Monday, December 31, 2007

Pictures of the New Place

I have posted pictures of Christmas and the new place (a work in progress I tell you) on flickr, and a few are here as well.

So far we really like Dairy Farm. We met the upstairs neighbors and they are great. They have 2 boys that are about Declan and Kieras age. The house is slowly shaping up, but we are still minus an oven and a TV console... for example.

Had a fun day at the Thieves Market down on Weld Road yesterday and I will post some pictures of it later today!

In the meantime, here are pictures of the place and Santa's visit~

More on Flickr

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Year in Review-Travel

I thought I would write down some thoughts about the year. Give myself a bit of perspective, when I look back, on the crazy wild ride that has been the year.

First, the travel

I went to LA in January 2007 to attend CHA Winter 2007. I then joined my family in Baja Mexico for a week in February.

The last week of February I traveled to KL Malaysia for trainings, and then in mid March I went to Hong Kong.

In April I stayed home, which was nice, because in May I went to Bangkok Thailand and Shanghai.

June found me back in Malaysia, July I was in Shanghai.

August we went to Hong Kong Disney as a family and I flew to Korea for work.

September, I flew to Portland for a day, then on to Dallas for the first two weeks of October.

November I was in Shanghai and Cambodia, cancelled a trip to KL and December finds me in Taiwan for the first time this year.

So, that is 9 countries (excluding Singapore). And to think I barlely kept my "gold status" this year.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sore Arms, Too Much and Moves

Nothing like a move to remind you of your goals to simplify. We honestly believed we had done a good job at keeping our stuff to a minimim. But, we were wrong. Boxes and Boxes. Stuff and more "STUFF". It seemed to be sort of like tribbles, the more they got together, the more stuff seemed to reproduce. I guess the big question is what can we and should we get rid of. Truth be told, we have a family of 5. 3 adults and two kids. There are 5 beds (plus a guest bed) a home office and a home business. Kids toys and clothes. Jeff and my clothes. Books, dishes, cooking stuff and cookbooks. Other than pictures and scrapbooking stuff we don't have much else, but it ended up being three truck loads (20 foot trucks but still 3).

What I wonder is really how much is enough, how much do we need, what if anything could we get rid of? How much stuff do I need? Can I pair down even more? We did a fairly decent run to Salvation Army before the move started. As we unpack, I am going to go through it all again. I am sure there is a thought here about the need for comfort and pleasures. The need to know that I have pretty china and crystal to use for holidays and dinner parties. The comforts of home if you will.

Are those old vinyl couches, that I just got slipcovers for (thanks Dad and Lin)good enough to keep? We don't have a TV, so can we find one used? We just bought our new bed and new guest bed from a "show" home so while they are "never used" they are hardly new. Where do you draw the line between frugality, simplicity, recyling and the desire for good pretty things?

No answers, just questions, and typed with a sore arm from moving...

Friday, November 30, 2007

Shameful, really.

This stack of boxes represents my scrapbooking paper. This is only the 12X12 stash. This is after I cleared out hundreds of pieces to sell in a moving/garage sale this weekend. (The stack on top in plastic). If you assume that the stack on top is a couple of hundred pieces... well you get the idea of my problem.

I swore when I moved from Taiwan I would not store up... because I moved at least 1/3 of it here... the other 2/3's has been accumulated over 3 years in Singapore with real stores... stores where I can go down and buy one sheet at a time if I want.

A new scrapbooking goal. I will not buy ANY new paper until February 2008. Not a single sheet. Starting today. During the month of January I will scrap only with Far Flung Craft papers or that from my stash. I mean it.

There is no excuse for over consumption and today I caught myself red handed.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Things to be thankful for:
Family both here and away

Friends, even those who cancelled on us for dinner and left us with a whole EXTRA turkey...

The fact that we could get two small turkeys
Our current home
Our new home
The Biz
Faye (just cause)
Jeff and the kids
the kitties
our health and our "wealth"

A sunday thankful holiday celebration

Monday, November 19, 2007

Local Produce- 100 Mile Diet in Singapore?

I have been reading This Organic Life, by Joan Dye Gussow. I have enjoyed reading about her committment to growing as much of her own food as possible and eating local. I am also aware of the 100 Mile Diet and the challenge posed to do a 100 mile Thanksgiving. Well, a carve out first, we would not be able to have turkey in Singapore if I followed the 100 mile diet challenge. But, it is an interesting thought.

Living on the island of Singapore, I would assume that upwards of 90% of the food is imported. Very little if any true agriculture exists in Singapore anymore. I wonder if I could do a 100 Mile diet. What is local? What is seasonal? What are seasonal veggies in the tropics? Would it be possible to supplement my own food by growing some on my new patio?

When we move in a month we will be blessed with a 15X15 foot patio. I spent the weekend dreaming of a container garden, small but still there. Perhaps some eggplant, peppers and some "greens". A papaya tree we have been told will fruit in 3 months if properly tended and it can be potted. Same with a bananna tree. So over the next few weeks I think I am going to do some research and find out more about eating local. I may need to expand my 100 miles a bit broader based on the simple fact that Singapore doesn't grow its own food, but I would assume I can get most of my "food" within a 200 miles. I need to find out local sources, I need to find out what can and is produced in the area... but it might be an interested idea.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


An amazing place. I can't even begin to digest what we were able to see in 2.5 short days. Dad and Lin got a bit of the "Siem Reap" Belly... having drank the hotel water (big no-no)... but otherwise, great hotel, great sites... wonderful people. I must go back and see more.

Here is just one shot from the trip

More can be seen here

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

3 day vacation

Not much, just a quick one. To see Angor Wat. On my list of places to go for years. Going tomorrow. Need to leave house at 4:30 am. CAN'T Wait!

