Thursday, October 31, 2013

I love polka dots

Black nails for Halloween? But the polka dots made it look more Kate Spade-ish! There's something classic, something girly about polka dots. Heh...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Goodbyes and hellos

The Real Housewives of FC

Goodbyes are always hard, aren't they? Even if you know you will see each other again.

This week, we bid farewell to Winifred and bb O as the family made their move back to Asia. We had an official farewell at Alana's café at Redwood City - a nice little cottage serving hearty brunch like pancakes, quiches, scrambles and toasts. 

There, we presented Winifred with our very own 'Winifred's Guide to Singapore'. We hope it will help her get acquainted with all the new eateries and to-go places back home. Relocation is scary, and little tips here and there go a long way!

Housewives hard at work
The happy mama and baby
We drove them to the airport and helped with the luggage since we stay so close by. All the while, Bb O looked as if she knew something big was about to happen. As we waved goodbye to her at the gate, she looked as if she was going to cry. Argh... we are gonna miss this sweetie pie!

Last attempt to make bb O laugh at the airport

In the same week, we said hello to a new friend who has just arrived in the Bay Area. It's Jo's friend's friend, who also turned out to be Yiru's friend's friend. That we found out. Indeed, it's a small world!

Anyway, Yiru suggested Tootsies At the Stanford Barn - an Italian café serving breakfast/lunch, for our inaugural rendez-vous with Flora. I absolutely adore the ambience of the place - very cosy with its barn structure, red brick walls and pretty outdoor seating. Well, it's close to Stanford Shopping Centre so I guess it has the same European feel. The rest ordered sandwiches and burgers, while I opted for risotto balls which came with fresh arugula salad. Yums! But the thing I'll come back for is the hot chocolate - just the right amount of creaminess and richness for me!

Our big plates on the mini tables

Saying 'welcome' to Flora
After lunch, Yiru invited us over for a short session of tea and coffee before we zipped back to FC to fetch Z. It's really great knowing that the housewives' group is growing. It's so easy to talk to these girls since we are all around the same age and come from similar backgrounds. The husbands are gonna be real envious as we have more and more girls' outings!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Where has the weekend gone?

Oops. The weekend's over already?

Panda had finally gotten his visa issues settled and flew back yesterday - hooray! That's after being away for more than 2 weeks, much longer than we had anticipated. But I was doing alright here on my own, thanks to my awesome friends, who kept bringing food and inviting me over for dinners. On Friday night, I decided it was my turn to host and did a simple dinner.

On Saturday, we made an impromptu shopping trip to Marina Square Centre, San Leandro. The Nike Clearance store was located there and it's pretty cool, carrying more variety than outlet stores. I had to exercise A LOT of self-restraint, telling myself I have enough sports gear and I don't need another set of top, pants and jacket. But the wall of defense sort of fell when we went to Gap. Jo and I each bought a puffy vest. Well, that I don't have yet!
Sunday's pretty much a Cupertino day! I finally had a chance to try Layang Layang, which everyone opined tastes better than Shiok, the other Singaporean/Malaysian restaurant. I was debating between Mee Goreng, Nasi Lemak and Hor Fun. In the end, Hor Fun won and I loved it! Also tried a little bit of their Char Kway Teow. It's not too bad.

I forgot to mention that the reason we were in Cupertino in the first place was KTV. The gang had been itching to go for some time but we decided to wait for Panda. So while he was still somewhat jet-lagging, he gamely went with us. The sound system at Music Tunnel KTV is nothing to shout about (well, compared to those in Asia) but we still had tons of fun. The best thing was that we could order bubble tea and other snacks from the counter! Oh yums. And we only paid $20 each for 3.5 hours of singing.

We requested a tour of Cupertino from Len after KTV and he dutifully brought us to see the Merlion statue and Cupertino Village, where one can find a gigantic Ranch 99 supermarket and all kinds of Chinese cuisine. We wanted to try the porridge place at the village but it was unfortunately closed, so we headed to another one at Milpitas some 20 minutes away, called The Porridge - Mei Garden. The food is pretty simple, but I absolutely love it for it's home-cooked taste. 菜圃蛋 (fried egg with preserved radish) is the best!

