Home Sweet Home (Malaysia) for 11 Short Days

It’s my 7th day back home and the thought of leaving on June 1st is already tugging at my heart. I half regret planning this 6-day trip to Beijing since it’s taking time away from my home and family. And all those Malaysian food on my list that I’ve yet to voraciously devour. [I’m in the process of documenting my Malaysian Food Diary so be sure to check http://www.deliciouslyhaute.com in a few days]. At the same time, I miss NYC a whole lot. I know I shouldn’t be, but boy… NYC has that kind of effect on you.

My First Day Back in “Malaysia Boleh”-land…

I’m usually pretty good with adjusting to drastically different time zones and rarely have jet lags. This time, I felt terribly tired the moment I landed. Cathay wasn’t as great as everyone else made it out to be. To be honest, I didn’t like the (mediocre) food at all. The seats/service wasn’t particularly outstanding either. I wished I’d flown Malaysian Airlines (MAS) since  they serve really good Malaysian food on the plane!! I could barely sleep on the plane even though I’ve been so sleep deprived the whole week in NYC preceding my flight.

Anyway, our original plan was to get me home to nap right away upon my arrival. But instead, my Mom took a detour and fed me with Mee Rebus, Mee Jawa and Popiah! Yes, that’s what Malaysians do. Eat. Eat. Eat. It’s our hobby and it’s what we love (and live) to do.

OMG. It totally woke me up. Pretty hilarious. I couldn’t stop pinching and teasing kissing and hugging my lil brother after that. Miss him soooo much!!! Sister was sleeping at home. Aihh.

When I got home. I was surprised to see my home being completely renovated!! The house is about twice its size when I left it 2.5 years ago!! My Mom totally built out the rooms. I think we have like 8 bedrooms now and 6 bathrooms?? And 8 (+1 moi, as a “guest”) people living in this mansion that my Mom single-handedly built! It’s pretty insane. That’s why I call her a superwoman. Plus, she’s housing my 2 aunts, my nephew and grandmother too, so we are one big happy family. Mom has a heart made out of gold. Wait, no. What’s purer than gold? Platinum.

Day Deux

Did I mention that my Mom’s also a Kiwani’s Club leader (she’s in line for President next year) and does a ton of charity work?

She’s also probably one of the most active line dancers in the country. I can’t count the number of times she’s performed in front of hundreds/thousands… and she dances almost daily!! On Sunday morning, I accompanied her to The Curve Mall, where she organized a line dancing charity event for her Kiwani’s Chapter and had to dance for 5 hours straight!!

While I stayed for a bit to see her kick start the event (sorry, line dancing’s not for me… maybe if it were “no-line” hip-hop, I’d be dancing), I spent the next 7.5 hours (yes, that’s right) shopping with my very patient sister, who eagerly gave me her fashion opinion for the first 5 hours but ultimately fretted and got tired of my compulsive and uncontrollable spending behavior… 😉 Can you blame me? I miss shopping in Malaysia. At this point, I was completely broke though. Oh dear, this is only day deux! Habislah…

Visiting Daddy at the “Rumah Orang Kurang Berupaya”

I didn’t get to see my Dad until Day 3 unfortunately. He stays at the nursing home not too far from where Mom lives, and when we were finally able to take him out for dinner, he was already eagerly awaiting our arrival at the porch!! He was so excited to see me I could see his eyes sparkle! He kept on smiling and pointing at my body, giving me a ‘thumbs up.’ lol. I think he was trying to tell me that I looked good. 🙂

I knew that he had so much to say but just couldn’t say it and my heart really sank at that time. This is the first time I’m seeing him after his stroke and I wasn’t quite sure how I’d react. My dad’s speech is impaired (so he isn’t able to communicate effectively anymore, if at all) and he is paralyzed (probably for good). I went through a tough period last year when this happened but I’ve come to accept things as they are. I just wished he could talk…. or even just write…

It was a little tough to find a place where we can take him for dinner but alas, we found this road-side Bak Kuh Teh and Wantan Mee store. Yum! It really felt good to eat dinner as a complete family again. Oh how I yearn for that sometimes!!

