lavender emanates scents that capture the soul of Provence to calm and soothe the body and mind. If you have trouble sleeping, this may help you sleep like a baby.

Of course, I had to check out the men's range for the hubster... Like us, men are also merely protected by the vulnerable skin and they need some pampering too.

If you're a first-timer, who wants to try out the natural goodness of L'Occitance's products, don't miss the Opening Specials!

The Opening Specials are really attractive, each set is only RM99!
Best of Almost (worth RM157) - Shower oil 75ml, Milk concentrate 50ml, Hand cream 30ml, Almond pouch 
Best of Shea Butter (worth RM150) - Shower cream 75ml, Body lotion 75ml, Hand cream 10ml, Foot cream 10ml, Ultra rich lip balm 5ml, Shea wool pouch 
Best of Aromachologie (worth RM145) - Shampoo 75ml, Conditioner 75ml, Shower gel 75ml, Body lotion 75ml, Travel pouch

Jumbo Special
Purchase any two 500ml Jumbo size items, and receive a FREE Limited Edition Umbrella!

Members Exclusive*
Present you L'Occitane membership card and receive an exclusive gift.

Early Bird Special*

First 300 customers who purchase above RM200 will receive a FREE Limited Edition "I LOVE L'OCCITANE" Tote Bag!

Instant Rewards*

Visit L'Occitane at Queensbay Mall and be entitled for an instant reward! Stand a chance to win RM100* L'Occitane cash voucher and other prizes worth RM20,000!

Bring A Friend And Be Rewarded*

Bring your friend to join as L'Occitane new member and when they purchase above RM350, you will receive a FREE Spring Cherry Travel Kit (worth RM85)!

*T&C apply. Normal retail items only. Limited quantity only. While stocks last.

After an hour of tour and getting to know the products better, I walked out with a few bags and I haven't been happier this week!

See these flowers? 

No I didn't buy them, they are on display (for over a year now), and they are called Immortelle or everlasting flowers... because they retain their form and colour when dried. Because they never fade, Immortelle is the key ingredients in the luxurious Immortelle Divine Trilogy.

Recently, L'Occitance introduced the new Immortelle Brightening skin care with the two key ingredients being Immortelle flowers and white daisy! If you didn't already know, I have a soft spot for white daisy.

Immortelle Brightening:
Cleansing foam, moisture cream, essence, brightening water
and concentrated 3D mask, cosmetic pouch

Thought this travel kit would be perfect for the corporate volunteer service expedition to The Philippines in two weeks time! So I didn't have second thoughts when picking this into my shopping basket.

Best of Aromachologie:
Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body lotion, travel pouch
(Verbena extra gentle soap purchased separately)

I tell you... L'Occitane sure knows how to pamper its fans!

Exclusively for Facebook fans, receive additional Best of Provence Travel Kit (worth RM120) with any purchase when you snap a photo with your purchases and upload onto Facebook. 

Lavender shower gel 75ml, Rose Des Champs silky body gel 75ml,
RM20 gift certificate

I can't wait to pamper myself with all these luxurious bodycare and skincare haul from L'Occitance en Provence.

If we don't take care of our body, where will we live, right? *wink wink*

So if you're feeling like splurging this weekend, come on down to L'Occitance en Provence new greenhouse concept boutique, GF-99, Queensbay Mall, Penang.

Happy taking care of your body!

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