An Exercise In Trivial Pursuits

Fatshion, Food & Frivolities – Life in Las Vegas & Singapore


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Back in Singapore!

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Time flies when you’re living your life… What can I say? I’m now a Permanent Resident of the US of A and for the next 2 years, that’s where I will be based. I’ve started the job hunt but I haven’t been too aggressive about it. T is working from home these days and it’s been really lovely to have lunch with him on the weekdays as well as the weekends. I’m really proud of my husband for doing so well at what he does that I don’t feel the pressure to look for a job just so that we can make ends meet. What’s great is, with my Green Card I can now leave and enter the US more freely and also with T’s more flexible work situation, it enabled us to return to Singapore for my mother’s long awaited Chinese Wedding tea ceremony.

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Despite having been married in the US since last year, I wasn’t technically married in the eyes of traditional Chinese customs until my husband and I serve tea to our elders who will seal our marriage with their blessings. We didn’t have another wedding in Singapore (we had 2 parties already – one in Las Vegas, one in New York) but instead a very intimate family affair (just my parents’ siblings and my cousins) organized by my 2 darling little sisters. T and I literally just had to buy our air tickets, get dressed on the day and turn up. Everything my sisters did for us was perfect because they poured so much love into every detail. I feel very blessed and I know I would love it all because I trust them so much. They baked cakes and hand delivered invitations, they put out a candy buffet table for the kiddies (and adults), picked the venue and menu and even sorted out all the logistics by themselves. All I had to do was introduce T to the rest of my family (make small talk about what he does for a living, where we live etc), take photos with them, serve tea to our elders (and listen to their life advice for a better marriage) and that was that. It was a good day. In fact all 3 of our wedding celebrations were such easy affairs, everyone took care of the little details. I highly recommend that all brides relinquish the planning and enjoy whatever comes along with the day. I wore whatever jewellery my mother wanted me to and I did what she wanted and at the end of the day, she was a very happy woman. I’m now both legally and culturally married!

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After the tea ceremony, T and I had the opportunity to roam around the island, see more of Singapore and eat foods I missed. The weather was mostly kind though we did feel a little heat exhaustion. I can’t believe it but I really missed the humidity! My skin is so much happier than it has ever been for the last 8 months!

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We’ve been back in Singapore a week now and in another 2 days we are returning home to the US. Max the Maximum Dog is waiting for us in Arizona where he’s been on vacation with my in-laws. I’ve had some precious times with close friends in the last few days and I’ve also made sure to eat at least 2 meals with my grandmother each day, so my heart is so so full of memories it would burst. Singapore, it has been great seeing you again!


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Making time for family

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I’ve been in the US just over 4 months and it’s been really unreal to be so far away from home. I still have debates with T over whether I should return to Singapore (and have him come with me) because I still feel lost and somewhat empty. On weekends, T tries to show me the sights and we go out to do stuff even though he might be too tired from working all week. I try not to bother him but it gets really boring here when you’re so far away from your people.

My days are spent cleaning the house, making food, watching reality TV and keeping Max the Maximum Dog company. I really don’t have anything to do except relax and be happy. T doesn’t care if the house is a mess or if I don’t bother doing anything in the day at all. I spend most of the afternoons yearning for T to return home from work and I do still get a little anxious when we are apart because at the back of my head, it’s too good to be true. And maybe, illogically,  it feels like it’ll take months before we’ll see each other again and I am so relieved when he’s back by my side.

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Having my family here though has been a great help. My mother and my sisters keep me occupied and busy. Their company in our quiet house has been much appreciated. We have been going out (in fact, we’re in New York for the Christmas holidays now), doing stuff (i.e. sight-seeing and shopping) as well as just enjoying the space here – we live in a nice, big house in Singapore but being in a big city, there’s no way to escape the street noise and crowds.

It’s also great to have my family’s approval of my current lifestyle. My mother seems to find our house in good shape and is impressed that I “maintain” the entire house on my own. She’s been taking tons of pictures since she got here and proudly telling everyone that I can do it without external help. It’s weird to many because it’s just cooking and cleaning but if you know how she’s never lifted a finger at home in her entire life and that we’ve always had a string of maids taking care of everything… then yeah.

I must say that the Internet is great! Even my mother agrees because I’ve learnt how to do the most basic of things like folding fitted sheets and scrubbing toilets by watching videos. Thank heavens for high-speed Internet! IMG_2054While I’m deliberating whether or not to stay here for good, my family seems to enjoy what the US (especially Vegas) has to offer. There are the crazy bright lights and polished malls along the Strip and the beautiful nature reserves just over an hour away. It is comforting to know that at least my younger sister wants to come back every Spring and Autumn (when she can), and that my mother loves the cheap shopping (fashion, handbags, groceries, gemstones etc) here to stay away for too long.