Back with pictures on Sunday!


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Back Home

And tired, life is full of such unexpected turns it always keeps you guessing!

So, I got back from Dallas at 2:30am a week ago Monday. I had 4 meetings the following week, I finished the manuscript (save chapter 6 that needs a small edit) and started house hunting because we have to move by Dec 1st.

This week I have had 4 meetings, have another meeting tomorrow but at least the papers are here. I hope they clear customs today and are delivered to Faye's (our temporary warehouse)....

Top it off, I have a cold. YUK :-(

Ah, I knew it would happen, when I have so so much going on my body just shuts down. So, I think I will go take a nap this morning and get up again around 11 and try again.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Word of the day-incongruent

Incongruent. Yup, that is me. In Dallas on business and this word just sort of discribes me and my state of being lately.

1. I hate shopping and abhore the thought of spending money that we should be saving on stupid little things but all I have done since landing in the US is shop.

2. I am a total chocoholic and I have been avoiding almost all deserts in order to keep on target with my diet, but I drool at every candy counter.

3. I am lazy by nature but I am working three jobs now.

4. I love to travel but I miss my family tons this trip.

5. I hate what gossip does to people but I love Perez.

So, what about that eh? More later from the wild wild west of Dallas Texas.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I think a lot about simplicity

I think about how I wish I lived a more delibarate life. I think about how I wish I was more efficent at my "job" so that I could do more with my family and enjoy more of the day. I think about cooking meals, keeping a simple home, providing for my family while still providing for the well being of my self and for the well being of my family.

I think a lot about money. Why it seems that I am frugal only when I am forced to be. Not that I am a spendthrift. But when both Jeff and I are working full time we seem to spend money more easily. Why can't we continue to live budget minded even if we are both fully employed?

I think a lot about my daily intake of food that is processed and not simple. I think about the cost of the daily Starbucks/Diet Cokes I drink. It is not healthy in body or spirit to eat this way.

I am too busy for another few weeks to do much more than think about many of these things. It will be nice to put a few projects to bed and do more than just think about the life I want to live.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Not dead just busy

Lots is happening... I am writing the last chapter to the "Asian Scrapbooking" book that I have talked about before. I am done with the ROUGH design of all of our papers for Far Flung Craft's first release of papers. My partner Faye and I are now about to set about with more back end work before final printing, including UPC codes, shipping supplies and better methods and of course never ending marketing work.

My 9-5 (or 7-7) job is really demanding now as well. I am involved in two high level initatives being driven by Dallas that in the long run will make our company more efficent and lean (which in turn means more money to teh shareholders and hopefully a raise for me...), but it is demanding work! I will be traveling to the US for a 2+ week business trip the last week of SEptember first week of October and while it will be nice to do some shopping for some much needed supplies (like skivies for me and the kids) things are so busy here it will be tough to catch up.

I really can't wait to finish the book and I can be back down to only two jobs, which of course is 2 more than I would like, but someone has to pay the bills.

Been thinking a lot about simplicity lately, just not living it, but I did get rid of a bunch of stuff out of the closet and have another 2 bags to take to Salvation Army!

Back again soon!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Object of my affection

I know you can't really see the size of this cute little can, but I am in love. infatuated if you will. blissed out by the sheer cuteness of this little can of diet coke. Now, for those of you who have been to Japan, maybe not such a novelty, I have seen these cans before, but they have them in Korea too and they are just so stinkin' cuddly I want to take them to bed with me for a good ole cuddle before I quaff the yummy drink inside.

Diet coke not your cup o tea? How about original flavor Mountain Dew? Lots of US service people in Korea... Coke Zero anyone? Why don't they sell that in Singapore btw?

Ah, to gaze upon your beauty for a few minutes more... then it is back to work
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Monday, August 06, 2007

It really is the happiest place on Earth!

Hong Kong Disney was a great vacation. More about the trip later, but just a short snippet to say it was great, a bit too hot at 36 Degrees (which is 97F) with little shade... but otherwise it was magical. I admit it, I am a Disney fan.

Monday, July 23, 2007


My dear friend the very uber talented scrapbook artist and down right cool Chick Jenn tagged me.

Here are the rules:

The Rules are: 7 random things about me and then tag 7 others to do the same. People who are tagged need to blog 7 facts about themselves and post the rules as well. At the end of their blog list 7 people you are tagging. Let them know that they are tagged by leaving them a comment in their blog.

OK, so here are my random 7 things:

1. I have eaten lunch with France's minister of Finance Christine LaGarde

2. I served lunch to Fred Schneider of the B-52s

3. I am outspoken and outgoing but can be shy at a party.

4. My favorite food is probably Salmon Sashimi

5. My husband and I used to eat Grilled Cheese Sandwitches and Tomato Soup for lunch at least once a week while in Law School.

6. I am a third generation graduate of Willamette University in Salem Oregon. My grandmother graduated in 1919, my father graduated in 1957 and I graduate from law school at Willamette in 1994.

7. I am addicted to stupid triva and used to rock at Trival pursut.

I am going to tag a few fun friends:

1. Julie K
2. Heather
3. Andrea
4. Sharon
5. Liza
6. Janis
7. Suzanne

Now, I have to go find thier blogs and post!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Happy Independence Day

Oh Say Can you See? What a great batch of fireworks at the annual American Association of Singapore's bash in Sembawang on Saturday. Only disapointment of the night was not being able to hear the national anthem. Otherwise, kids had fun, good food and beer and ice cream. Good party!
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Monday, June 25, 2007

Going through some old photos today

I am trying to think of a layout for the Asian Scrapbooking book featuring "asian animals". I want to do a layout of Declan, as a baby and use a Snake in the layout. Not your standard scrapbooking page I assure you! So, anyway, I just started to sort through some of the old pictures of him.

