Sunday, October 21, 2018

Summer 2018

Time for another quarterly update. Life had been pretty much all work no play over the last three months, with human-created deadlines after deadlines. As boring as life had been, I still managed to accumulate a good bit of photos on my phone. Time for a quarterly spring cleaning with a 'Summer' blog update. =)

Sept 12-14 (Wed-Fri): 3d2n Conference in Orlando
This was my first time attending this conference so I was definitely excited to travel to Orlando, and most importantly, seeing some familiar faces.

Everything was pre-arrange with a shuttle bus picking us up from Orlando airport. 

The conference was held at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. There were probably more than 1000 of us at the conference and everyone had a room to ourselves so you can imagine how huge this hotel is. Pool and golf course view from my room but the only time I spent in the room was to sleep.

Spent most of our 3 days freezing in this room.

Fortunately the contents were quite interesting...

...with snack and coffee breaks to keep us awake

Dinner in the hotel on the first evening...

...followed by more drinks at the lobby/bar till midnight. Auditors are well-trained to stay up late.

2nd dinner was at Universal Studios City Walk (but only finger food)...'Private Event'. =P

Visiting Universal Studios after park hours - Checked. Visiting a flooded Universal Studios - Checked. Having the park to ourselves - Checked. 

Free rides on Transformers and Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon with a bunch of auditors.

Minion was getting lonely (and dancing alone) so I decided to get a photo. Taking a photo with minion in Universal Studios without standing in line, I'll take it. =P

Private event finally ended at 11pm. 

Personally, best part of this conference was to see all these familiar faces. From Penang to the US, we've all come a long way. =)

Celebrated our Birthdays

Aug 19 (Sun): Celebrated our birthdays with the family. Thanks SIL and BIL for the food and presents, and MIL for the cake!

Aug 20 (Mon): Part two of birthday celebrations.

Traveled for Work

Aug 22 (Wed): Sheraton Suites Galleria - Atlanta

Aug 23 (Thurs): Presidential Suite @ Sheraton Birmingham, Hotel

Aug 28 (Tues): W Atlanta Midtown

Sept 20 (Thurs): Hilton Charlotte Center City

Post-Audit & Review Party

Aug 27 (Mon): Atlanta Braves baseball game with the Atlanta team

Meal Prep Continues

Weekly shopping routine...healthy cart vs. naughty cart.

Aug 19 & 26 (Sun): Fried rice with Spam and peas, stir-fry veggies, pan-fried potatoes, beef & potato stew, sweet & sour pork, and egg sandwich.

Sept 2 & 9 (Sun): Mussels and mushrooms in tomato and tomyum soup, stir-fry veggies, potato cake, spaghetti and meatball, egg sandwich.

Sept 16 & 23 (Sun): Stir-fry veggies, pan-fried potatoes, bakuteh, beef stew, egg sandwich.

Sept 30 & Oct 7 (Sun): Seafood mussels soup, stir-fry veggies, pan-fried potatoes, beef stew, egg sandwich, Campbell's wicked thai soup.

When it rains, it pours
Sept 5 (Wed): Went to the client's site for a meeting and got stuck in the elevator when I was leaving, had to use a ladder to get off the elevator.

Sept 8 (Sat): Found out I had a flat tire when I was going grocery shopping. Took 30 minutes to change it all by myself and unfortunately the damage wasn't patch-able. 

Sept 10 (Mon): Decided to change all 4 tires because the old ones are 6 years old and are worn out already. Bye bye $427.

Sept 4: Hubby realized a small wet patch on the ceiling, plumber came and found out that the sink pipe had a minor leak so we decided to fix it. Bye bye $811.
Sept 19: Had our annual HVAC check and was told the water pressure in our house was way too high, probably resulted in the previous leak so we decided to install a water pressure regulator. Bye bye $435.
Sept 23: Noticed the water wouldn't stop flowing into the toilet bowl and figured it was the due to the old toilet valve. Went to Lowes and bought a new one for $8 to replace. 

As the saying goes, when it rains, it pours. All these unexpected expenses happened back-to-back within one month costing total 'damage' of $1,680. =.= Looking on the bright side, I was able to meet my new credit card minimum spend much earlier and was able to get a higher sign-up bonus for spending $1,000 more than the original minimum spend required.

