In between long periods of anxious, impatient waits and sometimes unbearable ennui, I have mastered ways to calm my listless mind.

It’s really simple, really…Brew a cuppa tea, stare out the window & have your notebook ready!

I do this a lot, but I feel Sundays are always the best time. Some people give thanks on Sunday – although we really should be giving thanks every day, if we’re giving any at all. But I like to call this my musings. Just a little corner for my mind to run free with gratitude for the week that just passed and gearing up for the week ahead.

I hope you will enjoy this little snippets of my week that I am grateful for.


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double rainbow

I’m sure a number of you caught this on Monday, but how lucky was I? I was just minding my own tired business when I suddenly looked out the windows and gave the loudest gasp anyone can give in this quiet, peaceful flat, flung the French doors open to the balcony and ran out there admiring the beauty (and my luck). I also forgot that it was cold, good thing I had my cardigan on. I probably took in the best view until I realised I didn’t want to miss a shot and my phone wasn’t with me. I managed this shot, just right before the fog breezed in and went right folks, nothing to see here, back to your homes everyone”. I must’ve stood there for a while, just feeling ever so lucky to have caught sight of my second double rainbow. Also, it was the BIGGEST rainbow I have ever seen in my life. It was magical. And then I caught another double rainbow just yesterday! How amazing!

 

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celebrating C.’s birthday…in person!

I am very, very happy that I finally have the chance to shower C. with lots of birthday love in person! Technically, this is my first time celebrating his birthday lol. We had a nice home-cooked meal (he was kindly subjected to my cooking & new recipes attempts) & an array of unique cakes for him to pick from – but of course he went for his classic carrot cake. It was also nice that he got home from work early, he actually surprised me by coming home earlier than I thought (I wasn’t ready!!!). But I supposed the best bits was almost successfully throwing him a small surprise birthday dinner with a handful of his closest friends over the weekend. I say almost because he said he had some sort of suspicion but then brushed it off, until we got to his favourite restaurant (Honest Burgers) and the lady who welcomed us in betrayed me. She cheerily announced that everyone was here and waiting. The dramatic face-palming happened in my head as C. chuckled and went “Hah, your cover got blown.” Massive eye-rolling right there. He still somewhat got pleasantly surprised at the company, so I guess that’s a success still, right?!

 

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curling up in bed with a book & a cuppa

That sigh of contentment as you sink into bed, wrap yourself up in the duvet, and sip some hot tea. And then proceed to escape in your book of choice. Heaven.

I was going to wrap it up, but I had a thought…and this might be a little bit odd but can we please take a minute to be thankful for:

the dishwasher

I know, I know. Y’all probably think I’m strange, but honestly! Back home in Kuala Lumpur (and Singapore), no one I know has a dishwasher. It was always hard work of washing the dishes by hand. You may think it’s menial but imagine the skills you require to get rid of burnt crusts at the bottom of pans etc. When C. found out I’ve been living with a dishwasher (when I was studying here) & used it as a drying rack for my pots and pans, he might have bowled over in laughter or in pain, or both. Then he started introducing the wonders of a dishwasher and ever since then, I’ve never been able to imagine how I can ever live my life now without a dishwasher.

I had a rather grey week this last week and I am just glad there were things that made me happy.

I hope everyone had a fabulous Sunday and is well-rested for the week ahead!

Toodles. ♥

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Sometime last week, I made my patient cry. I was shocked, flabbergasted. This man is possibly one of my patients I would have least expect him to cry. Yet he did. It’s really not because I have done something extraordinary for him – I mean, I’ve only just brought him to the bathroom and back.

I had just about started my usual evening medication rounds when I realised Mr. Alfonso (this is the first name that popped into my head lol) had apparently gotten up by himself and was walking (pretty stably, I must say) with the aid of his walking frame. Obviously I left what I was doing to just watch him, in case he needs any help etc. So I started a conversation with him. He takes a tad bit longer to reply, you see. You can see the bubble thought in his head, trying to process what I’ve just asked him. He turned to me and said his legs are weak, he needs to walk real slow (completely irrelevant to what I’ve just asked him lol). And of course, I agreed, told him to take his time, I’ll be here if he needs me.