Before heading home, we checked out Milpitas Square, another Chinese shopping complex with restaurants and a smaller Ranch 99 supermarket. I didn't even realise we have so many restaurant choices near us. The next time I have visitors who love Asian food, I'll be sure to head down to Cupertino.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ice-cream temptation at Palo Alto

I love, love ice-cream. Correction. Chocolate ice-cream.

Which was why when Jo and Vic tempted me with an invitation to Tin Pot Creamery, I barely had a 1-sec hesitation before saying yes! I haven't even had dinner yet! But for good chocolate ice-cream, I would gladly reverse the meal order.

So tonight, I decided to be a little more adventurous. Other than a safe chocolate flavour, I ordered Earl Grey and Pumpkin Spice - October is the month for pumpkins, right? 

Verdict: I still like chocolate the most. Earl Grey was a little disappointing, Pumpkin Spice was interesting in a nice way, but Rich Chocolate with TCHO Shards was unbeatable!

And the good thing about Tin Pot is that its ice-cream doesn't melt fast (yay, cos I don't eat melty ice-cream!) The bad thing is that the shop closes at 9pm. Too early!

There were also no seats in the shop so we stood outside to eat our ice-creams. It was freezing but the feeling of eating ice-cream on a chilly night was awesome. Halfway through, we snuck into CVS to get some warmth while Vic checked out his stuff.

It was such an impromptu ice-cream night - you can tell by our bare/make-up free faces. Heh! But it was fun. And when I got home, I still have hot watercress soup packed by Jo as my proper dinner. My sweet housewife friends have been taking turns to pack soup/dinner for me the lone lady. So niceeeeee!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Arts & craft: the apple of my eye

This is for bb O, who will be flying back to Singapore with her parents next week. The family is returning home for good, which means we will have one less neighbour to hang out with in FC! :(

The design is called Apple of My Eye because I think that's what bb O is in her parents' eyes. She has the softest hair, sweetest rainbow-eyed smile, and heartiest laugh. And if you know her story, you will understand how just by looking at her, one is reminded of God's grace and providence in life. Oh, all the aunties are gonna miss her!

I thought long and hard whether to put this up on SGUS because I wanted it to be a special thing for bb O. In the end, I decide to go ahead because it's still a cute design which I love very much and want to share with others.

Already, it has two 'favourites' within the first 5 minutes of listing. It's always an encouragement to know there are people viewing and liking, even without purchase.

In any case, hope bb O will be able to use this someday, and remember Auntie Grace.

God bless this little baby!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

P is for pumpkins!

This is definitely a weekend of pumpkins!

Was initially a little disappointed that we didn't manage to visit the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival as planned, because of horrible traffic. I later learned from friends that going by Highway 92 is a big NO; it will almost guarantee that you get stuck for hours. You have to go via CA-1 from either the north or south.

In any case we found comfort in a small pumpkin patch in San Mateo. It's located somewhere along South Delaware Street. I think it's called Steve's Pumpkin Patch, and I bought two small pumpkins there for only 59c each. They are soooo cute!

After that we headed over to The Annex at St Michel's Alley at Palo Alto for brunch. I had the eggs benedict (no pumpkins in this one) and it's pretty good! One of the best I've eaten, actually.

The portion was so right that I had just enough room for Philz Coffee, which was within walking distance of the restaurant. I must say all good reviews are valid! I ordered Sumatra Decaf while Jo and Vic ordered Mint Mojito Ice Coffee, complete with that little mint leaf.

Check out their décor - they pasted little eyes on all the pumpkins!  

And then it was a quick stop at Stanford Shopping Centre and Town and Country Village - where you'd find blocks of cute little shops and restaurants. Panda and I drove past a few times when we were taking that evening course at Stanford. Maybe we can head over for dinner one of the evenings... hmm any special occasions coming up?

Bullying the pumpkin husband at home

Then today at Sunday School, we had gigantic pumpkins that were dug out and filled with rocks with words such as 'grumpy', 'rude', 'jealousy' and 'hatred'. Kids were supposed to take them out and then fill the pumpkin back with seeds of 'love', 'kindness', 'gentleness', 'patience', 'self-control' etc.

It symbolises how God cleanses us. And how he could turn something bad into something good, just like in the story of Joseph, where he was time and again redeemed from seemingly bad situations.  

It's my first time smelling the insides of a pumpkin, actually. It has a pretty strong smell (a little girl backed away cos she found it to be too pungent)! But I was so excited seeing the giant pumpkins on the tables, I kept gushing about it... so much so that I think my teaching partner thinks I'm a country bumpkin! ^ ^

Oh well...