This one is in January 2002

June 2002

and this one is June 2007

What a cute little guy he was and it is hard to believe that this year will be the sixth anniversary of his birth. How did 6 years go so fast?

So a few of my sweet boy today. Enjoy!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Self Portrait by Declan

Just in case you wondered why one child got billing and the other didn't. Here is Declan, self portrait.
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My Girl

The first weekend of June was slammed busy... one of the activities was our TI Singapore family day. Our new MD, Kwee Song is the "photographer" in the company and this was his picture of Kiera and her baby doll Lisa Joy.

I hope you like it.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Addicted to Stuff

Well, and to things to do. I guess I am really part of the short attention span generation. I am always looking for the newest and funnest thing to keep me occupied. More is better, less means I actually need be be involved and engaged. You know, that old rub.

This weekend was crazy busy, so much so I am sort of at a loss what to do today. You mean I can/have to actually sit down and work, and write?

A few updates and things going on right now.

7things... been a while since I have sent 7 things out the door, so this weekend... did quite a few.

7+ Books, a bunch of broken toys and some diapers

Some Childrearing/preganancy books

La Leche Leguge "the womanly art of breastfeeding"
What to expect when you are expecting
Baby Signs
Heathly Sleep Habits, Healthy Child

and a big stack of disposable diapers (unused that I gave to faye)

This is more of the letting go of the third child dream.

plus some fiction Jeff and I have both read
LA Requiem, Robert Crais
A salty pice of land, Jimmy Buffett
Treasure, Clive Cussler
The Alienist, Caleb Carr

In other news:

I have just committed myself to another blog, this is a scrapbooking dare blog with girls from Singapore leading the charge. I am not sure why they asked me cause they are way way talented, but I am glad to be part of the group. You can check out the work here at {Create} Make it Happen.

And, in perfect alignment with my goals of living more lightly on the earth, which frankly of late I have been doing a p---- poor job of... my layout on my addiction to stuff.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

In Freakin' China Man!

Sometimes my life is a bit incongruous. I want to live a slow deliberate life, one filled with an understanding of the things and life around me. You know the sucking the marrow from the bone of life type of thing. Walden....pond...its all good.

But then life sometimes doesn't work that way. I am truly an Aquarius. With mixed desires and intentions. I want simple, but I crave excitement. I want slow but I drive at 90 miles an hour when ever possible.

But, I guess once and awhile the two sides of my neurotic life actually come together and I can grab a moment of appreciation even while traveling around the world.

To whit: I am in Shanghai this week and last night and after dinner as I was walking down Nanjing Xi Road I recalled that it was almost 15 years ago (by just a couple of weeks) that I was in this city for the first time. The first time I walked down Nanjing Road in Shanghai in June 1992 I was amazed by the place. I was in awe and in love with a city filled with history. I was in freaking CHINA people. I was a young law student and I was going to be an international lawyer by God. I was going to live and work overseas. I was going to be HERE...

So, last night I had the similar revelation. I am here. I am doing what I wanted I savored the moment and then nearly said out loud...I AM IN FREAKIN CHINA PEOPLE.... ISN'T THAT COOL?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Happy Mothers Day-Vomit and All

So, yesterday was mothers day and for the most part I enjoyed my day. I guess I am growing up, and at 41 it is about time.

Here is how the day went.

7am get up with Declan, give him breakfast, notice my right arm hurts really bad. take vitamins, and my first 2 advil of the day.
8am Kiera and Jeff get up. Kiera says Happy Mothers Day. Breakfast, well, nothing is offered to me, so it is a bowl of cereal.
9am kids off to Art Class- Sit down to write the book, which is hard when your arm hurts.
10:30 kids home and make brownies with Jeff. Kids kick me out of living room to sign and give me a card.
11:00 Brownies in Oven, I call my sister
11:45 I am off phone and realized Brownies are still in oven... Jeff forgot them and yup, they are burned.
12: ARM IS KILLING ME- More Advil
Kids nap/rest... I write/rest
5:00 We pack up to go to Pizza, the beach plans were skuttled due to rain
6:00 Kiera says she is car sick... uh oh
6:15 at pizza parlor she says she is still sick, but eats anyway.
7:30 on way home, Kiera pukes all over me and taxi. Taxi driver is surprisingly cool about it. Kids in bath, I shower puke off me.
8:15 Kids off to bed, even Declan
9:00 screw it, its mothers day... I go to bed to read my book. ARM IS STILL IN PAIN More ADVIL
9:15 Jeff complains there is nothing to read and falls asleep.
9:55 I go ahead and switch off the light and think to myself. My arm hurts, my husband is snoring (and farting) my kids are sick (Declan was sick for two weeks and is just now better) but really all in all it was a pretty good mothers day.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Jungle Kitty

Because she really wishes that we left her in the "jungle" where we found her.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Martha Stewart Fruit Crumble...The Singapore Way.

See, I fell off the wagon and I have been buying magazines again. Lots of them. Seriously have fallen off the compact big time when it comes to magazines. Otherwise my purchases of "new items" has been pretty good. Once and a while I slip, but for the most part I am doing well.

First, a picture of a cabinet I got off freecycle. I did purchase a bit of wood oil to try to get some moisture back into the wood, and a bit of wood glue to try to fix some of the decorative elements (but alas some are missing so the brickabrack will be incomplete)

Now, in order to justify falling off the Compact pledge of no new purchases (ok notice that I put the freecycle grab first?) I figure I had better use the recipes in the Martha Stewart Mag I bought. Well, I am a sucker for fruit crumbles.