It was a great night. I miss my Dad. Even though he wasn’t an ideal father. I forgive and forget. I just want my Dad back. Can’t wait to see him and take him out to dinner again, but Mom says we have to wait a few days…

Moi, the Amateur Barber Chick on Day Four?

The before photo…

Cutting session in progress…

The after photo… (ta da!)

We seem to be starting a tradition where I cut my brother’s hair everytime I come home. hahaha. I love it. This time, I trimmed (what felt like) 2.5 inches off his shaggy “non-hairstyle”! Oh dear, my brother has wayyy too much rambut (hair) for his own good! But we had so much fun in the bathroom it was well worth the mess we had to clean up after. Tee hee! He claims that I cut his hair too short, but I think it looks good on him. I like my boy to be clean cut. Well, sometimes 😉 A day later, he admits to liking his new hairdo. There you go… my brother has turned yours truly into an amateur barber chick. Anyone else wants a free haircut? At my discretion and your own risk?

Day 5: My Sister’s a Talented Sweetheart…

She’s helping me design my logo!! Now someone tell me why I didn’t just let her design my whole website??

I already know how amazing an artist she is… yet I’m still constantly blown away by what this gal can do with her imagination and hands!! Thanks so much dearie for transforming my airplane napkin sketches into this solid masterpiece! I’m so excited to unveil it in July… but for now, this is a little sneak peek!

I’m trying to help my sister (who is in her final year of her Digital Animation degree) start a graphics designing business in the US. We’ll start off designing logos and such at a very reasonable fee since she’s building her portfolio. If you are interested in her logo designing services, please email me and we can chat!!

**Day 6 and beyond… to be continued…**

Sunday Night Recharge

I’ve had visitors in the city (and my apartment) 3 weekends out of the past 5. Good friends. Really close buddies that I can’t be happier hosting!

On top of having to entertain my guests and make sure they enjoy NYC to the fullest possible, I’ve had to juggle a full-time day job as a management consultant, coordinate speakers and events for E.Forum & 85Broads, write reviews for Citysearch, keep up with my blog(s), catch up with old and new friends alike, workout 5 out of 7 days, and above all, work on my new venture.

I always call my Mom a “superwoman”. Because she is. But now I’m seeing myself becoming one too.

Some people worry that I’ll get burnout. Actually, that’s a misnomer for being stressed out. See below (source):

The difference between stress and burnout

Burnout may be the result of unrelenting stress, but it isn’t the same as too much stress. Stress, by and large, involves too much: too many pressures that demand too much of you physically and psychologically. Stressed people can still imagine, though, that if they can just get everything under control, they’ll feel better.

Burnout, on the other hand, is about not enough. Being burned out means feeling empty, devoid of motivation, and beyond caring. People experiencing burnout often don’t see any hope of positive change in their situations. If excessive stress is like drowning in responsibilities, burnout is being all dried up. One other difference between stress and burnout: While you’re usually aware of being under a lot of stress, you don’t always notice burnout when it happens.

Stress vs. Burnout
Stress
Burnout
Characterized by overengagement Characterized by disengagement
Emotions are overreactive Emotions are blunted
Produces urgency and hyperactivity Produces helplessness and hopelessness
Loss of energy Loss of motivation, ideals, and hope
Leads to anxiety disorders Leads to detachment and depression
Primary damage is physical Primary damage is emotional
May kill you prematurely May make life seem not worth living
Source: Stress and Burnout in Ministry

I don’t think I’ll ever be burnout. I may be stressed out, but thankfully, I actually do have a self-imposed slow-down mechanism whereby I will say ‘no’ when I need to (so please don’t take it personally if that happens). I am also trying a new Sunday routine…

Read more…

Deliciously Haute Cocktail Launch Party!

I finally found a little bit of time to put up photos of my http://www.deliciouslyhaute.com cocktail launch party!! The party was immensely successful and I am so glad everyone showed up, had a wonderful time and made this the best party I’ve ever hosted!

