Bali, Family, Food, Life, Love, Naiise

Three Days to Bali!! + Happy Pictures

TGIF folks!! It’s a rare moment of freshly-showered peace, and I’m just simply, looking forward to a well-deserved break in Bali.

It will be the first vacation I’ve had where being away actually means work piling up. One of the most overlooked luxuries of working in a larger organisation is the assurance that someone capable will cover your duties while you’re away. I am guilty of overlooking that one too, so treasure it if you do! Say thank you very much to your colleagues.

That said, our little team has expanded over the last few weeks, and I’m really happy and thankful that there are more hands, legs and fingers to keep the show running faster, and at a more manageable pace for everyone. I love it too that we are able to find, and work with, people who are passionate about making the business grow and succeed.

This morning was spent looking for offices – it’s probably one of the most exciting things that can ever happen for a company. The exhilaration of contemplating empty spaces and turning it into an amazing place where people can work happily.. is frankly, quite fantasy-inducing.Industrial spaces can be so beautiful with their double, triple volume spaces, I don’t think I can quite adjust back to shoebox apartment hunting.

We had a great past couple weeks with good coverage, and we’re also excited to introduce the launch of our new food section which features locally made food from small-scale makers here. Like the rest of our designers and makers, our food producers do amazing things with produce we already have here, and we love being able to support them on our platform.

I’ve tried the jams and granola so far, and they are very, very good. In fact, I personally swear by a bowl of Greek yogurt and Coconut Gula Melaka granola every morning, and I think I’m losing 500g everyday without even trying to. There must be some wisdom in the old adage “Eat like a king for breakfast, a prince for lunch and a pauper for dinner”. Cf: funny local publication My Mother Says ;)

Plus bonus: and of course it’s the only place you can get my sister’s famous macarons without having to camp on Instagram and wait for one of those SALE posts which close in like an hour -_-”

In non-work news, WE ARE SOOO LOOKING FORWARD TO BALI. All I want to do is lie at the beach and stare out into the open sea, pillion on a bike behind D, head back to our villa and jump into the pool. Maybe find that mysterious taco place in Seminyak that we’ve always wanted to find, but never quite were able to. And, of course, dine at our all-time favourite La Lucciola (so good it doesn’t even have a website).

Happy times lie ahead, and happy pictures for the post below :)

NONG

 

Farewell to the beautiful people at NONG

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Me and D, shot by the awesome Weekend Cheoks, a lifestyle blog run by Stacey and her two sisters who’ve been very supportive of Naiise x

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Then we had another photo shoot and an interview where we were asked the question “So, who wears the pants?” It’s actually pretty nice to have pictures of us taken by someone else! :P

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Then we had the ‘act natural’ picture – I like this lots :)

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And which self-respecting person these days wouldn’t have a mandatory hipster shot when hanging around in grimy areas? We’re such fun.

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Last weekend’s bento picnic with the family, D and Kira. LOVE, DIE HARD LOVE.

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Life, Naiise

The End Of Q1.. Can’t Wait For The Next!

So today marks the end of our pop up store at Naiise, and while D is feeling quite sentimental about it, I’m perfectly fine. I think it was AWESOME, it was a fantastic ride, and we made lots of great friends who subscribe to this crazy, hippie thing called DREAMS, mixed with a little bit of DOWN TO EARTH.

But all good things need to come to an end, and I’m ready for it. And our upcoming vacation too, finally!

I know I’ve been somewhat absent on the blog, but hey – if you really want to stalk, you can follow my alter-ego @naiise on Instagram, and my real self @amandinaxx. And for fun peeks at all the cool and amazing things that have gone on at NONG, just search #nongpopup and #naiise.

(Is this a good time to break into a little rant about how much I hate Facebook these days, from a business perspective and would rather embrace Instagram which creates a much more organic, loyal following? Next time perhaps.)

One of the most special things about NONG was its inaccessibility and strangely beautiful location – the type that makes you suspend reality for a minute and escape the crazy world of incessant brunches and poseur affairs. Even the leaking air con systems – a la HK style – were perfectly genuine and sincere in their manners towards us.

