Friday, November 27, 2009

5 Days of 5 Thanksies: Day Five

From the time I was a rebellious teenager, I'd been planning my escape from Kansas. I was sure that there were much more interesting places to live. I was NOT going to spend my life in somewhere as boring as Kansas.

Then, I did move away. I moved probably about as far away as I could physically go. I moved to the opposite side of the globe.

For that I'm extremely thankful...but not in the way you'd think.

You see, it took me moving this far away to realize that that boring little place called Kansas is exactly where I belong. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled to spit that I got to have this amazing experience. I'm just a Kansas girl at heart. It's were I'm supposed to be.

So my last list of thanksies are the things that make me thankful to be from the State of Kansas.

5 Thanksies of a Kansas Gal

5. Barbeque. Kansas City is the one of the BBQ capitals of the world and I had no idea how much I loved it and took it for granted until I came over here.

You just can't beat the combination of smokiness, caramelized sugar and tang that the Kansas City people do. It's unmatchable.


4. Going to the lake.

This is Aaron's gorgeous sister Jessica and I on their boat at Lake Perry. Our family absolutely loves trips to the lake. Usually, we just go to Lake Perry, but occasionally some of us may make the trip down to the Ozarks for a long weekend. It doesn't matter which lake it is. There just needs to be water and some brews in a cooler. It's the best way to spend a hot day in July.


3. Being a Jayhawk.
Long before I attended the University of Kansas, I was a jayhawk. My dad taught me the Rock Chalk Chant as soon as I could speak. During the Big Twelve tournament every year, he'd let us skip school one day and go watch the team practice at Kemper Arena. He took me to my first basketball game in Allen Fieldhouse when I was a junior in high school. When most girls were crushing on Jonathan Taylor Thomas, I was crushing on Ryan Robertson, Scott Pollard and Jacque Vaughn. I was a jayhawk long before I was officially a jayhawk. It's a great university, an awesome fan community and glorious basketball team. (We just won't talk about the football team this year.)

2. Wide open spaces.

This is the view from my in-laws' back door. I love it. In the fall, the trees are beyond pretty. Just a few years ago, I hated the huge expanses of nothingness. To me, it just meant that I was missing out on all of the things that people in big cities enjoyed. Now that I've lived in one of the most densely populated countries in the world, the nothingness seems very appealing.

1. These people.

This is my family. Of course, this photo is a bit outdated. I think that's my 5th grade self standing in the back there. I love these people. We're also super close. Since this picture was taken, we've added five spouses, five babies and have two more on the way. They are the main strings pulling at my heart to come back to Kansas. I'm a very lucky girl to have them. I'm also a very lucky girl to be a part of another wonderful family that belongs to my husband. If I had a picture of all of them together, it'd be on here too. I miss them all like crazy.


So after this whole Singapore thing is said and done, I'm going back to Kansas.

I'll bring Aaron with me too. :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

5 Days of 5 Thanksies: Day Four

It's finally Thanksgiving day. I've been hoarding food for this day for weeks in fear that certain ingredients will not be stocked for today.

So now we can eat, eat some more and then take a nap.

For Aaron and me, this was a busy day. We cooked from 8am until 2pm. Our kitchen was scorching hot by the time we finished (Most Singaporean kitchens do not have air conditioning, ours is one of those).

So since we were missing about 60 of our relatives, our thanksie list for today is going to focus on what we were did have with us today.

5 Thanksies for Thanksgiving Day in Singapore

5. Pumpkin pie.
I could only find the large, double-sized cans of pumpkin puree here in Singapore so I had to make two pies. It's ok. That just means two times the fun. BUT, the frozen pie crusts I found were way too small for the recipe. Therefore I overfilled the pies to keep from having to throw out a whole pie's worth of filling. (That's why they look a lil' burnt and strange.) Oh well, Thanksgiving cannot be Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie and Cool Whip.