To recap, here’s what we had at the party:

  • A full bar (with at least 15 different types of liquor from around the world, contributed by my amazing party attendees!), complete with stuffed olives, assorted nuts, longan, pineapple, fresh lime & lemon, peppers, blackberries, strawberries, and more!
  • A specially crafted cocktail menu with the most inventive and creative cocktail names (created with the help of my dearest friend-cum-bartender for the party, Zoe Mey), printed and distributed to guests

  • Delicious hor d’oeuvres prepared by me and greatly assisted by my Sous Chef Gary T, such as
    • Baked Brie in Puff Pastry with Strawberry Preserves
    • Pear Wedges with Herbed Bacon Ricotta
    • Smoked Salmon and Apple-Celery Tartare on Rye Toasts
    • Taleggio and Cremini Confit Crostini
    • Cumin-spiced Meatballs with Mint and Feta Yogurt Dip
  • Excellent grilled chicken, grilled vege and marinated black angus steak wraps generously catered by PRESS NY (who also gave all my party guests a free wrap gift card! I have to thank Press co-founders Gil and Jimmy for giving away these freebies – everyone at the party complimented on how deliciously tasty those wraps were, esp the steak and vege ones!!). Check their 2 locations out here (27th and 3rd Ave & 23rd and Park Ave)! Click here if you want them to cater for your party: press catering-menu online.
  • Israeli salad, garlic fries and homemade chocolate mousse with oreos, also catered by PRESS NY
  • The best cupcakes in NYC by Chikalicious for dessert!!
  • Shots of Absinthe going around (thanks to Wayne H!!)
  • Everyone got stamped http://www.deliciouslyhaute.com either on their wrist, forehead or buttocks!!
  • 26 wonderful people who made my day! I couldn’t have done it without every single one of you! Enjoy the photos below!

We took the after-party to Schiller’s Liquor Bar in the LES, and then to Poutine (it was a bummer that BaoHaus was closed). Thanks again for all those who attended and made this such a memorable day!

Perks: Vidal Sassoon $200 haircut and $300 hair service

My rewards for being a Citysearch Dictator!


A few weeks ago, I claimed a prize for a wonderful haircut with the Regional Creative Director, Martin at Vidal Sassoon downtown. I loved the new cut, which soften my look and trimmed off the split ends. I feel so refreshed now!

Last night, I received another certificate for a $275 color service (also at VS) from Citysearch! That’s why I love writing for them… I get to choose my own prizes most of the time!! Although I initially wanted to dye my hair, I miss my curls and think I’ll perm my hair instead. I called VS up and they said they’ll gladly switch out the service for me! I’m super excited and will set my appointment for sometime in May. I want to grow my hair out a little more before I curl it!

Cole Haan & Esprit 5th Ave Store Opening / Johnnie Walker Tasting

Cole Haan Opening / Esprit Store / Johnnie Walker Tasting

Travel Deals: Who’s Up for traveling with me over Thanksgiving?

$499 — Costa Rica 6-Night Vacation from New York

http://vacations.travelzoo.com/south-american-vacations/778168?utm_source=top20_us&utm_medium=email_top20

$1499 — Turkey 13-Night Tour Package w/Upscale Hotels & Air

http://vacations.travelzoo.com/european-vacations/776572?utm_source=top20_us&utm_medium=email_top20

Film: Bill Cunningham New York at the MoMA

Bill Cunningham

It was such an incredible film that not only showcased Bill’s devotion to street fashion photography but also delved into his humbling, minimalist private life that very few have been privileged to be let in.

I was touched, inspired, sad, grateful, and in awe all at the same time! Great job, Ryan Denmark (editor) and David Valdez (special effects director)!

Knowing Bill Cunningham

“He wants nothing more than to be able to stand on the street and wait to be thrilled by what someone is wearing. Period.”

Here’s what the NY Times LENS wrote about him:

Bill Cunningham is probably the most honest photojournalist in New York. But he can also be pretty deceptive.