Due to an ongoing battle between the car-park and building landlords (straight out of a Channel 8 movie), we weren’t allowed to have signages anywhere to direct traffic upward. So there was no ‘foot traffic’, only inquisitive, persistent souls who discovered NONG via Facebook and/or Instagram, and specially made the trip down.

And we loved meeting you, every single one of you – from the random weekends, to our wildly successful Hit The Roof party, to Singapore Design Week (we were one of the pit stops for the Design Trail), to workshops spanning a wide range of lifestyle topics (make your own plant babies, make your own kimchi, make your own bar stool, etc). All of it. We even liked the crazy scientists and environmentalists that swung by some times.

D conceived Naiise as being design for everyone, and I think finally understood it.

Anyway, let me run back to my other tab. I have products to upload and HR protocols to read.

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Life

It Takes Time To Adjust

It definitely does.

But I’m really loving my ‘job’ now.

Not to say I don’t sometimes miss the structure of a 9-to-5 job, the ability to just space out and do monotonous work (there is comfort in that, sometimes), the assured salary that makes it way to your bank account every month end.

But this freedom, it’s intoxicating.

Which is why people say, once you go down, you can’t come back up. Or is it the other way around? Depends on your perspective!

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Life, Random

Too Many Things To Say

Realisation: cigarettes DO NOT make you poop. Oh god! I’ve been living with this fallacy for the past 10 years! :(

Random shout-out: new dresses up on The Scarlette.

Somewhat random: NONG prettified by blogshop Lollyrouge here. So pretty! <3 Watching them in action really reminded me of those gentle days EONS ago, when we would hang out in Bali Lane WAY before it become cool, taking pictures for our first The Scarlette collection. Sweet memories, oh just check out those cap locked SUPERLATIVES that remind us so much of how time has flown.

On small businesses (pre-amble): I love being at NONG. It’s one of those intimate spaces that foster intellectual exchange (if you want), and good ol’ down to earth constructive chatter. It’s like one of those roundtable sessions I read about in Flapper novels – the type typically chaired by a ridiculously good-looking woman and her gay friend, and emulated by no other.

On small business (actual): Being at NONG all the time means we get to meet a lot of small business owners – restaurants, coffee bars, social enterprises, retailers, everything. We love being able to work together, it’s a new breed of business owners, and a new way of thinking. We’re in it together, we have larger players to fight (together). Collaboration, the word, has never resounded stronger.

Green Drinks: participated in a session last night albeit from the fringes. Fascinating for environment lovers, especially if you have a brain, an opinion, a passion, a cause, and a mouth. Here.

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Life

The Quit Smoking Project

So this is it – the last year I can ever describe myself as being in my ’20s’.

90% of my friends are married, 95% of them have been proposed to, 50% have kids, 40% are well into the second year of their first kid’s life,  30% are onto baby #2.

I might have exaggerated the statistics slightly, that’s what people who write/have written reports for a living do. They tend to take a skewed proportion of the population and apply a logic that works to their advantage :P

But back to the topic – I’m no where near the above, and age is starting to really creep on me.

It manifests itself when I look at the younger, fresher faces of Insta celebs I meet occasionally (not without a sour, private thought of ‘oh they look better on Insta.. side note to self: TSK TSK SHAME ON YOU). When I look at these newfangled hipster filters of Instagram that make everything look so faded, and wonder what happened to good old vibrant colours. When I carry kids (no shortage of them around now) and wish that soon, I’ll have a kid of my own too.

OMG, I’M GETTING OLD!!!

So, in a bid to gain back some time, I have decided to quit smoking!

Some myths about quitting smoking bunked, and de-bunked:

1) Cutting down works better. False, just quit already.

2) It makes you snack more. True, try stocking your refrigerator with fruits. I told my mom to “support” me in my latest quest and suddenly we have pineapples, grapes, dragon fruit and watermelon in the house chopped into bite-sized yummy pieces.

