Why hello there…

My domain is up for renewal in less than a month and I figured I better start using it again.

I have to admit, I’ve been wasting more time online. I’ve been regularly checking a super juicy subreddit my coworker got me into. (It’s ChoosingBeggars, if you wanted to know.) Plus, we ended up getting into a trashy reality TV show. While the show is done, I randomly check what some of the “stars” are doing every now and then. Haha!

Anyway, as always, I’m a big believer that every day is an opportunity to pivot my behaviour for the better. For some reason, I’ve got a massive urge to start over again, New Year style. 😛

The one thing I’m proud of is that I haven’t checked Facebook or Instagram since January. It’s been freeing, not being bombarded with the minutiae of other people’s lives. Not only do I have more time, but it’s freed up my mental head space as well. Being surrounded with images of other people’s lives subconsciously gave me FOMO or made me compare my circumstances to theirs. It also made me want to buy more things.

I find I’m more content now. Going Instagram and FB-less has also encouraged me to catch up with my friends face to face more often. Since I have no idea what they’re up to otherwise, I make more of a point to catch up with them.

The one thing I do miss is that I’ve lost touch with my “outer” circle of friends – people I weren’t really close to, but who I genuinely liked. This one girl comes to mind. She’d post adorable photos of her kids and the amazing things that she’d bake. However, most of our communication was done through Instagram, so now I just wonder about how her kids are doing and what new things she’s made now.

I also miss not having a record of the things I’d done. Since I no longer have the urge to post things on Instagram, I take less photos. It’s great for living in the moment, but sucks if I want to revel in the memories. Ah, well. Gotta find the balance somewhere.

S’anyway, for the rest of this year — I resolve to live with more intention. Less wasting time on the things that matter, focusing on the things that do.

A few random updates from me since my last entry:

  • I’ve been at my new job for over 6 months now. I passed my probation, yay, and am now a full-fledged public servant.
  • We went to New Zealand. Both of our first times and we loved it!
  • Had a quick trip to Melbourne, and many Canberra trips.
  • I’ve actually been pretty good at sewing things. Made a dress, two tops, and a pillowcase. Have resolved to sew more.
  • Have tried to up my privacy online — enabling 2FA when I can, updating passwords, that kind of thing. (I’m working on an authentication product so my eyes have been opened how lax I used to be.)

P.S. Isn’t it crazy how it’s nearly June?

In which I try to cook again

While planning my goals for this year, I realised that they were all around continuing activities I already did. (I guess that’s the benefit of the “do something new each month!” thing I had two years ago. I got all the things I wanted to try out of my system.)

One goal is to be more comfortable with cooking. And I mean cooking properly.

I’ve always cooked for survival. I can boil pasta, make some kind of sauce and add veggies I have on hand. I can cook rice on a stove, fry an egg, fry random bits of meat, and make pancakes. Is my food edible? Yes. Is it delicious? Well, sometimes I get lucky. Would I serve it to anyone else? Umm, no.

I accepted eating mediocre food. When I’d arrive home, tired from work, the last thing I wanted to do was cook a culinary feast that would be gone in 5 minutes (and would require plenty of cleaning up afterwards). The flip side was that every time I ate out, I was really grateful at how delicious everything tasted. Haha.

Whenever I would share photos of tasty things we were eating at home, people would ask me, “Wow! Did you cook that?” to which I would reply: “I set the table.” Or maybe, “I made the iced tea.” Perhaps the vague, “I helped!”

After seeing S whip up deliciousness in the kitchen, I realised cooking was a skill I wanted to learn. I know that the more I do it, the better and faster I’ll be at making meals. So, this year, I resolved to cook at least one new recipe, properly, a month. (I say “properly” because even when I’d follow recipes, I’d take shortcuts. For example, I’d throw everything into a pot*, order and cooking times be damned. All the ingredients ended up there eventually, I reasoned.)

Last month, I ended up cooking this lamb kofte with salad from Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meals book. I’ve had the book for years. This is the first time I’ve made anything from it. Haha. (It took me way more than 15 minutes.)

I definitely need to up my food presentation skills. But hey, the meal wasn’t half bad! Yay me! I’ve already committed to making brunch this weekend. And I’m going to make it a proper brunch to rival the hipster brunches that seem to be the rage right now.

I’m also going to try to bake healthier goods – but that’s another story for another time. 😛

* I found this yummy vegan one pot creamy garlic pasta recipe. I’ve already made it twice. I’m not vegan. I’m just lazy, and the recipe required ingredients I already had on hand.