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We went to the Grand Canyon

20131125-184656.jpgOne of the Christmas boys, Gene, came to visit while on a work trip in the US and stayed at our house. We booked a full day bus tour to the Grand Canyon as part of his visit. T, Gene and I got up at the asscrack of dawn on the 9th of November and headed to the Las Vegas Strip meeting point. (There was some waiting for other people and technically, the journey only took 3 hours.)

The Grand Canyon is huge and the part nearest to Las Vegas is the West Rim (in Arizona) and also within the Hualapai Nation Native American Reserve. What we learnt is that, anything within these grounds are outside of the US Government’s jurisdiction and I think it’s cool that lands have been returned to them. Interesting tidbit: T’s father has enough Native American blood in him that he can live in a Reservation if he wants to. His Choctaw ancestry comes by way of a great grandmother on his mother’s side (T’s paternal grandfather is of pure German lineage.)

Did you know that geologists are still debating about how old the Grand Canyon is? Some say it is 40 million years old and there are new studies which points to it being much older at 70 million years.20131125-184638.jpgOur tour was interesting, the bus driver who’s also the guide, filled the journey with a lot of very interesting facts about Las Vegas and the Hualapai Nation. Being a Colorado native, our guide also said she felt a certain connection with the Grand Canyon as it is part of the Colorado River basin – also something about the West Rim being the better place to see the Grand Canyon because you can actually see the river.

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So anyway, I read that the South Rim of the Grand Canyon has always been more popular. But with the new addition of the Skywalk, visitorship has increased significantly. The Skywalk essentially is a structure that overhangs on a cliff and has a glass bottom so you can walk on it and look into the canyon. There are already many parts of the Canyon that are exposed and without any railings or barriers (be very very careful especially on windy days), plus the fact that we each paid over USD100, we really didn’t want to pay extra to do the walk.

20131125-184747.jpgTo be honest, I thought this trip was a little too pricey. Also, children pay full price – USD119! So a family of 4 effectively spend about USD500 for this day trip as there’s also gratuity of $10-15 per person. I did appreciate that it was an all-inclusive tour – transport, breakfast danish, a bottle of water, lunch and entry tickets, but I thought a fair amount would be about USD65 – 70 instead.

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20131125-184724.jpgOur entry tickets for the reserve also included shuttle busses that took us to a old-style Western town (touristy and kinda fun), Guano Point and Eagle Point. We had 4 hours to travel from point to point, do short hikes, take lots of pictures and eat the food that came with our coupon before heading back to Las Vegas. If you think that 4 hours is too long to be spending at this place, you’re wrong! With the 3 of us, we just about had enough time! We did take 2 extra rounds on the shuttle bus because we wanted to return to the 1st stop to eat after we checked out all 3 spots. Food was decent and filling at the fake cowboy town  (the long queue was bad at Eagle Point and at there were only sandwiches at Guano Point).

On our way back to Las Vegas, there was also a short 10-15 minute stop at the Hoover Dam but because the sun was already setting, there wasn’t much to see. We also didn’t have tickets to enter the Visitor Center or areas other than where the bus could park. I would really like to do a tour some day though.

There’s so much to see and do. T said that he’s been to the South Rim and he thinks he likes it a lot better. This means that with our new Jeep Wrangler, we’ll be taking more roadtrips and driving there ourselves in the near future! YAY! Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam, we’re coming back for you!


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Goodbye New York!

T and I got home to Las Vegas just before 9pm last night. Our DELTA flight from JFK to McCarran took us about 5 hours and the taxi ride home was about 20 minutes.

We spent the last 5 days and 4 nights in upstate New York – amidst lush quiet greenery just across the Hudson River. I had a great time visiting T’s family and a wonderful stay at his Uncle and Aunt’s ranch house. (Not far from a cute ice cream parlour called Weir’s – YUM!!)

20130909-212550.jpgT’s uncle is a manly man who is handy with all things mechanical – fixing and building; his Aunt is the hostess with the mostest – great cook and decorator. I understand now why T was so looking forward to staying at their home.

I was introduced to as many people as possible yet it remained a leisurely trip. The last 2 weeks, I rather missed being in a big city and I’ve always loved taking the trains in foreign countries (mostly to get lost, wander aimlessly exploring and people watch). Our day trip to NYC satiated that for now.

With that said, I’m glad I’m back in our home in Enterprise, Las Vegas. There, I said it. I’m beginning to feel more and more like this is home, our home.