This is the thing with Mr. Alfonso. He’s pretty loud. He doesn’t have the most appropriate expressions most of the time. When he says things, his tone doesn’t match the intentions of his words, if you know what I mean. So he could be saying something really nice, but because he says it so loudly, and with this blank almost unreadable expression on his face, you’re not really sure if he’s actually angry or otherwise. Also, he is known for his hot-temperedness, so we usually take great care not to piss him off. Elderly can be pretty intimidating when they get angry, mind you.

So when he got back to bed, he sat on the edge of the bed, looked at me long and hard and decided to give me a pat on my arm. He then proceeded to say (slowly but really loudly, too) that I am a good person. And that was when he suddenly burst into tears and asked in between sobs, why am I so nice to him? At that point, I was thinking, ‘Oh God this is embarrassing, people must be thinking I’m abusing him or something.’ Had to give him some tender loving care and comfort him (just in case he was secretly depressed or something). He then abruptly decided that I am fit to be his granddaughter, after asking for my age. Which was nice, really really nice.

After I laid him down and reassured him to go to sleep while he pushed me back to work, I walked away amused, but slightly bemused.

When I first started nursing dementia patients, when I first committed myself to see the PERSON and not the disease, there was this quote that stuck with me throughout all these years that reminds me why I do what I do on a daily basis. Famous is this quote, you will know it I am sure.

 

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou

 

And in that very moment, it really hits home once again why I have always refused to allow myself to be burnt out by people with dementia.

Mr. Alfonso would have forgotten in the next half hour that he cried in front of this nurse who brought him to the toilet. He would also, in the next 5 minutes, request for his evening medications again even though I have JUST given them to him and he swallowed them all in front of me. He would too, forgotten that he had just peed and would want to get up to go to the bathroom soon again.

But the expression he gives me whenever he looks at me now – though it may be like he is trying to remember something he has clearly forgotten – stays with me. That slight smile of recognition that tells me that he will always remember, somehow. After that episode, for the next few days that I nursed & engaged with him, he had been most grandfatherly in every way possible – joking around, and definitely a hell lot more cheerful and pleasant than when he first came in.

And this is the amazing bit: even though he was the one who cried that one evening, but it was MY heart that he touched. :’)

People will NEVER forget how you made them feel.

Indeed, I will never forget how YOU made ME feel, Mr Alfonso. Thank you for reminding me why I am proud to be a dementia nurse. :’)

 

Mr. Alfonso went home yesterday. I didn’t get to say goodbye; but I sure hope he lives well, and that I will never see him in the hospital again.

 

 

 

Hello, all.

I hope you enjoy the story I just unfolded before you.

Maya Angelou said, ‘There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.’.

(I’m starting to think Maya Angelou contributed a lot to the making of this post)

The story is real, by the way. I didn’t make any of it up. I don’t have to, honestly. My job gives me plenty of stories to tell, not forgetting the abundance of lessons one can pick up in each story. I have always wanted to share my day-to-day happenings because they can be really interesting, especially once I piece all the quirky bits together. Unfortunately, life always seem to get in the way. I get too tired and penning them stories down suddenly seem like a chore. I suppose in a way, I wasn’t ready to start writing just yet.

So why now? Coincidentally it is Dementia Awareness Week (17-23 May) and this year, it is all about having new experiences, hence #DoSomethingNew this week. To support this campaign, I am going to try starting something new – writing my stories, sharing my experiences nursing people with dementia, how they affect/change me, lessons learnt in the process etc. AND ACTUALLY BE CONFIDENT ENOUGH TO SHARE MY POEMS. I know I may have tried once, a long time ago, and failed because it became too much. But this time, let’s give it another shot. 🙂

 

Also because it is my birthday weekend, I think this blog deserves a new makeover, and a new post. This year I shall dedicate my birthday to Dementia Awareness Week. New direction, new dreams, new lip colour LOL. 

 

Happy birthday, me. A year older, hopefully another year wiser.

I am even more convinced that my very existence is so I can “try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” (Maya Angelou, again!!!).

 

Here’s to more adventures & stories!

 

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#birthdayselfie

 

Toodles. ♥

Last Saturday was Nuffnang UK’s very first birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NUFFNANG UK!) and yes, I got invited to the party along with all the other Nuffnang bloggers! I was looking forward to it the past whole week because it would be so lovely to finally meet the other bloggers whose blogs I have been stalking for months now!

