I remember it was sometime in 2008 that my desire for travel was ignited. Perhaps it was the onset of the Piso Fares or the extreme need to go away or it could be the desire for constant change that made me just want to go.
So far, I have been to 27 countries, and out of these countries, I am sharing with you my top 5.
I would not even think of coming here if it was not part of the cruise to Russia during our #ScandiTravels2014. But Estonia was a pleasant surprise for both Babs and I. We were there just for two days but would have loved to stay longer. The locals are friendly (but rather direct!), food and drinks are amazing and the place felt like you are back in the medieval times.
When in Estonia, try out:
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Babs’ #bucketlist ✅ : Visiting #Bhutan and the climb to the #TigersNest. Not in photo: 6 hour journey to and fro; multiple stops to catch our breath (mine is after 20 steps or so); several horse poop; breathtaking ascent 3000ft above the Paro Valley. #gandjtravels #igtravels #ig_bhutan
Ah, Bhutan. If it wasn’t for Babs, I would not have gone to this little dot. Bhutan has been a one-of-a-kind travel experience for me. Going around places in Bhutan felt like I was in the Philippines but it has a different aura to it. Tagged as the “Happiest Place in the World“, the locals seem to aim more of the spiritual than the physical and material. They are friendly but not overly so and they leave you be. Words can’t describe how my visit there uplifted my soul; perhaps it’s the proximity to heaven (i.e. we’re on the foot of the Himalayas!), or the peaceful vibe you get from the locals but it’s definitely a must visit especially to those who long for peace and quiet.
When in Bhutan, try out:
You can only enjoy the country if you close your eyes and kiss your $$$ goodbye when paying for things in Switzerland as everything is extremely expensive there.
This pit stop was part of my #30for30 (30 countries by 30 years old – at 32, I’m still 3 countries short sadly!) #SoloTravels back in 2016. Switzerland is beautiful in winter – ice-capped mountains, lovely little Swiss villages – each and every view is a cure for the eyesore.
When in Switzerland, try:
I’ve only been to Hokkaido but it’s more than enough reason to go back to Japan over and over again. I have friends who visit the country 5x a year! No explanation needed on why Japan is on top of my list.
When in Hokkaido, try:
I fell in love with Austria the moment I stepped out of the train station in Salzburg in 2016 during my #30for30 #SoloTravels. I’ve been in love ever since and I’ve been back a couple of times (second time was to take Babs around!).
I’ve got nothing else to say except go visit Austria. There is always a surprise at every turn.
When in Austria, try out:
My next goal is to match the number of countries I’ve been to my age. So as soon as I hit 33 countries at 33 years old, then it’s time to settle down.
Baking is always a challenge for me. Unlike hot food where you can just adjust everything according to taste as you go along, baking is far from it. It’s concise science.
But that did not stop me from experimenting in the kitchen. From following hundreds of #Fitness and #healthy Instagram accounts which shares great recipes and ingredients basically for anything that I can think of, I managed to create MY ideal banana bread. Of course, this is after the countless trial and errors baking, several revisions and a couple of versions.
So without further ado, below is IamJoycee’s Quick ‘n Easy Banana Loaf Bread:
Step 1. Pre-heat oven to 165 degrees C. Based on my readings, it’s best to have the oven pre-heated for at least 20 minutes
Step 2. Mix egg, banana, milk, vanilla, greek yoghurt, lemon juice & brown sugar.
Some observations here: During one of my experiments, I have used a ‘just ripe’ banana with 1.5 cups of brown sugar. This has almost the same sweetness as this current recipe which as an almost over-ripe banana and with only 1/2 cup of brown sugar.
Step 3. Fold in the oat flour and baking soda into the mix. Do not over mix.
Note: I don’t really understand the reason why over mixing is a no-no. Anyone care to enlighten me?
Step 4. Pour the batter in your mould. For me, I am using these paper moulds, individual sizes.
Step 5. Place in oven and let it cook for 35 – 40 minutes since I am using these small mini cups. If you are using loaf pans, let it cook for 60 – 80 minutes.
Step 6. Take it out of the oven and let cool on rack.