4. Turkey.
We were lucky to get turkeys at the Navy Exchange for fairly cheap. Out in town they're selling 10 pound turkeys for S$43. Yeah, that's so not happening at our house. We don't pay that much for turkey. However, if there were a turkey famine on Thanksgiving, I might cave. My absolute favorite thing about the actual holiday is having the entire house smell like roasted turkey. It reminds me of when I was a kid and waking up to the smell of turkey on Thanksgiving. I'd always hurry downstairs and hover over the stove until it was time to carve it. My dad would let me "assist" him in this carving process, which really meant that I could stand there and he'd give me small pieces of turkey when my mom wasn't looking. He's a good dad like that.

3. Homemade dinner rolls.
After finding out that the only dinner rolls they had in the grocery store near our house were either vanilla flavored or filled with beans and corn, I took matters into my own hands. The Pioneer Woman has a wonderful recipe for dinner rolls that looked easy enough for me to do alone. It took me a bit to do, but it was so worth it. They are delicious. Plus, homemade dinner rolls also make your house smell amazing. I may make these periodically just to make my house smell like that again.

2. Hungarian wine.
My big brother and his adorable wife from Hungary gave us this bottle of wine the last time we went home for a visit. They got it when they visited her parents two summers ago. We've been saving it for a special occasion and picked today as the day. It was deliciously sweet and the perfect treat for our Thanksgiving lunch/dinner. Thank you Mat and Imola!

1. This guy right here.
My biggest thanksie of the day is my husband Aaron. He's the funniest, sweetest, most interesting person I know. He's my favorite person in the whole world and the one that I'm thrilled to pieces to be attached to for the rest of my Thanksgivings. I thank God everyday that he's my husband. I'm such a lucky girl.


Happy Thankgiving to all of the Americans out there. I hope your Turkey Day was as delicious and great as ours was.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

5 Days of 5 Thanksies: Day Three

Until I lived thousands of miles away from home, I never put much thought into the products and services that I use on a daily basis. Most of the time, I didn't ever do or use the same thing for longer than a month. I was constantly trying out new things and checking out the latest and greatest of everything that I could afford.

Fast forward to May 2008.

And take away everything that I've ever used to get ready in the morning, everything that I've ever watched on TV and my dear sweet junker of a car.

Add in a heavy dose of heat and humidity, a TV that plays shows that are at least three years old, and a transportation system consisting of walking, riding, standing, squeezing and shoving.

That's the recipe of a life that I was faced with when I stepped off the plane.

It was way more difficult than I anticipated. I mean really, how often do you think about things like the kind of hairspray that you use? Or the kind of makeup that you wear? Or the fact that you won't be able to find any of it again in a store for 2-3 years?

I sure didn't before. But I sure do now.

My thanksie list today consists of all of the products that I cannot live without in Singapore. And I mean CANNOT live without.

5 Thanksies for 5 Amazing Products for Expats in SG

5. Bags. I'm talking totes, reusable grocery bags, duffel bags, laundry bags, shopping bags, canvas bags and backpacks. Any kind of bag that is made is on my list. I've never appreciated a bag so much in my life. As a resident in Singapore without a car, a bag is a must. I don't have that luxurious hunk of metal and plastic to house all of my stuff, like I did back in the States. I have to carry everything I need for that entire day with me all the way to where ever I'm going. After a while, I even converted my laptop bag into an extra large purse just to be able to carry everything I need. It's now falling apart from over usage. I need a new, bigger and better bag. Seriously, I'm obsessed with bags now. I couldn't have cared less as a Kansas resident.

4. Too Faced Shadow Insurance. Singapore melts many things. It melts ice cream on the walk home from the store. It melts a chocolate bar left in a laptop bag at a picnic. It also melts makeup in a way that I was not prepared for, especially eye makeup. You see, I've always had very dry skin and never even understood what people were talking about when they said that their makeup kept "sliding" off. I'd never experienced such a phenomenon. Well Singapore sure taught me that lesson. Makeup simply will not stay on my face here for an entire day. The humidity and heat slick it right off before noon. That is until I found Shadow Insurance at Sephora. I just put a dap of this stuff on my eyelids before I put on eyeshadow and it's like magic. The makeup will NOT move until I take it off with soap and water. It even stays on overnight if I forget to wash my face. It's amazing and worth every penny.