This one is kind of from Martha's magazine, with a few improvisations from my part. The recipe calls for fresh peaches. Um, not going to find those in Singapore. And fresh Cherries, again, not the season nor are they easily purchased in Singapore. So, substitute frozen blackberries. Martha's recipe called for separate fruit crumbles one for the peach and one for the cherry. I mixed them all up. Her topping called for corn meal. Yuk. I substituted organic rolled oats and she used white flour, again substituted whole grain wheat flour instead.

I think that it was well received by my husband. Before I could even snap a picture, I come into the kitchen to see this, a bite taken from the corner. Yikes.
Anyway, if anyone wants the recipe I will post it.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Life not on a farm

So I am in love with a new blog. Don't get me wrong, I still have a whole lot of old favorites and I can never really give them up. But my new crush is Ree at Confessions of a Pioneer Woman.

First off, her writing is like miles beyond mine. Must be that LA University Degree she got. Not bagging on Oregon State or Willamette mind you, most of my own writing problems are simply my own. I am also pretty sure my father-in-law the English professor screams in pain every time he reads my writing....BUT Back to the new blog.

Ree is living on a ranch. Oh yeah with a totally hot stud muffin cowboy husband. And four really beautiful children. She takes pictures of life on the ranch. Pictures of pretty horses, and cattle and pasture. A life I sometimes dreamed I would live. Now, if you don't know I grew up in a small town in Oregon and my parents had a hobby farm. I fell in love with Agriculture. I started to get a degree in Ag. Education. I did smarten up a bit because my wanderlust side of my crazy brain shouted a bit louder and said "get thee abroad young woman". So, I moved into Ag. Econ. figuring that I would work in international agriculture somehow. But I still thought I would live on a farm. Show my children about life and death by way of nature.

Instead, I live in an apartment in Singapore. I work for Texas Instruments, as a lawyer. I have livedoverseas in Beijing, Taipei and now Singapore. While I won't discount this for a minute, my children play with a ethnically diverse group of people that they would have never been exposed to in McMinnville. They are learning Chinese, bits of Malay and Tagalog, in addition to the curse words that they call English from me and Jeff...but I miss the thought of a farm. I miss living a life of pastoral splendor. And yes I am a romantic fool because I know that it is anything but romantic living on a farm, my grandfather was a wheat and cattle rancher. I do know better, but part of me says it would have been cool. So now I just look at Ree's pictures and dream it was me. OK I think I will just dream of her super hot hubby and brother in law instead (wink wink) and of course no offence intended to her, her family.... or my darling husband.

Oh and for the sake of my own marriage... here's my hubby in all his finest.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Catherine Bower Grimm- Family History Part One

So this lovely lady is my great great great grandmother. Her granddaughter was my great grandmother Myrtle Bridgeford. Anyway, while I was working on the Asian Scrapbooking Book, I started to think back to a project I have long wanted to work on. A true family history book. A book that combines the stories of my family. (Frankly there will have to be two books for my children one for the Harris family and one for the Watkins family). A book that will combine scrapbook layouts, photos and genealogy data. But more important will tell the stories of our family.
So, here is one of the first stories. Not a long one because I really have lots to do today, but a story about Catherine Bower Grimm. This story came from a newsletter produced by Darlene in the 80s tracking down a bunch of data on the Grim family. Thanks to Darlene for her hard work!
Catherine Bower was the daughter of John Bower and Catherine Swineheart. She married Henry Grimm in 1845 when she was 17 years old. They moved from her "family" town of Bowerston Ohio and homesteaded in Nebraska. Catherine was the mother to 15 children, her youngest Carrie Edith was born 31 years after she married Henry when she was 48 years old. Carrie Edith was born when Catherine's oldest grandchild was 8 years old. During her life she lost 3 children to premature births or miscarriage, 4 of her children did not survive past the age of 5, including her last child Carrie.
Taking all of this into consideration, I think what an amazingly strong woman she must have been. To bear 15 children (out of 18 pregnancies). To do this while living and I am sure working on a farm. To live to be 92 years old. She was able to meet all of her 69 grandchildren. Wow...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

How to wash in a shower (if you are under 5)

So, while we wait for the bathtub to be repaired, the kids are taking showers. Well, if you have a boy who doesn't like his eyes in water, you come up with creative solutions for keeping peace in the house.

This is how the kids take showers- Hey you know it actually looks like fun!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Its been almost a year

Since we put our beloved dog JD to sleep. I look at her picture from time to time and I feel this huge gap in my life. Sometimes I look on the floor by my bed where she used to lay, and I miss her.

I totally expected I would have a new dog by now
I totally expected to be over you and that I would stop hurting when ever I saw your picture
I totally expected that my life would not be the same without you.

Only one of these expectations has actually been realized.

I don't think of her every day now, but almost.

Miss you pupper do. Hope you are having a great time in doggie heaven.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Never as simple as it seems

A week ago or so, we were told by our landlord that they would need to repair a leak under our bathtub that was causing the downstairs neighbor some "issues". I can remember living downstairs from an overflowed (or is it overflown?) shitty toilet and I will tell you it was not a pleasant memory. So, I am not without understanding for the plight of the downstairs man as he will forever be known. But downstairs man is also a grump. He complains to us about the leak, he complains to the owners, he complains to the management committee. Now, our owners aren't the sharpest tools in the shed. Downstairs man has repeatedly said "it is the toilet", but owners have insisted it is the tub.

Cut to this week, we are now the proud renters of a partly remodeled bathroom still disassembled bathroom. The bathroom is stuck half finished as the tub has been pulled out, the floors ripped up and the waterproof seal placed on top of the brick, but concrete tub enclosure either 1) still leaks or 2) was never the problem in the first place.