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Another #bananabread experiment of mine. Pleased with the result but needs slight changes as it's tad too sweet. I wish to perfect a healthier version of it. Recipe: 3 ripe bananas, mashed 2 eggs 1/4c low fat milk 1 tsp vanilla 1/2c greek yogurt 1.5c brown sugar (will reduce this next time!) 1 1/4 c wholewheat flour 1/2 c rolled oats 1tsp baking soda Optional: Walnut Semi-sweet choco chips – Mix all first 6 ingredients – Add flour, oats and baking soda – Mix for about 3mins – Place in a 165 degrees preheated oven for 35-40 minutes (I used mini cups instead of one whole loaf pan. For loaf pans, time should be between 60-80mins) Enjoy!
I am no longer concerned about getting a cheaper price for my flights.
Sure, my first option when heading to a destination around the region is to check budget airlines. I rarely get the main airlines. But when flying to the Philippines, I just want to be doubly sure that I have options to take that’s NOT Cebu Pacific Air. I’ve learned my lesson (what with delayed flights, abrupt change in itinerary, the horror during the holidays!) and I am extra careful now.
I am now after value for your money.
I recently booked a flight for my mum to come over Singapore as she will look after Mr Pies while we are away.
My choices were:
Cebu Pacific 😦
Silk Air 🙂
I guess you know which airline I took.
The $80 additional payment makes all the difference in the world.
I book flights that are within my means. While budget airlines are still my first choice for short distance travels, I like to keep my options open for all types of airlines.
This will prove to be very helpful especially if you are not familiar with that airline. A simple Google Search will provide you with great insight on customer feedbacks.
I came across these on Cebu Pacific:
And these are what I read about SilkAir:
It really all depends on your personal experience. And whatever rocks your boat.
Please leave your answer in the form below. 🙂
Chinese new year has come and gone. Now, we are left with added pounds in the gut and leftover food. We just had a huge hot pot at home and, yes, there were loads left from the spread.
So what I did, two days after the lunar new year, was make a fish cake (Tod Mun Pla) from the left overs that we have. And since I’ve made another kitchen gadget purchase (a spiralizer!), I made a side salad as well.
1 can Tuna Flakes in Olive Oil
150 g Fish Balls, chopped (This is the leftover from the hotpot, if not using, double the amount of Tuna Flakes instead)
2 Tbsp Thai Red Curry
1 egg, beaten
4 Tbsp corn starch
Zest of 1 Lemon (or use Kaffir lime, I used lemon because I didn’t find any lime or Kaffir lime leaves in the shop)
20 pcs French Beans, cut in small pieces
1 Thumb ginger, grated
bunch of fresh coriander (cilantro)
This is another experiment of mine using my newly bought (second hand) spiralizer. This tool is so cool and perfect for those who are doing paleo diet who looking for healthy alternatives to pasta such as zucchini noodles, etc. That or I’m following too much paleo / healthy instagram accounts.
3 large zucchinis, cut into long thin strips or use spiralizer 😉
1/2 of a large red onion
1 chili padi
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 chili padi
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
2 tbsp ginger, minced
1/4 cup green onion
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup coconut milk
Hope you enjoy these quick and fresh lovely Thai treats. If you’re really not into spicy food, limit red curry paste (in fish cake) and chili (in zucchini salad). These recipes do not promise to take you to the Land of Smiles, but, hopefully, it reminds you of that sidewalk treat you had while there.
It has been almost one year since our pug – Mr Beef Pies – entered our lives. When he first came to our house in May 2015, he was still a shy dog, meekly sat in the corner looking at us with those huge gorgeous eyes. Now in less than a year he already considers himself King of the entire house and gets grumpy when we close doors on him or don’t give him his beloved foot scratches.
Mr Pies 2nd birthday was fast approaching and it was a bit of a struggle to think of some place extra special to take him for his birthday as we regularly take Mr Pies out to his favourite places like Sentosa, East Coast Park and Changi Village.
One of the places we have wanted to take him is Pulau Serangoon which is more popularly called Coney Island. It is a small island attached to the north of Singapore by a small bridge and features woodlands, a beach and views of Malaysia. There isn’t much on the beach apart from nature (although a mysterious cow lives on the island which you can read more about here / interesting, right?), but Mr Pies loves sand to play on and trees to wee on so it is like a theme park for him.
We had thought about taking Mr Pies there in a taxi one day, however some internet research told us there was a more interesting way. There is a company specialising in Pet Cruises that could take Mr Pies finally to Coney Island, so we thought that would be a great birthday treat for our special pug. Since Mr Pies birthday was on a work day this year, we arranged the cruise for Valentine’s Day which fell on a Sunday. This meant it was a romantic treat as well as a birthday one!