Not that he tries to be. Rather, in his pursuit of a singular, joyful mission — documenting daily the interesting clothes that women and men can and (this is important) do wear — Mr. Cunningham makes it all look easy.

That’s deceiving because he may be, at 81, the hardest working reporter in New York. He’s also among the most private, despite the fact that he can easily be spied in public, wearing a blue worker’s smock and bicycling fearlessly through city streets. His personal life is so understated and ascetic as to seem anonymous. His aversion to the spotlight is itself the stuff of fashion legend.

So the miracle of “Bill Cunningham New York,” a new 88-minute documentary about the photographer of “On the Street” and “Evening Hours,” is that its subject agreed to participate in the first place. The film, which is to open the New Directors/New Films series on Wednesday at the Museum of Modern Art, took 10 years to make. The first eight were spent trying to get Mr. Cunningham to cooperate. “It started in 2000,” said Richard Press, who directed the film. Philip Gefter, to whom Mr. Press is married, produced it. “Philip and I approached Bill. He just pooh-poohed the idea. He couldn’t entertain it. He said, ‘Why me? There’s no subject here.’”

At the time, Mr. Press was supporting his filmmaking as a freelance art director at The Times. He had worked with and admired Mr. Cunningham. Mr. Gefter was a picture editor at the newspaper. (Full disclosure as a Times employee: I adore Bill Cunningham, not only because of his work but because he calls me “young fellow.” I’m 57.)

Despite Mr. Cunningham’s reluctance, Mr. Press was able to shoot footage of the photographer at work during Fashion Week in 2001. He cobbled that together for a short video homage shown in 2008 when Mr. Cunningham was honored by the Citizens Committee for New York City and declined to give a speech at the event.

Fortunately for posterity, Mr. Cunningham enjoyed what he saw. “He felt like I got him, that I got the spirit of him,” Mr. Press said. At the same event, Mr. Press and Mr. Gefter began talking with Times executives about co-producing a documentary.

Filming began in earnest during Fashion Week, 2008. The crew consisted entirely of Mr. Press, Mr. Gefter and Tony Cenicola, another Times photographer. They used a small, consumer-grade, high-definition Canon. And they were obliged at times to keep negotiating with their still-reluctant subject.

“It was always a dance getting his cooperation, even during filming,” Mr. Press said. “We tried to approach it as he would approach it. We tried to be as discreet and invisible as possible, because we knew we could never interrupt his work.”

Eventually, their respectful tenacity was rewarded with ever greater access to Mr. Cunningham’s inner circle and his personal realm — a cramped studio in Carnegie Hall that comes with few modern amenities. Like a private bathroom.

This is a man who seems to be moderate in everything except his pursuit of fashion and his consumption of film; a photographer who won’t put down his camera even when he’s the guest of honor (“You think I’m going to miss a good picture?”) and won’t pick up his camera just because Catherine Deneuve is passing by. “She wasn’t wearing anything interesting,” he explains.

Just seeing Mr. Cunningham not raise camera to eye is enough to strike dread into the heart of a fashion editor, Anna Wintour notes. Yet he has no interest in being the arbiter he certainly could be; just the chronicler.

“It isn’t what I think, it’s what I see,” Mr. Cunningham says. “I let the street speak to me. You’ve got to stay on the street and let the street tell you what it is.”

He’s not especially curious about his own bio-pic, though he respects Mr. Press and Mr. Gefter for having gone to the trouble of making it. When I asked him last week whether he planned to see it, Mr. Cunningham answered: “Run for the hills! Up into the mountains with a bag of lentils!”

With that, he was off — not to the hills but back to the street.

Thanks so much Zoe dear, for taking me to this wonderful documentary feature and for introducing me to your fun-loving and artistic friends, Kate, Ryan and Dave!!

Desserts at P.J. Clarke’s

Kate lovin' her apple pie 'burger'!

That looks absolutely sinful!

Ryan and Zoe

Mr. Valdez