Top 5 reasons to say NO

5 reasons to say NO

We should say NO. Not always, of course, but we should say ‘no’ when our heart of hearts is telling us to say ‘no’. Some peo­ple find it dif­fi­cult to blurt out the word ‘no’, one of the very first words we learnt in life, as if it were Voldemort’s name in Har­ry Pot­ter, for var­i­ous rea­sons: Some just want to help at all occa­sions. Some may have an ulte­ri­or motive. Some are just peo­ple-pleasers and feel very guilty to say the big word.

Although chal­leng­ing, we have to do it for our­selves and oth­ers as well. Read the list of rea­sons why we should say NO.

Top 1 reason to say NO: To be free to say ‘yes’ for those you want to say ‘yes’

Life can’t be a breeze if you don’t know how to say ‘no’. Be kind to your­self. If you keep say­ing ‘yes’, you won’t have time or room for the ones you real­ly want to say ‘yes’. You’ll always be pre­oc­cu­pied doing some­thing you would rather not do or be with some­one you’d rather not spend time with.

Top 2 reason to say NO: To give a more deserving person a chance to say ‘yes’

Some­times, we think that by say­ing ‘yes’, we’re mak­ing every­thing in the world right.

Have you ever thought that maybe there’s some­one else who’s more deserv­ing and who’ll be hap­pi­er to say ‘yes’?

Take for exam­ple: If you’re offered a job that you don’t like yet take it, you go to work unhap­py and unful­filled every day. How­ev­er, if you had declined it, some­one more suit­able would’ve been able and ecsta­t­ic to take the job. Anoth­er good exam­ple is if there’s a guy who likes you and you don’t feel the same way about him. Once you say ‘no’, then he can stop pin­ing for you, move on and be with some­one who’ll appre­ci­ate him more.

Top 3 reason to say NO: To protect relationships

There will be times that because of your ‘can’t-say-no’ atti­tude, the peo­ple who occu­py a spe­cial place in your heart may suf­fer. On a day that you’ve set a date with a friend, you may have to bail out because say­ing ‘no’ to your boss is an impos­si­bil­i­ty. On a week that your fam­i­ly is vis­it­ing from over­seas, you may not have time for them because a friend has asked you out for din­ner. If you keep say­ing ‘yes’ to some­one or some­thing even if you’ve already planned to spend time with friends or fam­i­ly, you put their feel­ings in jeop­ardy. Start say­ing ‘no’ or you might end up los­ing all the peo­ple who tru­ly mat­ter to you.Top 4 rea­son to say NO: To show con­fi­dence and self-worth

Say­ing ‘no’ shows that you’re not a push-over and you’re ready to face the con­se­quences of your deci­sion. It also indi­cates that you appre­ci­ate your­self, val­ue your time, oth­er plans you’ve pre­vi­ous­ly set and the impor­tant peo­ple around you.

Top 5 reason to say NO: To make people know what you actually want

Sim­i­lar to the ‘Boy who cried wolf’, it might come to a point where the peo­ple around you will doubt your ‘yes’.

If you’re now con­vinced that you need to learn how to say NO, you’re now ready to read 10 Guilt-Free Strate­gies for Say­ing No on Real Simple.com.

Say YES when you mean YES, and NO when you mean NO. Start work­ing on your NO. It may be dif­fi­cult for now, but when you can final­ly say ‘no’ with­out feel­ing guilty, you know you’ve just stepped into the dimen­sion of liberation.

Top 5 reasons to say NO

Top pho­to from Pix­abay by Hyp­noart / 3603 images. Mid­dle pho­to from Pix­abay by Unsplash / 9130 images. Bot­tom pho­to from Pix­abay. All pho­tos with CC0 license.

Top 5 annoying things tourists do

In their excite­ment, some tourists do some annoy­ing things. Below is a list of my top 5 list of annoy­ing things tourists do that I hope you’d be mind­ful of the next time you trav­el. I must keep these in mind, too.

