Amanda’s 2013 year in review

It’s the time of the year again! Time for the end of year report card! Haha.. Well, this year I will be spending the start of the New Year away from BH – I hope that he won’t forget to write his review!!

Last night, after a fabulous night out with an old friend, I came home to my sis surfing Facebook ( not usual.. Haha) she was reviewing her year through her timeline. Out of curiosity, I went to review my timeline and the most memorable moment for me was….. When I purchased some 12 count, 3 ply toilet paper for $2.99! Haha.. How auntie! Facebook is not an accurate measure of my year, maybe my blog is better 🙂

Just like other years, there are many ups and downs. Let’s see…

Jan
-Our small group of closely knitted friends in Seattle lost a game khaki suddenly to heart attack. It was a huge shock to us. We were deeply saddened but learnt to treasure each other and be more health conscious. This unfortunate event deserve a better post but I just can’t find the right words or courage to write it.
-BH and I went for our first vacation of the year to Los Angeles. It was the first time we attend a Chinese concert ( MAY day) in the USA . It was a cool experience. The view at Griffith observatory is probably the BEST sight I have ever seen this year!

Feb
-BH and I went for painting class together. It was such a fun vday activity!!

Mar
-Moved into a new apartment which became the BIGGEST regret of the year. Sigh!

Apr/May
– BH and I went to Vegas for a short getaway. We won a mini jackpot of US$200 !!! The biggest win so far! If you are wondering, the $ was ‘returned’ to the casino shortly. Hahaha

Jun
-Arrival of Mr Hyde! Our joy and best purchase of the year!
– started volunteering at a children’s museum! BEST decision ever! Why did it take me so long to take up volunteering!!!

July/Aug
-My loving hubby decided that maybe we should look for a new place since I was upset and uncomfortable about the apartment. We were looking at buying a place but DID NOT because of our SG commitments. We saw a place we really liked – the kind that you will want to grow your family in, the kind that gives you the AHA moment the minute you step foot in but we got to let it go. It hurts a lot because you know what you want but you can’t pursue it further. It took awhile for the heartache to go away but we still believe that other good things will come our way. You just got to be patient… Right? 知足的快乐叫我忍受心痛
– BH and his team participated in a Hackaton and emerged the Seattle champion!

Sept
– BH and I celebrated our 5 years anniversary!! I am soooo happy that we r still in love and on the same page ( most of the time.. Haha) I just feel so happy that i don’t want our relationship to change. I still wish that BH will be able to put me ( family) above his work

Oct
-nothing worth mentioning

Nov
-we went to San Jose for Hackaton finals! Though BH and team did not win the grand prize, I m still proud of his achievements!

Dec
-We finally received news of something important to us. We did what we needed and hope for the best. We will only know the result next year. I am looking forward to this!
-I cashed out my first blogger paycheck on nuffnang. I earned $66 for 5 years!!! Obviously not blogging hard enough 🙁 Still waiting for the cheque to reach me…
-I came back to SG for Xmas and New year – leaving poor BH alone for the first time during this time of the year… Boooo… Will meet in a few weeks time! 🙂

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Overall, Its been a relatively happy this year. I really regretted the rental we are staying in now – wish that time will fly by so that the lease will end soon.

In 2014,
– I will continue to eat healthy, go to the gym ( really missing ZUMBA and cardio tai box now)
– Volunteer
– blog more ( post entries with more substance)!
– save more money for future home
– be happy, worry less

Hopefully, more good things will come our way 🙂 Happy New Year everybody!!

Binghuan’s 2013 Year In Review!

Numbers just keep adding up doesn’t it?
Things were sort of chaotic this year.

1) We move to an older place. First time we compromised our living conditions in hope of savings. We did save more alright but not sure if its worth our sanity.

2) I changed teams for the first time in MS. Sort of change since I rejoined my old lead and another colleague. I don’t think that was a mistake, leaving my comfort zone. It also made me realize how much more I like Kirkland compared to Bellevue. Still love Redmond too..

3) We went out of our way to look for a home for us. We were really serious and I think we found a place (Took months cause we were soooo picky) that we know we would love only to finally decide against it. I will put that blame on me. Won’t go into details why but we just didn’t.

4) We didn’t go for any travel at all (beside San Jose which I will go into later). Once again, to save money…

5) I won a Hackathon! My very first one too, the Paypal Hackathon was an eye-opener. I got to visit Paypal HQ, meet new people, play with new technology. It was tiring but I have no regrets. The final for the big money was sort of a let-down, the other teams that placed in top 3 was okie and I thought we did well enough to place but apparently not. Maybe it was the MS connection that pulled us down.