Can't help but to pick up some stuffs on sale when Uniqlo had free shipping. =P

Gotta be more thrifty and save some money now that we're 'broke'! =P

Last one before I wrap up this 'summer' post, self-reminder not to 'kill' myself for work. =P

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Not Crazy, Not Rich, Just Proudly Malaysian

I don't usually go to the movies (can't even remember the last time I went to a movie theater), but Crazy Rich Asians was one that I've been wanting to watch since I saw the trailer few months back. I've always enjoyed rom-com so this one is right up my alley. Coincidentally, the movie was released around our birthdays so the opening weekend was a perfect timing for a movie date. 

I didn't read the book and and went into the movie theater with zero expectations. No doubt there was a lot of hype about it, but we both really enjoyed the movie. The director, Jon Chu definitely did a great job incorporating a lot of unique aspects about that part of the world in the movie - the food, heritage, culture, language, architecture, scenery, etc. 

To me, this movie isn't about representation or an all-Asian cast. Like what Henry Golding said, "Growing up in Malaysia, there wasn't really a problem with representation. We saw faces like ours on screen." For me, it's about Malaysian pride. I'm just very proud to see Singapore Malaysia and Malaysians being portrayed on the big screen in Hollywood (in a good way). P.S. Majority of the filming took place in Malaysia and two of the main casts, Michelle Yeoh and Henry Golding are from Malaysia. 

In a way (minus the crazy rich part), we could totally relate to Nick and Rachel's experience when hubby traveled to Malaysia to "see where I grew up, meet my family, my Ah Ma", for the first time in 2010. Now that hubby has traveled to Malaysia for a few times, there are even more in the movie that he could relate to.

I thought this movie was fitting to celebrate our 10th year of knowing each other and gave us the opportunity to walk down memory lane. Here are a 10 things in the movie that we enjoyed and could absolutely relate to:

1. Manglish/Singlish

Screenshot: Warner Bros. Pictures

The movie subtly and brilliantly used a number of jargons that only M'sians/Singaporeans can relate to without overdoing it. The movie started off with the text message sequence...featuring Lah, Walao, Alamak. Even hubby knows most of these terms now. =P Another Mandarin term that hubby recognized (thanks to me) was during the last scene in the plane, where the auntie asked Rachel to "kuai dian kuai dian (faster faster)"! Other languages that made it into the movie included Hokkien (including the slightly inappropriate "ku ku jiao"), Cantonese, and Malay.

2. Changi vs. JFK airport

Dec 2010: Hubby's first time in Changi airport

I'm sure a lot of people agree with Rachel's comparison of Changi airport and JFK airport. Changi's butterfly garden and movie theater (and free massage chairs) makes JFK "salmonella and despair". That's hubby's impression of Changi (or Asian airports in general) too...haha!!

3. It's HOT (and humid) there

Dec 2010: Hubby's first experience of what hot and humid!! Someone needs the air-con.

When Rachel arrived at Peik Lin's home for the first time, Peik Lin's mother said something about it being hot outside, and invited her into the house to "enjoy the air-con", I thought that was a good one. Hubby agrees 100% too...hahaha!!

4. Singapore's skyline

Screenshot: Warner Bros. Pictures. 
Dec 2010: Counting down to 2011 in Singapore.

We visited Singapore together for the first time during hubby's first visit to Asia and it was quite a special one as we counted down for 2011 overlooking Singapore's spectacular skyline with fireworks, just like in the movie. =P

5. Eat eat eat

When in Malaysia, Ah Ma will make sure you eat all day every day.

The hawker scene is going to make you hungry. As hubby knows best, we take pride in our food (especially hawker food) and eating is a must-do in Malaysia. Pretty sure hubby was overwhelmed during his first visit because Ah Ma was constantly asking him to eat, even when he wasn't hungry...haha!! In fact, he was very impressed with my dad and bro's ability to eat non-stop all day. =P

6. Langkawi Island

Dec 2012: Proposal in Langkawi Island.
Screenshot: Warner Bros. Pictures. 

The bachelorette party and the scene between Nick and Colin on a wooden pontoon was actually filmed in Langkawi. Langkawi island is another special place for us as that was where hubby proposed in 2012. =)

7. Mahjong scene

Screenshot: Warner Bros. Pictures. 
Dec 2013: Pre-wedding photoshoot at Blue Mansion, Penang.