On this trip, I’ve gotten to know more of this man – he is a big, quirky man-child who interprets the world in ways that I sometimes don’t see but am curious to be led into. We’ve travelled quite a bit together in the last 6 months and from the get-go, we’ve always worked great as a team. T is very giving and it makes me very happy to go with what he wants to do too. It’s very much a “let’s take turns to flip our Choose Your Own Adventure book“. I love it!

20130909-212607.jpgT’s mother who now cares for his Grammy and lives with her in Nanuet has a beautiful garden that she happily showed me around. It’s a garden I wish I had! As much as T has done a great job with the house in Vegas, it’s still a desert climate. The flowers and shrubbery lovingly cultivated by my future mother-in-law is one I envy! Also Grammy’s house is a cute red cottage with the quaintest decor – not unlike the ones I used to fantasise about and build/furnish in The Sims!

20130909-212614.jpgOther than visiting homes, I loved the time we spent bonding with T’s mother. She told me stories about the family, showed me lots of old photos including adorable ones of T growing up, and also took us to an artisan village kinda place called Sugar Loaf – one of those places T used to go to when he was little. There were many shops with handmade crafts – soaps, pottery, wooden signages, crochet goods, containers and country-style decor made of gourds etc. A few shops were shut and it was relatively quiet when we went though. We assumed that it would be livelier on the weekends when most shops would be open for business.

I love that I got to see the places where T grew up. The streets he used to live on, his old haunts and where he went to school. Speaking of which, his old High School is just across from the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets! I went there yesterday with his Aunt a few hours before we had to leave for the airport. I was quite restraint because I need to make my money stretch and I only bought a pair of TIMBERLAND hiking boots (USD62 with tax). T’s Aunt bought me a stretchy belt from NINE WEST for the low low price of USD2.59 with tax – Hello, can we say SCORE!!!!!

That’s the thing with being on a long holiday – you have all the time in the world to shop but no money. But really, I don’t need those extras though. Being on a budget made me think twice, thrice and again.

20130909-212559.jpgTalking about tight budgets, I’m glad to announce that we spent a total of USD146 on our day trip to NYC. $33 for bus tickets from Monroe to the Port Authority Bus Terminal (thanks to Aunt K), $30 for both our Metro cards, $7 for ice cream at Baskin Robbins, $20 for large smoothies & lunch at Jamba Juice, $6 for 3 bottles of cider at a farmer’s market in downtown Brooklyn (1 bottle was for Katie whose awesome apartment we visited in Brooklyn), and $50 (including a cash tip) for the both of us when we had dinner with his cousins at Sofia’s in Little Italy (good call by T’s cousin D).

20130909-212623.jpgI got to see different parts of NYC – downtown Brooklyn, Times Square, almost the entire stretch of 5th Avenue, Central Park (special thanks to T’s cousin E & his girlfriend A for the special tour of the best bits), and Little Italy. We passed by several landmarks that I’ve always seen on TV or in movies – Rockefeller Center, the Flatiron Building, Empire State Building, Tiffany & Co, Trump Towers…

I think we did well for my first trip and most definitely would have many more to come…

Thank you and adieu New York, the Empire State. Till we meet again…


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Hello from Arizona!

IMG_8715T and I got back yesterday evening from visiting his Dad and Stepmom (who live with their dog, Bandit) in Fountain Hills. We drove the rented FORD Taurus through a gorgeously scenic route that is the Joshua Tree Parkway and past places with cute names like Bullhead, Kingman, Wikieup and Wickenburg; into Phoenix and past Scottsdale before reaching Fountain Hills. The drive took us just under 6 hours and we made several pitstops to let Max out for a walk, do his business, hydrate etc. It was so fun!

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We stayed 2 nights at T’s Dad’s lovely home, ate lots of food, watched TV (and some movies) and had chatty conversations. Oh and T’s Stepmom gave me 2 of her old gold rings! I am a sucker for these things – I mean used things with sentimental value, not gold. She said she lost weight and couldn’t wear them anymore (I have fat fleshy fingers and I reckon I’d have to lose some weight to wear them properly as they’re kinda tight now.). One of them was designed and made by a friend who dabbled in jewellery-making on the side (I tried googling her name but nothing turned up).

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So anyway, it was the Labor Day holiday and most of the shops in downtown Fountain Hills, as well as their world famous fountain were not in operation. (Maybe the fountain wasn’t working for another reason, I don’t know.) I did enjoy the drive around to see what the town was like though. There were many metallic sculptures around town and along the streets which I loved.

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IMG_8800T’s Dad drove us to Sedona on Sunday and I pretty much enjoyed the red rock mountains as well as the Mexican-style shops/buildings dotting Uptown Sedona. Also, we had a cheese pizza at Famous Pizza & Beer, that had a great crispy crust, cheesy cheese and the perfect amount of grease that hit the right spot! (T’s Dad says Pizza is his favourite food group… heehee) The next time I go there, I’ll be more well-prepared. I picked up some free tourist guides and a map from the shops at Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, and I will be able to identify all the formations before I visit again – Courthouse Rock, Bell Rock, etc.