3. PHYTO's Phytodefrisant Hair Relaxing Balm. If the humidity here can do such mean things to makeup, you can't only imagine what it will do to hair. Phytodefrisant is like an imaginary shield to this steamy climate. Without it, my hair turns into a giant red afro that resembles a clown wig. With it, my 'do lays almost as if the humidity did not exist. Almost. This stuff is awesome and the best weapon against the weather that I've found. Occasionally I can find it in John Little, a Singaporean department store, but more often than not, I have to order it from Amazon.com or Drugstore.com.

2. Slingbox. A Slingbox is a magical little box that enables you to connect to your home's cable connection from anywhere in the world via an internet connection. In simpler terms, it means that we can watch television being broadcast from Kansas all the way in Singapore on our computer. When you get a Slingbox, you can also watch your cable TV from your phone, laptop or international location as long as you are connected to the internet and have the proper software installed. I heart it a lot. Singaporean TV isn't horrible, but it isn't good either. They show a lot of American shows, but they are usually a few years old. So when we need a good TV fix, we just hop on the computer and catch up on our favorite shows as they're being aired from Kansas.

1. Skype. Hands down, best invention ever for people who travel or live abroad. With Skype, we can make calls to anywhere in the world with our computer. We can call landline phones, cell phones and other computers that have Skype installed on them. We've even set up our account with a local Kansas City phone number so that people can call our computer from any phone without being charged a long distance rate. AND! If we ever miss a call, we've set it up to transfer to our Singapore home phone so that we can take a message. It's been a real life saver. Before we discovered Skype, Aaron and I were spending about $50-60 a month in calling cards. It sucked. Now, we only pay $5 a month and that's solely just to have our local number. The Skype service alone is free. It's made living so far away a lot easier.

Without all of these products, living in Singapore would be ten times harder for the kids from Kansas.

Oh and should probably add one more thanksie: I'm thankful to Amazon.com and Drugstore.com for always shipping us our goodies.

(P.S. As I've said before, no one pays me to say nice things about their company. I say them if the company is deserving. So everything above is my real, honest, true to goodness opinion.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

5 Days of 5 Thanksies: Day Two

Ok. Day two of the Thanksies kinda goes along with the Singapore theme of day one. I can't help that everything overlaps. It's just how my life works sometimes.

Today I'd like to give thanks for the lovely internet websites that make my world keep turning in the correct direction as I live on the opposite side that I'm used to. These sites are what keep me in tune to my American peeps back home.

Here we go:

5 Thanksies for These Amazing Websites

5. ThePioneerWoman.com Seriously, I love this site. It's written by a woman named Ree Drummond who lives in Oklahoma and is one of the most interesting bloggers ever. She covers a broad range of topics such as photography, recipes, ranch life, Christmas gift ideas and homeschooling. It is because of this woman that my husband started to actually like the food that I cooked. Her recipes are phenomenal. It's also so refreshing to see pictures on her site that look just like home. She photographs cows, horses and the midwestern landscape. She even does tutorials on photography and photoshop. It's just a great, fun site. I'm so sad I wasn't home when she came to Kansas City last week on her cookbook tour. I'd love to meet her.

4. Twitter.com It took me a while to get into this one. Mostly I blame my stupid phone which is not internet compatible. Furthermore, for me to connect, I must SMS Great Britain...which doesn't sound like such a great idea for my bill. They already charge me for stupid things I don't want. However, Twitter is a great source of quick information and up-to-the-minute news. Newspapers, magazines, celebrities, news channels and random "tweeters" are on and constantly posting updates. I hear it's also a great way to find out about discounts and specials at stores and restaurants. I wouldn't know though. I live in Singapore. I'm lucky if places here even have a website. A Twitter account would be asking too much.

3. Digg.com Digg is a website in which people sign in and "digg" certain online articles, videos, photos and such. When someone "diggs" something, it keeps a tally. I then go onto Digg's site and check the most "digged" items in the last 24 hrs. It will then bring up the most popular items in the last day. It's the best way to find out about viral videos, interesting news items and just what people are talking about everywhere. I hate feeling left out and Digg helps with my issues.

