December 22, 2011

I shop, therefore I am

"you know that thing, when you see someone cute and he smiles, and you heart kind of goes like warm butter sliding down hot toast? Well, that's what it's like when I see a store. Only it's better."
- Confession of a Shopaholic

Yes, this post is all about shopping.

Recently, a Christchurch perfume wholesaler organised a 4-day fragrance and cosmetic sale in the city. I knew the response was going to be crazy, it being Christmas and all, but that didn't stop me from going. Here's a glimpse of what it looked like.

Make-up section

Nail polish section

Despite the shop’s unappealing presentation, the turnout was massive. Women of all ages, from teenagers to senior citizens turned up at the sale, all eager to get their hands on something. When I got a closer look at the items, I could see why everyone was possessed. So many designer perfumes were sold at just a fraction of the retail price and cosmetic items like lipstick, mascara, eye shadow and foundations were sold for less than $10.

When I saw the nail polish section, my heart skipped a beat. LA Colours and Sally Hansen were selling for only $3 each! There were heaps of women crowding the long table, but I wasn’t bothered. I quickly joined the circus and created a mental shopping list. All I wanted was to get 3 nail polishes; 2 Sally Hansens and 1 OPI. That's it. I had bought myself an early Christmas present the week before so I wasn’t planning on making a splurge. My plan was to follow the list.

When I got to the table, I was hit with amnesia. List? What list? I ended up doing what I do best and that was to shop compulsively. The first brand I searched for was Sally Hansen, simply 'cos it was the cheapest. I searched through all the boxes but I couldn't find any. Not even one. I soon discovered that all the nail polishes were selling so fast, only a few colours were left. Unperturbed, I continued searching through each basket and after some serious digging, I managed to get a few decent colours; red, pink, brown, peach, a top coat and a pink cracked nail polish. When I put them in my shopping basket, a familiar feeling of euphoria  overtook me. Bliss!

After nail polish, it was time to hunt for cosmetics. I headed to the cosmetic section and struggled my way through the isle. Too many devoted shopaholics around was indeed nauseating. Everyone was on a shopping frenzy, digging for their own treasure. 

I got a bit disoriented at the sight of so many people but I continued digging for my treasure.  It wasn't an easy task 'cos all the make-up were jumbled up in boxes and sold like vegetables. It felt like I was at tamu Dongongon. Although there was a sign that said "Do not open the products", most of them  were opened and tested. This made shopping 100 times harder cos I needed to scrutinize each item carefully. After some serious effort, I got myself a cheap Revlon mascara and a blue eyeshadow palette from Maybelline. Mission accomplished!

Next, lipstick. I spent about half an hour scanning and testing different brands of lipsticks before I ended up at the Calvin Klein section. I'd never bought a CK lipstick before so I thought I'd give it a try. It was only $8 each. I found a perfect shade of pink  while sampling the testers and quickly rummaged through the boxes to find a new one.

Apparently, a blond next to me also wanted the same colour. I heard her saying "Mesmerize, Mesmerize, Mesmerize" while searching through the boxes.  It wasn't easy finding a particular colour amidst hundreds of lipsticks but the blond and I were dedicated. I kept on digging even when my tummy was oozing with acid and when I needed to pee the voice in my head said “nature call can wait. Must get that lipstick before the blond gets it!” After what seemed like an eternity, both the blond and I found Mesmerize! YESSS!! That was probably the best shopping orgasm I had this year. 

After digging for lipsticks and nail polishes, I got a bit tired. My tummy was grumbling and my bladder was going to burst anytime soon. The stupid warehouse didn't  have a toilet or a cafe so there was no way I could  ease myself without leaving the premise. Because I hadn't bought anything for hubby, I decided to suck it up for a few minutes more. I changed my hunting mode to turbo and began shopping like a dude. I sampled a few fragrances, looked at the prices and quickly chose 3 for hubby. I did this in less than 10 minutes! Efficient kan? I couldn't leave without rewarding myself so I took 3 perfumes as a token of self-appreciation. And then I was done!

When I got home, the first thing I did (after going to the loo) was show hubby what I bought for him. He smiled and said thank you. When  he asked me what  I bought for myself, I said "Cat kuku sama make-up seja". I didn't show him everything cos he was busy watching a rerun of Manchester United vs. QPR. Plus, I didn't want to  see that raised-eyebrow expression on his face. Hehe.