3) It makes you restless. True, when you don’t have to go for a cigarette break, you suddenly realise how incapable you are of sitting down at a desk/task for a few hours at a go. Solution: walk the dog. Kira is totally benefitting from my sudden desire to go on long, frequent walks.

4) It makes you gain weight. I’ll let you know again.

5) It makes you feel better. Erm, this too I’ll let you know in due time – but it’s nice to stop smelling like a nightclub :D

6) It’s a sin to err. False, I smoked 1 puff from D and concluded it was gross. See, it’s better to do it, than to wonder what if you did it.

I’m on my 4th smoke-free day now. Hurray! Kissing bye to almost a decade of smoking (ewww!!) Friends: you are allowed to be super nice to me from now on because you know it’s an uphill task and I need all the love I can get rofl. <3

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Life, Naiise, Singapore, Society

A February Barrage Of Things!

Hello friends, it’s been a while no?

Let me regale you with a picture of my usual flexible self. Yup, white background, studio shot and a made-up visage – that is right, we have new dresses up on The Scarlette soon. Otherwise, you’d find me running around town in denim cut-offs and thin white cotton tees that feel like heaven in this heat.

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So let’s do some catching up, shall we?

First off, a shameless plug for some really cool things on Naiise.com you should check out in your spare time:

Boskke – upside down sky planters, just the sort of hipster adornment your kitchen needs to achieve a Kinfolk Table moment. Think: reaching up, grabbing some organic, home-grown rosemary to season your steak.

Plumen – cool industrial light bulbs. If I’ve learned anything from making and hanging my own industrial light bulbs at NONG, it’s that cheap or vintage light bulbs blow easily and pose a fire hazard. Better to go with these designer energy-saving ones instead or risk having a burned down home.

Things I Saw/Ate/Did In Singapore – really cute letterpress printed checklist Singapore postcards for out-of-town friends.

Mee & Kuehs – one of the best things of being at NONG is meeting lots of new and interesting people – gardeners, cooks, social entrepreneurs, nature lovers, community engagers, the list goes on. One of my favourite people is Shu Han Lee, a cookbook author and graphic designer who runs the blog Mummy, I Can Cook! while retailing her own line of self-designed Mee and Kueh posters.

Amai – handmade porcelain plates from Saigon, courtesy of Galanga Living in Singapore. So pretty I want to eat them all!

Next,

Confessions of a noob gawker at a recent dessert bake-off: in short, it reflects nothing about real life. When someone tells you to “Instagram-off” something, it’s a warning signal. Pick my brain IRL for unadulterated version.

Next next,

What will you do if you were at a popular brunch spot, at the only wheelchair-accesssible table in the whole restaurant, and a lady (me) is waiting from 11am to noon for your table, and at noon her frail wheelchair-bound grandmother arrives? Will you offer to re-group at another table (as I totally would), or will you sit there and say “oh no, but we have one more person coming so we’re not leaving soon” all the while tut-tuting and looking around in mock concern to see if we can find another seat?

Hello Madame, there is no other seat. And you’ve totally ruined our family brunch – all we wanted to do was bring my granny to today’s newfangled brunch spots, show her what kiddos are up to these days.

It was the day my faith in local humanity suffered an extra big kink. I have a million mean things to wish upon you, but let’s refrain from that. And I do not you don’t suffer the same indignity two decades later. You’re not that young, old age is upon you soon.

Next, next, next, (happier things)

Really need a vacation, ha ha ha.

Lastly,

I miss this space. Happy to be writing again! <3

Final Lastly,

I have a favorite dessert from Nat – it is this, and it is AMAZING. I told her that it’s one of the best desserts ever because everyone loves something in it. Deb and Gabby liked the pâte à choux (ok I confess that I had to copy and paste that), someone else liked the crunch caramel, Micki and I liked the lemon cream, and D probably liked the whole thing (he has very love-it-all taste buds). Yum, and proud/grateful sister moment! <3

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Naiise, Sustainable Living

Searching For Inspiration And Finding It

I’d already decided what I was going to begin this post with – I normally do a lot of mental composing before actually writing – and it was going to start like this: “So this is fatigue.”