The party was held at Netil 360 Rooftop Retreat  with an amazing view of East London.

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Netil House, right before we reached the entrance of Netil 360. This looked scary already.

 

Don’t be fooled by its’ dodgy looking entrance (it was really creepy, if I were alone I’d have freaked out) because as you climb up the stairs to the rooftop, you will see some adorable and interesting graffiti on the walls. For instance,

Graffiti

 

When we stepped out onto the rooftop, we were greeted by some great music, a burger and taco bar, not to mention the lovely view and of course….balloons!!! Almost immediately, we were served with Pimm’s (never had it before, didn’t know it’s alcoholic and DAMN it was delicious! I thought it was some fruit punch or something!), and lovely Jesse came to distribute our name stickers.

 

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It seemed like we had it all for a wonderful photoshoot – the location, the props and the people! So that’s what we did!

 

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Cute & vivacious Honey from The Girl Next Shore

 

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Lovely Emma from Bloomzy

 

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Yours truly, no need for introduction. 😛

 

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Our beautiful and amazing organizer, Jesse from Hecticophilia. Loving the pretty jacket, Jesse! 😛

 

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I also met a number of fantastic bloggers (some which I have been stalking for a while now, hehe) and got to engage in wonderful conversations with them. It was an afternoon well spent with lovely people, yummy Pimm’s and oh them vegan tacos!

I met Marlene from Chocolate Cookies & Candies and Steph from Faiiint, both had so many interesting stories to share with us it seemed like an afternoon simply wasn’t enough!

Not forgetting the dynamic duo Jason & Chiara from goantolondon! 

It was unfortunate that I only had very brief contact with Holly from Petite Promise, Tom from Day Dream In Blue, Kylie from Little Outdoor Kylie, Sara from Hello The Mushroom (we managed to squeeze in a selfie, though!) and Emily from Emily Jayne. It was still very nice to have met them all! But I think it was such a shame that I didn’t manage to speak to a lot of other bloggers! Good thing for Twitter (and blogs!), we are still able to keep in touch! Here are some bloggers I didn’t get to say hello to: Francesca from Fall For DIY, Afra from Mad Mum of 7, Diane from Nomad Seeks Home. I’m pretty sure there were more D:!

 

 

 

Pimms

THIS DRINK! WHAT IS IN THIS DRINK YUMMMMM.

 

Tacos

These tacos were really good!

 

Victoria Yum

Headed down to Netil Market to scour for some sweet treats by Victoria Yum!

 

Besides the joy of meeting new people, it was also wonderful to see some familiar faces again! Angela from The Awkward Blog was there, Iris from Whatever Gets You Through The Day was sporting a lovely blue top to support Italy in that evening’s football match, and of course prosecco loving Sarah from The Prosecco Diaries who posted a lovely write up of the birthday party as well (featuring moi in some awkward laughing and props handling in the photoshoot).

 

 

All in all, a big thank you to the Nuffnang UK team for such a wonderful party! We had so much fun, we wished it didn’t have to end so quickly! Most certainly, I will be looking forward to more future events and catching up with fellow blogger buddies! Until then, we will be Twittering and blogs-hopping. 😀

 

 

Toodles! ♥

So last Sunday, I had the pleasure of meeting up with Jesse, Angela, Iris & Emma for lunch at Fika London located at Brick Lane. ‘Fika’ is a Swedish word that basically means having a coffee break. Lucky for us, Fika London does the whole package: breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea/coffee, dinner, cocktails…you name it. Unfortunately for me, I was too absorbed basking in the beautiful sun & heat that I have forgotten to take pictures of the place. (Not to worry, I am pretty sure I’ll find myself back in this quaint cafe/restaurant real soon). However, do read this lovely review here by Angela. We made our reservations earlier (all thanks to Emma) and we were seated on the rooftop (?). It was very comfy looking, with the artificial grass beneath our feet, lovely wooded tables and benches adorning the area. Not forgetting the whole area bathed in the summery sunshine and warmth. It was like having a luncheon with some close girlfriends at some garden. I had a lovely plate of Swedish meatballs and it was YUM. Very happy with my dish! I didn’t have a very good picture of it because I simply couldn’t wait to devour it. I recommend having it with their homemade iced teas; my current favourite right now is their peppermint, elderflower and mint (£3.50).