Now we wait. They come back today to determine if the problem is actually the toilet, other pipes or what? Singapore is the land of all that is concrete. Said concrete is shipped here in raw sand and granite form at less than fair market rates from Indonesia, resulting in super cheap building materials being used to excess and then resold for ridiculously high costs, but I digress. Because everything here is made with concrete walls, floors, ceilings, windows... you get the point.... everything must be hacked out and rebuilt from scratch. I am no fan of deforestation, but there has got to be some middle ground between all concrete and all timber eh????

Needless to say it has been a loud and dusty week, our planned bathroom outage has just reached it's 4 day estimate. I can live without the second bathroom in our house, inconvenient sure, but we are now unsure how much longer it will take to repair. The workers are a bit creepy, my house is dusty, we have to lock up the cats so they don't run away. OK, not hell on earth, but it is not as simple as it seemed.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Computer + Ground = Bad

Trying to repair some damage...short story... computer hit the ground, ground won. hard drive crashed. repair estimate pending. most personal stuff was backed up. work was not. rough day here at the ranch.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


So, I am a visitor in the country of Singapore and I often do not comment on the government here. But this post is different. Now, I could lose my permanent residence permit for this post as I am sure it will be considered treason. I could spend time in jail for speaking out against the current prime minister and his policy decisions. I guess I should say that I think Lee Kuan Yew has finally succumbed to old age and has lost all touch with reality.

The "elected" officials of government in Singapore are getting a tidy raise. These largely ceremonial positions, wherein the ministers attend parliament, get up and state very Pro government positions and never give an opinion that is contrary to that of the "stated" policy will now earn over 1million Sing dollars a year. Yes boys and girls One MILLION dollars. The ministers do not ever make policy decisions, they do not (generally) run in contested races, they are all most entirely members of Lee Kuan Yew's PAP party. So, just so you fully get it. You dress up in your finest attire (unless you are the prime minister and then you wear an open front shirt with a gold jacket, because HIS salary of more than 2 million Sing (1.3 mill US) just isn't enough to buy a tie), sit on your ass in parliament, drive around and cut ribbons at the opening of the newest shopping malls. You are not required to make a hard decision, you are not required to justify any small decision you may make, and you are not allowed to do anything that might reek of discordance with the rest of the government. BUT, you do get paid for this job. Yep, to the tune of over a million dollars Sing. (About 600 K US).

Now, the funny thing is these ministers are underpaid. Lee Kuan Yew says that these Ministers deserve more money. They need it because the job they do is so thankless.

AH, but here my friends is the rub. Singapore does not believe in social welfare. If you are old, you get “workfare”. If you are truly old or infirm and can no longer work you lazy ass 80 year old that has had a stroke… we are going to give you a monthly stipend. We are generous, we care about your needs. Go live on 290 Sing a month. Pay 100 a month to share a one room (not one bedroom) one ROOM apartment with a stranger, take 30 dollars and pay for your utilities and spend that other 160 Sing on those silly little items like… OH HELL YEAH THAT’S Right-FOOD!

So, you poor aren’t worth more than 10 Sing a day, but we rich MPs are with
$2777.00 per day. See we need more money to live in our big houses and drive our Mercedes and dine on thousand dollar Beluga. You poor, you had better work hard because we can’t afford to feed you, you need to earn it yourself.

See. Most of the time I like my adopted home. But this pisses me off. A disparity of 2767 dollars a day. Something is not right.

For another person’s take

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Plans for today

So, my co-workers daughter is on the road to recovery, she should be flown back to Singapore in the next day or so. I am just very glad she is ok. Part of me (the lawyer part) wants to see him take action against the manufacturer of the pool drain and the hotel itself. Why, not so they can be rich (chances of large money recovery in court in Asia are nil) but to make these drains safe. Edwards did it in the States. It needs to be done here in Asia. I want to know if I let my kids play in a pool they will not be sucked to the bottom by an over powerful pump with no safety device.

But, the important thing is Elizabeth is ok, she is coming home, she does not seem to remember the drowning. She will probably be ok. But as a mother I have an extra worry now...

So, what is on my to-do list.

Things around here have been super busy, I have been working overtime for TI, working lots on the book, and trying to design some new products for the business. Good news is I now have a partner to help with the business and that will make a big difference. I have good friends in the industry that are helping me with my "photoshop" skills and Jeff is a great guy and while he is not working for a while, he has picked up some slack around the house.

The bad news is my continuing quest for simplification have been sidelined. So, today it is back on track. It is time to take a look at the clothes in my closet and do another round of pruning. Jeff said he wanted new "soup" spoons. So rather than run to the store, it is time to get back to the compact pledge and look for them at a second hand store. We don't need soup spoons, he wants them, so I want him to buy them used.

I want to clean my office today (which has gone from being my office) to a place where Jeff spends all his time too.... so I need to kick him out for the day in order to get some stuff done.

I need to take a look at all of the craft stuff I have and make some decisions. I think I may work with Faye to try to off load some of the yarn on Singapore e-bay or Yahoo Auctions. We don't need all this yarn and it would be nice to have the space available when we start printing paper.

Finally, I think I will sit down and start to plan out my weeks meals again. When I did this I always had a lunch ready, I didn't struggle over what to eat, I saved money by staying home, I ate better healthier meals and I think we did better in terms of planning for our food purchases and needs when at the store.