6) Lots of savings! I just calculated and it was incredible the amount we saved this year. It is hard to see the amount as it is spread across a few accounts but I was really glad the compromised above wasn’t for nothing.

2014 will be a super exciting year, I cannot even wait!
1) GC process is finally moving to the last stage. Which means I will get GC, Amanda can be free to choose what she wants to do! For me is probably more of a job security as I can jump to other places but I can’t really decide if I want to. I have some friends here, and Seattle isn’t that bad besides the cold weather. San Fran would be nice but property is so expensive there that I can’t really put myself through moving all the way there.

2) We might just decide to move to another rental if the HDB appeal failed. No point suffering, and lots of new places around so maybe we will just move to enjoy 1 more year of rental.

3) I do want to return to Vegas with Amanda. We skipped it for 2013, lets return to our annual routine. 🙂
We will also be flying first class to… BALI haha on SQ. Okie, short trip but hey still first class! Can’t wait for that too.

Some longer term goals?
1) I really want to go Peru and visit Machu Picchu. Not sure when but soon I hope. If not too old to climb… 🙁

2) The elusive home that we can grow our family in. I really hope appeal goes through and allow us to sell our hdb.

3) Maybe a cute dog? 🙂

brrrr.. cold

Can’t believe that my last blog entry was over a month ago!!!
NOOO… I have not given up on blogging.. just that I have been sooo preoccupied everyday

Last month, BH and I went to San Jose for BattleHack World Championship 2013 – BH and his team represented Seattle. Though they did not win the grand prize of $100K, I was super proud of the effort they put into their project 🙂

In the month of NOV, I also attended 2 cooking classes with Jo. It was a fun experience. As it was hands-on, we had little pictures

The weather here is getting cold. “Super cold” is an understatement. The word is ‘FREEZING’
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The above pic shows the windscreen of my car. It’s icy! I got to scrape the ice away before I can drive! The bottled water we have inside our car FROZE too!! Really cold.. This is when I miss Singapore’s weather 😀

Well, I was supposed to be back in SG this week for vacation. However, I got to change the date because of SOMETHING which I can’t reveal here ( No, not pregnant) I spent 1k to delay the flight.. and realised that my flight next week could be overbooked! I don’t have a seat allocated to me but I am not on waiting list too. I have no idea what’s going to happen. I do want to come home for X’mas!! Wish me luck!!

ohh… the highlight of the week was meeting my Secondary school classmate who happen to have the same birthday as me!! Her family had been relocated here too!! What are the odds right! and it was my primary school friends who told me about her.. heh.. Glad to know another Singaporean friend in the area 🙂

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Shall update soon!

Happiness comes with a price…

I wish mine was cheaper.

It had came to a point that I was going crazy with the insects at our current apartment. The last straw came when we saw a HUGE silverfish on the curtains and centipede on the carpeted floor! I freaked out.

I really don’t want to be a trouble-maker but I just want to be happy at the peak of our lives

Thank you to my loving husband who is willing to do anything to make me happy…

Wish us luck!

Getting older

I recently celebrated my birthday – which falls on a Saturday! My favorite birthday day. I know, it’s weird to have a favorite birthday day but that’s Amanda..quirky like that! nah… I didn’t have any celebration or demanded anything out of extraordinary (though a car would be nice.. haha) . I was really contented to spend my day with BH.. we watched Oz the great and powerful for the last weekend at IMAX. I love that movie.. well.. let’s put it this way.. I love movies that enables normal people to do great things! “It’s not about the GREATness but the GOODness”

I had a teary birthday. Somehow, I was sad that I’m older and I have not really got what I thought I would have by X age. No… kids are not in the question… BUT I always wanted to have a home.. nice kitchen.. nice furniture.. The only thing I achieved was… being a homemaker… I know, how different people have different dreams and i may sound like a weak woman for saying this BUT i just want to have a nice place to settle in and have a loving family. this was the sole reason why I thought I saved so hard for (and y i chose the teaching profession in the first place). Now.. it’s just useless…

Well, the thing about me is.. I know what I want so it just feels miserable that I just didn’t achieve it. Now.. another year had passed.. so i was just sad…and teary… boooo…. to top it up… the cake BH bought me tasted stale – I am sad when I didn’t get good cake – so disappointed by the bakery.. it WAS my favorite!!!!

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My Corgi, Bamboo eyeing the cake 🙂

Next entry…. updates on new place!

California girl for the weekend Part 1

BH just moved our site to a new server and he had been bugging me to blog. haha.. so here I am!

we went to LA! well.. it’s not my first time but it was BH’s 1st. The main reason for going to LA is for MayDay concert! I am so not a concert person however it’s really rare for a Taiwanese Rock bank to come to US  for performance.. and this is BH (and my sis) fave band.. Off we went!