2. Google.com Really though, how did the world function without Google? I Google at least ten things a day. It's so second nature to me that I have a Google search bar at the top of my browser. As an American girl in Singapore I Google the same questions a lot, such as: "How many milliliters are in a cup?", "What is 350 degrees F in celsius?" and "How many pounds are in 500 grams?". Google has saved our dinner many an evening. It's really an expat's best friend.

1. Facebook.com I literally could not function if Facebook crashed tomorrow. It. Is. My. Lifeline. Because of the time difference and limitations in people's Skype abilities, it is often times the only way I get to hear from my sister, my best friend and all of the important people back home. It's how we get to see how big my brand new niece is getting, how much fun our nephew's 4th birthday party was and how cute my BFF's new hairdo is. These are people that I used to see on a weekly basis. Now we don't see them for six months at a time. It has become an absolute necessity. And now that my two big brothers have both joined, I'm beyond pumped.

So to conclude this list, I'd like to extend a thanks to the internet people out there who create, maintain and put together these wonderful sites. They have made my life a lot easier and happier.

For that, I am very thankful.

Monday, November 23, 2009

5 Days of 5 "Thanksies": Day One

In my family, on Thanksgiving, we all gather around my uncle and aunt's kitchen and one by one say what we're most thankful for. My Grandma Jackie started the tradition and while I hated being put on the spot the first few times, I grew to love this moment every year. I feel it's important to cast aside all of your stresses, problems and worries and just be thankful and enjoy the day.

So since I can't be there with my family again this year, I'm going to make up for lost "thanksies" -yeah, that's my word.

I'm going to do a 5 Days of 5 Thanksies. Each day I'm going to list five things I'm thankful for. Why five? It just sounded like a good round number.

Today, I'd like to address our life in Asia. I don't hide the fact that I'm crazy homesick and I long for the day that I can eat a Cheesy Gordita Crunch again, but I think I dwell on it far too much. To force myself out of this mode, I need to remember the many positive things I've gained from living on this small island.

Thus, my first list is dedicated to Singapore.

5 Thanksies as a Singaporean Expat

5. Mastering the art of driving on the wrong side of the road...and car. Not many people can claim that they've driven on both sides of the automobile and I think it's an awesome random fact for future ice breaking opportunities. (i.e. "Please tell us your name and one random fact about yourself", "Hi, I'm Megan and I've driven on both sides of the road and car.")

4. An appreciation for decent rice. I'm sorry to tell you this, but Uncle Ben doesn't know squat about rice. In fact, most American rice is just plain gross. It has no taste, is hard and is beyond boring. In Asia, rice is a very important part of every meal and they do not mess around with the quality. They appreciate the flavor (and yes, good rice has that), texture and grain size. There's a type for every dish and several different kinds. This was an excellent lesson to learn. We will never buy Uncle Ben again...unless it's an emergency.

3. The introduction to Indian food. Before we came to Asia, Aaron and I were terrified to touch Indian food with a ten foot pole. We both saw the scene from Along Came Polly and we never wanted to have an incident such as that. I'm so glad we got brave over here. Indian food is now my second favorite food (right behind Mexican). I now constantly crave prata, naan, briyani, mutton curry and just about every other Indian item that's ever been put on my plate. It's delicious.

2. Exposure to such a wide array of cultures, people and traditions. We have both learned more in the last couple years than we ever learned in our many years of schooling. From weird things such as using urine as an eye healing remedy to surprising things such as finding a red envelope full of money in the mailbox at Chinese New Year, we've seen and heard a lot. We've been introduced to things that they don't write about in travel books and we'll come back with an education that we'll never even be able to fully describe to our friends and family. For the record, we did NOT adopt the urine remedy.

1. Learning to use chopsticks. As sad as that is, it is my favorite lesson of living in Asia. Aaron took me to a sushi restaurant in Lawrence, Kansas for our second or third date and the whole chopstick thing was a disaster. I could not figure the friggin' things out. I kept dropping the sushi or splitting it in half. It was messy and ugly. I had to end up using a fork...which is really embarrassing for me to admit. So yeah, I learned this lesson the first month we were here. In a lot of hawkers, a fork and spoon are not an option. You either learn to use the choppers or you starve. I'm now a black belt chopstick user. I can even eat rice with them. Booyah.

You're jealous, I know.

Except for you Singaporeans. You just think I'm weird.

