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Picking Up Where I Left Off

My last post was published in April last year. But looking back on the year and a half since, it’s not surprising. The year 2016 was a pretty challenging time for me. So, aside from giving attention to health issues, I have since taken the time to reassess priorities. I scaled back writing to give myself much needed headspace. And I rediscovered things that I used to enjoy. I also read much, much more. I’ve continued the practices since. So, I consider the time of recalibration to be of great value, and none of it wasted.

As my fellow freelance writers would agree, it can get overwhelming at times. But as my time last year has taught me, one of the perks of getting older is the ability to gain more clarity. And I am learning the importance of self-care.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about is writing. Much of what I write for work centres upon interior design and design in general. It’s been something I cover for much of my writing life. Aside from that, I also work on lifestyle topics, such as travel and food, and content marketing as well. There are several other things that I’m also interested in, and these are the things that I intend to write about as well.

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5 Types of Houseplants to Have in Your Home

 

Plant shelfie

 

On most mornings, I start my day by tending to my plants. I look them over, mist the leaves of my alocasia cucullata and sellaginella, and turn my succulents by the window so that their juicy leaves get equal share of sunlight so that they don’t get leggy. I water some of them daily, several weekly and one or two monthly. Unfortunately, after my long holiday back in December, my edible plants suffered beyond saving despite my neighbour’s care. I haven’t gotten back to setting them up again, but I will.

There’s been tons of research done that nature, whether plants or animals, can do plenty for our state of mind. I have a little fern right beside my laptop. There’s a bed of moss on the soil that I love to get up close to in between sentences.

I am a beginner at this, but I figured there’s no harm in sharing the little I know. The thing about houseplants is that it’s important to keep in mind the level of care you’re able to give. And that, of course, depends on how much time you spend on work and your other commitments. I can’t say that I have a green thumb. I’m still learning. That, I have to say, is the fun part.

Mother-in-law’s tongue plant

Let’s not get into why it’s named such. I love its organic, sculptural form, which softens the angular lines in our homes. Sansevieria plants are virtually indestructible, as long as you don’t smother it with care. In other words, this plant tops the list because it’s real easy to maintain. You only need to water it once a month. Seriously. Also called snake plants, they also made it on NASA’s list of air-cleaning plants, which means they are great at removing toxic chemicals and pollutants from the air. Note that you do need a lot of the plant to do the job.

Portrait of succulents

Succulents

I don’t know about you but the symmetry of succulents makes my heart race. Pictured here is a family portrait of my succulents. Take a closer look at the arrangement and it’s pretty clear I was short of one! I didn’t need much convincing to get another one ­ – and I did. Succulents are also low maintenance plants. Just give them bright light all day. All you need to do is water them once a week max.

Aloe vera

In this heat, the chances of getting sunburn are real if you spend too much time outdoors. So, alove vera, also on NASA’s list of air-cleaning plants, is a must have in the home. You only need to water it once the top inch or so of the soil is dry. A happy aloe vera plant produces plantlets that you can then transplant to another pot and give away.

Dieffenbachia

This is an old school, evergreen favourite because of its large and variegated leaves. It’s an attractive plant that adds colour and lushness wherever you place the plant. I water mine every day and it produces new leaves regularly. Its common name is dumbcane, and for good reason too. Ingest the leaves and it’ll cause numbing and an inability to speak. So be careful if you have curious children or pets at home.

Ferns

While what I have here beside my Mac is a fern, it’s not a Boston fern. The latter’s been tested and given the thumbs up by NASA as an air-cleaning plant. But whether it’s a staghorn fern, Boston fern or maidenhair fern, you’ll love having ferns around the house. Give them a place with humidity and dappled sunlight (the bathroom, for example) and they’ll thrive.

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Good Things #4

Magis Limited Edition Infinity Rocker

 

 

1. XTRA in support of the Breast Cancer Foundation: Cancer strikes fear in many, especially if you’ve known anyone who had battled it. Here’s how you can shop and support a good cause. In support of the Breast Cancer Foundation, XTRA has introduced a limited edition selection of pink collectibles. Yes, the Magis puppy and the popular infinity rocker in pink. There’s also a side table by industrial designer George Soo and leather notebooks in shades of pink. Fifty per cent of the proceeds go to the Breast Cancer Foundation.

2. Taxi drivers: Here’s a little nod to our taxi drivers. They ply the road and they have plenty of opinion about the world. Which makes the journey an interesting one if you let them speak. I’ve been a listening ear to a lot of humour and open sharing of issues. But here’s one that I particularly remember: discovering the video of this harmonica virtuoso playing William Tell Overture at Carnegie Hall, thanks to a taxi driver decked out in a white shirt, a black vest and a grey pageboy cap.

