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Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas. – Peg Bracken

Merry Christmas one and all, and may love continue to flow from your hearts as we seamlessly glide into the new year. Cherish the ones you love, and in giving love, we grow.

T.

24 December 2013 – Christmas Eve, 5 things for you

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Its the eve of the big day, Christmas. Christmas to my family is a big thing. So the day’s been spent preparing the Christmas feast, last minute buys and deciding the wine of the meal. A little tensed. Still much like the pace of the year; constantly busy and up and about, chasing up deadlines. As in my previous post, stepping back and slowing down the pace is in fact a healthy thing to do. I encourage everyone to do the same, though it really requires lots of self discovery to find what your own personal balance is; when to go go go and when its time to slow down and think about things.

Here’s some of the things I do that keep the balance:
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1. Eat Well – And I don’t mean in quantity and volume of food. But paying attention to your food choices for a meal, understanding what you are actually eating – its caloric density, carb-fat-protein ratio. Making a meal purposeful in getting your body the nutrients it needs, rather than making it a mindless/stress driven decision.

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2. Exercise – Whether its running, dancing or yoga-ing, whatever you choose. Sweating it out does wonders. Releases tension and feel good hormones. Gets your blood flowing and as a plus, keeps off the pounds!

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3. Standing up and taking a moment to reflect – React -it comes instinctually, its human. What helps when responding to situations (especially trying/challenging/ones that hit that nerve) though, is to stand up and let all your thoughts run through first without acting on them. It is very normal to want to react at that moment, and it is fine to feel all that you are; let it pass. What is important is that you attend to how you are feeling and understanding that it will pass. And when it does, you will be in a better state of mind to handle the situation.

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4. Start the morning well – Find what works for you. Whether its 10mins of your morning dedicated to a good stretch, or settling down to a cup of coffee, do that. Give thanks to having a new day, a fresh start, another chance to do something great.

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5. Be thankful for – When times seem to be going crazy and I get tempted to whine and complain about why things are the way they are, it helps when I think about what there is to be thankful for in the situation I’m in. Thinking outside the struggle and difficulty is hard, but you will realize the wonders it does and how you will see things as they really are and less as we are.

T.

Christmas 2013 – 23 December 2013

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“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?” – Bob Hope.

Joyeux Noel! Its the time of the year again when everything slows down. A much needed breather after a year of chasing up deadlines and such. It has been a rather eventful 2013 for both my personal and work life. Plentitude of lessons and experiences that I guess most of us in our twenties would have to go through. I quote, a line from Coldplay’s The Scientist, “No body said it was easy, no one ever said it would be so hard,” and from what I have learnt, it isn’t about to get any better, but take heart that all we face will only benefit us, shaping us, and forcing us to grow. And there is much to be thankful about in regards to that.

And on the eve of the eve of Christmas, amidst your last minute gift shopping/feast preparing madness. It would be wise to take a step back, pause for a moment, and think about all the beauty that has surrounded you the past year. Things to be thankful about, and also important, things we should be letting go off.

Its one last week til 2014, anything can happen. But before that, let’s close the chapter off well.

T.

Confessions of a Coffee Addict (2) – Simply Bread

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“We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.” – Charlie Chaplin

I’ll get right to it; I believe I have found one of the best tasting sticky buns in Singapore. Though taste is subjective and best can mean different things to different people, when I say best, I mean “unpretentious, straight forward, my idea of what XX should taste like, if not better.”
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“I hate sticky buns,” Said no man ever.

As its name says, Simply Bread is a bakery that sells, bread. The company started as a small bakery in Singapore in 1995, with just one baker and 800 square feet of space. It has since grown, now with six locations with a central production and 56 employees.

The variety of breads available extends from your regular white loafs to whole rye loafs, sweet bread twists and savory buns. And of course, Sticky buns. Now in case you’re wondering, sticky buns and cinnamon rolls are two very different things. Though yes, they are rolls of sweet yeast bread dough goodness, here is where their commonalities end. After being rolled out, laced with melted butter, sugar and cinnamon, the dough is rolled up and sliced and placed into a baking pan which contains a light caramel sauce. After baking, the pan must be immediately flipped over and left to stand for several minutes to allow the sticky sauce to run down the layers.

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(Ham and cheese sandwich/sticky bun)

Simply bread also offers sandwiches using their loafs. And what use is a bread cafe that doesn’t offer coffee? Coffee was decent by the way. Easy, smooth, the way I like my Sundays.

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A bready-head never leaves a bakery without some to take home. And if I could, I would’ve bought the whole shop, but instead I settled for these yummy comforting raspberry twists – slightly sweet, with cinnamon and citrus notes, bread is wholesome and moist and the almonds add some crunch factor. Perfect toasted for breakfast I must say.

So if you’re a one who never lets a day go by without bread, and are just looking for a chill place sans crowds and noise, here’s one to save you the head scratching and googling for where to go.

Simply Bread

Guthrie House

1 Fifth Avenue

#01-13

Monday – Sunday, 8AM – 9PM

Simply Bread

Cluny Court

501 Bukit Timah Road

#02-07

Monday – Sunday, 8AM – 9PM

Dimsum for you, dimsum for me – Royal China at Raffles Hotel

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“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” – Mark Twain

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Dim sum – a variety of Chinese dishes served in small portions, comprising of an assortment of steamed or fried food items. Dim sum literally means to “touch the heart,”

Definitely not the conventional Christmas meal, but if it’s a meal served to be shared and to touch hearts – it is no less worthy of a meal than any other Christmas meal.

Raffles Hotel, which has been around for 80years now, houses one of my favorite places for dimsum – Royal China. A fine dining Chinese restaurant that serves reasonably priced dimsum over lunch.
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(Liushabao)

If it’s anything you have to definitely order, it will be this glorious glob of a Bao. Liu sha bao, or Golden Lava Custard bun. The ones done by the Royal China are superbly fragrant, a thin yet not too thin bun, housing a generous amount of bright gold salty-sweet, eggy custard.

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And it seems telling, that the best foods come in buns. Innocently smooth outer layers housing fillings that will blow away one’s palette. Their specialty Royal China char siew pastry comes up second as a must have here.

Food in all was great. Dimsum for you, dimsum for me, hearts touched and bellies happy. There is no greater joy than sharing a wondrous meal with ones you love.

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Royal China
1 Beach Road
#03-09 Raffles Hotel

T.