 

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Homemade Swedish meatballs with skin on potato mash, red wine sauce and lingonberry jam (£10.20)

 

The beautiful afternoon beckoned us to leave the comfortable cafe and to take a nice walk around Brick Lane with coffee in our hands. Emma & I had to leave the group, who was going to enjoy the rest of the sun, and made our way to Piccadilly Circus to meet Sarah for an Instagram workshop at 180 Piccadilly Flagship Cath Kidston, organised by The Indytute (you guys should check them out – they’ve got a whole loads of interesting classes and workshops lined up for the whole year!). “Instagram with Jess Macdonald” was the workshop. I was extremely eager and curious about this workshop because 1) I am actually really envious of people with beautiful feeds & 2) I need to LEARN THESE SKILLS, whatever they are.

Jess has several accounts and one of them is just filled with interesting photographs of the Underground. All taken & edited by iPhone only, I was piqued and wanted to know how to make full use of my iPhone 4S who has served me well until now.

We made new friends quickly while we were sent off to perform our three given tasks: Taking three different types of photographs – a lifestyle shot, a window shot and of course, what is Instagram without a portrait or a selfie shot?

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Featuring Emma as my portrait model, Ruben & Jazmine in the fun, selfie shots; they are so much fun to work with! Plus I got some tips from Emma on how to behave in front of a camera. I may be an amateur behind a camera, but I am still completely useless in front of one. Takes great courage to be posing for anyone. But it sure is such great fun to work on this challenge, because we learnt that the one ultimate way to look genuine in front of a camera is to get distracted and pray that the photographer gets the au naturel shot. Like so (credits to Emma):

 

Cath Kidston shoot

I also really like this red cardigan now, anyone wants to get me a belated birthday present? 🙂

 

So here are some tips we picked up from the workshop:

1) No Instagram filters!

Surprised? Well don’t be! If you’ve been on Instagram long enough, you would know by now that the filters which were once so interesting, are now looking quite tacky indeed.

2) Photo apps!

Jess recommends using apps like Snapseed and VSCOCam to enhance your photos. Personally, I don’t quite enjoy using Snapseed, way too much finger control for me to handle and it was too intense to get it right (I am so very lazy). VSCOCam on the other hand is my all-time favourite. Filters are interesting, there are a couple which are a little dramatic but yay for filter controls, we are still able to manage the level of intensity of the filter.

3) Jess mentioned the Rule of Thirds which I have never heard before (shame!) and Emma explained a little about it before I got home to Google it. However, she did tell us about a rule of her own – the 3 Ss: Silhouettes, Sunsets, & Symmetry. 

4) Follow a few of them famous Instagrammers and check out their feeds. Mimic their style if you can but I would think having your own style will always do you a favour. Also, it does help to build relationships with other fellow Instagrammers, i.e. by replying and leaving comments.

5) Using hashtags – be mindful on what you’re using. While your picture may be #beautiful, using that as a hashtag isn’t exactly ideal. You want it to be relevant to your picture, and not too many hashtags as well.

6) I am slightly obsessed about keeping my feed symmetrical, i.e. I really like them as they are – the Instagram square style. However, I have used Whitagram to fit certain photos and no doubt, that has ruined the nice square pattern. Jess suggests either we stick to using the squares or using borders of the same size. She also suggested we could perhaps alternate it, if we want.

7) Selfies! Some people are good at it; but for some (like me) are probably crap at it. So what you can do is you could always get someone to take a portrait selfie for you! Unfortunately, as I have mentioned, I am quite hopeless in front of the camera so even if I got someone to take it for me, I would look rather awkward. :-/

8) Taking a photograph of a stranger. This is one thing I haven’t gotten the guts to do. You see someone strutting down the street with style, go up to them, strike up a conversation, drop in a compliment or two on their smashing look and maybe ask them for their permission to capture their look! I’m still working on that. 😛

Well, that’s all I remember guys! I do hope it helps you some way or another! Perhaps inspire you to work on taking better pictures on your phone! With better photos, come more followers (if that’s what you are aiming for!). I am truly inspired myself, and can’t wait to build on my Instagram feed! 😀

 

It was indeed a fun Sundate! A big thank you to Sarah for the invite to the workshop and Jaz for her lovely hospitality. Not to forget Jess with her vast knowledge on Instagram and sharing them with us! You can check out our feeds here:

 

Emma: @bloomzy

Sarah: @sairey_bearey

Ruben: @rubostars

Jazmine: @jazzabellediary

Yours truly: @alexianatouillia

 

 

Enjoy the rest of the long weekend & may you have a great one!

