#amonthoffaves2017 I Love December

amonthoffavesA Month of Faves is hosted by AndiTanya and Tamara

Mon. | Dec 18 – I Love … December #AMonthofFaves – Rep your home’s holiday look, share pictures of your holiday decorations. Christmas tree, your favorite holiday traditions, holiday festivities, favorite ornaments, places to go, holiday drinks, holiday eats, holiday themed reads.

We put up our fake tree just after Thanksgiving – both my husband and I grew up in Singapore where you can’t find real trees (at least not when we’re growing up, as I hear that these days you can!) so we’re used to fake plastic trees…

We also take a stroll around this neighboring estate, a cul-de-sac in which every home is well decorated for Christmas. It’s really cute and fun to see how each house is decorated each year.

This year, some of my gifts are handmade. I made each of my boys a dinosaur hat and mittens for the younger one (who has outgrown his). The hat and scarf are for a friend overseas.

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#amonthoffaves2017 -Best Changes

amonthoffaves

A Month of Faves is hosted by AndiTanya and Tamara

Fri. | Dec. 15 – Best Changes You Made To Tweak This Year #AMonthofFaves – best changes you made or routines you kept that to better organize your day / life; your = morning, evening or daily routines.

Ever since school started in September, mornings have been a rush-rush-rush affair. My older boy was in afternoon kindergarten last year so we didn’t have to join in with the morning traffic as school only started at 1130am. This school year though he goes from 830 to 250. I also drop off my 4yo at preschool, which is in the opposite direction of the elementary school. Long story short, after a few weeks I figured out a good route, learnt how to negotiate my way into the surrounding neighbourhood and while of course mornings are still rush-rush-rush, I think we’ve got a good routine going.

With a lot of after-school activities going on (Monday swim class; Tuesday tennis class; Wednesday evening math club for the 1st grader; Thursday piano class for the 1st grader), I make sure to get my meals prepped in the mornings. I don’t necessarily cook my meals ahead (although sometimes I do baked pastas and then pop it into the oven to bake when we get home) but I just make sure I know what I’m doing.

(Gah my life is just kinda boring)

#amonthoffaves2017 – books worth the hype?

amonthoffavesA Month of Faves is hosted by AndiTanya and Tamara

Fri. | Dec. 8 – 3 Popular Books Worth the Hype #AMonthofFaves

Oops a few days late with this one.

The Book of Dust – Philip Pullman

I know there have been some mixed reviews and I wasn’t entirely that into Lyra as an infant but I really loved being back in that setting. Daemons!

When Dimple Met Rishi – Sandhya Menon

A cute and fun YA romance read. Now if they’d just turn it into a movie.

Jane, Unlimited – Kirstin Cashore

I had fun with this book – a sort of “choose your own adventure” of sorts, with multiple possibilities and endings. Also, a main character who makes umbrella art. I loved this one. About the hype though? I don’t know.

Not worth the hype

Angel Catbird – Margaret Atwood

Was it because it’s Atwood that I was expecting more (a whole bloody lot more) than this? Yes yes of course. But I think even if this was by an unknown writer, I would have expected more. It was just too simplistic and it made me feel like she hasn’t seen how complex storylines and characters in well-written comic series can be (like Saga). Anyway, I think because it’s Atwood that I even gave Volume 2 a try. I can safely say I am not reading that series anymore.

Needs more hype

I don’t know if there’s very much hype about these books but whatever, they are great reads and they need more hype!

 

All the Rivers – Dorit Rabinyan

It’s only got 909 ratings on Goodreads so that’s a bit on the low side. This book, written by an Israeli writer, is about a relationship between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man. She’s in New York for just six months and it’s a chance meeting with this man but can it work? Can it last? Lovely and thought provoking.

 

Cork Dork – Bianca Bosker

What a fun nonfiction read. I was constantly having to disturb the husband with a newfound fact about the wine world or sommeliers or fine dining. And that to me is what makes nonfiction enjoyable. Learning new things. But it was also very personable (it is after all her discovery and journey, learning about wine and the world of sommeliers) and it made me want to keep reading and reading.

 

The Strays – Emily Bitto

I loved this Australian novel set in the Melbourne art world (my review here) but haven’t really seen that much about it online – or perhaps I just am not aware of book hype these days…?

#amonthoffaves2017 – This is how we blog

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A Month of Faves is hosted by AndiTanya and Tamara

Wed. | Dec. 6 – This Is How We Blog #AMonthofFaves – Essential Computer Programs, Browser Plugins, Websites and / or your blogging routine, blogs on blogging that you follow, blog tips you learned and used this year

 

I always have trouble with this topic as my blogging is very simple: open wordpress.com click on “Add new” and start writing.

That is, if I remember to.

That is, if I can be motivated enough to sit down at the laptop and start writing. I haven’t been blogging much, other than the usual “It’s Monday” posts. I especially haven’t been writing much about the books I’ve read (and if you’ve been following along, you know that I read a lot of books).

Maybe joining more memes will help? I used to be a regular Library Loot poster. And an occasional Weekend Cooking poster. Tanya’s Master List of Book Blogging Memes is always useful! I just need to pick something and stick with it.

How about you? How do you keep blogging when there are just so very many things to do???
(I really want to know how you do it!)

#amonthoffaves2017 – This is how we read

amonthoffavesA Month of Faves is hosted by AndiTanya and Tamara

Mon. | Dec. 4 – This Is How We Read #AMonthofFaves– eg. Number of books read so far, genre you read the most from, picture of favorite (or most often used) reading location, most read author, % eBooks, hardcovers, paperbacks and/or audiobooks, hint at what your favorite read of the year is (let us guess), types of books you wish you read more of, month you read the most and least)

According to Goodreads, I’ve read 204 books so far this year.