Friday, October 18, 2013

Girls' night out

I didn't expect downtown Redwood City to be bustling with people on a Thursday night - the night of our first girls' outing!

When we came last November, Panda and I tried a couple of restaurants there because we were staying near the office. Since then, we didn't go back to explore further because we were content with the small eateries at San Mateo and Burlingame. And back in winter, Redwood City's Broadway/Main Street looked cold, dark and a little ghetto-ish.

So it came as a surprise to me when I saw restaurants overflowing with people. And I think it made the outing even more 'exciting'! We had all dressed up a little for the occasion - set our hair, do our make-up, worn our heels. The crowd made me feel as if we were really out in town, even though it's only Redwood City!

The first two restaurants Martin West GP and Vesta looked awesome but were unfortunately full to the brim with a 45-minute wait. So we settled for a cosy Italian restaurant next to Vesta. The wait staff at Vino Santo Bistro were really friendly and our food arrived in good time. Jo and I both order pasta (Fettuccini Vino Santo and Linguine Con Gamberi) while Winifred and Wendy had dinner specials (Risotto Con Merluzzo & Gamberi and steak).

 I must admit I'm happiest with my vodka cocktail. It's been too long since I had one.

The chocolate decadence was deemed a disappointment. But by the time dessert came, I was too happily engaged in chit chatting and giggling to feel the difference. And since I'm a simple eater, anything with chocolate goes! We ended up staying till we were one of the last two tables to leave.

We were all still quite high as Turbo Francis faithfully ferried each of the housewives home. I think the next time we have a girls' outing, we will be sorely missing Winifred's presence as she will be heading home in less than 2 weeks. Boohoho!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Peaceful start to the week

Compared to the action-packed weekend, the first two days of the new week seemed to have passed by slowly and 'peacefully'.

On Monday, after an early morning bubbly tea rendez-vous with Wendy, I crawled back to the sofa, wrapped myself up with the throw, and continued my never-ending affair with Lincoln. It's one of those heavy content books that you are reluctant to pick up; but once you do, you will find it hard to let go. 

I'm at the mid point now, at Lincoln's early days as President, trying to manage both the impending civil war as well as his cabinet of ambitious, capable but egoistic men.

(For those interested: The New York Time's review of the book is here.)

So anyway, this lasted for a while until it was time to attend the French Club gatherings (I really need to improve on my French!). I didn't notice how dark the room had turned, and I kinda liked how the sun casts shadows on the wall as it sets.

I think it's a luxury to be able to stare into space and do nothing.

Then today, at our now 'regular' worship session at Winifred's, Yiru introduced a new song, Beautiful Things by indie band Gungor. I also shared another, To Believe by Jackie Evancho. I absolutely love the prayerful lyrics and her rich voice. Awesome gift for a young girl. 

We also had a chance to talk a little bit more about personal stuff. I really, really thank God for connecting us, allowing us to share comfortably. As we leave, I took home a big goodie bag - jackets and clothes and other stuff that were on their way to the donation bin. Winifred said I could look through them and decide if I want to keep them.

I quite like digging through second hand items, just like at flea markets and vintage stores. And I love stories behind a piece of clothing (e.g. where and when it was bought, was it one of those comfy ones you wear countless times? )

I am officially a hoarder!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

An unplanned sports day

I was lying on the sofa after I got back from church, feeling sad about how badly my Sunday School went (it was a little chaotic today with a large group of kids and I was zombie-like from the lack of sleep), wondering if I should nap the whole day...

... when my WhatsApp started blinking with messages from Jo.

That was the start of the most spontaneous sports day of my life.

Fifteen minutes later, we were down at the Marinas Point driving range watching Vic and the Leows in action. I wasn't even in proper sports gear because I just wanted to check out the place for my parents. (The driving range is decent enough and the price looks OK too - $14 for 148 balls.)

Then as we were about to leave, I got a text from Jasmine asking if we want to play volleyball. Of course! I love volleyball!

Since the estate has volleyball, basketball and tennis courts, the whole lot of us at the driving range headed back to my little den to munch on nuggets, chips, garlic bread and mini burgers (yes, leftovers from brunch!) while waiting for the 'team' to arrive.