 

31 Jan

We took early flight.. so that we won’t waste any time 🙂 some random sights….

random LA sights

First meal was at Craft. BH and I had been watching alot of Top Chef. Going to one of the chef/judges restaurants will be soooo cool! Craft is Tom Colicchio’s (1 of the judges) chain of restaurant. It was a nice surprise to know that this same restaurant was featured on Top Chef this season!!! hahaha…

hmmm.. i personally felt that the food was alright… I mean.. not fantastic… ok.. if u r expecting HUGE portions, go to another place. The portions here are good for 1 person, not meant for sharing.

Lucky for us, when we were in LA, it was “Dine LA” (Please don’t pronounce as Dine lar, the singlish way, which I did. The server looked weirdly at me.. hahaha)- you can get a 3 course menu for about US$28.

craft1 I had salad as my first course… and the vege were kinda yellowish… i feel disappointed that it’s not THAT fresh…

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My 2nd course was quail with herbs… wanted to try quail as it had been cooked quite frequently on Top Chef. BH had Berkshire Pork with Polenta, Greens and Dates – he liked his alot and found it very flavorful

craft 3

I guess.. my favourite was dessert. It was Olive Oil ice-cream! wow…I have never tasted such before! It is actually very good (&healthy I hope) hehe…

Next… we checked out Hollywood!

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We got our tickets to Jimmy Kimmel Live a few weeks before hand. BH was super thrilled to watch him LIVE! However, we were stuck in traffic… and couldn’t mk it to the line early enough…. so we didn’t get the chance to go to the studio . The most upsetting thing was we were the next 3 from the cut-off line… oh well… FYI, the celebrity for the night was Jennifer Lawrence!

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Dinner was at Chick-a-fil. There’s no chick-a-fil at WA state.. so we thought of trying it… food was mediocre

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It was a super long and tiring day since we starting fairly early… headed back to our Airbnb guesthouse after dinner….

To be continued! 😀

Sweet pea, apple of my eye ^.^

On Valentine’s Day, BH and I went for painting class at Palettes and Pairings

It was an amazing experience.. even better than standard fancy dinner followed by movie. Well, BH and I don’t really celebrate Vday BUT we try to create memories – I really don’t believe that everyday is like every normal day.. To me, everyday is special and exciting! 🙂 FYI, I didn’t receive flowers this year.. haha.. I guess the cookies replaced it. (Note to BH: RED roses next year!!!)

My first painting experience was at the same venue. I painted with friends then.  BH and I actually wanted to paint together BUT we thought that it’s silly to have duplicate paintings. When we found out that there is a couples painting class, we signed up for it immediately! The cost was US$50 for both of us ( with drinks, light snacks, painting materials) We were very excited and looking forward to it!

Know what makes painting so  fun and interesting? I feel that thru’ painting, you get to know someone better… haha..and  the BIGGEST challenge comes when you paint together! though BH and I are “old husband, old wife”, there’s still something new we learn about each other through painting. haha.. yes..this is our FIRST painting experience together and it is also our 10th Vday! yay! How romantic! 😀

This instructor (Elizabeth) was really detailed and clear on giving instructions – She makes painting ez!

It’s so funny… BH took only painted 2 strokes on the canvas and exclaimed ” I LOVE IT!”

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Erm… after which, he became such a perfectionist.. I mean.. for the rest of the 2.5 hrs.. he hardly or rather DID NOT put down his brush! OMG! hahaha.. we were supposed to paint 1 side each BUT we ended up helping each other. You can imagine-  i would paint and he would itchy hand come and touch up on my side of the painting and vice versa. yup.. so it was like this throughout the class.. hehe

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He was extra happy with the painting.. and even thought that his background was the NICEST…

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Which couple’s painting is the best? hehe.. u judge! Btw, we were one of the last 2 to leave the place as BH just had to perfect his painting. I am so glad that he enjoyed painting as much as I do… oh yes.. he is a MORE serious painter than me!
So we ended Vday.. happy, satisfied and tired! hahahaha.. what u thinking man!?!

Overall, it’s a great experience! Bh and I agree that we have different painting styles.. and he would come back again to paint – and to paint on his own canvas! hehe… We hope to make this Vday painting an annual event! 🙂

More photos!