The Pet Cruise company is run by friendly Skipper Joe and departs from Punggol’s Marina Country Club. The vessel is a small motor boat and comes provided with free soft drinks and towels to make sure you stay hydrated when out under the sun. For Mr Pies’ birthday cruise we left at 11am and planned a 2 hour cruise from the Marina to Coney Island, with plenty of time for Mr Pies to run around on the beach and tire himself out. Coney Island is not the only option for your cruise destination. In addition, you could also go to Seletar Island which is even more isolated and uninhabited if you fancy a bit more privacy. Skipper Joe can also arrange activities like cycling or a seafood dinner to add onto your cruise.
The boat is a small and clean vessel, though as always, Mr Pies was a bit nervous of new things. He spent most of the time on the boat cuddled up beside us for his protection. He was a lot happier when we finally got to Coney Island where he got the chance to run around to his little heart’s content on the beach and play around in the water.
Skipper Joe gave us the option of doing some swimming behind the boat, but since Mr Pies was already quite tired we chose instead just to let him rest on the beach for longer.
It was a really great day for Mr Pies and he slept for most of the day when he got back home which normally indicates a happy pug. The Pet Cruise is a lovely idea for pawrents who want to do something a bit different for their Fur Baby. After the cruise, there are a few restaurants in the Marina that allow you to eat with your dog. We would recommend though that you pre-arrange transport to get from the Marina afterwards as it can be difficult to get a cab in this remote location.
So go ahead, treat your fur baby to a lovely pet cruise. You and your little bundle of joy will definitely love it.
Telephone of Skipper Joe: 9637 5009
(Updated 9 February 2016)
…has long been forgotten but I need to revive it as the 30th is looming.
Making lists is not new to me. When Babs turned thirty 48 years ago (he won’t like me including this in here), I tried coming up with a list of 30 gifts for G but only ended up giving him 9, with my list going only up to 15. I have also written a birthday wish list before turning twenty-five and ended up forgetting the part 2 of the post. Oh, and these I-have-no-list-for-my-26th-but-I’ve-this-countdown-26days-before-but-only-did-three-days-of-it post, and the Project 365 on Instagram and here on the blog which never really got past Day 10.
Despite my unsuccessful attempts on these list, this time last year I tried coming up with a 30list to achieve / do / be before I reach 30. But as you can see below, I haven’t achieved a quarter of it before reaching 22 February 2016 so it’s gonna be on or during my 30th. At the same time, I can only list down twenty-two without being repetitive or sounding too materialistic or be too vague and prophetic i.e. wanting world peace.
So yes, If you still haven’t gotten it yet, I’m turning 30 this year. It must be a big deal for most people turning thirty. However, as much as I want it to be a big deal, it does not feel like it. But as much as possible, I am trying to make it a ‘subtle’ fanfare – if there is such a thing – for myself and with my loved ones.
So without further ado, here’s my incomplete list of #30on30, with some commentaries. I am open to suggestions / recommendations to complete the list.
(1) Dye Hair Pink
I am also considering a deep purple or blue, just so it does not bother with work. I guess it is best to do it NOW when I’m still ‘young’ and it’s more acceptable than, say, when in I’m in my 40s. Nothing wrong with women of any age to dye their hair in different colours as long as it suits them.
Well, maybe just a crazy but subtle highlights will do.
(2) Travel Alone (DONE)
I’ve done this in my early twenties and just recently. In my early twenties, it was sort of liberating to be a solo traveler. I didn’t have to stick to anyone else’s itinerary but my own; I went to places or chose which food to eat according to my preferences without consulting other people; I can let myself be during those trips.
But it feels different traveling alone now that I’m much older and married. My recent travel to Europe was somehow filled with moments of longing, of wanting to have shared those precious moments with someone. Don’t get me wrong, I have thoroughly enjoyed my recent #30for30 travels to Europe but I can’t help but think about things like “Oh, Babs would really love this” or “This is a good #ootd place for Jett”, etc. The three things I’ve mentioned above are still achievable even when you’re traveling with someone (in my case, it’s almost always with Babs).
Traveling alone is still the best form of ‘soul searching’ for me (I guess this is what an introvert would tell you!). It does not mean that you need go to places far away to do this. I suggest that at least you take a long walk alone or go get a nice dinner by yourself. A “me time” is always precious and good for the soul.
