Sunday, 28 February 2021

Good Reads/Podcasts/Videos: February 2021

Where Gratitude Gets You - Hidden Brain podcast

This episode highlights the link between gratitude and emotions - the practice of gratitude affects our emotions, which in turn influence how you react to a certain situation.

This episode blew my mind a little - there are tones of articles out there highlighting the importance and benefits of practising gratitude, but none of them caught my attention like this podcast. This podcast made me realise how our emotions play such a big role in our actions, and also affects our self-control.

emotions are a mechanism to help us navigate the future, not just an accounting system to tabulate the past, that might explain why some emotions seem to help us do difficult things

emotions set our expectations for how we should react in any given situation we're in. And so simply by making people feel grateful, it alters the way their brain assigns value 


I don’t want friends who put others at risk’: has lockdown wrecked friendships? - The Guardian

I resonated so much with this article. Admittedly, the pandemic has put a strain on me, in terms of my relationship with others, and also my personal wellbeing. I was rather distraught when I saw friends & family gathering during festivals/holidays on social media,  

As much as I want to see some of my friends and family, I feel that there is a huge risk that I don't want to bear, and it is really not the time. I do miss hanging out with friends, and I don't like how I've started to judge others based on what I see on social media.


How to Spot a Foolproof Recipe - Life Hacker

This is an extremely helpful especially if you have been cooking/baking a lot and searching for recipes online :D 

Cooking/Baking something new can be intimidating - because you're essentially trying out something new and you won't know the outcome until you try. I feel dejected whenever I try a new recipe I try out didn't work out - I've not just wasted money on ingredients, but also my time and effort :< 

My three main takeaway from this article:

1. Every oven is unique, and you may have to adjust your "baking time"

2. Pay attention to the bakeware used in recipe (is it a metal bakeware? Glass? Ceramic?) - different bakeware affects how your food gets cooked in the oven.

3. Pay attention to the ingredients used in recipe - are they of a particular brand? Try to stick to that brand, if possible. The benefit of these "mass produced" ingredients are that the taste from these "mass produced" ingredients are typically consistent! 

I use a dark-coloured baking tray - and hence I notice my baking time may be shorter than the baking time stated in most recipes as dark colour absorb heat faster


Here’s why you need to have more bad ideas - TED

Instead of saying, “I’m stuck, I can’t come up with anything good,” it’s far more effective to say, “I’ve finished this, and now I need to make it better.” Or possibly “I finished this, and it can’t be made better, but now I’m ready to do the new thing, because look at all I’ve learned.” 
This is the story of every human innovation.
This is the story of every good idea, every new project, every pop song, every novel. 
There was a bad idea. And then there was a better one. 
If you want to complain that you don’t have any good ideas, please show me all your bad ideas first.

This article really hit me - because I do find myself beating myself up for coming up with "bad ideas" - but wait, where are the bad ideas? First, you've got to come out with bad ideas, then make improvement on the "bad ideas". 

Often time, I stop myself from doing something because I think it'll be bad - but without even trying, without even coming out with something, how do I know it's bad? I'm not even giving myself a chance to work on it, to improve it, to make it good. 

We’re a community of critics and tweakers and tinkerers. The reason is simple: It’s safer. People rarely criticize the critic. And beyond that, it’s not that hard to use sandpaper. It’s a lot more difficult to use a bandsaw, or even to use a pencil to draw the plans in the first place.

No one is keeping you from posting your video.

No one is keeping you from blogging every day.

No one is keeping you from hanging your artwork.

The only way to get through the steps is to do the steps.


You Need to Practice Being Your Future Self - HBR

"Here’s the key: You need to spend time on the future even when there are more important things to do in the present and even when there is no immediately apparent return to your efforts. In other words — and this is the hard part — if you want to be productive, you need to spend time doing things that feel ridiculously unproductive.

A question I hear a lot is: What about all the things I actually need to get done? Don’t I need to get through my cluttered email box, my pressing conversations, my project plans in order to create space to focus on my future self?

Nope.

That’s a trick your busy self plays on you to keep you away from the scary stuff you’re not yet good at and that isn’t yet productive. Sometimes you need to be irresponsible with your current challenges in order to make real progress on your future self. You have to let the present just sit there, untended. It’s not going away and will never end. That’s the nature of the present."

I have to admit - I fall into this trap a lot. In order to avoid feeling "uncomfortable" doing task that I deem unfamiliar, I'd keep myself busy with menial tasks - which might create a false sense of productivity, and worse, not growing in my role.

Even writing this blog post feels really uncomfortable - I want to be able to articulate what I've learnt & read in articles and hence I'm writing this blog post, although it is taking up a lot of time and I feel as though I am engulfed in insecurities  

Here's to venturing out to do more things that feels uncomfortable.


There are 3 different types of burnout — these are the signs to look out for - CNBC

According to the article, the three types of burnout are: 

1. Burnout by volume - triggered when you're constantly being booked, back-to-back, having almost no time to yourself

2. Burnout by boredom - triggered by the feeling of boredom at work, when you don't feel challenged or when you're feeling uninspired

Didn't know this could be a thing and upon reflecting, I realised I did feel tired and worn out before because I feel as though I have nothing much too

3. Burnout by socialisation - triggered when you put others ahead of your needs too often

This article gave me a light bulb moment - I've experienced burnout when I wasn't dead busy and I was wondering why I felt tired and uninspired, seems like I had a case of burnout by boredom there! 


28 Mini Rules That Have Drastically Simplified My Life - The Financial Diet

Love this piece! Espeically 

1. No emails before a certain time / No emails after a certain atime 

5. Schedule 15 minutes of alone time every day 

12. Ask yourself these two questions

When you’re making tough choices and deciding what to do in a certain situation, ask yourself…

- What would my future self in five years decide?

- What is the end goal I want from this?

 

13. Create a list of three priorities for every day (do this the night before)

 

24. Refuse to indulge in “I don’t know” or being “stuck”

Instead of allowing yourself to sit in “I don’t know,” switch to “I’m figuring it out.” At least this gives you momentum. Like Wayne Dyer says, “You are not stuck unless you decide to be.”

Certainly want to try out some of this mini rules! Thinking of writing a blog post about my own mini rules hmm.  


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That's it for the month of February! See you in March :P 

Monday, 15 February 2021

My 21 for 2021 List

A couple of weeks back, I listened to Gretchen Rubin's Happier podcast, and she talked to her sister about their 21 for 2021 list

(Gretchen Rubin is the author of the book, The Happiness Project, where she challenged herself to monthly challenges in pursuit of happiness. You may read my review about it here!)

The 21 for 2021 is basically a list of things you want to do/achieve for the year 2021. Of course, it doesn't necessarily have to be 21. You can customise it however you want! It can be something fun, or about a goal you want to achieve. You can read more about it here :D 

I really liked the idea of having a list of things you want to do/achieve for the year. Yes, I have my goals for the year, but there are things I want to do/achieve that is...not so related to my goals, and are things that are purely just for fun! Also with the lockdown, it's helpful for me to have a list of things that I want to do to keep me on track, especially on days when I feel like a complete, meh. 

I thought writing this will be a breeze but it actually took me a full month to write this! I've been googling around for inspirations, and I'm pretty sure as time passes I might be adding on more to it. Some of the items on my list are linked directly to my goals for 2021, while some are purely for fun :D 


Finance

1. Save about 50% of my gross income 

Directly linked to my monthly goal of saving about 40-50% of my income per month. Hoping that it'll add up to 50% by the end of the year :D 

2. Start a side business / Have a side income stream

Again, directly linked to my 2021 goals :D Check out my Carousell page people ;) 


Fitness

1. Run 120km cumulatively 

So far in January, I've run 10km. I track the total distance using Google Map tracking services. Not going to set anything too ambitious, especially because my knees have been feeling...off, since my Kinabalu hike back in 2019. 


Hobbies

1. Cook different cuisine from at least 12 different countries!

Since we can't travel much this year, I figure that perhaps I can go on a culinary adventure through my own home kitchen. It's always interesting to learn about one's culture/country through their food.

So far, I've tried cooking Shaang Xi cuisine (China), Greek Gyros (Greece),  Shoyu Ramen (Japan), Dak-Galbi (Korea) and Beef Goulash (Hungary).

Would love to try making some Brazilian dessert and some Pao de Quejo, Sweedish desserts like the Toscakaka, Morrocan food like Tagine, more Japanese food like Udon, and also Indian food!


2. Revamp my little garden space 

I haven't been doing much with my little garden space, and I'm thinking of re-engineering it by having a few arranged hanging baskets with some pothos and purple hearts...and perhaps having a few more succulent gardens :) 


3. Start an edible garden

I have a lot of plants but they're mostly the low-maintenance ornamental plants. Why not start planting edibles and I can cook a garden-to-table meal? :D 

I've always been reluctant to start an edible garden because they're far more high maintenance. I've killed quite a few herb plants and hence my confidence is kinda low for starting an edible garden, but let's start small and easy. I'm thinking of planting okra/water spinach (aka kangkung) first since these are the somewhat "easier" and "lower maintenance" plant.  


4. Document my cooking/baking journeys through vlogs/video recording 

I've been cooking/baking a lot and why not take a step further in documenting? I tried making videos of it previously but stopped after the tripod I had....broke into pieces. I realised that video editing can be quite fun/therapeutic too! 


5. Blog more about cooking/baking/gardening!

Somehow I don't write about my cooking/baking/gardening adventure as much as my hiking adventures. Would like to write more about them :) Hoping to see at least one of each post by the end of 2021!


6. Hike somewhere I've never been before! 

Places I want to try out: Bukit Cherakah at Puncak Alam, several hills in Negeri Sembilan and Perak. Though this will largely depend on the state of the pandemic. 


7. Master the art of sourdough

i.e. by the end of the year 2021, I want to be able to confidently say that I can bake a beautiful loaf of sourdough bread :) 


8. Participate in hobby groups

ie Sourdough/Gardening group. I've joined these group on Facebook to learn more from others, but I've so far just been a rather silent member. Commenting on posts here and there very occasionally when I feel that I can contribute. I want to do more of it and share my knowledge as well as learn from others :) 



Personal Growth

1. Complete at least six online courses

So far I've completed two - The Science of Happiness & Learning How to Learn. I'm currently undertaking How to Manage a Remote Team by GitHub and Psychological First Aid by John Hopkins University. 

Note: I'm aiming for the shorter courses and not the full-blown digital degree courses! 


2. Read 12 Non-Fiction

I have an inclination to read fiction only. Fiction books to me are so much easier to follow and digest. I'd like to challenge myself to read at least 12 non-fiction books this year. 

So far my non-fiction book count for the year...zero :D 


3. Start bullet journaling and be consistent with it 

Surprise, surprise, I've just started bullet journaling. My, the pandemic has been pushing me to try out things I've never imagined that I'd do. 

I was overwhelmed with the...never-ending ways to start a bullet journal. I'll just try out some of the spread I feel would benefit me and add/remove/modify as time passes 


4. Update my LinkedIn Profile 

I'm a...'I'll update my LinkedIn profile when it's time' type of person. I know I should do it more often. But somehow...I'm still struggling with this - deciding what is worthy of sharing/updating on LinkedIn. This is definitely something that I should put more thoughts into this year. I probably need to set a concrete goal on this. My first step is probably to update my achievement on my online learning course! 


Others

1. Re-organise my room/Have a room makeover 

Since I'm spending so much time in it, especially now during the lockdown. My room could need a face-lift! 


2. Go on a vacation somewhere secluded

Subject to the pandemic. Hoping to stay at one of the eco-resort in Penang Island or Cameron Highland when things cool down and it's safer to travel again. 


3. Be more consistent with 16 hours fast

This is something I do...on and off. Sometimes I complete the full fast, and sometimes I just feel...meh. I'll be honest I'm actually on the fence on whether or not to include this on my 21 for 2021 list. But since I've decided to put it on, now let's get down to business. 


4. Organise a live cook/bake-along!

Always want to try this out with friends :D 


5. Join a clothes swap

This is challenging because of the pandemic. I joined my first (& only) clothes swap early last year before the pandemic hit us. I loved it! Hoping to join more, if situation allows. 

Monday, 1 February 2021

Monthly Goals Review: January 2021

Alright, it's that time of the month again. My monthly goals will be based on the goals I've set for 2021


Financial Goals 

1) Save at least 40% of my income every month 

Achieved! 


Spending breakdown


Note: I stay with my parents, and this saves me from expenses such as rent, utility fees food expenses, which I am really grateful for.

The largest chunk of my expenses goes to Shopping, followed by Transportation (eg: petrol, parking, toll and my monthly instalment for my car loan), Food & Beverage (my expenses when eating out), Friends & Family (eg: expenses incurred when treating friends/family, or donations).

As we spent more than half of January in lockdown, it was easier to save up as I don't go out as often, other than to buy groceries or take-out. On a typical month, I believe my eating out expenses (categories as Food & Beverage) and Transportation expense would be higher. 
Under my Shopping expenses, the biggest contributor was my Grocery spending, which, is not a big surprise, given that I cook a lot nowadays. This is followed by spending on electronics (my monthly instalment payment for my stand mixer!), and stationery.

I've spent quite a bit on new stationery purchase for the month of January. I've recently gotten into the habit of recipe journalling, where I"d write down recipes I've tried and tested and note down what modifications I've done etc.

I've started to find the joy in journalling and hence purchased a few unnecessary items such as washi tape and alphabet stamps, but as this ritual of mine I find it therapeutic, so why not invest in some things that'd make this ritual more pleasant and enjoyable :) Spending justified! I bought a few notebook refills, a notebook, some washi tapes and a stamp set for my journaling habit. 


2) Establish a side income stream


OBVIOUSLY, nothing happened.

Right now I feel as though I am lacking the courage and confidence to start. I keep citing that I need to do more research and have a long-term plan on how it will roll out. 

Silly me also disabled Carousell notifications on my phone because I find it rather annoying how they've been sending advertisement as push notifications. And turns out I missed out on two prospective buyers messages because of this huhuhu. 

For the month of February, I will start listing some of my self-propagated plants on Carousell. Shameless promo, if you're looking for some terracotta pots or self-propagated plants, do check out my profile on Carousell :D 


3) Invest at least 20% of my income

As mentioned, this is an autopilot/passive goal as I've set up an auto-debit into my Stashaway account every month :) 

In case you're interested to set-up a StashAway account, you may use my referral code and we can get our first RM30,000 managed for free for 6 months :D 

Personal Growth / Learnings

1) Listen to at least one podcast every day

Check! It's now a habit of my to listen to podcasts first thing I do once I wake up, thank you Mi Earbuds! Shared some of the notable ones in this post :) 

For the month of February, I want to try keeping a log of podcasts I've listened to, and my personal learnings/takeaway from it. 


2) Read at least one paragraph of non-fiction/fiction every day

And this total up to four books read for the month of January 2021!

If you're interested to read my thoughts/reviews on these books, do click on the links below: 



3) Participate in at least one online events and/or online courses every month

For the month of January, I completed the Science of Wellbeing course by Yale University on Coursera. (PS I am doing the free version, which means I don't get the certificate of completion, I only go through all their lecture materials and quizzes and do not submit their assignments)  

You probably have read articles raving about this course before (here's one by Business Insider). I've also many friends that took this course that was raving about it, so I've decided to give it a go.

The expected readings and videos for each week wasn't too heavy, compared to a course I am currently taking now (will be writing about this for February goal review), I spend an average of 2-3 hours per week completing the course :) 

I like how their assignments are all things you implement in real-life, rather than...plain essay writing. In fact, your first assignments include a personality quiz to assess your strength, and also to measure your perceived level of happiness

My strengths - I agree on the curiosity and love of learning part :D 

You'll also be given an e-workbook, where every week you're expected (or more like, encouraged) to do a retirement exercise (eg: sleep 8 hours, perform a random act of kindness etc) 

I find that some of the concepts introduced are not completely new (some were already part of my personal beliefs prior to this, and/or I've learnt about it from some TED Talk), but it has reaffirmed a lot of my personal beliefs, backed with proper data and research. It also gave me a logical & structured way to implement all these concepts in my personal life.

Would I recommend this course? Yes :) Do give it a try! 


4) Cook/Bake at least one dish per week


Week 1: Dak Galbi, Lemon Ginger cookies, Zha Jiang Noodles 

Week 2: Sourdough Pizza, NY Cookies (tried out a different recipe!), made my very first sourdough loaf and Char Siew!
Week 3: Sourdough Loaf with Rye (20%), and homemade ramen from scratch!

Week 4: Sourdough chocolate chip cookies, Beef Goulash

Also want to share some of my #failed bakes hahah.
Tried making sourdough banana bread, but I think because I didn't use enough baking powder and did not properly mix the batter, the cake came out dense :( I made a UFO sourdough rye too - as I accidentally broke the surface tension while shaping it, resulting in a flat-ish bread. 

It's always quite frustrating when what you're making doesn't end up how you visualise it to be, but it's always a good lesson :) And once you find out your mistakes, you most likely will remember not to repeat it the next time! 

Also made some of my old classic favourite - sourdough crackers, pumpkin soup, kale chips and brownies chips! 

My personal favourite cook/bake this month is the sourdough chocolate chips cookies! Absolutely love it. Although making these cookies requires a few extra steps (eg: browning the butter to remove excess moisture, as when you add the sourdough starter in, you're introducing extra moisture into the batter!). The Zha Jiang Noodles is also my personal favourite - this one is quick and easy to make, perfect for a weeknight dinner. 

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That's it for January 2021! Hoping to be as productive & disciplined in February. Chinese New Year is coming and I know for sure my temptation to shop for clothes would sky-rocket. I'll try my best to keep myself grounded, and remind myself about my ultimate end goal. 

Sunday, 31 January 2021

Good reads/podcasts/video: January 2021

One of my goals to ensure my personal growth this year is to listen to at least one podcast per day. And to ensure I am really "absorbing" the lesson, I'd like to document and share some of the insightful podcasts, as well as articles & videos (why limit myself to podcasts!) I've come across the month :) Hope you'll find them insightful too! 



1,273 People Share Their Best Life Lessons from 2020

"2) A Crisis Doesn’t Change People; It Amplifies Who They Already Are"

"People who thought they were extroverted realized they were introverted. People who believed they were introverts discovered they were actually quite extroverted. In both cases, people realized that much of what they thought was their personality was merely molded by social pressures."

I really resonated with some of the life lessons from the article, especially the life lesson above.

Having a lot of quiet time during the lockdown, I was able to properly reflect and was not able to "distract" myself by going out. 

I did the 16 personalities test and found out that I am now an introvert. (Though, a borderline one). This will probably surprise me if it was a year ago. I somehow find myself appreciating quiet time on the weekend more now. This used to scare me - and I realised that I was afraid of idle time, or free weekends without a plan, because I wanted to be actively engaging in something, to distract myself from problems I was facing. I've been allowing myself to feel bored at home and I find that my random drive to do something usually comes out when I'm bored at home. 

My current persona! I took the test a year ago and I was a Protaganist.


PS I don't swear by personalities tests, but I do enjoy taking personalities tests to try to understand myself better and read on about nsights and tips helpful for self-improvement. 


TED Talk: Adam Alter: Why our screen makes us less happy

"We're spending three times longer on the apps that don't make us happy."

Now that we're in lockdown again, I realise my screen time has been increasing, which is inevitable. Work is done on screen. Communication has to be done on screen. Most of my hobbies (eg: blogging, reading) are done on screen. 
(I am trying to find the meme that has been going around Facebook...it basically depicts how we spend both our workday and wind-down time staring at the screen)

Listening to this TED Talk made me more self-aware on how I'm spending my screen time. I believe that not all screen time is making us less happy - the danger starts is when we start deriving an unrealistic benchmark based on what we see on our screen. When we start comparing ourselves with others through what we see on social media.

I've compiled a list of my favourite social media accounts which I find beneficial to me, hope it'll be useful for you too :D 



I Started a Business out of Curiousity


This falls under this list as I was really inspired and amazed by this Youtuber. How she takes action on her curiosity. This video is also insightful, especially on the tax part of owning a company. Do check it out :D 



How to Be Confident, Not Arrogant

I struggle in exuding confidence, especially because I've decided to go on a career/industry switch in 2020 - I always feel that other people can do better than me. I allowed my inner voice to tell me that "I am not good enough" or "I need more experience". I feel that if I start showing I am confident, does it mean that I am being arrogant and complacent? 

If you're like me, this article/podcast is worth reading/listening to :) The article/podcasts helped me see the difference between exuding confident, and exuding "arrogance". 
"According to Psychology Today:
 
Confidence is a belief in oneself, the conviction that one has the ability to meet life's challenges and to succeed—and the willingness to act accordingly."
"Confidence is knowing you don’t know everything and having the humility to recognize that other people's good ideas won’t dull your shine."

The article also suggested some key actions you can take to build up your confidence. Definitely will be mindful to try out these tips!

"The conviction that you have the ability to meet a challenge begins with being super clear about what challenge you’re there to meet. Before an important interaction, ask yourself: What’s my role in this, and what am I expected to influence or deliver?"

My personal next steps: Always understand my purpose and expectations on you at a particular time/event. Listen intently! Ask questions! 



How to Follow Up with Someone Who's Not Getting Back to You

This is definitely a problem everyone faces :p

Communication is more important than ever, especially now that we are all working remotely. I've always preferred follow-up in person when I don't get reply because when you communicate in person, you have your body language and tone of voice to set things straight without sounding like you're being overly desperate/accusing. However, as in-person communication is now 

I like how to article outlined clear, tangible steps you can take to follow-up. Definitely will be practising these steps when I encounter these situations! 


Which of these 6 time traps is eating up all your time?

Now that we all are working remotely, we should have had more time to ourselves, right? Since we save time commuting, getting ready to work etc. Despite so, I sometimes find myself not knowing where all these extra time went - I am still producing the same amount of work/output despite having more time to myself. This article is a reminder to all these teeny tiny time traps in our every day life that may seem teeny tiny but is actually not! 
"Time trap #1: Technology interruptions break our hours into confetti 
Technology saves us time, but it also takes it away — this is known as the autonomy paradox."
This articles also reminded me of the value of time, which I think we often overlook. The opportunity cost of time. 
"Time trap #3: We undervalue our time
Because of a cultural obsession with money, many people protect their money in ways that are counterproductive to time affluence."

I've to admit, I'd rather save money than save time. For example, I'd rather spend about one hour to go out and grab food, rather than paying for delivery services to get the food delivered to me. Time for me to reflect on how can I better spend my time if I were to spend money to save those time. Would I be wasting that extra time away if I do so? It's time to reflect!

Homemade ramen from scratch! 

I realise I spend a lot of time cooking, baking, and going out to grocery shops to hand-pick my ingredients. But this is a part of my time I don't regret spending at all - simply because I find cooking/baking/grocery shopping a way for me to wind down and relax :) I also get a huge sense of accomplishment from these tasks! 



Stop saying ‘I’m sorry.’ Research says it makes others think less of you—here’s what successful people do instead

I received a 360 feedback from one of the intern I work with at work stating that I say sorry too much - a lot of time when it is not required.

If you're like me - I'd highly recommend you to read this article. It outlines why you shouldn't say sorry all the time, and it gives tangible actions you can adopt to overcome this. (Spoiler alert: they even suggested a Google Plugin to help you overcome this problem!) 

I am trying to be mindful of when I use "sorry". It's definitely not easy, as I realised that saying sorry has someone became a habit to me. But definitely something I have to work on!  


How the pandemic killed your motivation, and 6 simple ways to get it back, according to science

Let's face it - working from home is hard. There are days when you really don't feel like doing anything at all.

I really like the tips given by the article. I swear by the little rituals and routines. Nowadays, I'd brew my own cup of coffee in the morning and this little ritual really do give me that satisfaction and strength to start a day, even if it's just a little bit :P 
Or petting my dog first thing in the morning 
Time to time after a long day of work, I'd reward myself with a little treat. 
The article mentioned something about identifying trigger points - I think I'm at the stage where I'm unsure what my triggers are, because time to time I feel as though I fall in a slump for no reasons at all. There might be a reason that I am not aware of, something for me to be mindful of.

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That's it for this month's round-up of good reads/podcasts/videos :D 

Personal reflection: I realised that I tend to find "how-to"s articles/videos/podcasts insightful. Wonder if I'd continue this trend in the coming months.

Saturday, 30 January 2021

Social Media Accounts I Love (& have learnt a lot from!)

Social Media to me is a double-edged sword. While it helps me keep in touch with our friends and family, especially now during this pandemic where face-to-face interaction is not encouraged, it is easy to make unhealthy comparisons about yourself with others, get absorbed in "doomscrolling" and not realising I'm letting time slip away through social media.

I do try to limit my time spent on social media, and try to make it as meaningful as possible. I've discovered many social media accounts which are insightful, which have led to me gaining new perspectives and knowledge. 

And hence, I've decided to compile a few of my favourite social media accounts which have helped me gain new insights and knowledge, and I hope that it'd benefit you as well :)



Personal Finance 

1. Suyin Ong (Youtube Channel)

Why I love this channel:

I love her videos as they are relatable, easy to digest and informative. As Suyin is a Malaysian Youtuber, her videos fit into the Malaysian context which makes it very applicable to me :) For example, her video about money advice which is no longer applicable to us, and I really like this video about how girls (& also guys) have to be good with money.

Besides personal finances, Suyin also publishes vlog where she shares about some of her personal reflection/struggles etc, which I have to echo, is not often talk about and it is definitely very refreshing to hear someone talk about it on social media :) 

One of her recent videos that really inspired was the one where she talks about how she started a business out of curiosity 


And oh, her videos are often bite-sized :D 


2. The Financial Diet (Youtube Channel & Instagram)

*PS: topics covered by this channel is actually quite broad, ranging from personal finances, personal growth and wellness etc. But they mainly pivot on personal finance (which is evident too from their channel's name)

Why I love this channel:

The content shared is very relevant to the young generation. I like how the content also takes references from the latest pop culture (eg: this video about life & money lesson from Emily in Paris).

I discovered about the sinking fund system through this channel. If you've read my previous posts, you'd know that I'm a hugeeee sinking fund advocate :P 



I've also gotten a lot of inspiration to improve myself from this channel (eg: a this video about distraction journal, and this video about quirky frugal habit the writer is not ashamed aboutboosted my confidence in sticking to my budget when I'm hanging out with my peers, as I often feel pressured to just hide this frugal side of me and "go with the flow", even if it means blowing my budget when I hand out with my peers. 


3. Ringgit Oh Ringgit (Blog)

Why I love this blog:

Similar to Suyin - personal finance made simple & localised content. Besides sharing about personal finances related topics, Suraya, the writer, publishes this "Weekly Links Roundups" which usually features really insightful articles/news. 

I also enjoy her blog posts where she breaks down costs of something (eg: her wedding), and her monthly expenses report. It is an eye-opener to me, especially because talking about money is somewhat a taboo in our culture. I do feel that we should really talk more about finance though - there's so much we can learn from one another when we're open to talking about budgeting and finances. 



Property

1. Sean Tan (Youtube Channel)

Why I love this channel: 

I just discovered this channel like last week, and I've been binge-watching his videos non-stop lol! 

His videos are not only informative but extremely addictive and fun to watch! He does very comprehensive and informative on-site property reviews/virtual tour. He ends every property review with a "Sean Take 3 on 3", where he talks about the three things he likes about the property, and 3 things he doesn't like about the property, and he's honest about the pros and cons of each property he reviews.

I also enjoy his "Ask Me Anything" video series where he answers questions from his subscribers, mostly property-related. His video dissecting about the Sales & Purchase Agreeemtn (SPA) is by far one of the most informative content about SPA I've ever came across 




Personal Style

1. Audrey Coyne (Youtube Channel)

Why I love her:

Audrey focuses on "slow fashion" rather than fast fashion. I've learnt so much about styling from her. From finding one's personal style, how to pick a colour that would suit you, to creating a capsule wardrobe, repurposing your old clothes, how to shop less and so much more!

Audrey has such a soothing voice too and her videos exude this calm vibe :) 

If you've been reading my previous posts, you'd noticed that I've been dropping her name quite often. The video below was one of the first video of her I've watched and left a lasting impact on me :) 




Hobbies - Cooking/Baking

1. Delish's Host: June Xie (Youtube Channel)

OK I typically only watch videos on this channel that features this host, June Xie. 

Why I love watching June: 

1. She is probably the only Youtube chef out there that shamelessly reuse things (eg: parchment paper, produce bags, reduce, reuse, recycle people!)

2. She uses leftovers and expired condiments like nobody's business (expired sauce? Does it smells ok? OK? Alright in it goes!)

3. She explains a lot on the why(s) of a certain method

4. She's good at explaining the how(s) too

5. AND she's so brutally honest about her feelings sometimes in her videos

6. Her sense of humour! 

1 & 2 is so refreshing to see on social media.

Please, just do yourself a favour and watch some of her budgets eats video. Or her baking video shot in the Delish test kitchen. Her videos are often 30 minutes ~ 1 hour but I'll assure you, you won't even realise how much time has passed when you watch June videos, and you'll definitely learn quite a bit from her!

I personally learnt a lot too from June's personal Instagram account, where she'd share her views on some news, and also some food wisdom

I'd also recommend listening to this podcast where she was featured in below - one key message that I particularly love from her is to always eat what you love. And don't judge what other people eat. This is very true! I always find that food is very subjective, and sometimes, usually, unintentionally, we'd judge someone for the food they eat, which honestly shouldn't happen. I know I sometimes do that too - unintentionally. And we shouldn't be embarrassed of what we eat too :) 



News/Current Affair

1. Company Man (Youtube Channel)

Why I love this channel:
This channel deep dive into the rise and falls of certain companies, typically big names, and do in depth analysis of the how(s) and why(s). You can learn SOOOO MUCH from this channel. 


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That's it for now - these are the social media accounts which I'd religiously watch/read whenever they release new content :) There are of course more which I did not include (eg: plants-related channel! But I follow too many of them and they're really good, worried that this post might be never ending:P) There are of course more out there which I have yet to discover, would love to hear what's your favourite social media accounts and why you love them too :D 

Monday, 18 January 2021

My Best & Worst Personal Purchases for the year 2020

I wanted to reflect on my purchases in 2020 and properly analyse which purchases have really impacted me in a positive way, and which purchases have been unnecessary. And hence, this post.


I'll start with the best purchases :) I'll try my best to best as honest as I can to myself. 

Best Purchases in 2020

(in no particular order) 

1) Kenwood Chef XL KVL4100S Stand Mixer

Price: RM1,956

I know. Me myself was utterly shocked at myself when I made this purchase. I bought this mixer there and then at a physical shop in a mall...when I knew I probably could have gotten it cheaper online. 

(Anyway - the price has dropped by RM200 ishh :((( but oh well this happens)
Dog to scale...it is a...huge mixer

Butttt. It just felt right after viewing and having the salesperson to answer my queries and concerns. I was worried that I might regret my purchase since it was done rather a haste. *trying hard to justify my haste purchase)*

Okay yes I admit it was bought off an impulse. A strong impulse. But I think this is definitely one of my best purchase in the year 2020. Owning a stand mixer has been a game-changer. Making bread and cakes has never been easier. I did a very brief review of this stand mixer and also documented how I chose a stand mixer in this blog post.

See how tot and tight the dough produced by the stand mixer is! 