Busy doesn't mean I have to give up my goals of living lighter on the earth and more profoundly. It just means I have to think harder about it.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Life....and the importance of enjoying it

I had a super busy day yesterday, worked hard, got a lot done, went home and had to take a nap it was such a crazy day. Today, I woke up and read an email from a colleague of mine. His daughter nearly drowned yesterday while on vacation in Thailand. Fast thinking of the pool crew turned off the pump that had her stuck to the bottom of the pool and two vacationing doctors performed CPR on her. Last update is she is in the hospital and has had surgery to repair a shattered arm and they are looking for internal damage due to the strength of the pool pump, but so far I guess she is alive and that is a BIG thing.

After I read his email I went and hugged my children and told them how very much I loved them. You never know, it can all be gone in just a minute.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

7 Things week of March 18

First off, T it was great talking to you today. I love you and I am well sorry I haven't talked to you in a while... you know.

In said conversation with T. the topic of 7 things challenge came up... I have not been very good at this recently, sort of fallen off many a wagon, but the 7 things are packed and ready to go out the door tomorrow morning.

1. John Le Carre Our Game book- read by both Jeff and I
2. Robert Crais The Last Dectective-read by both Jeff and I
3. Sue Grafton-G is for Gumshoe, I read, Jeff won't
4. Tom Clancey's Politika a book not written by Tom Clancy, only used his "name" read by both Jeff and I and we both wondered WHY?
5. John Le Carre-Absoulte Friends. Read by Jeff and I
6. Pair of size 14 black shorts bought in Taiwan 5 years ago after Declan was born. Don't fit-time to let go.
7.Black maternity Shorts-Not planning any more kids. Out the door.
8. Long Sleeve T-Shirt thing- Size small- Doesn't fit, never really did... don't wear it ever.
9. Khaki drawstring linen pants. About 9 years old, waistline is totally frayed, thin in the butt, not flattering... time to say good bye.

So, this feels good. While we were in HK we did not buy any clothing, although it was tempting. I sat in a legal seminar feeling totally under dressed. Part was because of the HK legal market and the ultra-conservative dress they wear, part because my clothes are all old and ill fitting. The advantage of working from home is that you don't have to dress up for anyone. The disadvantage is that you have nothing to wear when you are required to go out and be presentable.

Rather than buy new clothes right away (again, TRYING, but not all together successful) at staying on the Compact pledge. I am thinking about the next time I travel to Thailand having some tailored clothes made. The cost is inexpensive and the quality can be quite good, the next part is if this is a need or a want. Good thing I have some time to think about it.

Monday, March 12, 2007

A few new interesting blogs

I have been thinking about the Compact pledge. Overall I think I have done OK, but I have NOT been completely true to the pledge. I find it pretty easy to justify a purchase. I need new shoes (which I really did as the only pair of work shoes I had were litterally falling apart... Really!) but I justify magazine purchases saying it is for the business. Ok, I really do read them and really do process the information and use the trend spotting portion for the business. Yes, I put these into the records as a business purchase, but it seems a bit disingenious to say the least. I am off to Hong Kong this week to attend a legal seminar and stop by a trade show for products for Far Flung Craft. I am excited about the trip there is a lot I want to see and do in 2 short days, but I worry that I will fall victim to my compulsive shopping habit. I love night markets... I see things I want....but don't need. So, I am going with good intentions to keep my demons at bay, enjoy the night market but not purchase anything!

A side note, while we are there we will be going out to dinner with a good friend of ours. This is a first for me as we will be dining at one of Hong Kong's famous (yet hard to find and even harder to get into) private dining houses. These are private kitchens ususally in homes that have been opened up-(I imagine they are not all together up and up with the SAR government) for private meals. I promise to take pictures and send back a report!

Anyway, I was looking at a Singapore blog service today and found two very intersting blogs. The first a bunch of garbage from around my very own condo. Disturbing that there is this much litter in my own "back" yard but kind of interested to see who my blogging neihbor is!

The second blog is going to take a bit of reading, but I do want to delve deeper. A Zen-Simple Living blogger returning to Singapore. Can't wait to read more.

Here you go.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

5 star girl

we just got back from a quick weekend trip to Kuala Lumpur. I was there on business for the week, so Jeff and the kids took the bus up along with our friend Corbett and our nanny Nancy. The bus is a great deal, it is $97 Singapore dollars round trip and drops you off almost right at KLCC (the major shopping center/park/hotel complex in the heart of KL).

While in KL, we ate dinner with Corbett and his friend (a fellow TI'er out on business in KL) Stefan at a great Spanish/German Pork restaurant called El Cerdo. We had the roast piglet, pork steak, sausages, a nice bean/pork soup, and a few other dishes that I can't now remember. It was a feast of pork to be sure!

The kids played in the KLCC park, we visited the new Aquarium at KLCC Convention Center, which was pretty good. They had a few too many snakes for my taste, but it was a special exhibit I guess. We also spent lots of time lounging around the pool and the kids had room service breakfast 2 mornings in a row. They loved calling in the order, watching the service attendant set up the trays and eating the meal while sitting on the end of the bed. We stayed at the Mandarin Oriental, in my opinion the best hotel in Asia. The service is great, the staff super, the food and location unbeatable. The best part is the price, due to my corporate discount and the exchange rate, a 5 star hotel costs us $100 US a night. Amazing.

the only problem is that after a whole day of pool lounging, room service and pampering... Kiera announced that she didn't want to leave. She wanted to live in the hotel forever. AH, I have a real 5 star luxury babe on my hands :-)

Saturday, February 24, 2007


The hardest part of returning home from vacation for me has been to get out of the vacation and I can go to target mindset. I love Target, I had a real struggle being in the US because it was so EASY to go to Target... and the shiny baubles just screamed BUY ME!