We ended up playing basketball, then volleyball, then tennis until the sky was too dark and we were all too hungry.

Just like that. We exercised the whole afternoon in a totally random manner. It's too hilarious.

And our reward? Awesome Korean food at Soon's Tofu.

I may be biased about the place because I was starving, but I think the food was really yummy and the service was excellent. I love the banchan (side dishes) and chapchae (stir fried sweet potato noodles). The only thing is, I should have asked for very spicy ramen sundubu!

A steamy affair...

This is going to be a short one... before I collapse on the bed and snore away.

I am bursting at the seams from a really good steamboat dinner at Jo's place. We had SO MUCH food. I was eating non-stop for 2 hours, and I think I consumed enough quail eggs to make my cholesterol level shoot sky high! Luckily, they are not all that bad, according to this article.

After we cleared the steamboat stuff, we had 'gourmet coffee' made by Vic the barista, and rich chocolate ganache brought to us by the Leows... oh yum yum. 


(Oops. Have I been posting too much about food lately?)

Anyhow, here's a peak at what I had for lunch today. I woke up around 11am, cooked steak and potato hash for lunch, continued with my preparation for Sunday School, then had a nice bubble bath before heading out to meet Jo at the supermarket.

I am really, really diggin' the slow paced life.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday madness

It's so chilly today! Quite unusual since we had warm weather the past few days. Normally I would curl up in bed and not wake up until lunch time. But I surprised myself by accomplishing much.

First, the girls came over in the morning and we had an extremely fun tennis session. Then, we had a fabulous brunch! Check out the spread. It was meant to be a small brunch after exercise, but one thing led to another and we eventually had jumbo scallops, mussels in white wine source, garlic bread and mini burgers!

After the girls left I did the laundry (gasp!) and vacuumed the house. Then I went to the gym to do another 2.4 miles on the machine and some exercise with a medicine ball. I need to get back to my 3.2 mile mark soon!

Next came the overdue manicure. I had bought a tube of gold glitters from Jo Ann (it was only $0.99!) In an attempt to be more festive, I painstakingly arranged these tiny gold flecks one by one against a red background. By the time I was done, it was 8pm. But hey, I'm ready for...... Christmas?

I'm now waiting for my hair to dry. And while waiting, I'm going to do my last task for the day.  That is, to start preparing for this Sunday's lesson. Time to quieten my heart after a day of activities, and experience God's presence.

I saved the best for the last, hein?

For the love of language

This is how I put Panda's Note2 to good use. Writing my grocery list in Chinese. I am pretty sure I have one or two wrong characters there, but I find it fun just to write.

I am a lover of language, all kinds of them. My dream is to learn as many as I can. Right now, I am still at a miserable four: English, Mandarin, Cantonese, French. But I figured I should at least be fluent in those! Hence, the challenge I set for myself - to brush up on my French by writing weekly essays. What better time to do this than now, right?

My first topic is an interesting one: Discuss how companies can take advantage of iPhone5S' new 'Touch ID' technology.

And I managed to complete this by my Friday deadline. Short, yes. But attempted and done. Yay!

Honestly, I don't think anyone will read the actual content - even Panda who gave me the topic said he wouldn't understand what I'm writing anyway! But I recalled how much vocabulary I picked up when I was writing essays as a student in France. It forced me to look for new words, check sentence construction and verb conjugation. It's a tedious but essential learning process.

I don't want to lose something I spent so much time and energy on learning.

So I'm hoping even though I don't have a professor to check my grammaire, orthographe et cetera, I will gain something out of this!



Discutez comment les sociétés peuvent-elles profiter de nouvel technologie « Touch ID », fait disponible par l’iPhone5S.

La reconnaissance de l'empreinte digitale n’est pas nouvelle. Nous utilisons telle technologie depuis longtemps surtout dans l’industrie de sécurité. Puisque l’empreinte de l’individu est unique, elle est alors censée être le plus sûr moyen de vérifier l’identité d’une personne.