How I got my allergies under control

I had intended to do a recap of 2018 but it’s a bit too late now given it’s midway through February! I had the vague theme of “Lifestyle design”. Whatever that meant – the vagueness meant I wasn’t as focused as I could’ve been. I did have the general idea that I wanted to continue crafting my life into one I was excited to live. This included shedding negative things, focusing on meaningful things, and fixing things that were broken. (My definition of “things” encompasses possessions, activities, habits, mindsets and relationships.)

One of my big wins from last year included getting my allergies under control! Woohoo! I’ve written about how I’d just accepted the fact that I had allergies. I would take an antihistamine nearly every day, otherwise I would break out in uncontrollable itching. I tried to wean myself off the antihistamine but I couldn’t stay off it for very long, and it would become unbearable. I had big red rashes all over my torso. I hated it.

I am proud to say that as of today, I no longer take antihistamines! How’s that for progress! 😀

And this is what I did, hopefully it’ll help some of my friends since allergies seem to be a common thing nowadays.

Drank tart cherry juice. This has to be singularly the most effective thing I did to wean myself off antihistamines. I drink 30ml a day. When I first started taking it, I went 6 weeks without needing to take an antihistamine. Since then, I’ve been going 4 months (and counting!) without needing to take a single tablet.

Sometimes, I wonder if I can stop taking tart cherry juice, but the thing is it has also helped with my muscle soreness and sleeping that I can’t imagine myself not taking it. Hah!

I use Dr Superfoods but my friends (who I’ve gotten on, and love it) use different brands and have had results too.

Invested in an air purifier and dehumidifier. The first night after I used my air purifier – I kid you not – I got three unprompted compliments from coworkers saying how refreshed I looked. Apparently being allergy-prone meant that I was having disrupted sleep at night because of the air quality. I’ve since bought a dehumidifier to help with the dampness and resulting mould and dust mites.

I’ve gotten mine from AusClimate after reading heaps of reviews.

Been more vigilant about cleaning. I make sure I vacuum and change my sheets at least once a week. (I mean, I know I was always supposed to be doing that, but sometimes life gets in the way, haha!)

After I realised that I was always getting angry red marks from where my clothes touched my skin I switched to a sensitive-skin laundry brand (Euca) and it’s been such a relief. I had seriously been considering just wearing flowy clothing if things didn’t improve, it was that bad.

Things I haven’t been sure that worked:
Switching antihistamine families. This was recommended by my uncle, who happens to be a doctor. The idea was to switch between different families (e.g. Cetirizine vs Loratadine etc.) so I didn’t get to used to one. I suspected I was suffering from “Cetirizine withdrawal”. However, I didn’t get to test this because I started taking tart cherry juice at the same time and no longer had to take tablets.

Eliminating certain foods from diet. Early last year, I had gone to a dietitian who recommended cutting out histamine-releasing foods. I cut some out but couldn’t really say it helped.

Taking supplements for gut health. I took Sonnes #7. I took Dandy Blend for dandelion root’s supposed liver detox benefits. I took probiotics. I drank turmeric mixes.

I can’t really say that none of those things worked. Maybe I did get some benefits from them, but allergy-wise, none of them contributed to the direct criteria of me not needing to take antihistamine pills.

Maybe one of these days, I can attempt to east shrimp/prawn again… 😛

Living in the moment

My nephew just turned two. He is old enough to have strong opinions about what he wants to do. Although he can’t fully articulate things yet, he says the odd word here and there; pulls out specific toys to play with or books to read; points to things he wants; gives big grins when he’s eating food he likes.

Since I live in a different state and don’t get to see him as often as I would like, I’ve resolved that when I do see him I want to spend quality auntie time. This means playing with him with 100% of my attention – reading books, cutting up Velcro fruit and building things to knock them down again.

Here’s one thing I learned: he could tell if I was distracted. He would frequently look at me after he did something, checking to see how I was reacting. Even if I wasn’t on my phone, I would sometimes get distracted by another conversation, or getting lost in my own thoughts.

While I’m pretty good at not using my phone in conversations or keeping it out of sight most of the time, he taught me that there is still something I could learn around keeping my attention continuously focused on enjoying someone’s company without thinking about what’s for dinner or the housework I would need to do or whether I’ve gotten a new message.

And what a gift to have the full attention of a tiny human who wants nothing to do but to play with me! I got teary eyed a few weeks ago thinking of a far-off future when my nephew would be old enough to not want to play with me as much.

(It also made me feel guilty about my own aunts and uncles. The way I dote on my nephew is also the way they likely doted on me, over 30 years ago. And now I don’t even call them! Here’s to keeping in better touch with my family.)