A lot of the books I read were comics (76!) so lots of fast reads but generally I am a rather quick reader. I read a lot of literary fiction but also a good deal of speculative fiction.

 

Also a lot of books were library ebooks. I am very fond of my library but find myself increasingly borrowing more ebooks than physical books. Most of the physical books I borrow these days are picture books and some chapter books.

Also about 10 audiobooks so far this year.

27 books were from my own collection, the rest were library books and e-books

 

 

Fave reading spots: 

This one at the library

And my own library at home!

Of course I really do most of my reading in bed before going to sleep!

How about you?

#amonthoffaves2017 begins!

amonthoffavesA Month of Faves is hosted by AndiTanya and Tamara

Fri. | Dec. 1 – #AMonthofFaves [The 2017 Favorites Edition]– eg. to eat, drink, wear, smell, see, do, enjoy, best purchases, most used gift received etc, favorite concert, outdoor activity, place visited, most squee worthy moment of the year.

Fave eats:

So many. I found a new seafood place in Santana Row (EMC Seafood and Raw Bar) and they had this beautiful seafood tower with really all you could ask for in seafood.

We ate at some amazing restaurants in Singapore like Whitegrass (see my post here). The second photo is what we were served first – some little ‘snacks’ of a deep-fried little crab, a pea tart and some Parmesan crisps. The photo above was one of my favourites that was our first course and actually listed in the tasting menu (it was a five course menu but that didn’t included the ‘snacks’ and in betweens that they served us!). This was a beautiful presentation of roasted and pickled white beetroot and hamachi slices. The contrast of textures (crunchy from the pickled beetroot and soft from the roasted beetroot and hamachi) and tastes was truly sublime. It was the start of a truly amazing meal, the chef (who came out to present some of the dishes himself) was a master of combining western and Asian flavors as well as textures. 

Also there was Braci, a tiny restaurant where every diner gets a full view of the cooking (and from our table, the heat of the wood burning oven!). We were just across all the playing action. It was fascinating watching how it all went on.

Fave drinks:

I always start my day with Yorkshire Gold with milk, have a Nespresso mid-morning and then maybe some green tea later. I stick to water after lunch. Occasionally wine or beer.

Fave activities:

Hiking. We’ve explored lots of new to us places like the Sunol Regional Wilderness and Rancho San Antonio. The kids have done surprisingly well and enjoy our little hikes.

Crocheting

I started teaching myself to crochet this year and managed to finish several scarves, a granny square lap blanket, and some hats. I’m currently working on some kids mittens.

Fave place visited:

Every year we take a trip back to Singapore to visit friends and family. This year my parents and sister joined us in a little family holiday to Sentosa, a small island that’s part of Singapore and is full of hotels and fun activities. So all of us went to Universal Studios and had such a great time, despite the heat and humidity and crowds. We also went to the beautiful aquarium and stayed at the lovely Sofitel Sentosa Resort which had a lot of peacocks strutting around and a fantastic breakfast buffet spread included in the room rate.

Best purchases:

Well this year, we bought a piano. My 6yo has been learning to play since last year, and he had been practicing on a keyboard for a while. After much back and forth (it is quite an investment after all), we decided to go with a Kawasaki piano. My husband likes playing the piano so it’s a great buy for everyone!

And of course, books. Every single book I bought was awesome – even those I haven’t read yet. 😛

How was your 2017?

#amonthoffaves2016 – Books that blew my mind

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A Month of Faves is hosted by AndiTanya and Tamara

Top 10 Books that Blew My Mind This Year

Books Published in 2016

Monstress Vol 1 by Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda blew me away with its absolutely exquisite illustrations. The details in the artwork, even the clothes the characters wear, was just unbelievable.

Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien
Undoubtedly one of the best reads of the year. Such beautiful writing, such a difficult and painful setting, and yet with all the music that surrounds them, still filled with so much hope.

The Wangs vs the World – Jade Chang
This book isn’t for everyone but I loved how it was a more than just and Asian-American story. It’s a story about a family whose fortunes had fallen. I have to admit that the first few pages threw me off as I wasn’t sure if I liked Charles Wang’s voice, but I’m so glad I stuck with it. It was also surprisingly funny and endearing – I loved how the three siblings are so close.

Rise of the Rocket Girls – Nathalia Holt
I loved learning about how the “computers” at Jet Propulsion Labs were women. That is, all the calculations, the trajectories etc of the rockets were calculated by a group of people, who happened to be women, as they were faster and more accurate than the computers of that time.

We love you, Charlie Freeman – Kaitlyn Greening
Why isn’t this book talked about more?

The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye – Sonny Liew
This book got its government grant pulled just days before the launch, as the National Arts Council decided: “The retelling of Singapore’s history in the work potentially undermines the authority or legitimacy of the government and its public institutions, and thus breaches our funding guidelines.”. But Singaporeans love a controversy and they went out and bought it – its first print run of 1000 copies sold out in the first weekend.
My sister-in-law bought it for me for Christmas last year and I read it a few weeks later. I loved how Liew combined so many different illustrative styles in one book. How he sort of retold the Singapore story from the perspective of this fictional cartoonist, but also included Liew himself and his own thoughts into the story. It was brave, not just from a Singaporean’s point of view, but from a reader of graphic novels and comics, for
(You can read more about it in this post from the Asian American Writers Workshop)

3 books I missed reading in 2015

In the country: stories Mia Alvar

A manual for cleaning women Lucia Berlin

Delicious Foods James Hannah