En ce qui concerne à l’utilisation publique, jusqu’à la dernière décennie nous avons la plupart de temps limité cette technologie aux scanners automatiques à la douane. Cependant, le développement de cette technologie permet son emploi à la maison: nous pouvons ouvrir sans clef la porte avec une serrure électronique, déverrouiller l’ordinateur sans taper le mot de passe…

Le lancement de l’iPhone5S avec sa fonction « Touch ID » nous dit que la mobilité de cette technologie est de nouveau grandie. Par exemple, même avec une serrure électronique nous devons être physiquement là quand nous ouvrons la porte pour un ami ; avec iPhone5S, nous pourrons le faire ailleurs simplement par envoyer notre empreinte via le portable. Non plus le fardeau d’être présent.     

En outre, quand nous faisons nos affaires bancaires en ligne, nous employons deux niveaux de sécurité en ce moment – nous utilisons notre propre mot de passe, et puis soit le code que la banque nous envoie à notre portable, soit le code affiché du dispositif que la banque nous a donné auparavant. Cependant, nous pouvons oublier le mot de passe ou faire perdre le dispositif. L’emploi de l’empreinte digitale comme un des deux niveaux de sécurité peut nous éviter la peine de trouver le mot de passe ou le dispositif.

Selon les deux exemples, les sociétés peuvent penser aux moyens où l’empreinte digitale peut apporter aux clients plus de flexibilité et de commodité. 

Néanmoins, il y a toujours un péril associé de technologie biométrique. Si nous utilisons notre empreinte surtout dans un format digital dans la vie quotidienne et la laissons partout dans cyberspace, c’est-à-dire que nous sommes plus susceptibles d’être volé de la plus importante vérification de notre identité. Nous ne pouvons pas la changer comme le mot de passe ; elle demeurerait « irrémédiablement violée ». 

Donc, qui veut risquer son identité unique pour la commodité, fait disponible par technologie ? C’est une question nous posons aux clients. C’est à eux à choisir.

Reference :
  • Le lecteur d’empreintes digitales de l’iPhone5S « hacké » (
  • iPhone5S : le « Touch ID » (reconnaissance d’empreintes) pourrait être solution pour ceux qui ne verrouillent pas leur téléphone (
  • iPhone5S et l’empreinte digitale comme mot de passe : un jeu de dupes à haut risque (

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Arts & craft: The journey of the pink raindrops

I thought it would be good to dedicate one day to arts and craft, just like what I did last week! Otherwise I will be all over the place with my long to-do list.

I sort of made this while waiting to fetch Jo from the airport the other day. So today, I went ahead with the photo session. It was surprisingly difficult, unlike the previous time. First, I had to dig through my limited pile of clothes to get the 'look' I wanted - I wasn't sure if I was going in the right direction. Then, it was a question of capturing that shade of pink.

Natural light + neon colours = not ideal!

Panda was trying to clear his work before the trip, so I didn't want to take up too much of his time. He thought the photos looked OK, but somehow I wasn't as confident. I thought it's a little poseur-ish and it looked weird when I cropped off the face. 
And I was rushing to fetch the Leows from the airport. So I changed back to the grey sweater I was wearing this morning and took a few more shots of myself before running off.
In the end, after consulting the girls (I needed female opinion), I changed the photo on Etsy to the one I took in my grey sweater. While Panda thought the stripes background was distracting and preferred the balcony photos, the girls thought the second colour combination was better. And I concurred!

Phew. Taking and choosing photos takes longer than the actual product creation, sometimes. When a listing goes up, you don't see all the work behind-the-scenes!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Great food + company = a blessed day!

We enjoyed ourselves so much last week that we decided to do another worship session today. Yiru, who's taking a break from work, also joined us in crooning some songs. It's so awesome to have a group that worships the Lord together!

We also popped by Safeway in the morning to get some sandwich rolls for brunch. The deli roll (all rolled up tray) was absolutely delicious, especially after we heated it up in the oven. 

Bb O also joined us at the brunch table, listening in to our conversations and grinning every now and then. She's so adorable that I couldn't help but take many, many photos of her. 

Met Panda for lunch because he said we should spend more time together before he heads back home to extend his visa. I heart the Earl Grey Milk Tea at Ocha Tea Café so we went back to try their small selection of food. We shared the Crispy Chicken Rice (ard $5.95) and Minced Pork Rice (ard $3.95). It's sooooo yummy!

Invited Jo to come over and have dinner with us because Vic is away on a short business trip. I only cooked three dishes - 风味可乐鸡腿、油菜 and 煎鱼. We ended the meal with coffee, ice-cream, and loads of chit-chatting.

Today is all about simple food and warm company. And it totally made my day!