Man, Woman, Hat, Holding, Hands, Smile, Tourist, Couple

It makes me hap­py to see friends and fam­i­lies explor­ing Aus­tralia. It makes me extra proud and appre­cia­tive of where I live and the choic­es I’ve made in life. As much as it makes me hap­py to see the delight on their faces, I some­times stay away from them espe­cial­ly when I’m in a rush or wish to concentrate.

Here’s my list of top 5 annoy­ing things tourists do:

Top 1 annoying thing tourists do: Some tourists talk too loudly.

Some vis­i­tors seem to up their deci­bel lev­el when they’re trav­el­ling. They talk to peo­ple near them in a way that makes me think they’re all deaf. To be hon­est, it’s dou­bly grat­ing when they shout in their lan­guage. Mel­low the bel­low, guys.

Top 2 annoying thing tourists do: Some tourists take photos non-stop.
File:Selfie Stick in Rom (23950053839).jpg

Pho­to cred­its: Self­ie Stick in Rome by Mar­co Verch from Wiki­me­dia Commons

I under­stand that pho­tos are vital as these will be the rem­nants of your unfor­get­table hol­i­day. How­ev­er, you can make it even more mem­o­rable if you take the time to expe­ri­ence the place, to take in the glo­ri­ous view using your very own eyes. Pause and pull your eyes from behind your dig­i­tal cam­era or take a breather from tak­ing self­ies and look around you.

I will nev­er for­get the tourists we trav­elled with when we were cruis­ing on Mil­ford Sound in New Zealand. They were like bounc­ing bun­nies, eager to have their pho­to tak­en non-stop. They may have hun­dreds of pho­tos to look at now, but what I have is more spe­cial: vivid mem­o­ries of the water­falls, seals, whales and nature at its very best.

Top 3 annoying thing tourists do: Some tourists stop walking on a busy footpath without moving to one side or walk in one long horizontal line.

If you are in a bustling city like New York, Lon­don, Rome, Syd­ney or Mel­bourne, I under­stand that you can’t help but take pho­tos. Why wouldn’t you? When you would like to check the map you have, that’s alright. Please just make sure that you’re not in the way of peo­ple. Look behind you. Park your­self properly.

Top 4 annoying thing tourists do: Some tourists walk in groups at a turtle’s pace.

If you’re explor­ing a city in big groups, it’ll be chal­leng­ing to walk in one hor­i­zon­tal line. Walk in pairs or threes to avoid caus­ing traf­fic build-up. Remem­ber that your hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion is anoth­er person’s place of work.

Top 5 annoying thing tourists do: Some tourists ignore rules and aren’t courteous.

Some trav­ellers apply the rules (or the lack there­of) in their coun­try when in their hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions. Some don’t let peo­ple out of trains in their desire to secure their spot, turn into crazy dri­vers, spit in pub­lic, jump queues or obstruct traf­fic. If you have no time to read up on some eti­quette and traf­fic rules in the coun­try you’re trav­el­ling to, be obser­vant and read the signs around you.

If you don’t speak the lan­guage of locals or speak it but don’t pos­sess the same accent, you may have com­mu­ni­ca­tion issues. Please be cour­te­ous at all times and repeat your­self as many times as you have to. In addi­tion, learn basic words such as ‘thank you’, ‘please’, ‘sor­ry’ and ‘hel­lo’.

When you’re on hol­i­day over­seas, bear in mind that you are your country’s ambas­sador. Have heaps of fun, make as many spec­tac­u­lar mem­o­ries as you can, but be mind­ful of your actions. Please don’t do any of the top 5 annoy­ing things tourists do. You may be the only per­son the locals will meet from your coun­try. You wouldn’t want them to cre­ate a hor­ri­ble stereo­type of your coun­try­men, would you?

Caricature from Pixabay by GraphicMama-team, covered by the CC0 license.