(3) Cook 30 Specialty Dishes from a Cookbook or Gordon Ramsay’s Recipes
I am working on it. I did a couple of GRs recipes like the Gnocchi and Beef Wellington and I’m working on some others. I hope to complete this 30 specialty dishes and share with you a Joyceee-fied version of it on this blog. And yes, I’m a fan of GORDON RAMSAY – I’ve stalked in London. Now, if only I can get a signed copy of his cookbook…
When I first came to Singapore six years ago, my aim is to start a career in the non-profit space. But logistics and circumstances stopped me from pursuing one. I tried applying for several volunteer jobs here but they are either looking for a (1) local person or (2) the timing is within office hours. I am still looking and my mindset now is that doing good things starts from your immediate surroundings.
One thing I want to do though is to teach children. I have fond memories of going out every Saturday doing good news classes to kids in low-income communities and having my own class during Daily Vacation Bible School. Those were good times and something that I want to do again.
(5) Own A Pug (DONE)
@IamMrPies on Instagram. Enough said.
(6) Be Financially Stable
At thirty, everyone should be financially stable and I’m working on it. Almost there.
(7) Own a Designer Bag
Now, I am a bit on the fence about this. I’m not a sucker for designer labels and ‘branded’ stuff. I buy my clothes from shops that are on ‘sale’, I do not own a single item that is worth more than $100, except maybe for gadgets and, erm, face cream. My current ‘bag line-up’ is composed of a Pug Tote Bag which somehow looks like this for weekend getaways, a Mango leather bag which I bought from London on sale, a Nike sports bag which I lugged around my trip, and some others which are not worth mentioning. These will probably be replaced when it’s all worn out. So, yeah, owning a designer bag might be a good ‘investment’ (they all say this) so I am considering it as I still don’t see the value (apart from the ‘ social status’ but correct me if I’m wrong, bag owners, maybe it’s just nothing for them. 🙂 ). If YOU are thinking of buying one, here is a list of Designer Bags to invest in 2016 from Forbes to consider.
(8) Reach 60kg – 65kg in weight this year (DID it ONCE, will do it AGAIN)
Achievable? Yes. I just recently joined the #Fitbit bandwagon and religiously completing my #MyFitnessPal journal. Both Babs and I are committed to getting fit this year so we’ll see, yeah? Be healthy, stay healthy.
24 15 books to read this year
I initially was planning for twenty four books, as in 2 books a month, but even Mark Zuckerberg is only aiming for 10 quality ones. I have loads of books that I have yet to read – including my Narnia set – so I’m making it 15 this year.
(10) Read the Bible Through
And while I am in the subject of books, as a Christian, it is imperative for me to read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, at least regularly. I have not done so and I am to do it this year and every year moving forward.
(11) Learn the Basics of Mandarin
I have tried enrolling in EDx courses last year. They offer free courses on almost anything! But due to work constraints, I was not able to go to my online classes so this year, I aim to do a bit of Mandarin courses. I would have preferred French or German but hey, these Mandarin-speaking people are taking over the world soon so better join the crowd! 😛 Kidding aside, since I am living in a predominantly Mandarin-speaking country, it could probably work to my advantage to have at least as a small understanding of the language. And I actually am not too bad at understanding context clues when Babs and friends are speaking Chinese. 😉
(12) Enrol in a Short Course
As in #11, yes, I’ve tried enrolling myself in online courses but I never really did anything apart from reading the first module. I will see to it this year that I will finish one course. It does not have to be a ‘professional’ course, I’m looking at some enrichment classes as well.
Side note: I did attend a course on pasta making! 🙂 It led me to buy Jamie Oliver’s pasta machine which was only ever used 3x.
(13) Quit My Job and Go Travelling (DONE)
Yes – did that in 2013. Backpacking through Southeast Asia for 3 months.
(14) Full Medical Checkup
I aim to do this yearly moving forward.
I used to work with a pharma client back in the Philippines and I’ve leaerned that Cervical Cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women in the Philippines? One dies of Cervical Cancer every TWO minutes in the Philippines. Despite the shocking statistics (you can research them out yourself, it pays to know), the illness is easily preventable. It only takes regular screening (i.e. #14 in my list – which I have not done ever in my entire life) and vaccine to prevent that.
(16) A real bucket list item: See Aurora Borealis (DONE)
IT. IS. A. MUST. DO. MUST. GO. MUST. SEE. I can’t compare it to anything. The northern lights are darn beautiful and enchanting and give you those goosebumps. Those in the south can catch the Aurora Australis (southern light) but it’s a rare occurrence they say as most of it happens above the sea.
