18 September 2014

Exploring Singapore: Tiong Bahru


Yesterday I took advantage of my child free time off and spent a lazy day exploring Tiong Bahru - one of the oldest housing estates in Singapore.   The area is a mix of the old and new and is full of character.  It is has been undergoing a bit of a renewal over the past few years with cafes, bakeries and small and eclectic boutiques moving in.  A great area to explore and spend some time.







I started my morning at Forty Hands and caught up on my news and social media over a piccolo latte and eggs benedict.  I then crossed the road to check out a new little urban grocer pop up (Crateful), walked through the various criss cross streets past Flock and One Olive down to Tiong Bahru Market where I eyed off lots of fresh flowers, housewares and the hawker stalls.  Next stop was over to Eng Hoon Street by Tiong Bahru Bakery, Orange Thimble and the gorgeous Bloesom. 

I headed back to Yong Siak Street as Books Actually, Woods in the Books and Strangelets had opened in time for a long browse.




It was so lovely to have a couple of hours to myself!

Other Tiong Bahru guides are here (City Nomads) and here (Singapore Foodie)

17 September 2014

career tips from smart women



One of my frequent blog reads, A Cup of Jo is featuring career themed posts this week.

Her first post from earlier this week set out some quotes and tips from some inspiring women... below are some of my favourites (mostly from the hilarious and cool Tina Fey!).  Although a career driven post, I think a lot of the below applies to life generally. 

On being confident: 
I love women who are bosses and who don't constantly worry about what their employees think of them. I love women who don't ask, "Is that OK?" after everything they say. I love when women are courageous in the face of unthinkable circumstances, like my mother when she was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. Or like Gabrielle Giffords writing editorials for the New York Times about the cowardice of Congress regarding gun laws and using phrases like "mark my words" like she is Clint Eastwood. How many women say stuff like that?
Mindy Kaling
Speak in statements instead of apologetic questions. No one wants to go to a doctor who says, “I’m going to be your surgeon? I’m here to talk to you about your procedure? I was first in my class at Johns Hopkins, so?” Make statements, with your actions and your voice.
Tina Fey

On dealing with critics:
My unsolicited advice to women in the workplace is this. When faced with sexism, or ageism, or lookism, or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: “Is this person in between me and what I want to do?” If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work and outpacing people that way. Then, when you’re in charge, don’t hire the people who were jerky to you.
Tina Fey

On being flexible: 
I used to dream about one day being at Wimbledon. I could taste the strawberries and cream I could see myself curtseying there at center court. And I didn't make it there, obviously, as a tennis player, but let me tell you even though I had a mic in my hand instead of a tennis racket for ESPN when I went to cover it for the first time; to me it was like 'check! Wimbledon.' You have to be creative in reaching your goals and I think that's what really helped me so much in my life both professionally and personally. Just not being too rigid. Having goals and setting goals, but being flexible with them and knowing that it might not quite look like how I think it's going to look and that's okay.
Robin Roberts

On letting go of perfection and being good enough:
I think this..."perfectionist gene" that too many young women have holds them back, and instead they should be really aiming for "good enough." You don't have to be perfect. Most men never think like that. They're just trying to figure out what's the opening and how they can seize it. They're not thinking about, Oh my gosh, I'm not perfect, my hair's not perfect today, I wore the wrong shoes. No.
Hilary Rodham Clinton 
The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30...What I learned about bombing as a writer at Saturday Night is that you can’t be too worried about your "permanent record." Yes, you’re going to write some sketches that you love and are proud of forever—your golden nuggets. But you’re also going to write some real shit nuggets. And unfortunately, sometimes the shit nuggets will make it onto the air. You can’t worry about it. As long as you know the difference, you can go back to panning for gold on Monday.
Tina Fey

15 September 2014

to hong kong with love...


I have a few weeks off before I start the new job so we decided to take advantage of the time and sneak in a week to Hong Kong.  The Mr could work from his office there and it left me, my mama and the little lady to enjoy the city.