Top 5 reasons why MKR really rules

Image result for my kitchen rules 2017 logo

Pho­to cred­its: Logo from MKR offi­cial website

As we near the grand finals of MKR, a list of the top 5 rea­sons why MKR real­ly rules is called for.

My Kitchen Rules (MKR), a cook­ing com­pe­ti­tion game show aired on Chan­nel 7, has been one of the top rat­ing pro­grams on Aus­tralian TV. It’s huge! There have been a few times that I’ve chanced upon peo­ple talk­ing about it or watch­ing an episode on their mobile phone.

The first time I saw it on TV, I thought it was over the top, and the cooks weren’t that great. I didn’t see the rea­son why a lot of peo­ple were hooked. This opin­ion was from sev­en years ago. Now, I’m a con­vert — I’m a fan, a fol­low­er, a cer­ti­fied MKR addict. Here are my top 5 rea­sons why I think MKR real­ly rules.

Top 1 Reason why MKR rules: On a good day, you get home cooked meals at their best.

So I was wrong! Watch­ing MKR gives me ideas on what to cook. So diverse, the meals rep­re­sent dif­fer­ent cul­tures on a plate. The dish­es expose the con­tes­tants and, of course, the view­ers to tra­di­tion­al meals from var­i­ous parts of the world and some­times out-of-this-world com­bi­na­tions that sur­pris­ing­ly work from the braver lot.

Top 2 Reason why MKR rules: The TV format makes for better viewing.

The con­cept is sim­ple with a con­tro­ver­sial twist: Invite guests (oth­er con­tes­tants) over and cook for them a 3-course meal. After din­ing, the guests rate the meals out of 10. Under­stand­ably, some com­peti­tors apply strat­e­gy and turn into fault-find­ing com­mit­tees in their attempt to pull down the host con­tes­tants’ score. The TV for­mat allows the right amount of deceit which can be trumped by the chef hosts because of the well-designed scor­ing system.

Top 3 Reason why MKR rules: The hosts are great, not to mention good-looking.

Not only are they experts, but the MKR hosts are also ooz­ing with charis­ma and always look dap­per. It’s easy to under­stand why the young and not-so-young female con­tes­tants swoon at the sight of Pete Evans and Manu Feildel. Their exper­tise shines as they give pro­fes­sion­al and artic­u­late com­ments for every dish. The judges in the sud­den death cook-off chal­lenges, Liz Egan, Guy Grossi, Karen Mar­ti­ni and Col­in Fass­nidge, are equal­ly fantastic.

Top 4 Reason why MKR rules: It’s inoffensive and easy to keep track of.

On days I need to do some work or want to blog, MKR has proven to be an excel­lent com­pan­ion. It’s very inof­fen­sive and doesn’t require much of my busy brain, so it can effec­tive­ly keep me awake and enter­tained with­out ruin­ing my concentration.

Top 5 Reason why MKR rules: There’s nothing else on TV that’s as compelling.

Admit­ted­ly and unfor­tu­nate­ly, Aus­tralian TV isn’t great. The list of pop­u­lar shows includes a hand­ful of soap operas, some news pro­grams (some of them dwell too much on the weath­er and non-broad­cast-wor­thy top­ics), sports and real­i­ty TV shows, which seem con­trived and painful to watch. There are also TV com­e­dy series from Amer­i­ca and some shows from the UK. That’s it! Because there’s noth­ing equal­ly excit­ing, it isn’t any won­der MKR is the view­ers’ top choice when­ev­er it’s on.

Pho­to cred­its: Ban­ner lift­ed from MKR Offi­cial website

Sad to say, MKR is about to come to bid us farewell. The 2017 Grand Finals is on Sun­day at 8 PM. It’ll be a bat­tle between fam­i­lies, Bris­ban­ites and great flavour com­bi­na­tions, but that’s where the sim­i­lar­i­ties end. Moth­er and daugh­ter team, Valerie and Court­ney, are expect­ed to once again pull out three fan­tas­tic recipes from Valerie’s dad’s book, while sis­ter and broth­er duo, Amy and Tyson, are pre­dict­ed to wow us with their con­tem­po­rary dish­es and excep­tion­al plat­ing skills.