The symbolic mahjong scene between Rachel and Eleanor was filmed in Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (Blue Mansion) in Penang. This was one of the locations for our pre-wedding photoshoot in 2013. =)

8. Soundtracks

Dec 2013: Tian Mi Mi Karaoke session during our wedding ceremony

Several classic Mandarin/Cantonese songs made it into the movie and soundtrack. Even though the song 甜蜜蜜 wasn't included in the official soundtrack, a small part of it appeared in the movie and hubby was able to recognize it right away, thanks to the 'training' during our!

9. Michelle Yeoh

Screenshot: Warner Bros. Pictures. 
Proud to be shame! =P

Interestingly, hubby's favorite Asian actress was Michelle Yeoh and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was one of his favorite movies. This was before we even knew each other. In fact, he didn't even know that Michelle Yeoh is also a Malaysian until I told him. As for me, I 'thick-faced-ly' answered Michelle Yeoh as the famous person who reminds me of myself in the questionnaire I submitted for our Amazing Race application...haha! She definitely makes us Malaysians proud, and perfectly carried the role of Eleanor Young. I'm glad my MIL was not like Eleanor...hahaha! 

10. "Pursuing one's American"

This classic line by Eleanor was sarcastic, but yet so true. I may be generalizing but most Asian parents expect their children to study medicine, law, engineering, or accounting. That's because they know you're pretty much secured a job upon graduating. Hubby was given the freedom to study what he liked ('passion') but he wished he studied something that's easier to find a job, like me. =P Based on my personal experience, I certainly prefer the realistic Asian approach, get a degree that will secure you a job first, pursue your passion later. A good example is Gemma Chan (Astrid), she graduated with a law degree from University of Oxford, but chose to pursue an acting career after. 

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Spring 2018

Finally completed all trip reports from our 8D7N Iceland camper van adventure...phew!! Took 2 months but that's with all GoPro videos edited, not too bad actually. 

So what have we been up to since we got back from Iceland? Back to the grind, work hard and plan for the next adventure, rinse repeat. =P Hubby was down with shingles over the July 4th break so that wasn't a good break for him, but glad he has recovered. 

Here's a quick recap of our boring spring 2018:

We rarely eat out, so I could easily list out the places we went in the last 2 months...haha!

May 27 (Sun): Lunch at Logan's steakhouse before our flight to Iceland

June 25 (Mon): Thai food for dinner at Birmingham
July 22 (Sun): Father's day lunch at Red Lobster

July 30 (Mon): Dinner date at PF Changs to celebrate 10 years. Had our 1st date here. =P

Sunday meal prep routine...I'd rather spend 3 hours in the kitchen on Sunday and save time (and money) the rest of the week. 4th year doing this and still going strong...haha! I'm nowhere near a good chef, but I'm on a 'mission' to keep records of all my Sunday meal preps for the future. =P

June 10 (Sun): Campbell's wicked Thai-style soup is actually pretty good, just add in more rice and veggies and it's makes a lazy meal for two. Made my version of beef & broccoli, stir-fry veggies, and stir-fry egg with onion and mushrooms.

July 1 (Sun): Healthy immune-boosting food for the sick boy.

July 8 & 15 (Sun): Same same but different. :P

July 22 (Sun): Before, during, after. Bakuteh soup, stir-fry veggies, stir-fry egg with spinach, tom-ka soup with noodles.

July 29 (Sun): Stir-fry veggies, beef stew with potatoes, stir-fry eggs and spinach.

Aug 5 & 12 (Sun): Chicken rice, egg sandwich, pan-fried potatoes, stir-fry veggies, seafood curry with mussels, beef stew, pasta with white sauce.

At this point, you're probably do we eat the same thing over and over again and not get bored?? Answer: We're easily satisfied (at least we have food to eat). Besides, it's healthy and tasty, what's wrong with that? We're also trying very hard not to contribute to a higher rate on this chart. =P

Other random stuffs

June 18 (Mon): Absolutely honored to have my 'rookie' podcast interview with my favorite podcast - ChooseFI to talk about the Amazing Race, travels, and FI!! Big thanks to Jonathan and Brad for having me on!! Full disclosure: I refuse to listen to my own episode.

The power of ChooseFI...thanks for the traffic boost!! 

June 25 (Mon): Aloft Birmingham

Decided to move things around the house and turned our master room into the game room+hangout room+workstation. Using the smaller room as our bedroom instead. Spent an entire Saturday evening moving and organizing. =P

Game boy's prized possessions.