Now, I think I did pretty well and only fell off the wagon for myself by the way of a couple of magazines and shirts, it is the coming back to Singapore and NOT SHOPPING that has been harder. I have signed the contract for my book deal and so now the "excuse" is I can use this scrapbook supply for the book. I will use the paper and embellishments I am sure, they are Asian themed and appropriate. I have been doing a fair amount of scrapbooking. But I should be focusing on the writing portion, I should be using the supplies I ALREADY HAVE and those I PURCHASED in America for that reason.

Shopping has become such an ingrained portion of our culture both here in Singapore as well as in the States it is hard to break out of that rut. Jeff had 350 dollars worth of gift certificates from Takashamaya department store that he wanted to use. He went down and bought some shoes.... and I chose not to go into the store with him. He then bought a paring knife and some wine glasses (which I didn't think we needed, but it is his money)... and still had 100 dollars left over. I don't want to see him buy stuff we don't need or want, but he feels obligated to use the certificates. I don't know, maybe we will "regift" them.

Today is the County Fair at the Singapore American School. They have a huge used book sale so I may go find some books that I would like to read, buying used is within the Compact pledge. Other goals for the weekend are to finish my invoice for both work and the book and get some money into the account so that I can do some budgeting. We are back to one income for a while and have to prepare for Declan's tuition again.

Finally, on a parenting note, Declan has been evaluated for additional resource services at the American School. I don't know what they have determined to be his deficiencies yet so we meet next week with all of the counselors. I am torn, I don't want to deny his need for additional assistance, but I worry that he will be labeled.... I guess we just have to wait and see what happens. The next decision is whether to hold him back in Kindergarten one more year... and have him start 1st grade a year later or push him on. More on that after our meeting next week.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

More Disney Pictures

Kiera and Pluto.

Delcan meeting Lighting McQueen (Kiera would not leave the side of the car!!)

Pictures of Mexico

The Bay of Conception... Baja California Sur, near Muleje.

Back to real life

Vacation was great, CHA (the trade show I attended in Anaheim) was great, full of inspiration... I am now filled with ideas and dreams about where I want to be and go over the next year. The Compact pledge took a minor hit while in the States, but overall I think I did well. I had "preapproved" myself to shop for supplies for my book. I spent around 600 dollars on scrapbook supplies that I then mailed to my design team members. This is all JUST paper and supplies for projects to be used in the book and while a good portion of paper went in my stash as well, it is earmarked-specially set aside and intended for the book.

Target however I have determined is evil. I love that store, its displays, its design the items it carries are just right up my alley. I think they did it on purpose. We went into Target to buy socks and undies for the kids and ourselves and it was EXTRA hard not to buy all of the pretty household items, cool funky supplies-to avoid the dollar lane, but I walked out with only the stuff on the list for the kids and 2 shirts for myself. I could argue that I needed the shirts as I did not have enough longsleve shirts, it was colder in LA than in Singapore yada yada yada, but truth be told those were slips off the compact pledge. I also bought 2 magazines.

The hardest part, believe it or not, was coming back to Singapore and not shopping here. We are stuck here with a long holiday weekend and while I should be working on the book I bought another magazine (told you where my weaknesses lay)....I have also found myself wandering in stores wishing wanting to buy.... Other than the magazine I have been strong, but it was hard. I really am impressed with those compact members who have been able to completely do the pledge. But, no recriminations... now it is just back to it and on to another day here in S'pore.

In the meantime I will share a few pictures of Mexico and Disneyland for your viewing pleasure.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Shopping List- and a confession-

So, here it is ...the approved shopping list for California.

1. a cast iron skillet. we have a old cast iron dutch oven that does double duty as a skillet sometimes, but we miss our old trusty cast iron frying pan/skillet. I hope to find a Goodwill/Salvation Army to find this before we go, if not I will state that this is an acceptable deviation from the Compact. Bacon on teflon just doesn't work you know?

2. Underwear for me and the kids. Ok, I am not a big person, but finding decent undies in Asia is a non-starter... which is funny cause you know they are all made here.

3. Bra for me. Again, no bras in a 36 A here in Asia, unless you like LOTS of padding. Not my style.

4. New work shoes for Jeff. His have been resoled 3x and don't take a shine anymore. They are 10 years old, it is ok to replace these.

5 . Some wine, cheese and maybe some other "western" food items that are harder to find in Singapore like good BBQ sauce.

6. My big expense. I plan on spending a fair amount of money at scrapbook stores. This is directly linked to my pending book and will be sent to the design team at Far Flung for their use in the production of layouts and projects for the book. This will be covered by the advances I get for the book and is one of my exceptions that I pre-designated before taking the compact.

Now, my confession. I fell victim to a drive by magazine purchase. I walked by, saw a magazine I like, and well I bought it. No guilt attached, I am not perfect, I fell off the wagon to the tune of $6.00. BUT, you know, once I got the magazine I looked at it and it wasn't all that. I have passed by the same stand and turned down other magazines, this was the first one I fell for and it didn't satsify me. I didn't feel inspired when I read it, I did not feel like it was a worthwhile expense. So, lesson learned for me. Sometimes instant gratification (ok most of the time) isn't worth the long term cost. I feel stronger in my pledge to walk by the next rack and just keep going.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Age 41

So, it was my birthday yesterday and I turned 41. It is hard to believe that frankly the day didn't bother me. Well, I had a pretty cruddy morning, but not at all related to the age thing. I guess 41 doesn't seem like a big deal. I am who I am, what I am and the age I am. I don't think I would go back and do anything over again. My life has been pretty fantasic, I have had some pretty crappy things happen, but some pretty wonderful things too. I guess it all balances out in the wash.