No one call me from 8 PM onwards on Sun­day. I can only respond to emails and text mes­sages. I’m going to be busy ‘cook­ing’. 🙂

Top 5 British brands we must have in Australia

I’m not a big shop­per or food enthu­si­ast, but I’d like to have good options. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this is one thing that Aus­tralia lacks. Since it is a first world coun­try that con­tin­ues to have strong ties with the Unit­ed King­dom of Great Britain and North­ern Islands (phew!), I expect to have more British brands in Australia.

I’m not British but my short but sweet trav­el to the UK has left me long­ing for the fol­low­ing brands:

Top 1 brand: Waitrose

Whilst Aus­tralia has Coles and Wool­worths bat­tling head-to-head in the super­mar­ket chain are­na with cameo roles played by Aldi and IGA, the British are Image result for waitrose logolucky to have Wait­rose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Mor­risons. In my opin­ion, Wait­rose takes the cake (in a great way) for their deli­cious desserts, such as frozen sweets, tarts, pies and cheese­cakes. Walk­ing up and down the aisle was a delight­ful expe­ri­ence that I would like to have at my dis­pos­al in Australia.

Top 2 brand: Marks and Spencer

Image result for M&S logoThere were rumours of plans to open a Marks and Spencer store in Aus­tralia in 2016. The Tele­graph, unfor­tu­nate­ly, con­firmed in the same year that there’s no truth in the rumour. I won­der if it was just spread by those des­per­ate to get the retail giant in Oi! Oi! Land. Marks and Spencer in the UK, known for its super­mar­kets and depart­ment stores, sells rea­son­ably priced mid-mar­ket goods. I enjoyed shop­ping for food, espe­cial­ly meals and desserts, and clothes at M&S or as the British say ‘Marks and Sparks’. There is, how­ev­er, some sil­ver lin­ing as there is now a ded­i­cat­ed M&S web­site for the Aus­tralian mar­ket that guar­an­tees ease of deliv­ery and returns.

Top 3 brand: Zizzi Co.

Image result for zizzi co logoI’ve seen peo­ple in the UK queu­ing up despite the driz­zling rain in the win­ter just to have a Zizzi Co. Although it seemed like the Ital­ian piz­za chain was every­where, the qual­i­ty of the food is con­sis­tent­ly good. I espe­cial­ly love the cal­zone, piz­za with egg and spinach in the mid­dle and tiramisu. I’ve just had a look at their web­site and their spring spe­cial, melt­ed moz­zarel­la and pep­per pesto cro­quettes, is beck­on­ing me. I hope that one day I don’t need to endure a 24-hour flight, jet lag and sun-deprived days just to sat­is­fy my crav­ing for a Zizzi Co. meal.

Top 4 brand: White Stuff

Don’t be mis­led by the name. White Stuff doesn’t only sell white casu­al cloth­ing, shoes and acces­sories. In fact, there is no short­age of colour in their shops. Touch their tops, scarves, knitwear, and dress­es and straight away you’ll know that a lot of care has been put into the cre­ation of each item. While they sell men’s acces­sories and shoes, the bulk of their prod­ucts is tar­get­ed for women. Ladies can dress from head to toe with their wide White Stuffarray of out­door and indoor gar­ments. To this day, after over a year of pur­chase and many wash­es, I still trea­sure my knit­ted cardi­gan and dog­gy socks.

Top 5 brand: Schuh

Guess what they sell. Shoes! The shop boasts a won­der­ful col­lec­tion of shoes for every occa­sion and style pref­er­ence. Aside from pop­u­lar brands, Schuh also stocks up on its own label, my favourite Red or Dead, and oth­er less known but high-qual­i­ty shoes. Step into a Schuh shop and you’re schuh logoguar­an­teed to walk out with hap­py feet.