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So that’s us signing out from T’s favourite state – Arizona. Next up, the state where T grew up – New York, to visit his Mom, Grandmother, Aunts, Uncles and cousins!


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Fat-shionista #503

20130830-102208.jpgHello hello! I’m back with the outfit posts! Hopefully I will get this thing started again. I blame it on the holiday mood right now. I’ve been sleeping in and generally just in shorts & t-shirt while pottering around the house. Today though, T and I went out to get the rental car for our roadtrip tomorrow to Arizona. We’re visiting his Dad and Step-Mom there. So yes, this is the outfit I wore to rent a car.

What I’m wearing today:

Dress: Red & white floral dress from NEW LOOK

Accessories: Red floral hair clip from ACCESSORIZE; Gold weave pleather belt from H&M

Bag: Grey clutch with studs and chain strap from BERSHKA

Footwear: Black hidden wedge pumps from ZIPIA

Pictures by T in our yard. I’m not sure why I’m so red. Is it the reflection from the surroundings? Or is my iPhone 4 crapping on me??

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20130830-102224.jpgMax kept wanting to get in the picture so T took a photo of him. Heehee… Max the Maximum Dog is a good boy. He keeps me company throughout the day. Today, we have made the 2nd floor our base and his choice spot is the balcony for sunning himself. It rained earlier, so the outside is kinda wet (and cool). I love it when it rains (regardless of whether in Singapore or Las Vegas or London). I love the smell of rain, the pitter-patter of raindrops, I love the humidity (except when it’s muggy in Singapore) and I love how the temperature drops… Zzzzz…

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20130830-102243.jpgThat’s the red FORD Taurus that we rented. Parked it across from our house because T’s Corvette was in the garage and we’re next to the fire hydrant so we aren’t allowed to park or block the passage. Anyway, the place we rented it from is called Enterprise Rent-A-Car and they have a pick-up service which is cool. They send someone to your house to pick you up and send you to the rental office. The entire process took less than 20 mins – checking my drivers’ license to payment, to checking the car for damages before handing over, signing forms etc. Easy peasy! Can’t wait till tomorrow! We aim to leave the house at about 6am and hopefully reach our destination by lunch! I’m excited! I haven’t been to Arizona and I really want to go to Amy’s Baking Company (the crazy Facebook meltdown following Chef Gordon Ramsey quitting on them is AMAZING). T says he doesn’t want to waste his time there but I thought it’d be funny you know? Just to see if it is true.

In other news, I’ve officially driven a car in 5 different countries – Singapore, Malaysia, England, Australia and now the USA! While I took my driving test using a manual car (it was then compulsory in Singapore), I don’t think I can operate a stick shift anymore. The last time I did, was several years ago at Tamares’ wedding in England. I drove the bridal car. To say “drive” is pushing the definition. I couldn’t find the biting point and had problems shifting gears. It was horrifying how many times the car stalled. Lucky for us, we weren’t in Central London but peacefully quiet Oxfordshire. T wants me to drive him home from his eye surgery in 2 weeks’ time and I fear his car. Firstly, it’s a sports car. Secondly, it’s manual transmission… EEEKS!! Stay tuned, folks!


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Rants & Raves: My Whirlwind Holiday

T and I started planning for this holiday last Christmas. He was gonna wait till after the New Year’s to buy his ticket to Singapore but he bit the bullet and did it. He’s always been the more positive of the both of us – always so sure and encouraging; while I flirt with negativity and caution. His enthusiasm and excitement hit me. This was gonna be one of those holidays where we out-adventure ourselves till exhaustion. And we did.

I booked our tickets and accommodation to Kuala Lumpur, Batam and Bangkok. He had originally paid for our Kathmandu holidays but closer to our break, we both changed our minds and thought it’d be best if he spends more time in Singapore. It turned out to be a great decision because my family managed to spend more time getting to know him.

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Our holiday wasn’t without some heartache. My iPhone 5 was left in a taxi in Malaysia (but fortunately an awesome cabbie called B Teck Ang returned it). T lost his Sony RX-100 camera with all our proper holiday photos. We called COMFORT and also the Singapore Botanic Gardens but to no avail. (Please return us the photos! It has tons of photos of a red-faced angmo and a fat Asian woman.)

We ended our trip with a wonderful tea for two at the Twinings Tea Boutique in Bangkok, courtesy of the kind people at Twinings Singapore (another post for the near future)…

So yeah, in 12 days we were in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand…