LIFE IS A JOURNEY, ARE YOU READY?

HEARTBEATS BY THE KNIFE AND JOSE GONZALEZ


I remember listening to this last year when I was conceptualising a chain of businesses. Yes, how odd isn't it. I was trying to find examples of adaptation and The Knife's version is the hip and cool brother whilst Jose Gonzalez's version is the grown up, been there, done that wiser brother. No one really took me seriously but I will be sure to use these examples very soon.

40 TIPS TO A MORE FRUGAL LIFESTYLE IN 2015


I want to write this post on some of the ways I am saving as well as I have used to save. I have stayed in different cities and different economies, and the problems are always different. Inflation is not a norm when our salaries do not increase at the same time. I wonder how we will all survive in the future if we do not learn how to curb our spendings a little. I owe some of my assets to my virtue of saving. If I had not adapted to learning how to cook in London, or sustainability in Amsterdam, or picking the bargains in Southeast Asia.

I want to share my list which has helped me for many years. I didn't used to save, simply because there was no need to. And then it became a shock or a chore when I needed to. It is also one of the reasons why I started Fidgety Fingers. Some of you might have found my tips useful and some not. Whatever it is, they are here to help you adapt to a more frugal lifestyle.

Being frugal is being healthy. That is what I think. You do not need to eat poorly. You can still eat very healthily. What I mean by being frugal is healthy is simply being responsible to yourself, your earnings, or your spouse's earnings, to your environment and many more. Being frugal taught me how to maximise a lot of resources in my life, it taught me that I can achieve some of my goals earlier than I had planned, and that a lot of money out of my pocket is actually unnecessary.

I hope you will enjoy my tips below. Please feel free to comment and share.
  1. PLAN AHEAD. It is important to plan. If you have lists, you are least likely to spend more on things you do not need. I do not really need lists these days. My mental lists help me to maximise a lot of journeys and shopping. Though it will always help to jot them down. I sometimes reschedule my market trip to another day just because I would be visiting that an area with a cheaper market. 
  2. NOTE YOUR GOALS. Identify what your goals are. Are you saving for a holiday or something bigger? If you have a goal in mind, or a visual board which is better, you are more likely to stick to your savings. It is often easy to stray and succumb to the treats, but it only takes a little to visualise back to your goals and focus on the bigger picture. It is quite important to differentiate your goals and temptations and recognise how a bitsy temptation can lead to more.
  3. WEIGH YOUR OPTIONS. NEED VS. WANT. I sometimes buy things because they seem like bargains, which in the end are things I do not really need. If you already have 3 other bags in your closet which you do not use, do you then need another bag? If you have things in your closet which you do not use like all the best of us, you probably fall into the general category of people who support the economy by falling prey into their advertising to buy things you do not need. The next time you see a bargain, walk away and think of how many other similar things you have. And then see if it is worth that trip back to the shop. These days I try to use my things till they break before I get a new one. Also, do you need that branded bag instead of one a few hundred cheaper? Options in the closet is good but I have learnt that it takes how you use your stuff. I once had a raggedy notebook which I stuck quotes and pockets in. My friends were so in awe with it that they started their own. 
  4. USE YOUR COINS. Every little counts and people do not think that the spare change can account to much. But we all know that is not true. I always use up my coins, so that I lighten my purse, and also be a bit richer using those 'invisible' wealth that is actually my own.
  5. WALK. I am not sporty. No gyms, no conscious effort to workout from me. What did people do in the old days? There was no gyms or fancy workout parlours. They just worked in the fields. I try to involve my workout in chores. It could be washing, mopping, or my favourite, walking from point A to B. Ditch the train or the bus and walk for a distance. Plan your route so that you walk to run errands like marketing and catch the public transport home with your heavy load. You get a save some change from the transportation and get fitter at the same time.
  6. CARRY A FOLDABLE UMBRELLA. I always have a small umbrella in my bag. There are many small and ultra light umbrellas you can buy these days. Those ultra light options are not particularly good on stormy and windy days but they get you to where you need to in the drizzle. Many of us simply give up and opt for the taxi when it rains. It is so much more efficient to still hop onto the public bus or train and walk the short unsheltered distance under your umbrella. You would be saving the cash and your time too, considering the taxi queues are extra long on rainy days and everyone else would be calling for taxis.
  7. ALWAYS CARRY A ROLLED UP TOTE IN YOUR BAG. This is for those establishments that charge you for the odd plastic bag. Shops still give you the free plastic in Singapore. Establishments like Ikea does not, but that is a good thing nonetheless. Regardless of the free bag or not, I always have a tote with me just because carrying the load on my shoulder is easier than on the hand. This keeps your hands free in crowded public transports to hang on too.
  8. ALWAYS CARRY A SMALL BAG OF SNACKS. I didn't use to do it but I find it extremely helpful these days. It stops me from popping into a shop to buy a snack which I do not need. More often than not, I would finish the snack even if I do not want to finish it all. Why would I want to keep half a pasty in my bag and stink it? So, you get the drift. I carry a small bag of dried fruits and nuts with me these days for that unexpected pang or itchy mouth syndrome as I call it. It is also much easier to sneak a handful of nuts into your mouth instead of clumsily trying to eat a pasty in the middle of listening to a talk.
  9. SHOP AND STOCK UP. I like offers in supermarkets. Most of the time they are just trying to clear the shelves for new stock. The offer items are sometimes not expiring soon. You would normally still have months to a year. I do this with canned goods and dried stuff which can have a longer shelf life in the pantry.
  10. BUY DISCOUNTED ITEMS. I do not mind using meat and veg that are clearing for the day. The markets will not sell anything that is already inedible. More often, those clearance meats are still very much edible. You might have to cook them differently, like in a stew or something. Always use good judgement when buying clearance meats. I know people who shop and then leave their meats in the fridge for a few days before they use them anyway. So, what is wrong with discounted meat that is sometimes as much as 50% off?
  11. STOCK UP ON DRIED INGREDIENTS. I like to do this just so that I can have lazy days to say I do not want to go to the supermarket to crowd around. You could actually create pretty delicious meals with your dry pantry. Pulses, pasta, bread...etc. It can be limitless. You only need imagination. This also reminds me of the time in Europe when it rained or snowed. It was pretty pointless to head out in a hail storm when I have enough items in the pantry to whip something up. Crazy hail aside, it is also healthier than a takeout or a frozen meal.
  12. WATCH THE BARGAIN BIN. There is a bargain bin in the supermarket near my home. They would carve out the bad bits of a pepper, cauliflower or any veg and sell the good bits in a bag. The bag which is usually good for a portion or 2 cost only 50 cents. The quality of the produce is not compromised. We are guilty of keeping produce for too long after buying them sometimes. Hence I do not think it is cheapskate nor compromising to buy from the bargain bin. Many times supermarkets do not sell certain things on their regular shelves just because it is a little out of shape. It does not mean it is any less delicious.
  13. COOK AHEAD, IN BULK AND FREEZE. Time is in the essence these days. With long working hours and other commitments, people complain that it is difficult to cook at home. When I find myself in that rut, I usually take time to cook in bulk over the weekend. It is just more time efficient and wash efficient considering the numbers of utensils needed to cook some dishes. You can always freeze soups, pasta sauces, stews...etc. I normally cook a big pot of stew which is then eaten in the next few days. Stews taste better the next day or two anyway. It could be eaten with rice, bread, or even tossed with pasta when you just have a bit of the saucy stew left.
  14. SOUP IT UP. Being Asian, soup is the essence for me. I love soup and I can drink a whole pot of it. It is also sensible frugal and war time food. This is the best way to use up scraps and also fill your bellies to a slimmer you.
  15. WORK THAT OVEN TO WARM YOURSELF ON COLDER DAYS. This is something I used to do in Europe during winter. Sometimes it just does not make sense to keep the heating on all the time. I always hung out in the kitchen and I would cook more casseroles than usual during winters. The slow cooking allows you to zip around the house for other chores. The slow warm waft of the food also creates a cosy, snuggly environment.
  16. BAKE BREAD ON WARMER DAYS. I stay in the tropics most of the time but I have read that it is more efficient for some kitchens in colder climates to proof yeast and rise bread on warmer days. 
  17. BAKE OR BLEND WITH SUPER RIPE BANANAS. Use super ripe bananas that are spotting and browning in your smoothies and baking, so you use less sugar and taste the natural sweetness of the fruit.
  18. FREEZE LEFTOVERS. Do you do that? I always freeze the leftover bread for future uses like thickening a soup or for toasts. It stays just as good. What other things do you freeze? I freeze kaffir lime leaves, chillies, ginger too. 
  19. PICKLE LEFTOVER FRUITS AND VEG. Buying in discounts sometimes mean bulk. So one of the things that are very handy in the fridge is that jar of pickle as a side dish which you do not need to cook up. All you need is a glass jar, vinegar, sugar and some spices if you want. There are many recipes online and they all cook well. You do not need to cook your fruits and veg, you only need to chop or julienne them, mix them with your pickling liquid and forget the jar in your fridge for a week or 2. Oh, if you already have a jar of pickles, you can reuse the pickling liquid instead of making your own.
  20. SAVE THE BONES AND VEG SCRAPS FOR SOUP. I always freeze the odd bone from a pork knuckle takeaway or veg scraps to make soup in the future. I used to go to this restaurant where they serve cheap german knuckles on Mondays. My friends and I would indulge in the chopped meat and ask the chef to pack the bone for me. How about those carrot peels and odd tops and ends of veg? Save them to make soup in the future. You can freeze them easily. Just make sure you clean them first. I have also heard of onion peels giving the soup a deep and rich natural colour.
  21. GROW YOUR OWN HERBS. Herbs are expensive. Compare their prices with that of meat and veg, it is almost ridiculous. And we only need a bit of what it is a bundle that we buy. If your kitchen and climate permits, use your own herbs like basil and chilli and whatever else you might fancy.
  22. SAVE WATER FROM WASHING YOUR VEG. You can catch water used to wash fruits and veg to water your other plants. This would be water or money that goes down the drain anyway. You might as well make good use of it to bring more fruits to you.
  23. MAKE DISHES FROM SCRATCH. This is just much healthier and we all know it. Once you get the hang of it, everything else will come naturally.
  24. WATCH AND READ USEFUL DOCUMENTARIES. This debunks myths and can help you to be more efficient in all aspects. How about learning how to remove stains and store food properly...etc. This is the step to becoming a domestic goddess or god and being more efficient 
  25. LEARN HOW TO COOK. I only started to cook in my 20s and that was because I moved to Europe and I had to. This became a very useful skill as I could whip something up anywhere I am in the world. I could also successfully recreate the taste of home no matter where I am. 
  26. MAKE ICE EVERYDAY. I visited someone for a cocktail at home. And he had no ice in his empty freezer. It is super inefficient in my opinion. You have a perfectly functioning freezer compartment which is empty and you would rather head to the convenient store to buy ice for $5. Yikes.
  27. COMPOST. For those scraps which I cannot use in soup making, I would toss them in the garden and compost them. If you consider it properly, compost/soil is expensive from the gardener. And I often ask myself why we need to buy earth. It is one of the most ridiculous purchases staying in urban cities. So, make your own and add a little nutrients to your plants. These scraps like potato and carrot peels, and the odd tops and ends of veg are good to toss in your garden without attracting pests. 
  28. SIMPLIFY. At one point I was consuming a lot of supplements. I was so stressed from work that I was breaking out, gaining weight and greying. I purchased a lot of supplements and downed them all. It was crazy and I wasn't even sure if they were doing anything for me. I could have just watched what I ate a bit more and paid more attention to the quality of food I consumed.
  29. MAKE YOUR OWN EVERYTHING. I make my own beauty everything now after not understanding what goes into some of the products. Coconut oil, essential oils, clay powder, coffee grounds, baking soda are just some of your essential ingredients. Sounds pretty simple huh. Yes it is. This is not only healthy for your purse but your skin and well being too.
  30. SOAP VS. SHOWER GEL. I used to use bottles after bottles of gel. And I have thrown away many shower gel bottles in my lifetime too. Soap definitely lasts longer than gel. I have a shower to myself and I do not like the idea of sharing soap. If you are sharing a shower, it is probably best to each have their own soap dish with a cover. It is more hygienic.
  31. LEARN THE MANY USES OF INGREDIENTS. The knowledge of the many uses of baking soda saved me on many situations, not only in using the thing right in my kitchen but also to save quite some money of buying necessary products. You can use baking soda to combine with your shampoo to make a clarifying shampoo; baking soda with detergent to clean stubborn stains and grease off pots and pans; baking soda in your facial cleanser as a scrub; baking soda in baking of course...etc. Baking soda is just one example. There are multiple uses for a lot of other basic ingredients as I call them.
  32. STOCK FROM OVERSEAS. I know this sounds extravagant but trust me that it is not. Buying dried herbs and cheeses are more economical in Western countries and spices and cooking mixes are more economical in the East. You get my drift. It is also interesting to bring back local flavours for those dinner parties or special dinner nights instead of heading to restaurants.
  33. DO YOUR LAUNDRY ON A SUNNY DAY. Don't machine-dry your laundry. The sun is free and strong sunlight can kill some germs.
  34. RETHINK PYJAMAS. Do we really need PJs? What is wrong with that old tee shirt?
  35. REARRANGE YOUR WARDROBE. Have you ever find that old forgotten top at the back of your drawer or cardboard? Me too. Rotate your clothes every few months. This means taking the stack of clothes from behind and putting it in front. If you have heard of crop rotation, I call this clothes rotation. In the way, you will really know what to throw out because chance are, you will not want to wear it even if it has been rotated for your use.
  36. CHECK YOUR ELECTRICITY TARIFF. Some countries/cities have different tariffs at different times. It is sometimes cheaper to use electricity at night, which means doing your laundry in the evening can save you in the long run. Just check the tariffs if you can get your hands on it. 
  37. DOWNGRADE. Do we need that high bundle mobile deal or the wifi that has more bandwidth than you need? Time to check and downgrade. You can buy yourself an online pressie with that saving.
  38. SUBSCRIBE TO DIGITAL ALTERNATIVES. Magazines, newspapers, films, music, books...etc.
  39. STREAM. There are many things you can watch online these days instead of owning a TV. YouTube and NetFlix are your friends. Save from owning a white elephant and the overpriced cinema trips.
  40. EBAY. I probably do not practice this enough. Buying secondhand and uploading your old stuff to sell is a good way to recycle and be more responsible to your environment. You would be surprised to see what good stuff you could buy secondhand out there. One person's trash is another's treasure and this cannot be more true. I always feel special to be wearing something secondhand because there are many love stories before and I am giving it more stories.

MOVIE REVIEW : FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. AWKWARD

It irks me to be writing a review on this movie. But I was so irked that I couldn't find reviews that reflect my feeling on this very awkward movie. How do I put it? It is so awkward and possibly not even worth my time, that I am sitting here wondering if I should even start with this post.

Perhaps points will make it easier.
  • I didn't read the book(s) but I thought I would watch the movie since it is so talked about and I also found a streaming version of it. Though, the version was censored on some of the sex scenes.
  • I like Sam Taylor Johnson. And I wish she would not make the sequels. The plot is flakey to begin with, so it is very difficult to build a story around it when the author and fans are expecting you to keep it true to the book.
  • The casting is good. I think Dakota Johnson is good. I think Jamie D is very cute. Whether he is the right Mr Grey or not, that is to be debated. The character in the story is so weak and not fleshed out that it is difficult for any actor or the director to expand on it.
  • Why is this based on Twilight? Fan fiction? Maybe I am too old to understand this. It is just weird and perverse. Loads of teens and young adults are reading or have read Twilight but this? This is selling BDSM to young people. What is going on?
  • There are much more tasteful BDSM movies done in the past like 9 1/2 weeks and Secretary. I know perhaps there should be more sex scenes in this 21st century version. But do they need to be that suggestive. Actually they are not even suggestive. They are what they are. Literal. I just think the psychology is not explored. It is just pure sex, give me the sex and ignore the psychology. 
  • Have anyone also noticed that the male protagonists in 9 1/2 weeks and Secretary have the same last name? They are all called Grey. John Grey and Edward Grey respectively.
  • It is all about sex. What happened to twists and turns. Where is the romance? There are some gifts and extravagance. They seem to be infatuated and just love sex. Conversations are limited.
  • How true or untrue the lack of plot and dialogue are to the book, I do not know. But not all movies and books should be mirrored. There can still be a lot of details in props and sets to create more dimensional characters. OMG. Never mind. Is it just all about the sex again?
  • Do any of you think this is really an appropriate movie? A virgin meets BDSM rich guy. She isn't into BDSM. He finds out she is a virgin and deflowers her anyway. They both know they have different rules and still pursued sex together. No they didn't seem to pursue being together because they didn't date, nor have dialogues. Or much of it.
  • It left a bad taste in my mouth. A plot like this is usually for a B movie that will and should not have such a big box office. But why is this now big? It is promoting a deviant sort of relationship/romance.
  • It ended abruptly. Yes, I do not mind it. What do people expect? I am sure there will be the sequels, so this open ended, abrupt ending is just right. Artistic ending in my opinion. Talk about a cliff-hanger. Isn't that what it is? I thought that is how the book ended?

THE FIRST RANT OF THE LUNAR NEW YEAR


Waiting and blogging at the lobby. I arrived at 9am and I am still waiting for the team to brief me. It is now 9.30am.
It just turned to the new lunar year and I am excited for the new things that I will be embarking on. Amazing things have happened and I have never been more comfortable with myself. I have left relationships and friendships and a job that was doing me harm. I am now loving myself more and in appreciation of the things I can and should do for myself, instead of putting others first. 

I am sitting at an agency’s lobby now, ‘patiently’ waiting for the Human Resource and the Team Manager to come to brief me on my 8-day gig. I was asked to come in at 9am and it is now 9.20am. And no, I am not going to sit here to play with my thumbs. I will make use of my time efficiently when people make me wait. I have been carrying projects with me these days, which I can embark on whilst waiting, or traveling, to maximise my time. These portable projects give me a lot of pleasure, considering I used to work too much and too hard for a family who does not understand or appreciate it.

So, yes. I come first. If you need my help, you can pay for it and I will help you from 9am to 6pm. But I will not sit there and play with thumbs and wait for you get off your arse, nor will I always entertain your inefficiency and stay late to cover for you lack of time management. 

I have been thinking hard these few months of resting, learning and traveling... what really matters to me in life. This is no doubt a question we all ask ourselves, but I wonder how many times we are honest with ourselves. Many times life just happens so it becomes that these things that matter become secondary or are forgotten. I really did forget about all these things in my last job. 

Sometimes I wonder if I was to blame for losing myself at work. And then forgetting what is important. I did tell my employer things were not exactly working out and that we had to change things. That didn't go down well. Instead, he said it was self-inflicted. I guess that was the biggest slap for me. That was the time I thought enough was enough and I have to leave such suckers and live my own life. I didn't know what it was going to be. Not that I know any more now. But I know for sure that these few months of joblessness was more than pleasant. It was a good use of my time to rest, learn and travel. Better use of it this way then to be slogging for an idiot who doesn't understand aesthetics and the bigger picture of things. 

Yikes, it still gets me agitated when I start to talk about it. Next.

And so I have been asking myself what I really want in my career since that was the key question from many of my headhunters. I used to give very confusing answers, that the work needs to be this and that, and the people need to be this and that. I am not sure if seeking an ideal environment really means anything at all. No ideal environment exists. Even if they do, they do not last. So what is it that I really want?

I believe I have worked very hard to arrive at where I am now. Am I going to sell myself cheap? Or am I willing to slog and slave and for someone who doesn't understand aesthetics? Or do I wait it out? I cannot agree more with Paul Rand's quote. Yes you pay me. If you want something, you pay me. It sounds arrogant. And so it should be. It was Paul Rand. But is it arrogant for me to say this? Perhaps you should say, who is she to demand this of people?

But shouldn't I have self worth? Paul Rand's 6 degree is very different from mine. And he probably said that to people who would pay him thousands and more. I am nothing more than a small fry who is asking for hundreds. So is it right then?

It is coming to 9.45am and I am still sitting here. I am wondering what else I should do. Perhaps I should just watch a movie. It isn't too shabby for someone to pay you to watch a movie.

HAPPINESS 210215

BACK HOME AND HAPPY TO BE BREATHING CLEAN AIR. SLEEPING IN MY OWN BED IS A BLESSING, WITH THE CALM AND QUIET SURROUNDINGS, BUT THE OCCASIONAL ANNOYING BIRDS. THINGS ARE STARTING TO HAPPEN IN FEBRUARY, THIS NEW LUNAR YEAR OF THE GOAT. GETTING TO KNOW A NEW FOOD HERO, JACK MONROE ON A GIRL CALLED JACK. WHAT A TRIP, I NEVER FAIL TO SURPRISE MYSELF EVERY TIME I CHALLENGE MYSELF TO TRAVEL. GOING TO RELOOK AND EVALUATE MY RESOLUTIONS TO DATE. RECHARGING FOR THE NEW WEEK TO COME.

MY NEW FOOD HERO : JACK MONROE ON FRUGAL COOKING

JACK MONROE ON CHEAP SUBSTITUTES FOR FANCY INGREDIENTS

BRITAIN'S HIDDEN HUNGRY


I stumbled upon this video on YouTube. I think the food banks are commendable. At the same time, I am looking at the items at the food banks like canned soups and bottled pasta sauces and what not, it makes me think very hard. If people do know how to cook, would such situations happen? Would it be cheaper to cook soups using dried pulses and stock cubes? Would the knowledge to cook help some of these people? I do not mean to comment on this in a snobbish manner, but people survived during war time and they make do with war time rations and dried goods. Would that knowledge help? I would love to hear your comments.

HAPPINESS 110215

SEA URCHIN SHELL CONTAINERS. THICK CHUNKY SOUP WITH ALL GOODNESS THAT WE NEED TO USE UP. MY UPCOMING TRIP, SO EXCITED. THIS IS THE MAKING OF SOMETHING BIG TO COME. LOVING OUR PODCAST, STUFF YOU SHOULD KNOW. LEARNING HOW TO BE SUSTAINABLE STEP BY STEP, EVERYDAY. SO GLAD TO BE NOT WORKING UNDER AN IDIOT.

HAPPINESS 080215

SERIES AFTER SERIES, AWESOMELY RESTFUL WEEKEND. COLLECTED MY POT, MADE BY HIM. CAULIFLOWER GREEN CURRY NOODLES, SO COMFORTING. NOMADYEE IS BORN. BUZZFEED ADDICTION. WHAT WOULD I DO WITHOUT THE INTERNET? WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITHOUT IT. SOMETIMES POSTPONING THINGS IS OK AND IN FACT GOOD.

10 FOODS YOU WILL NEVER LOOK AT THE SAME WAY AGAIN

Canola Oil is actually rapeseed oil and only called Canola because it is short for Canada OIl!

HAPPINESS 060215

GOOD FRIENDS WILL ALWAYS BE GOOD TO YOU, UNLIKE THOSE WHO CARE MORE ABOUT MAKING THAT OVERSEAS TEXT WHICH COST ONLY 50 CENTS. FINALLY COMPLETED THE SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY VIDEOS AND THEY ARE WONDERFUL. OBSERVING THE GOODNESS OF COCONUT OIL.ALMOST FINISHING MY CROCHETED BAG AND THIS IS THE SUBCONSCIOUS GIFT UPON COMPLETING SOME ONLINE LEARNING! HOW WONDERFUL IS CROCHET. MY UPCOMING TRIP. UNDERSTANDING HOW THINGS WORK AND A LITTLE MORE. THE FREEDOM TO DO WHATEVER I WANT.

THE POWER OF OUTROSPECTION : EMPATHY

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