But, this got to me so a little reminder to myself, and everybody else: Life is short, it’s time to start living.

So back to the story:

So this is fatigue. Not the sort borne out of sitting at the desk staring into a monitor, but the sort that comes from driving up and down Singapore, meeting suppliers and collecting goods, hauling wooden pellets all over the place, arranging and re-arranging the store, endless writing product tags, sweeping the floor, hanging fairy lights, hanging industrial lights, endless photoshopping, hammering nails and blah, blah, blah.

Well, of course I exaggerated – all of the above was split between D and myself, but that’s still a mighty lot to do and, in between, we also managed to learn several things about organic farming, plus grow our own peppermint.

The culmination of all this: our first ever pop up store, held in collaboration with Edible Gardens, a local movement that aims to turn Singapore’s dense urban spaces into farms, and their community outreach arm, NONG, which aims to promote growing your own food. We (Naiise) come in as a retail partner for the event, alongside workshops and a gallery by Haystakt, and are retailing a pretty cool bunch of sustainably made/sourced, upcycled, recycled and locally designed products that encourage meaningful and sustainable living with design.

Check out our retail centrepiece – a beautiful D-I-Y table laid with real Norwegian Reindeer Moss placemats and vibrant kitchenware that brings to life the concept of farm-to-table, thus tying in together Edible Garden’s farms, and our retail offering. It was a stroke of genius by D (yes, I was impressed!), I guess I am better off hauling wooden pellets or doing something equally mundane.

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To us, collaborating is a meeting of two minds that share a similar vision. Like the dreamers that we are, we instinctively connect with people that want to make the world a better place, who believe in outreach, education, and solidarity with the community to effect change.

NONG pop-up store will run until end-March on the 6th floor rooftop car park of People’s Park Complex (access by residential lift near KFC on the ground floor) and you can find more information about the event itself (including workshops) here.

It’s a great location – a surprising little quiet spot above the urban sprawl of Chinatown, with grand views of the surrounding CBD, an endless supply of fresh wind created by pressure that flows between the buildings. When night falls, it’s magical – it’s like being on one of those rooftop patios in shanty houses you see in Korean dramas (the kind the poor chick normally stays in) with beautiful views of N Seoul Tower.

Best of all, it’s the people that stream in and out – clearly convention breakers in their own right. Lots of ex Ivy League farmers, regular farmers (without the Ivy League), social entrepreneurs, artists, designers, architects, baristas, home growers, housewives, retirees, students, bloggers, scientists, yoga teachers and your everyday person. The conversations are always enriching, and I’ve learned so much by standing beside various people and learning all sorts of things across all sorts of genres. It’s very stimulating, and I love it.

The long retail hours are really tiring though, hats off to people who work in this line. Especially when we bring our snow dogs out to man the store (like today), we almost died lugging those two around with us all the time.

Come by and say hi if you’re feeling hippie, in need of inspiration or some fresh basil! Food recommendation when you’re in the area: mala xiang guo at the food centre (look for the stall that has the laminated newspaper article in front of it) – it’s sooo good; D and I have been eating it almost everyday, to the extent of me getting a sore throat from all that chilli!

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Art, Viewpoint

The Incredible Lightness Of Being

Tucked in bed and tapping away at my laptop, it’s all rather unusual. I’m normally a desk type of person. I like sitting at a proper desk to write and to work, preferably with a mug of coffee (before noon), a bottle of water (past noon) or a cup of hot Chinese tea (post dinner). There’s something about siting upright that makes you more productive, and gives you a better posture too.

Today was a day filled with two different sorts of art venues – The U Factory, and Aliwal Arts Centre.

I’ve heard about The U Factory for a while, it sounded cool – mostly because of that cute little underline below the “U”, the offbeat location and maybe even because I didn’t have a clear idea of what it was actually. So because it’s ending soon (31 Jan), we decided to check it out before it closed its doors for good.