I can only dream that one day Aus­tralian investors would wake up to the real­i­ty that there is a mar­ket for pop­u­lar British brands. They can add me to the list of over a mil­lion Brits liv­ing in Aus­tralia who would be over the moon to have their favourites right at their doorstep.

If you there are oth­er British brands that you think the peo­ple in Aus­tralia deserve to have, let us know. Leave a com­ment, and hope­ful­ly our voic­es will be heard. 🙂

Top 5 reasons why I watch The Missing

The Miss­ing is one of the most com­pelling British TV dra­ma series. The mys­tery thriller has two sea­sons so far, both with Tchéky Karyo as its lead actor. Karyo plays the role of Julien Bap­tiste, the bril­liant soft-spo­ken French detec­tive who despite hav­ing a phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ty and health prob­lems man­ages to get to the bot­tom of com­pli­cat­ed crimes.

Although both series have received pos­i­tive reviews for the per­for­mance of the cast and sto­ry­telling, I must admit that these aren’t the aspects of  The Miss­ing that have drawn me to binge-watch.

 

The Missing Season 2 from BBC One

Pho­to cred­its: The Miss­ing Sea­son 2 from BBC One website

Reason#1: The plot is far-fetched… It’s cool!

Some­times, the plot seems too con­trived that I can’t help but be impressed at the vast imag­i­na­tion of the cre­ators and scriptwrit­ers. The plot is like an unsolv­able maths equa­tion that your teacher has an answer to but has no clear step-by-step solu­tion. Nev­er­the­less, I embrace the twists and turns and antic­i­pate the reward­ing ending.

Reason#2: I get free previews of picturesque places in Europe.

I’ve seen the non-touristy stun­ning parts of France, the UK, Switzer­land, Bel­gium and Ger­many cour­tesy of this TV dra­ma. The film­ing loca­tions were in charm­ing towns with an abun­dance of nature, which I would love to vis­it one day.

Reason#3: The title music keeps playing in my head.

Come Home’ is per­formed by Bel­gian alter­na­tive pop band, Ama­tors­ki. Its lyrics are sim­ple, and the music is haunt­ing. The open­ing cred­its song fol­lows me when­ev­er and wher­ev­er I am — on the tram, while work­ing, when I’m out with friends, while eat­ing, or hav­ing a show­er. Lis­ten to it and you’ll know what I mean.

Reason#4: Julien Baptiste’s lifestyle is enviable.

I would like to have Baptiste’s lifestyle. He’s such a sought-after detec­tive that he’s called upon to take on con­tro­ver­sial cas­es. In con­trast, when not pur­su­ing lost peo­ple and assur­ing crest­fall­en fam­i­lies, he lives in his beau­ti­ful house in France with his wife and busies him­self with beekeeping.

Reason#5: You’ll only find out ‘who did it’ in the last episode.

Both sea­sons 1 and 2 intro­duced char­ac­ters who had enough motive to take the miss­ing chil­dren, Oliv­er and Sophie. Each episode lured its view­ers into believ­ing a par­tic­u­lar char­ac­ter did it but quick­ly over­rode them with the next episode’s clues.

I delib­er­ate­ly did not include details about the two sea­sons of The Miss­ing as I hate to be a spoil­er. I, how­ev­er, hope that this post would make you want to check out this big BBC TV dra­ma hit and be hooked your­self. Hap­py viewing! 🙂

Top 5 mobile phone etiquette rules for commuters

Some peo­ple think that mobile phone eti­quette is over­rat­ed and out­dat­ed. I can’t think of any­thing else that’s so far from the truth. The population’s use of their mobile phones in pub­lic affects all of us.

One gad­get that’s overused and mis­used is the smart­phone. We sim­ply can’t live with­out it and it’s under­stand­able. Liv­ing up to its coined name, the smart­phone is unde­ni­ably smart. You can keep in touch with oth­ers, surf, read, shop, lis­ten to music and pod­casts, play games, take and check out pho­tos and videos, and so much more. It’s not sur­pris­ing that the smart­phone has made pub­lic trans­port trips more fun or at least more bearable.

Let’s blame the not-so-smart use of smart­phones. Since there are many things we can do on mobile phones, some think that they can use our theirs wher­ev­er and when­ev­er. They must’ve for­got­ten that cour­tesy and respect are equal­ly if not more impor­tant than technology.Man in Brown Hoodie Standing in Front of Train Railway

When on pub­lic trans­port and you see peo­ple glar­ing at you or shak­ing their head in dis­be­lief, chances are you’re dis­obey­ing at least one unspo­ken mobile phone eti­quette rule.

 

Top 1 Mobile Phone Etiquette Rule: Don’t talk too loudly on the phone.

If you have to talk to some­one on the phone while you’re on a bus, tram, fer­ry or train, use your qui­et voice. Peo­ple aren’t inter­est­ed in what you did last night, your issues with your house­mate or what you’re cook­ing for din­ner. Show con­sid­er­a­tion to peo­ple who would like to catch some Zs, rest, study, work, read, write, think, imag­ine, or lis­ten to music or podcasts.

Top 2 Mobile Phone Etiquette Rule: Don’t play music for everyone on board.

Our music pref­er­ences are dif­fer­ent so please don’t play disc jock­ey on any pub­lic trans­port. Put your head­phones or ear­phones on if you want to lis­ten to music or pod­casts, and let the rest of the pas­sen­gers enjoy theirs and more impor­tant­ly their peace and quiet.

Top 3 Mobile Phone Etiquette Rule: Look up to check if there’s someone in need.

Some­times, we get too engrossed in our smart­phones that we escape real­i­ty. Look up from time to time to make sure no one needs your seat or needs you to scoot over in order to make some room.

Top 4 Mobile Phone Etiquette Rule: Don’t play your game with too much zest.

The trans­port you’re on is not an Inter­net café, and the per­son sit­ting next to you isn’t a fel­low gamer. Avoid get­ting over­ly excit­ed as you might end up mak­ing nois­es in reac­tion to your game performance.

Top 5 Mobile Phone Etiquette Rule: Eyes on your phone only.

A fel­low pas­sen­ger may be look­ing at some­thing inter­est­ing on his or her phone, but that doesn’t give you the green light to check it out for your­self or worse give unso­licit­ed com­ments. If you find your­self peek­ing, avert your eyes. Think of how you’d feel if there were some stranger check­ing out your screen.

A recent inci­dent on the train has made me believe that there is still hope for our smart­phone-addict­ed gen­er­a­tion. A man whis­pered to the per­son he was talk­ing to on the oth­er line to call him back because he was on the train. I watched that scene unfold with a huge smile on my face.

Mobile phone eti­quette rules aren’t imprac­ti­cal and cer­tain­ly not dif­fi­cult to fol­low. In fact, they’re so sim­ple, so I can’t help but hope that with suf­fi­cient aware­ness more peo­ple will become more respon­si­ble and smarter smart­phone users.

PHOTO FROM PEXELS BY CLEM ONOJEGHUO.

Top 5 ways to deal with an odd character on a tram

It’s 1:41 AM. I’ve just got back from watch­ing the Best of the Edin­burgh Fest com­e­dy show, a drink at a Mel­bourne CBD pub and two din­ners. Yes, that wasn’t a typo — I had 2 din­ners, thanks to my hun­gry hip­po friends.

On my way home, I encoun­tered a strange man on the tram. He had his ear­phones on and ran­dom­ly sang parts of a num­ber of songs loud­ly. He also quite open­ly com­plained about the con­stant beep­ing of the tram dri­ver. At 1 AM, shar­ing a tram with a few row­dy peo­ple is quite com­mon. These peo­ple, how­ev­er, strike at any time of the day, so the ‘Cin­derel­la Strat­e­gy’ or ‘the home before mid­night’ tac­tic does not guar­an­tee that you won’t come across these inter­est­ing indi­vid­u­als. The best way is to know what to do if you’re in that situation.