Last night I specifically asked for no gifts from Jeff. We spent our evening out having dinner with a girlfriend Jennifer (our friend Haitham, her boyfriend, wasn't able to make it as he was working on a Sunday Night). We drank a couple glasses of Champagne. Drank an excellent Pinot from New Zealand, ate a wonderful (and expensive) dinner. Not frugal mind you, but totally within what the Compact means for me. we dined out enjoyed ourselves did not purchase un-needed items, ate a dinner that we could afford-BUT WON't DO AGAIN FOR A VERY LONG TIME (it was that expensive) and enjoyed an evening with each other. A very nice very perfect birthday celebration.

So, at the age of 41 I wonder if I should be more insightful, should I have a new fount of knowledge to draw on? Should I be able to recite my times tables so that my children can learn them from me? Should I live a life more peace filled? should I learn to stop and slow down? Should I learn to sometimes say no. even to myself? Sure. Good Goals. I will work on those.

but, today as I am now 14,966 days old, I think I am just going to chill out and get my stuff done before I go on vacation.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


So, January 16th. 16 days into my second month of the Compact. So-as you all know, the first month was not that successful. I fell of the wagon and bought things. Christmas gifts, the whole shebang. Januaray, to date, while not perfect has been much better.

We finally cleared out all of the second hand clothing we have been storing waiting for either the kids to grow into them or for us to be able to use warm weather clothes. Over the last 2 weeks, proabably 50 items of childrens clothing went to the Salvation Army.

I went shopping. Three times. I went and bought a printer which was a pre-planned exception for my pending book deal and I also bought some photo albums to store pictures in for a online class I am taking. I just did not have the time or ability to try to find the albums I NEEDED used. As a scrapbooker I will not use magnetic albums and the albums needed to be big enough to store the 10000 pictures I am sorting. I don't feel bad about the purchase- of course I wish I could have found them new but some things are just harder to find here I guess. The last shopping purchase was at Made With Love and was scrapbook supplies. But these are again for the book and are packaged up and ready to ship out to my design team in order for them to use as supplies for layouts. I only kept 10 sheets for myself. The rest went to the team.

Good progress. I went to Borders the other day with two other ladies. I walked around, browsed the books and walked out. No purchase. I also then later went to a different bookstore to look for said photoalbums... looked at a magazine that I have a particular affection for...almost bought it... started to rationalize..I could use this for the book, there is an article here..... but realized- I DONT NEED IT! It is just extra clutter. It is stuff I don't really want.

Not getting any easier, but it is doable. The big challenge will be in California in two weeks. This is our annual trip home and we purchase our years worth of underwear, socks and the like for the kids and family. I also tend to shop for "fun" things. The goal is to get the required items and no more.

Always a challenge!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

How's the compact going for you?

so, I am 1 month in, and Decemeber was well, a non-starter for me. As mentioned above, I fell off the wagon very quickly when it came to Christmas presents and things. Bought a few magazines even. But it was a start in a mind shift for me. I have always tried to live simply, I used to be proud of the fact that my "valuables" the stuff in which I placed worth, could fit in my car and move to the next place. As I grew older, the accumulation of stuff takes over, but I could still fit stuff into a pick up truck.

Of course now two children, a career, a family, a household I never want to get back down to that level of spartan again, but at the same time I am starting to appriciate what I have, what I need and what I want. More stuff was cleaned out this week. I am giving away my old hiking backpack and we tossed a few suitcases that were beyond thier prime. The rest of the kids clothes that we were waiting for the kids to grow into have been sorted and the clothes we can't use are in the donation pile.

So far, 9 days into 2007 and I have made only one purchase, one that I had been planning on all along and that is a new printer for photos... this is directly related to a book deal I am working on and is a needed expense. I got a free IPOD shuffle with it and would love to upgrade to a new stereo system (as our has died) but I will keep my eyes out for a used one.

I have walked by the magazine racks...and kept walking. Walked through the mall and felt no desire to purchase. The second month so far is going much better and I am pleased.

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year and Resolutions

Today was a great day. Jeff and I celebrated our 11th anniversary last night by having dinner at our favorite restaurant here in Singapore "the Cellar Door". We had a wonderful meal, with a great bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir, hand imported by our friend Scott and saved for a special occasion. We were home and didn't even try to make it to midnight before crashing and waking up at Midnight to hear the neighbors celebrate.

Today, we took the kids down to Sentosa Island for luge rides and lunch. The kids love riding on the cable cars to get to Sentosa, so after the luge the ride back up the hill on a chair lift was like double the blessing for them. Each kid really enjoyed the luge trip down the hill so much, we did it twice. We still had two individual rides left, but knowing the kids were at the end of the good kid phase Jeff gifted the rest of the ticket to someone who stood in line.

I sorted through more kids clothes this week and gave probably 15 pieces to Nancy to send to her family in the Philippines. Another 60+ went to the Salvation Army. I need to go back and count the items out the door since I started my seven things pledge, but I can honestly say I feel good about giving away items I don't use and clearing out my house at the same time.

The compact pledge for 2007 starts today. I sort of did it in December with a few slips. The goal is to do better in 2007. In fact, I am going to extend my pledge to 12.31.07

A few clarifications on my pledge.

I will buy new undergarments and clothing items in the USA for the kids when I am there in January. I will buy new underthings for me, but I will not buy new clothes for myself.

I will be purchasing a few new 'technology' items in the next week, but these are directly linked to a work project.

I will NOT buy any more magazines. No matter how shiny and flashy they are I can and will resist.

I will also pledge to do a better job of caring for my health, perhaps spending a bit more on food items, but planning out family meals and sticking to my shopping list.

I also resolve to do my part to make the Earth better by being a better person. I plan on being more patient, more loving and more kind, living less destructively on the earth by reducing my consumption, to devoting more time to friends and family, to rediscovering those things that make me smile and living the year to the fullest.

Peace and Happy New Year.
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