I imagined: a large, interactive space filled with workshops, exhibitions, retail and F&B, all coming together to engage people with craftsmanship and art. I found: two small galleries filled with rather inaccessible art, a ramen burger van that took ages to churn out a burger (clearly not made for crowds), a small coffee joint, and a retail/cafe thing with a most awkward layout.

I guess we both didn’t like it much, for it felt like everything – the space, the names, the labels, and the atmosphere seemed to be conspiring to make art inaccessible, keeping it elitist, only for the people that understand it. Because, honestly, I really didn’t get the double-paged leaflet I was handed which was supposed to explain what each artwork meant. Because the works weren’t labelled and the descriptions didn’t quite match what the gallery floor map depicted. It was an exercise in futility.

We bailed after a bewildering hour and skipped over to the Aliwal Urban Arts Festival at Aliwal Arts Centre and found a much more comforting scene there, with street graffiti artists, lots of bands and a really, really cool event poster. Love it.

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I even got to check out some works from Malay artists which I never got to see before, and I particularly liked one called “In A Male-Dominated Society”. In a somewhat ironic way, when people talk about supporting local design in Singapore, they usually are thinking about the majority ethnic group – Chinese artists and designers, Chinese cultural references and even Chinese dialects. Don’t see much going on with the others.

Backtracking slightly, what I loved most about the event was the location – being in Arab Street during that magical hour of day-to-night, when everything is bathed in incredible 6pm light and prayer calls sounding in the background. And that incredible fresh wind! In those moments, walking hand-in-hand with D and exploring the surrounding streets, we felt content, peaceful and in love with our country. Mostly because it felt like Bali ;)

I am IN LOVE with the weather these days. The air is always so fresh, cool and always on the move, it creates an invigorating sort of energy. We’ve even taken to driving around with the windows down, because it feels so great to have fresh air against our cheeks instead of A/C. Great weather really does make people happy, and I hope it stays this way for a while.

Peace out, it’s time to sleep. I had a lovely Saturday and look forward to an even better Sunday. You too! xx

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Musings

Offline Panic Triggers

Sometimes, I think we live in the online world a little too much, that offline becomes a real challenge.

In banking: regular days = emailing boss, colleagues and clients to/fro; irregular days: client events. Panic: triggers: where are the name cards, the champagne, the corporate gifts. Omg, omg, omg.

At ZALORA: regular days = gmailing and skyping everyone under the sky; irregular days: real-life press launches. Panic triggers: will people come, where’s the DJ, where’s the photographer, where’s the canapés, where’s the emcee. Omg, omg, omg.

At today: regular days: gmailing and sitting in the car making COD deliveries; irregular days: pop-up stores. Panic triggers: where’s the marketing collateral, who has the POS, where are the display tags, hang tags!! Omg, omg, omg.

Then again, panic and rush can be euphoric.

D is going to shake his head and say, this isn’t euphoric. Music is euphoric.

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Kira, Pets

Anal Glands

Good afternoon world.

It’s been non-stop work since we got home from the vet, and I thought I’d take a little break to write a little. It’s a fabulous thing to be able to open up WordPress on my browser and not fear anyone reading behind my back. Or worse, drafting blog posts in Microsoft Word, which is exactly what I used to do back in those banking days.

So a trip to the vet was in order because Kira’s ass was just smelling absolutely foul. For days, weeks and months, we lived with the rotting fish smell, thinking it was an issue of her ass fur not drying properly after her showers. Oftentimes, I showered her up to 2-3 times a week, doubly soaping her ass, in a fervent bid to banish the stench.

For some reason, I decided to consult Google and it turned out to be i) the best decision of my life in recent memory, and ii) something about anal gland fluids being trapped, the same way pus is trapped in a gigantic pimple. The vet squeezed a whole bunch of  yellowish fluid out, and she’s back to smelling regular. Not perfect, but at least not like the wet market.

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