Once again, I'm ok with that.

So that's today's list. Now I'm off to make the first dish of our solo Thanksgiving feast.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Great Christmas gift idea and they ship internationally!

In case you haven't heard, Christmas is coming. I'm sure you've all been reminded by the endless string of commercials that seem to start earlier and earlier each year.

If you're anything like me, you need all the ideas and help you can get. Also, if you're anything like me, you need all the ideas and help you can get as early as you can get them.

For those of us with family on the other side of the world, Christmas shopping happens ridiculously early. We started planning and budgeting in August.

We learned our lesson on that one. When living abroad, DO NOT wait until December to plan and purchase gifts for half a dozen nieces and nephews, two sets of parents, two grandmas, four gift exchange recipients and various friends.

It is not a fun way to spend Christmas Eve. "Have you gotten your box yet? It should be there by now! No? Look again!"

It's also not fun to be confined to your house for a month while you wait for a payday that won't go to bills and gifts.

So yeah. We're planners now.

Here's a great gift idea for those of you who are also planners, whether reformed or by your natural neuroses.


It's a photo book that I created and purchased from Shutterfly.com.

This one is the 8 x 8 photo book. I think they usually go for about $19.99, but they were 20% off the last time I looked.


They're so simple to make. Really. It's completely computer idiot proof.

You simply upload the photos you want to use (just like you do on Facebook). Then you pick a design for the cover, spine, back cover and the pages in between. You even get to choose how many pictures you want on each page and the layout.

I made this one a few months ago when they were having a big discount just to test it out. That's the thing I love about Shutterfly. They always have discounts going on. I've never paid for an item and the shipping. I've either gotten the item free and paid the shipping or paid for the item and gotten the shipping free.
I just love them.
So much so that I get my Christmas cards from there too.
Oh yeah....back to Christmas. I just thought that these books would be a wonderful gift for a friend or a loved one. If I lived closer to my family and could take more pictures of them with my own camera, they'd all probably have one of these.
I just think they're friggin' cute and a very unique way to preserve and display memories.

(By the way, I am in no way affiliated with Shutterfly. They did not pay me to write these things, nor did they bribe me with free stuff for doing so. Although, it'd be pretty sweet if they did. I just genuinely love them.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mmmmm....Toasty

I'm probably going to get hate mail for this, but I don't care.

We went to Quiznos on Wednesday. Yes, I'm aware that it has nothing to do with my Asian experience.


And I enjoyed every bite of it anyway.

This Quiznos is at the new-ish Orchard Central mall.

It's right next to the Carhatt store. How's that for a slap of home? It was like a shot of tequila to my homesickness.

The menu is a tad shortened, but we've grown accustomed to American things being scaled down in Asia.

Everything looked very much the same as the shops in the States, right down to the pepper bar.
Aaron got the Zesty Grill Steak. I got the Smokey Chili Turkey --only because they don't carry the Chicken Carbonara. Otherwise, I'd never cheat on the Carbonara (hold the mushrooms).
It was honestly the best sub sandwich I've had in Singapore. I ate every single crumb.
I'm not kidding. I scooped every bread flake up with my fork. It looked like I hadn't eaten in days by the way I was hoovering this thing down.
Best part of all? The pepper bar had banana peppers. Singapore is experiencing a serious banana pepper drought. I think I ate 15 on my sandwich alone just to compensate for the lack in my diet.
Then just to top off our Singapore American experience, we picked up our own trash and threw it away.
Just like they do in the States.

Ka--chow!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Christmas Season, Singapore style

video

When Sandra, the Singaporean coworker of mine, sees weather like this, she excitedly goes to the window and says,

"Yay! I love this Christmas weather!"

And when she does that, I am always sitting in a state of confusion.

"Uh, no it isn't. That's rain, Sandra. Christmas weather is snow and cold."

Then she reminds me that she's from Singapore and the rainy season marks the beginning of the holiday season and that I'm from Kansas and don't know anything.

Ok. She's nicer than that, but I do forget that I was raised in a Christmas snow globe of a world sometimes.

Kansas Christmases are white and freezing and make me want my Grandma's hot cranberry tea, a cozy blanket and a fire in the fireplace.