I can easily make bread at home, even on weekdays as most time is passive! I'll just leave it on and do my work at a side and tend to it the dough is almost ready. The only downside of owning this machine is that I am using the oven really frequent now and my electricity bill has since skyrocketed...oopsie. But honestly, I felt much more confident trying out new recipes after I've acquired this stand mixer :) This stand mixer is like the fuel to my already burning bright hobby of baking :p 


2) IKEA Flintan Chair with Armrest

Price: RM289 

With the prolonged remote working arrangement now, having a proper chair has been more crucial than ever. I used a simple plastic chair from IKEA that costs probably around RM30 ss my work chair. It works fine, BUT, I realised that it wasn't ideal for working long hours after two weeks into the WFH situation and decided to invest in a proper chair. I opted for the Flintan after much research, because it seems to be the most affordable chair that provide ergonomic support. 

However, as I tend to slouch (unconsciously)...I still do get neck and/or backaches. But it's a lot better compared to when I didn't even use a proper ergonomic chair, as the structure of the chair forces me to somewhat sit properly. Not 100% properly, but at least better than before.


3) Foldable bamboo lap desk

Price: RM48.88

I have always wanted to buy one of these lap desk because I'm a lazy bump that enjoys using the laptop on her bed. I bought this the moment CMCO 2.0 was announced in October, knowing that we will be spending more time indoors, I thought why not try out one of these. 

In the end, I barely used it on the bed because....one day my laptop slid and fell off the bed while using this. Ouch.

(Laptop is doing well so far. Hope it stays okay. Yes I know I am careless human being)

Despite so. This has been one of the best purchases I've made last year because:

1) It helps me ensure that my eyes are 180 to the screen. I now use it to level my laptop screen and my eyes on my desk. 

2) I've never used my laptop on the bed since (after a painful lesson huhu)


4) Cast Iron Skillet

Price: RM55
Having a cast iron skillet allowed me to explore recipes that I wasn't able to explore previously such as pork Carnitas, Dak-Galbi, baked pasta, Japanese Char Siew. I use my cast iron pan as a "steamer" too in my oven when baking crusty bread. 

I love that I can dump the cast iron skillet straight from the stovetop to the oven. 
Dak-Galbi on my cast iron (:

Note that you can still try out the recipes I've mentioned above without a cast iron pan :) I just love the extra "char" from the cast iron pan.


5) Getting my hair dyed professionally at Kimarie SS2 hair saloon

Price: RM259

I was surprised by the fact that I opted to go to a saloon, to be honest. If you know me I'm one of the biggest cheapskate when it comes to these kind of spending. I am the type of people who believe that it's much more worth it to buy a box of dye for about RM30-50 and DIY at home! Why would I pay like ten folds more when I can do it for cheap myself! 

But somehow. Somehow. Not sure how and why. But when I saw a targetted advert on my Facebook account by Kimmarie SS2, offering a cut & wash + dye + hair colour lock treatment service for RM199 (extra RM50 surcharge for hair length that exceeds shoulder), I decided to give it a go. 

Good job, Facebook ad algorithm. Because I think that was one of the best decision I've ever made. LOL.

~SyOk sEnDiRi zone~ 

but hey! this little makeover made me feel good and confident about myself :) It wasn't a drastic change but I liked the change it brought to me :) 

My hairdresser was Chong Iu, he was really patient in explaining the types of hair colour that would look good and last longer with my hair colour, which was pretty jet black at that time. He recommended me to either go for Copper Black, which has a nice brown shade BUT is higher in maintenance as the colour tend to fade to a dirty brown colour, or ash brown, which would go lighter as time passes and is deemed more 'low maintenance'. I decided to go for the latter. 

It's been six months since I dyed my hair and the colour is holding itself strong. I still like how it looks till date, even though my black hair has since grown out. I quite like the change in the shade of colour from black to brown! 


6) New pillow from Akemi

Price: Less than RM10, purchased using vouchers given by my school as a farewell gift

I've had my old pillows for...god knows how many years. I've gotten myself a contour pillow from Akemi and I absolutely love it, been sleeping much better after the swap :) ! Pillows are an investment worth splurging on as it ensures a good night sleep! 

And my little Aussie get to inherit my old pillow


7) Reusable Face Mask from Aeon (A Mask Story) 

Price: RM15

I love these masks from A Mask Story so much! Despite being 5-layers with filters built-in, I find them comfy and breathable :) They fit nicely and the straps are adjustable.

I am currently using my second face mask from them. I've read somewhere that it is recommended that we change our reusable face mask once every six months or so. I've tried Uniqlo's one but I find that Uniqlo's one is not as breathable and it doesn't fit me as nicely as this one from A Mask Story :) 

Reusable mask = reduce the usage of disposable mask! 
You may get these mask on Aeon online store or in-store :) You'll see them everywhere around the payment counters. Wow it's only RM9.90 now on their online store :O 

8) This RM10 dress I thrifted

Price: RM10

I love this dress so much. It fits me just nice. I love the design. AND it's RM10. It's from H&M. This dress brought me so much joy! Bought it from 2nd Street SS15!

9) Xiaomi Mi True Wireless Earbuds Basic 

Price: RM39 (thank you 11.11 sale! Original price was RM129)

Wireless earbuds are an absolute gamechanger. These wireless earbuds gives me the freedom to walk around, perform my mundane everyday mundane task (Eg: put the kettle on, make coffee) while listening to podcasts.