Since I didn't show them to hubby, I might as well show them to you.

for hubby

for myself

early Christmas presents for myself

my two-hour effort

The shopping trip was more challenging than what I'm accustomed to but my scavenging effort was really worthwhile. What's a sale without a dose of chaos right? :)

December 19, 2011

180 posts and counting

3 years ago, I decided to create my own site. I didn't know anything about blogging then but I really wanted to learn and be part of the blogging community. I  was very much inspired by Carol and Deb who both had their own cool sites and after following their stories, I was determined to write my own. I thought, "how hard could it be?"

Contrary to my assumption, blogging wasn't as easy as it seemed. It took me several months of contemplations and self-doubt before I finally garnered the courage to publish an entry. Other than my sister, I knew that no one else read my site, but posting something on the web made me feel so exposed. It was as if  I was baring my soul to the entire world. Because of this, I was pathetically self-conscious when I first started. I would draft a post, proofread a million times and then let it rot in my draft folder. After some time, I realised that no one really gives a shit about what I write. The level of self-consciousness gradually decreased, giving me the courage to find my writing voice. After months of writing self-indulgent posts and reading other people's sites, I slowly became addicted to the blogsphere.

I think what I like most about blogging is having my voice heard. Even if nobody hears me or reads my stories, at least I have the pleasure of telling them, without anyone interrupting me. While drafting a post, nobody can shut me up, boo at me or tell me that my story sucks. That’s a pleasure in itself, don’t you think? There's something to be said about being able to have your say. I think it's very therapeutic.

I look forward to writing many more self-indulgent posts in the future and celebrating heaps of blog anniversaries. To those of you who read my blog, thank you for your love and support. I really do appreciate your readership.

December 17, 2011

December 15, 2011

37 months later

Last month marked the 3rd anniversary of my arrival in New Zealand. I remember the first time I set foot in Christchurch Airport, I had a feeling of excitement I'd never imagined. I didn't know what to expect of the people, the place or the NZ life, but I was so psyched to find out.

The first 365 days - Settling Down

My first impression of Christchurch was that it reminded me of the film Pleasantville. Everything looked so picture perfect, it almost felt like I was in that movie. Have you seen it?

Anyway, hubby and I decided to live in a suburb called Kaiapoi so that we could be close to Esperanza, a Sabahan whose sister was my close friend back in UPM. We'd known each other for quite some time so it was nice to have at least one Sabahan friend in Christchurch. Before getting our own shack, we crashed at Es' place for a few days. She and her husband were really kind during our stay but we didn't want to invade too much of their privacy. For this reason, our house-hunting process was done in a rush, as in, we surveyed 4 houses, saw one that we liked and immediately put a deposit on it. After getting all the paper work sorted out, we moved in right away.

3-bedroom house in Kaiapoi

Just us three
The first 9 days were nice and peachy. We settled in, bought furniture for the house and made it look like home. Things changed on the 10th day when I took a pregnancy test at home. The result said: You're knocked up! My reaction to this was: HABISLAH SIA!! I know that sounds like I'm a horrible human being but I really wasn't prepared for it. The thought of having a second child was scary because 1. I was in a new town, without any family support, 2. I had to look after a 2 year old hyper-active boy and 3. I was supposed to focus on my study. It was madness.

As usual, hubby comforted me and said that everything would be okay. I guess the brief counselling worked cos I began telling myself the same thing; that everything was going to be fine. After a couple of days, I started to embrace my pregnancy and told my family about it. What I found hard about being pregnant was not being able to fulfill my pregnancy cravings. Asian restaurants were limited in Kaiapoi, so getting authentic Malaysian food like kon-lau-men, nasi lemak or fish-head curry was an impossibilty. Because of this, and the fact that I had morning sickness throughout the second trimester, my pregancy sucked a lot.

After enduring eight months of unfulfilled pregnancy cravings, Alva was finally born. I was so thankful that she didn't show any signs of kobihis symptoms. Nasiblah! Anyway, right after I delivered, my family came for a visit and helped me out during my confinement period. Another few months went by and before we knew it, we'd spent a year in Christchurch.

The second year - Finding that Comfort Zone

The second year was definitely nicer than the first. Some of the things that made me happy were: 1. I managed to adapt to the weather and food, 2. After delivery, I could see my toes again! 3. Alva turned out to be a very settled baby and 4. Hubby and I moved to the city.