10th vday pic

 

Disneyworld – Day 6 Magic Kingdom again

[Will blog Day 5 & 7 together.. fast forward to Day 6 first]

20 Nov

I figured out that if you are celebrating a special occasion on a Disneyland trip, it’s better to go when it’s your 4th- example, 4th birthday, 4th anniversary! The characters are pretty excited when we told them that we are celebrating our 4th wedding anniversary! hahaha it’s kinda like a white lie (anniversary was in September) but I just wanna wear that badge and be extra special 😀

Turns out that it’s worth it to openly declare that we are celebrating our wedding anniversary!!! the crew members congratulate us… the characters congratulate us… the cutest part was.. the characters showed their hands and counted – that’s when i discovered that most of them have 4 fingers (Mickey, chip, dale) !!!! That’s y i think going to Disney to celebrate the 4th of something is a good idea! You will see Chip counting his fingers in one of the pics below .. how adorable!

It was the soft opening of the NEW Fantasyland!!

We made reservations at the new restaurant – Be Our Guest (Beast’s and Belle’s castle) For Disney dinning, u need reserve many months before or u won’t get a table. It’s our 1st and only sit down/full service Disney dining in this trip

Love the deco.. it's so real! FYI, the prince's pic will change to beast every 8 mins or so 🙂

Food was good – considering that we had bad food for the past few days. The dishes served were French inspired. I had seafood pot pie while BH had steak

When it’s time for dessert, the server would push the cart to u so that u can have your pick! Cool!!!

After we paid and exit… we met BEAST!!! It was probably the only character that we don’t have to line up for a long time!!!

Not a good pic of us BUT BEAST is majestic! Now I know how Belle fell in love with him.. such a gentle giant!

After dinner, we headed to a new attraction “Belle’s Tales” It’s an interactive story-telling session with Belle. The crew members picked some participants.. and BH was picked!!! OMG!! I was soooo excited!!!! hahaha.. I mean.. of so many people he was picked!!! see… the beauty of the ‘we are celebrating’ badge!!!! 🙂

Bing’s role was Belle’s knight!! everybody say “WAH!!” hehehe

It was such a awesome experience!!!! Something I will nv forget!!

Love how the castle changes at night… very pretty!! very magical!! I know.. I used the word ‘magical’ many times.. but it really is!! this time round, we didn’t take much pics of the fireworks.. decided that we shld just enjoy and rem it in our heads instead 🙂

Just one last look…..

The happiest day of my life…

is not when I fell in love.. or graduated… or got married… BUT it’s when I broke my bond. The feeling of joy and freedom is something which words cannot describe! 🙂 I was and still am happy! The money that I needed to pay is a BIG amount but it’s lesser than what I had anticipated. The rumors or whatever additional interest is NON-EXISTENT!

If you have been following my blog or if you are my friend, you may be aware of my situation. As my no pay leave came to an end, I was very afraid and emotional. I didn’t want to leave my hubby.. either do I want to leave what I have here. BH had always been very supportive.. ever since Day 1 of my ‘suffering’ he already knew that he would want to ‘rescue’ me from my agony. I’m blessed.

After years of saving and mental torture, I made the decision to resign. The process was smooth. I went back to SG, got a cashier’s order and the bond was resolved. “Money solves all problem” my sister likes to say. How true!

My parents were quite upset and disappointed. They compared me to other people who are still in their jobs. You know, the difference between those people and me? They got their spouse with them. Yes, I admit that I am very needy and dependent – there’s NOT a tiny bit of being a ‘career woman’ in me. I’m just the kind of woman who likes to do housewifey stuff.  Is that wrong? Then again, I really don’t mind serving my bond if BH have the intention to go back. The problem is he doesn’t – at least not for now 🙁

The good thing is.. my friends in the US commented that I look more radiant and happy when I returned this time round .. it’s amazing! how a bond can make such a difference in my life!

What’s the plan now? Don’t ask me about kids.. we are not prepared yet. We are staying in a 1-bedroom rental and having kids would mean we need a bigger space. Bigger space means more expensive rental. Expensive rental does not make sense because the amount of money for rental is enough for monthly mortgage of a big house! Sigh.. and we can’t get a house yet because of our HDB. BH and I are hoping to get a dog first.. As for kids, not now.. maybe 4 years later 🙂

Now… let’s enjoy!! There’s no reason to be upset anymore! yay!!

Thank you God! Thank you BH for giving me every damn thing I wanted, regardless of size, price, length and whatever you can think of! The best 4th 6eptember ever!

How to buy Happycall pans on Gmarket Korea? (Part 1)

*These are solely my opinions. Do give me credit if my guide helped you OR share your thoughts in my comment box. Tanks everybody Tanks!! 😀 *

Who should read this?
1) Asian living in USA who wants to get a Happycall pan
2) Singaporeans who want to buy a Happycall pan
3) Anyone who want to buy a Happycall pan

Ok, fine. Basically… everyone!