I lived in HK for two years between 2008-2010 and definitely have a love affair with the city.  I have been back and forth for work since then but this was the first time in a long time that I have spent some 'off' time there.   It was so different seeing it and experiencing it with a kid in tow and I didn't get to do a lot of what we used to do.  But we did have a great week (despite the toddler sleep regression which is still ongoing..sigh) revisiting our old haunts, catch ups and playdates with friends and discovering some cool new places.  

Here are a few of my tips from our week:
  • The Peak - We were spoiled with beautiful, clear (but hot!) summery weather all week so we took advantage and went for an outing up to the Peak. The little lady loved the Peak Tram and there are some great walks and playgrounds up there for the little ones.   

  • The Star Ferry - I always love taking the star ferry when I am in HK - it's such a great little escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
  • The Markets - The Ladies Market, Wet Markets and various shopping streets dotted around town are always worth a visit. 
  • The Woods - new bar on Hollywood Road focusing on creating cocktails with seasonal ingredients
  • Fish and Meat - farm to table simple dining. Great atmosphere. 
  • Nantei - an old favourite and you can't go wrong with yakitori.  Their chicken wings are amazing.   
  • Gough Street - this was one of my favourite streets when I lived there. It has gone through a bit of a makeover and gentrification in the last few years so very different to how I remember it. Now filled with cool homewares stores, boutiques and an Agnes b cafe.  I was pleased to see that the best beef brisket noodles restaurant (just look for the queue on the corner) is still surviving.  
  • PMQ - urban renewal at its finest - the redevelopment of the old police married quarters is now a hub for design, fashion and food.  A great way to spend a couple of hours browsing and then have some food and a drink at Aberdeen Street Social. 
  • Yum cha - you can't leave Hong Kong without having lots of Yum Cha / Dim Sum.   For a traditional experience, try Luk Yu Tea house (don't let them shuffle you upstairs and make them seat you downstairs).   There is also the michelin starred Tim Ho Wan (a big call but I think their outlet in Singapore is way yummier!) and of course Maxim's at City Hall where they still wheel around all the goodies on trolleys.  There are loads of other places I didn't get to, so seek them out.  
  • Vickie Shoes - no HK trip for me is complete without a visit here.  I was also pleased to see that all the same staff are still there! 
  • Accommodation: we booked a fabulous 2 bed apartment from airbnb in mid-levels which was fantastic and a fraction of the cost of a hotel.  The fact that it was above an awesome bakery was also a plus!  I definitely recommend using airbnb if you can over hotels (it's great especially with little ones as you can get a place with more space and other useful facilities eg kitchen, washing machine etc).

There are so many other cool places I have read about but didn't get to... until next time HK.... 

Altuzarra x Target


The latest Target collaboration comes from Joseph Altuzarra, the 2014 CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year.   The collaboration comprises of a 50 piece capsule collection all priced under $100 and features some gorgeous pieces.  

Good news for non-US residents is that an edited selection is available on net-a-porter.

Below are my picks from the collection:



13 September 2014

Fast Fashion

For those who know me well, you will know that I love fashion and being inspired by designers.  I follow certain brands and designers on instagram and regularly read high end fashion magazines and about the luxury brand industry.  There are some amazing and talented people out there creating beautiful things.

However those that know me also know that I can be pretty tight with my money.  I think it stems from being so poor when I was growing up.  Weirdly though I can justify splurging on a holiday or a really awesome restaurant but in most cases I can't bring myself to spend more than $100 on a single item of clothing.  Maybe it's because it is money spent on an experience rather than a material item... In any case it does mean I love bargain fashion and since moving to Singapore I have discovered a bunch of local online stores that sell fast and cool (and cheap) fashion.  

You will have to spend some time trawling through the sites so you really need to be in the mood.  Some of my favourites are: 

Mds Collections (international shipping is available)

I recently picked up this cool little navy jumpsuit for S$39.



The Closet Lover

I recently bought some nude leather shorts (for S$28.50) and these cool floral lace runner shorts for an absolute steal (S$24.50). 