(17) Another ‘Standard’ Bucket List: Meet Santa (DONE)
Despite coming from a Christian background, Santa (US) / Father Christmas (UK) is still a good story to tell to kids without, of course, making them the hero of CHRISTmas. And of course it was a thrill for me even as an adult to meet the ‘real’ Santa (although it was a sad news to hear that he filed for bankruptcy last year). 😦
(18) Create my Own Ebook of Recipes
See #3. A Joyceee-fied version of common recipes. Maybe a healthier version? We’ll see. I have a few drafts here and there and own a couple of recipe notebooks (yes, I’m old school like that), so I’ll have to see what I can get from that.
(19) Wine and not Whine
Be an expert of <something>. I was thinking of coffee but I think I like my red too much over beans. If wine isn’t that expensive in Singapore (and unhealthy), I’d have a cellar in our (hot and humid) house by now.
I just recently discovered that German wines are to die for. Yes, Italy and France are famous for their wines so not enough credit goes to German. But recent visit proved it otherwise. I even “packed” a couple of bottles home (which cost 8 euros, at least – in Singapore it would be like $50, yes, I checked) and I refuse to drink it unless it’s a momentous occasion (say, my birthday, maybe?).
30 22 Countries Before 30 (DONE – Almost)
Taiwan. France. Austria. Switzerland. Germany. Russia. Estonia. Sweden. Finland. UK. Brunei. Cambodia. Laos. Thailand. Indonesia. China. Macau. Hong Kong. Vietnam. Malaysia. Singapore. Philippines. And hopefully more this year.
I know people younger than I am were able to travel 50 countries before they reach 30! Shame that I only started traveling later in life but still hashtag blessed and hashtag grateful that I had the opportunity to see places and my teenage dreams of ‘backpacking’ through Europe became a reality. Maybe by the time I reach 40 I would have reached 40 countries (that would mean at least 1.5 new country every year for 10 years!). Dream on.
(21) Run 10K, a half marathon or a full marathon.
The first one I guess is much more realistic as I am not that fit. But something to work on towards the end of the year, if my knee is one with me on this one.
(22) Own a Pink Vespa.
(23) Surprise trip. (DONE)
Yes, B@bs gave me a surprise trip for as present for my birthday. I was only told to (1) pack my bag (with one evening clothes and swimwear) and (2) bring my passport. I never knew about our trip until 1 hour before flying – even through immigration he was able to keep it a secret. 🙂
We went to Bali. We’ve never been. We did not have a good impression of Bali before, thinking that it’s another tourist trap. But where we’ve been, in Seminyak, it was lovely. ‘They’ say Ubud is lovelier.
(24) %#(!&@^$ (DONE)
Something PG. 🙂
So, that’s it folks. Again, I have yet to complete this list and I probably have the whole year to do so. Again, suggestions and recommendations will be considered. I will also update it as and when an item in the list has been completed.
I almost lost hope in baking. But it’s always good to persevere. Despite wasting money for having to throw away ‘baked goods’ which are close to inedible, I decided to give it another try and, voila, I was able to create a (close to) masterpiece – Tsokolate Cupcake.
Over the weekend, I decided to spend more time in the kitchen (apart from preparing @IamMrPies’ dog food) and decided I make good use of my tablea before it expires and sentenced to death by binning. It turned out time well spent as the project turned out successful – one of my few ones in baking. Lesson learned: just follow the recipe to a T.
I have organized the recipe in such a way that you can follow it per batch / step featuring the ingredients for each step.
Makes 9 Cupcakes
Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
Step 2: Tsokolate Prep
Mix Tablea and Cocoaa Powder in hot water. Let the batter cool and put in fridge.
Step 3: Dairy
Mix these two ingredients and set aside.
Step 4: Dry Goods
Sift all dry ingredients and mix together. Set aside.
Step 5: Cream
Cream butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Once done, add eggs one at a time without over mixing.
Step 6: Mix all ingredients
Step 7: Bake
Enjoy! And let me know what you think of the recipe – feedback, suggestions, recommendaitons are welcome!
I am an impulsive buyer. As soon as I saw these medium-sized tart bases during one of my bake shop visits, I immediately bought three without thinking twice. I don’t even know how to make a tart or a tart shell!
I love experimenting in the kitchen and researching for quick and easy recipes online. And since I’m always health conscious (does not mean I’m fit! lol), I try to make a healthier version of whatever recipe I have found online.