Tip#1: Do noth­ing. Some­times, it’s best to ignore the odd one. Dows­ing cold water on a fire might aggra­vate the sit­u­a­tion, so it’s best not to look or watch and just con­tin­ue doing your thing.

Tip#2: Pre­tend you’re on your phone. If you’re pre­oc­cu­pied, you have an excuse not to react while the whole encounter takes place. Sim­ply put your phone to your ear and start talk­ing. Remem­ber to pause as real con­ver­sa­tions are two-way. If you can actu­al­ly phone some­one and have a con­ver­sa­tion with them, go for it. Try not to men­tion any­thing about the per­son who’s mak­ing you uncom­fort­able as this might make mat­ters worse.

Tip#3: Move next to a kind and prefer­ably burly man. If it gets unbear­able, change seats or just stand if there isn’t an avail­able one. It’s cru­cial to stand next to a kind-look­ing and mus­cu­lar man just in case the odd per­son goes a bit more mental.

Tip#4: Move clos­er to the dri­ver. On an emp­ty tram, bus or train, relo­cate your­self near the dri­ver. Dri­vers have a mag­i­cal emer­gency but­ton at their dis­pos­al if the going gets tough. In sit­u­a­tions like this, a con­cerned and mus­cu­lar dri­ver is heaven-sent.

Tip#5: Pre­tend you can’t speak or under­stand Eng­lish. Obvi­ous­ly, this depends on where you are in the world. Some strange peo­ple prey on those they can get a reac­tion from. Say­ing “No Eng­lish, no Eng­lish” if they start engag­ing you in con­ver­sa­tion might just do the trick.

If fol­low­ing one tip isn’t enough to solve the prob­lem, con­sid­er work­ing through the list. If all else fails, do not get off the mov­ing vehi­cle because you might end up hav­ing to deal with this stranger on your own. If you’re in Aus­tralia, call 000.

My Top 5 teddy photos

Ted­dies or stuffed toys can be very pho­to­genic and make real­ly good sub­jects because they can sit still for a looooong peri­od of time. They’re fun to trav­el with and always hap­py to strike as many pos­es as you want.

Check out my top 5 pho­tos of ted­dies in dif­fer­ent locations:

A bull in the bucket

No snow­man, just a cow

Just hang­ing around

The curly cow

Thirsty lions

If you have your own top 5 ted­dy pho­tos, we’d love to see them. Share them with us.

Top 5 ways to stay warm in winter

Jon Snow wasn’t lying when he said win­ter was com­ing. Indeed, it is for peo­ple in Aus­tralia and the rest of the South­ern Hemi­sphere. Inter­est­ing­ly, I live in Mel­bourne and weath­er win­ter pat­terns here begin to unfold as ear­ly as autumn.

Whilst some peo­ple embrace this drop in tem­per­a­ture as heav­en­ly, I, on the oth­er hand, dread it. Any­thing below 15 degrees Cel­sius is too cold and needs my ample attention.

Many peo­ple resort to elec­tric blan­kets and heaters in the win­ter. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, exces­sive use of these result in high­er pow­er bills. You can avoid break­ing the bank by try­ing out these test­ed ways to keep your­self warm.

Tip#1: Cov­er every inch of your­self. Expose noth­ing. I’m seri­ous. Wear bean­ies, scarves, gloves and thick socks. Wear lay­ers of warm cloth­ing. Put on ther­mals, tights and a jumper or jack­et and a coat if nec­es­sary. Wear snug cloth­ing to keep the cold from inter­act­ing with your skin. Wear boots. Also, remem­ber that your tol­er­ance for the cold is dif­fer­ent from the peo­ple around you, so nev­er copy the num­ber of lay­ers they’re wear­ing. Only you know your def­i­n­i­tion of comfortable.

Tip#2: Wrap your hands around some­thing warm. It can be a mug of hot cof­fee or tea or just warm water in an alu­minum flask. It’s guar­an­teed to keep you warm inside and out. You can also get a pock­et hand warmer.