We realised that living in Kaiapoi wasn't cost effective as I needed to commute from Kaiapoi to Christchurch every single day. For that reason, we moved to the city and rented a two-bedroom house 1km from the Uni. I loved the idea of being close to the CBD cos there were more things to see and do. China Town market was only 10 minutes walk from home and most of the Chinese restaurants were close by.

As I explored more of Christchurch, I started to feel more settled too. I knew where to find Asian food supplies, get the freshest fish in town and find boutiques that had the best bargains. Another reason why I felt happier was because we had more flexibility to explore the South island after Alva was born. When she turned 4 months, we started to go on road trips during holidays and weekends. Barbecue picnic with friends at the park also became a regular thing for us.

Shanttytown, West Coast

Arthur's Pass

Wellington Zoo

Castle Hill

Fox Glacier

Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo

Limestones at Castle Hill

Barbecue at The Groynes

Months went by and before we knew it, we'd spent another year in Christchurch.

The Final Year - Shaken and Stirred

The third year was definitely the most challenging. Like other Cantabrians who were affected by the February 22 earthquake, I had to go through a lot of changes in life particularly in the areas of my study. My office was damaged, my data inaccessible and the whole campus was closed for a few weeks. It was a hard time for everyone. Things slowly picked up in June but they were never the same again. It took the uni 4 months to recuperate from the disaster and another 7 months for everything to go back to normal.

Despite all that gloomy setbacks, I do have a couple of things to be grateful for. After the big quake, mom came to stay  for 3 months to help out with the kids. She did all the cooking, babysitting, cleaning and nagging. Hehe. After she left, dad took over and came to stay with us for 2 months. Dad's a bit laidback in the babysitting area but I didn't mind it at all. Example of being laidback? He'd let the kids EAT Milo and dip their fingers in the peanut butter jar. Siok kan?

Sis and Carol also came for a short visit in September. Thanks to them, hubby and I could travel to Wellington without the kids, and get our certs from the Malaysian High Commissioner. All in all, I was pampered for 5 wonderful months.

After everyone left, it was time to focus on my thesis and spend more time with Yoda. The pressure started to pick up when Yoda told me to get two chapters done by September. Things got so very hectic, I hardly had time for anything else. Two miserable months went by and before I knew it, I'd spent three years in Christchurch. Amazing how time flies eh?

Living here has proven to be a very enlightening experience. I know from time to time, I complain a lot about what's lacking in Christchurch bla bla bla. But then, if I could do it all over again,  I'd probably take the same path.

It has definitely been an interesting journey so far and I reckon things will get even more exciting as my submission date draws near. Wish me luck! :)

December 4, 2011

Feeling Christmassy

I put up our Christmas tree two weeks before advent in the hope that it would evoke some Christmas feeling in me. I think it probably did, but the feeling didn't last long. You can't blame me really. The kids don't get along with  the Christmas tree at all.

They were very much in awe of it when I first put it up, but after some time the novelty wore off. It has now become their favourite spot when playing tag and on many occasions, it has fallen over. The tree has gone through so many hardships, it is now crooked. Plus, the ornaments are all over the place; as in they have no common theme.

Despite its shortcomings, the tree somehow serves its pupose - as a reminder that Christmas is drawing near. Deep down, I do feel excited about the season but I'm trying hard to stifle this excitement. If I don't do that, all hell will break loose. What will happen? Well, knowing me, I'll probably shove my thesis aside for a month and start doing Christmassy activities like shopping, planning Christmas outings, thinking about my outfit, contemplating on what to do with my hair and just waste time entertaining myself.

All the above activities spell DANGER.
I can't afford to waste time cos I have to to finish my writing asap. That's why I need to focus on my work and NOT let the festive feeling take control of me. I have managed to do that until today. This afternoon, my family and I went to this wonderful Santa Parade along Riccarton road and since then, I've been feeling crazy-excited. How could I not? The performers at the parade looked so cheerful in their Christmas outifits, smiling and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. I couldn't help but feel the joy.

I had planned to take heaps of photos during the parade but after only 15 minutes, the battery went dead. I had no choice but to use my cell phone. The culprits behind the weak battery were none other than the Alden and Alva. They unplugged the battery charger from the socket before the battery was fully recharged and neither hubby nor I were aware of this. It was frustrating alright.

Having said that, the photos didn't turn out as bad as I thought. These are some of the okay ones I took.

Yeah..The Christmas feeling is definitely in the air now. Although I'm not spiritually prepared for it, I am certainly enjoying the warm feelings and happy thoughts brought by this parade. Happy Advent everyone!