Have you caught the Happycall pans (HCP) craze yet? I know.. it is so popular now and I see a lot of people talking about it on Facebook and on various cooking blogs!

I thought it was just a so-so pan BUT J (my Singaporean bachelor friend living in Seattle) is talking about it! haha.. he was boosting about how he cooked delicious medium rare steak.. the kind of steak which is cooked to perfection and not ‘hard like rock’ heh.. I giggled in disbelief… Still, I wanted to try out the pan for myself. I was also hoping that BH will cook more (for me, or when I’m not around) if we get the pan

Living in a US apartment, most of our stove is ‘electrical coil’ (electrical coil is NOT induction) I was worried that even if I buy the pan, it may not work. However, since Julius could cook steak in his HCP on the electrical coil stove, the pan should work! I also emailed a food blogger, H L, just to confirm and she assured me that it works! Yay! So now.. where should I buy?

Amazon and Ebay are selling these pans BUT they are quite expensive compared to my favorite and trusty website, Gmarket! I know there are many versions of Gmarket now BUT I am talking about Gmarket Korea (English site)

Personally, I feel that the prices of HCP on Gmarket Singapore are not as cheap as I could get it from Gmarket Korea directly. The last time I checked , merchants on Gmarket Singapore are giving freebies with the pan (for slightly higher price) – I didn’t go for those as freebies are not important to me. I just want to buy the pan cheap! In the end, I choose Gmarket Korea (English site) Nothing beats buying HCP direct from Korea

I do not read/speak the Korean language. I depend on Google translate to help me with my shopping on Gmarket Korea. On Gmarket Korea , though it is a English site, most of the words are still in Korean language. IF you can’t read Korean, Google translate is your best friend.

Another thing, DO NOT use your mobile phone to load/shop Gmarket. Gmarket is picture intensive. Sometimes pictures may not load or takes too long to load. To have a better shopping experience, use a computer preferably with IE browser – Firefox works fine too!

I apologise for my bad sizing of images. Please click on image to see clearly 🙂

Step-by-step guide
1) Go ahead and open a new window for our best friend Google translate

2) In another new window, go to http://english.gmarket.co.kr/ To search for the pans, type ‘Happycall’ in the search box

3) There you go! The results! Choose the merchants which offers ‘worldwide shipping’ + good rating. Usually, I buy from the ‘Power’ seller

4) Click on the link and it will bring you to the store. The price indicated on the store is the base price
Different type of pans will have different top-up/option price. Another thing to note is the picture may only show 1 type of pan but do scroll down, the store have other pans to offer

5) Look at the images below to be familiar with the store details

6) Ready? The pans! Option 1 shows the different pans (scroll down to see pictures of the pans). For your convenience, I listed down the pans with its Korean name below (Warning: Please DO NOT fault me IF I indicated the pan images and names wrongly. Double check on your part and let me know if I made a mistake)


Items are listed from 1st item on the drop box to the last

(i)

(ii)

(iii)

(iv)

(v)

(vi)

7) Option 2 – To select if you want the pan to be individually wrapped(Top up of 900 won). I choose to have the pans wrapped individually as I ordered 3

8 ) Select add on (optional)

9) Click add to cart and check out!

10) Before paying, click on ‘Coupon Box’ to make sure that the best discount coupon had been applied. Discounts are allocated by member’s level OR if you won lucky draw for coupons. Double check that the items purchased is correct.

I actually ship my items to Singapore since the pans are meant for my mum, my mother in law and me. Since there was a promotion for shipping fee to Asia, the shipping cost to Singapore is much cheaper than shipping to US. I can only collect my HCP when I’m back

11) I checked out and select ‘Foreign Credit card’. Enter your credit card details and you are set!

12) To view order, go to ‘My Gmarket and click on ‘Overseas order’ > ‘View all’. Your order no. and details should be there! Confirmation email may take up to 15mins to reach your inbox

Warning: Since I am residing in the US and shipping to Singapore, my credit cards were declined. Sigh! I guess it’s our US credit card’s way of detecting faud – cancelling the transaction. Anyhow, I tried 2X with different cards and orders didn’t go through. In the end, I got my sister to pay with her Singapore credit card and it went through flawlessly

Tip: For Singapore Credit cards, you just need to enter the OTP sent to your phone and the order will go through. For US credit cards, do call and inform the credit card company BEFORE you make a purchase from Gmarket, so that the order will go through.

Hope this helps! Happy Gmarketing!

Read Part 2 – Pans reached Singapore! 😀