I used to have a Jabra wireless earphone many years ago but I don't use it often as it doesn't fit comfortably on my ears, the Bluetooth connectivity was kinda slow, and the battery life was short-ish, even though that cost me almost RM200+! (PS this was like back in 2016, and I believe wireless products now have much better connectivity and battery life)

I was a little sceptical when I first purchased this, I only bought it because it was on sale, RM39, from RM129 :P Happy to report that I'm loving it! The fit of Xiaomi's one felt much better, the Bluetooth connection has always been fast an on point and battery life is not bad, a full charge typically last me around 4 hours :) 

I have to say though last week one side of the earphone just stopped working, despite my numerous attempts of trying to restart it. It then miraculously started working again after. a few days...hmmm, let's hope it stays like this! 

10) These linen shorts 

Price: RM9.84 each

I WAS RATHER APPREHENSIVE WHEN I BOUGHT THESE. Because it seems too good to be true. Linene shorts??? RM9.84??? Whattt???? Reviews were also mixed, but I decided to give it a go since it's only RM9+

I bought four pairs at once just to qualify for free shipping. And my gosh these shorts the comfiest pair of shorts ever. I'm so glad I bought four of these in different colours. I wear them at home as my house wear, wear them to jogging, and sometimes I wear them out too. 

The only thing I don't really like about these pants are the pockets - they are made out of polyester which feels flimsy. But hey, they're not visible AND they cost less than RM10 each AND I wear them at least once a week which makes their average cost per wear super worth it.

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I'm trying to deduce if there are any patterns I can observe from my best buys of 2020, and it seems like cheap but good quality clothing is one of them x) Also, things I use every day (Flintan chair, bamboo foldable lap desk, pillow & face mask) and things that support my hobbies (cast iron skillet & stand mixer) are other trends I notice :)

Now let's move on to the worst purchases I've made for the year 2020.


Worst Purchases 

Disclaimer: worst purchase doesn't mean that they're horrible items. It may be things that are great but just that I didn't really need it or it doesn't fit my lifestyle. 

1) Suit from G2000

Price: RM200+

Don't get me wrong. G200's clothing is great. I love their styles and their fit is tailored more for petite Asian built body. It's not that the quality is bad, but I've only worn it once just because...we went into lockdown one month after my purchase. And hence, one of my worst purchase.

I was rushing to do a complete overhaul of my wardrobe last year, probably due to peer pressure and also I felt that my closet was too cikgu. I remember spending hundreds on new work clothes during the first two months into my new job. 

From this experience, I learnt to not rush into buying clothes. 


2) Cheap earphones 

Price: RM10-20

Note: Cheap doesn't necessarily equate to bad. I know there are cheap earphones that are well-built and of good quality but somehow...I've been unlucky T_T 

I bought a couple of pair of earphones for RM9.90 on Shopee and Lazada...and in just about 2-3 of them failed on me after a month or so of usage :( One of them got snagged on something when I was jogging and one side just stops functioning.

Perhaps the problem is in me, the end-user, for being rather careless. But I can't help but feel that I've just wasted money and resources when I had to change earphones every one month or so when they fail on me :/ Perhaps I should invest in one that is much more sturdy, shock-resistant one. 

I am currently using earphones from Xiaomi (bought at RM39) and they've been serving me well for about 2 months. Please let it last long. 


3) This blue off-the-shoulder top from Jin Hayari

Price: Somewhere between RM50-70

Sneezing in 3...2...1...


Now similar to (1), don't get me wrong. I absolutely love Jin Hayari. I've a pair of skorts I got from them that I adored greatly.

In fact, I bought the skorts along with this top because you can get 50% off the second item you purchase. I bought the top feeling 50/50 about it. 

I've only worn it once since my purchase in July 2020. Somehow I feel that it doesn't really resonate with my personal style and hence I am kinda regretting this purchase. 


4) Kitchen Timer from Daiso

Price: RM5.60


It went bust less than one month after purchase :(  Again, it might be just me. Because I've bought their kitchen timer before and that one lasted me for at least a year. 

I also realised that I can't change the batteries for these? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I can't seem to remove the batteries from the battery slot.

I'd prefer to buy one that is sturdier, knowing how clumsy I am as a person. ANd preferably one which batteries I am able to replace to reduce wastage. 


5) CHILIPULVER Plant watering sensor

Price: RM19.90

This is a neat product - this watering sensor starts flashing when your plant needs water - perfect for fussy plants.

The watering sensor is helpful for fussy plants like the calathea, they act out dramatically when you miss watering 

HOWEVER. I've stopped using it after it ran out of battery, and I have no idea where I've place it...

It is a good product, just that nowadays I learnt how to gauge whether or not my plants need watering. Or perhaps it's because I'm home much more often now so I can roughly tell whether my plants need watering. 

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My Takeaway

1) Never rush into buying things

Unless they're essentials that you need (eg: food, medicines)

Do your research. Try to compare the different prices on different platform or shops. 

Things typically will go on sale. Be wise when you want to make your purchase. If you know there's a sale coming up (eg: 9.9, 10.10), you might want to check out if the product will have any additional offers, or your card provider/bank might throw you some additional coupons/vouchers! 

For example my stand mixer. I could have waited till 12.12, or Black Friday to steal some deals. I admit that was rather rash of me to rush into the purchase and I was feeling quite down about it for a while, which lead me to my next point


2) To not beat yourself up for "bad" purchases

It happens. No point beating yourself up. If you really regret it, check the refund policies (but please don't abuse it!) and see if you can make a refund. 

This is why I am extremely careful with my clothes purchases, especially online. 

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Definitely, I want to be more mindful when buying stuff. To properly think through whether I need that item, will I be using that item every day, would it bring vast improvement to my life. 

Here's too more mindful shopping in the future!

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