Love Bonito (international shipping is available)

I really want this cape blazer but it is always out of stock! 


Happy Shopping! 

27 August 2014

Bang Bang

My Wednesday morning pop fix…






20 August 2014

Tory Burch tells her story

I love reading about inspiring women in the business world. Last night, I read a couple of great articles from one of my favourite publications, Fast Company, about Tory Burch and how she has built her brand and her business.  Read the articles here

In just under 10 years she has built a global lifestyle brand which will pass $1bn in revenue this year.  It is reported that the secret to her success is that her business is such a personal reflection of who she is.  I don't own anything from Tory Burch (yet) but I have visited a couple of her stores.  It really does feel like you are visiting somebody's beautiful home when you step into one of her stores.   

Another secret is being authentic and accessible.  As the article notes,  "Burch “is all about the ‘and’,” says creative director Honor Brodie, who oversees the Tory Blog and social media. “She’s a tomboy and she’s feminine. She’s an entrepreneur and a philanthropist. A mother and a sister. The person who went to Penn and studied art history and the person who loves to play tennis and the person who throws great parties. So consumers can enter the brand all different ways.”

I can totally see how this works.  There is so much competition out there and our world is getting so much smaller with technology.  Therefore, I do believe a fundamental differentiating factor for any business, for anyone wanting to succeed - is being genuine and authentic.      

14 August 2014

Love never felt so good

A bit of JT and MJ to brighten up your Thursday morning. Love this song and love the clip.  You can't help but have a little dance :) 

 

13 August 2014

The Bamboo Ceiling


Most of us have heard about glass ceilings, but what about the bamboo ceiling?

The Australian Financial Review and the Guardian both ran articles this week about "Asians" in executive corporate management after an Australian Diversity Council report was released.  The Council found that only 4.9% of the labour force of Asian heritage make it to senior executive level in Australia and only 1.9% of executives in ASX200 companies have Asian cultural origins.  Some interesting statistics. Read the full articles here and here.

There are so many different ideas thrown out about about how we can increase diversity at the higher echelons of the corporate world (eg quotas, affirmative action).  I don't know what the answer is as I don't think there is a 'one size fits all' solution.

As a young female Australian full time working mum/career woman of Vietnamese heritage, I have certainly been the subject of my fair share of stereotypes and gossip in the corporate arena.  From apparently sleeping my way around for promotion, being too young for a management role, not appearing 'executive' enough, being 'too soft' and people asking 'you're not really a lawyer are you? you don't look like a lawyer'...   I have tried not to dwell on it and rather have focused on improving and developing my skills, working my butt off and saying yes to opportunities that feel right for me.  I have also been very fortunate to have worked for supportive senior managers throughout my career who have been open to promoting me and sponsoring me based on my work and not given into the stereotypes.   They gave me a chance and so far it has worked out ok.

When we hire or promote, we often fall into the habit of hiring and promoting people around us who are similar to us.  It's a natural instinct I think.  Therefore I think one of the ways that change will happen is if we keep talking about the issues, we are all open to trying different approaches and giving different people a chance.  I think the 'buy in' needs to be there at all levels (especially senior management) in order for any change to be effective.  Some food for thought for this week's hump day...

12 August 2014

Feeling grown up with Grafunkt

Feeling grown up is buying furniture for your house that is not IKEA.

I love IKEA (and I think we will always have IKEA items in our house wherever we live) but there is something about investing a little bit more into your couch or table that makes me feel very grown up :)

We are on the hunt for a new dining table.  We bought our current table almost 5 years ago from Lush and it has served us well.   But it was floor display stock so it was cheap and the legs are now getting pretty wonky and unstable.  It also has a glass table top with sharp corners that unfortunately the little Miss has run into on the odd occasion... so we think it's time for a change before our dining table becomes a really dangerous hazard!

One of my favourite furniture stores in Singapore is Grafunkt.   It's got a very cool cosy and contemporary vibe and they stock both their own original designs and other labels.  We liked these two tables so just deciding whether to get one of them or to keep looking!



 

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