They do not make me want my umbrella and a dry pair of pants.

I'm obviously still a work in progress. Singapore, I'll get it one of these days.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Thanksgiving Song

Because we just bought our last Thanksgiving turkey abroad...

Because I love Adam Sandler...

Because everyone here skips Thanksgiving and goes right into Christmas...

Because I really needed some American festivities.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Keep your shoes on!

In Asia, it is the custom for every person entering your home to first remove their shoes before walking through the door.

Simple, right? Ha, no. Aaron and I have a ridiculously hard time adhering to this one.

Yet everyone does it. EVERYONE.

The guys that moved our stuff into our apartment even removed their shoes. They would get a box from the truck, carry it up several flights of stairs, remove their shoes at our front door and then carry it to the desired room. Then on the way out the door, they'd put their shoes back on to grab the next box. It was a maddening thing to watch. How much of their day is wasted messing with their shoes? So after watching them fumble to remove their shoes while holding our heavy bedroom mattress, I finally had to stop the madness.

"Please just leave them on! I'll have to clean the floor anyway! It's fine, I swear."

They were very reluctant, but finally agreed that it'd be easier.

Yet, every maintenance guy that comes to our place refuses to keep his on. It's just not something they are equipped to do.

So fine. We got used to that part. And we got used to having to remove our shoes when we went to Simon's house or any other local's house.

What we do still have trouble with is our American friends.

It seems that every single American person we know in Singapore immediately picked up this Asian custom as soon as they stepped off the plane.

I cannot remember going to a single person's house in America where they made me take off my shoes before I was allowed to come inside. (That is, unless it was raining, snowing or muddy outside, but that's common decency.)

Seriously though. Why the flip as soon as we enter Asia? Are there shoe police somewhere that I don't know about? When did all of my American friends adopt this?

I have a real problem being barefoot in a stranger's house. It makes me feel very vulnerable. I even feel hesitant to remove my shoes when I'm getting a pedicure. I'm always thinking:

"Is their floor clean?"

"When was the last time they cleaned it?"

"Does anyone in this house have athlete's foot?" (call me crazy, but I got this once as a child from a gymnastics studio and that is a road that I NEVER want to travel down again)

"Am I going to step on anything?"

"Is my pedicure chipping?"

I know I have issues. I just don't feel comfortable being barefoot in someone's house that I don't know that well.

Aaron has issues with it as well, only his worries a different. He says that he's always thinking:

"Are my toenails dirty?"

"Do my socks match?"

"Are there holes in my socks?"

"Do my feet stink?"

Yeah, we're both a bunch of anxiety-ridden weirdos, I guess. Sometimes we just keep them on to see if we can avoid the whole thing and then feel like goobers when people send us back out to remove our shoes.

Not fun.

I've never told anyone this, but each time I remove my shoes, the scene from SATC always plays through my head.

video

I too, always want to exclaim "But this is an outfit!"

But really, if my shoes ever get stolen, I will never take them off again.

Not that I have any worthy of stealing, but still.

Monday, November 2, 2009

An Incredible Halloween

Thanks to my super sweet sister, we were the Incredibles this past Halloween. Of course, we came without a Dash, Violet and Jack Jack (like my sis' family last year), but we were Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl: The Early Years.

My sis mailed us the costumes for our superhero themed party and we had so much fun with them, that we just wore them to everything, all weekend.

Don't worry Sis, they're still in one piece and unscathed. :)

One thing that surprised us though was just how many people asked to have their pictures taken with us. I'm not even talking about at the parties we went to, we kept getting stopped by Singaporeans walking along the street. We probably got stopped by at least eight random strangers to have our pictures taken as we were walking to our numerous destinations.

The conversations usually went as such:

"Uh sah, can I take a photo?"

"Sure. Why not."

"Oh great. Mr. and Mrs. Superman."

"Uh no, but sure. Whatever you wanna call us."


Several people said this. Now, I know The Incredibles is an American movie, but come onnnnn people. I know Singapore has at least been exposed to it.

For the locals that were this clueless, I'm sure they didn't even know we were celebrating Halloween. To them we're just the freaks walking around like super heroes.

I'm alright with that.