Tip#3: Try the sand­wich in bed approach. If you don’t want your pow­er bills to go through the roof, try to sandwich your­self. Put a fleece blan­ket over your bed­sheet, and lie down on it. Put a blan­ket bun­dle, com­posed of a duck or goose down doona (duvet if you live in the north­ern part of the world and com­forter if in the US) topped with anoth­er fleece blan­ket, over you. If this isn’t enough, hug a hot water bot­tle or bet­ter yet, hug a pet or cud­dle up to anoth­er person.

Tip#4: Iron your clothes. Iron­ing in the win­ter pro­vides you smarter-look­ing gar­ments even when unnec­es­sary and gives you that much-need­ed warmth before fac­ing the bit­ter cold.

Tip#5: Keep the doors closed. Don’t let the out­side inside! If you are lucky enough to live in a house or an apart­ment with many rooms and doors, make sure to close the doors to keep the draft from sneak­i­ly enter­ing your warm abode. Take the edge off the room by turn­ing on the heater for a few min­utes and you can live off that for the rest of the night.

Hope these ideas can help keep you com­fy and toast dur­ing the win­ter. Have a love­ly winter! 🙂

Top 5 simple reasons to smile

Some peo­ple asso­ciate hap­pi­ness or at least a rea­son to smile to suc­cess, pow­er or wealth. Although these make me hap­py, there are heaps of oth­er things that bring a smile to my face and joy to my heart.

The list I’ve got is so sim­ple that some peo­ple might raise an eye­brow or even think I’ve lost the plot. Hope­ful­ly, after read­ing my expla­na­tions, you too, might start see­ing it from my cheery point of view.

Top 1 Simple Reason to Smile: Walking behind elderly couples
  1. Most films only depict the love between young adults. As much as it some­times makes me gid­dy, I pre­fer the real-life elder­ly love. When I see them walk­ing hand in hand or show­ing any form of care to each oth­er, I can’t help but get teary as I know I’m look­ing at love bat­tered by chal­lenges yet stand­ing despite it all.
Top 2 Simple Reason to Smile: Tram, train or bus drivers beeping as they pass each other

I don’t know why, but I’ve always thought that the moment they share as they beep and some­times raise their hand is quite spe­cial. Unlike many of us, dri­vers don’t get to inter­act with their col­leagues on a reg­u­lar basis. They prob­a­bly get a bit lone­ly oper­at­ing a machine for hours with­out com­mu­ni­cat­ing with anyone.

Top 3 Sim­ple Rea­son to Smile: Dou­ble egg yolks Top 5 reasons to smile

It’s just a treat to get them. Its rar­i­ty makes me feel priv­i­leged to unrav­el these yolks. More­over, they’re just great for scram­bled and fried eggs. You get extra yel­low scram­bled eggs and a dou­ble-eyed egg which pro­vides a good start for your Elmo eggs.

Top 4 Simple Reason to Smile: The smell of pages of a new book

I get excit­ed when I see a new book and even more excit­ed when the pages smell of new­ness. Try smelling it next time!

Top 5 Simple Reason to Smile: An accidental invention of a new recipe

How many times have you been des­per­ate to cre­ate a dish using ingre­di­ents that didn’t seem to make sense when mixed togeth­er? It’s quite often that I’m stuck with odds and ends that are about to go off in a few days. Imag­ine how I felt when I was able to cre­ate a Mas­terchef qual­i­ty dish out of them. It doesn’t usu­al­ly hap­pen but the few times it did, I was over the moon.

List­ing sim­ple rea­sons to smile can be ther­a­peu­tic espe­cial­ly on a grim day. I find it nice to share my sources of joy to make peo­ple realise that we live in a beau­ti­ful world pep­pered with good­ness. Smile! 🙂

Is there any­thing that makes you smile? I look for­ward to read­ing your own list in our reply box. Thanks!