3. Festivals galore: This year, I made a visit to the Singapore Garden Festival and carted home more plants than I should. Marked in my calendar are Archifest and the Singapore Writers Festival.

4. Awesome reads: The thing is, there’s so much great content online. I have to say that Brainpickings weekly newsletter, which arrives in my inbox in time for my leisurely Sunday morning read, is among my favourites. Another fascinating read I came across was this article on The Art of Manliness, one of the sites I enjoy. The article sums up the Grant Study, the longest longitudinal study on men. It’s spanned more than 75 years. Now, that’s mindblowing. I have a strong suspicion that what works for men to flourish in life would apply to women as well.

Image: XTRA

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Mojito ingredients

One of the things I enjoyed in San Francisco was the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market at Ferry Building. I love my greens, so seeing the variety of produce and local foods there was wonderful. There were tourists, but most of the people milling about were locals. On their shoulders, they had their cloth bags filled with their weekly supply of vegetables. A nice sight to warm a greenie’s heart on a cold weekend morning indeed.

I would say that buying local is one of the best movements in recent years, and it’s great to see it gaining traction here. In my not so humble opinion, I think it doesn’t make much sense to buy vegetables from as far a place as China when you could get fresher produce from this region. And you (and I) may love apples, but let’s not forget our regional fruits, which by the way are made to suit our equatorial systems. So, of course, I was pretty excited hearing about the Kranji Countryside Farmers Market, coined the first authentic farmers market.

Kranji Countryside Farmers Market will be held over two days (28 and 29 July) this weekend at D’Kranji Farm Resort. For the aspiring gardener or apartment farmer, check out the starter kits available. Alongside fish and organic vegetables from local farms, there are also craft foods and handmade products. It’s heartening to see a sprouting of cottage industries in Singapore’s urban landscape. I think there’s a lot of value in making something by hand and creating something out of nothing.

Because it’s located in far flung Kranji, it was a long journey through a long winding road past Kranji Reservoir, lots of greenery and the odd building or two. Then there was the scorching heat when we arrived. It wasn’t the kind of day to forget the sunscreen too, but that’s what happened.

Still, it was well worth the trip, sweltering heat and all. Though it was a little smaller than I expected, there’s a good mix of stalls. I get that the choice of location is to get people acquainted with Kranji. At the same time, though, maybe bringing the farms to the people by having a farmers market in the city area or heartlands would be another possible way to familiarise people with the whole concept. Of course, I have to admit that I have Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, and how accessible it was for the people there, influencing that thought.

I’m not complaining though. What I enjoyed most was getting away from the crowd, in the quiet among the papaya trees and guava trees on the premises. After feeling the sensory overload, we knew it was time to head away from the busyness. But not without our stash of organic vegetables and passionfruit jam.

Kranji Countryside Farmers Market

GSH Conserves

Quan Fa sprouts

A.muse Brew

Guava trees

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Good Things #3

Gallery & Studio Magazine

 

Oh wow. Is it going to be June already?

1. Art vibes: The number of art fairs in Singapore is rising and the art scene is growing here. It’s fun to get artists’ and gallery owners’ perspective on art, so I’m glad to be writing for a new magazine called Gallery & Studio. Its inaugural issue came out this month. Three covers to choose from too!

2. Getting older with music: As a little birthday present to myself and now that I’m this close to my mid-thirties, I decided to take up piano lessons. I’m enjoying every bit of it. It’s challenging yet satisfying, and it’s a wordless activity that gives a nice break from writing.

3. People who inspire: One of the things I really like about my job is having the opportunity to meet interesting people. People with a philosophy to the way they think, function and work.

4. Rediscovering philosophy: Philosophy and psychology fascinate me to bits – as long as I don’t have to study for it. During my trip to Sydney last year, I carted home a number of great magazines, one of which was New Philosopher. The website is full of great reads. And for a humorous take on philosophy, check out Existential Comics. Sisyphus wasn’t spared.

5. Recycling made convenient: I’ve been making a conscious effort to recycle at home for the past three years at least. It’s been a hassle though bringing down the trash to the large recycling bin located a few blocks away. But recently, they’ve planted one at every HDB flat, which makes it ultra-convenient. It’s troubling and, frankly, disturbing to see people denying the effects of human impact on climate change. We might not become lifelong conservationists like Dr. Jane Goodall and Sir David Attenborough or do extreme yet admirable acts like the tree sitters at the redwood forest did, but the least we could do for the planet is the simple act of recycling.

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