 

Psssst! Let me let you in on a not-so-secret little piece of gossip – on the 26th May, Fika is letting you pay what you want for their food and all the money will be going to charity! Check it out here (so if you happen to read this during the day, time to get ready for some fun tonight!). Also, if you become their member (free!), you get a cute little keychain and a tote bag on the spot; not to mention, you also get to join in the exclusive Monday Meatball Day where you have a little fun trying to beat the clock and letting it decide how much you pay for them yummy dish of meatballs! It’s definitely worth going for, I say!

 

Toodles! ♥

From the 28th of April – 2nd May 2014, I am participating in a challenge to raise global awareness and funds to fight extreme hunger and poverty.  Together with thousands of people, I will be living #belowtheline on just £1 per day for 5 days! Join us!

Photo courtesy of Live Below The Line UK

 

I woke up this morning feeling all excited and groovy for the shopping excursion.  Little did I know how much stress I would be under in a couple hours’ time.

I trotted down happily to Sainsbury’s Local nearby and started my search. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find a single Sainsbury’s Basics items…at all! I was starting to get worried. Everything in there was way beyond the budget. So I left, and headed for Tesco instead. It was better, I did manage to find some items within my budget. But the horror started when I realized there was NO MORE RICE. I nearly sobbed out loud! And then I tried searching for curry sauce and guess what? NO CURRY SAUCE EITHER! At this point I wanted to start wailing. But I persevered. Got my fresh veggies (they can be so expensive if you’re living below the line) and everything else and scooted out of that Tesco. Walked back towards the local market (which was pointless because it’s closed on Sundays) but something told me that I’d find what I wanted there. Lo and behold, there was another Tesco! I was nearly ecstatic (not to mention in despair and freaked out at the same time).

AND THERE WAS RICE. THERE WAS RICE AND I WAS INTERNALLY CRYING WITH JOY. Grabbed my 1kg (£0.40!!!) bag of rice and went on for the curry sauce search. There weren’t any left, much to my chagrin. But beggars can’t be choosers so I settled for a bottle of sweet and sour sauce. It will have to do. ALL HAIL TESCO!

 

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I am so proud *sobs*!

Please ignore the tin of sardines – that was a mistake which I would not be using for the challenge.

 

I spent 2 hours out there hopping from one place to another, feeling particularly stressed out because I was afraid I would not make my £5 budget. I thank God that I manage to sort everything out and got what I needed for a total of £4.66. After adding up the teabags, herbs & spices, the total came up to £4.94. PHEW. Of course, because I got my cabbage at a higher price than what I have budgeted, I had to cut out stock cubes from my list. That’s alright. As long as I’ve got my garlic, onion and rocket chillies, I am fine.

While I was at Tesco all stressed out, frantically searching for that jar of curry sauce and contemplating the jar of sweet & sour sauce in case there wasn’t any, a thought struck me. I am privileged at this very moment, trying to choose between the curry sauce vs sweet & sour sauce. In fact, throughout the whole shopping process, I still have the privilege to CHOOSE what I wanted. Even while trying to live below the line, I am able to choose. But what about the people out there with the real hunger and poverty problems? I don’t think they have choices. Life is like a gamble for them: you win if you get any food at all. Otherwise you lose, just like everybody else. Not knowing when is the next time they will eat, or even just clean water to drink. Sigh.

 

Right, now! Meal plans! Also because I did not get my curry sauce, there will be some adjustments to the menu. But fret not! Everything is under control. 😀

I have decided to go mostly oriental for the menu, mainly because I realized it is possible to cook up a cheap and fulfilling oriental storm with some basic ingredients. That said, I hope you enjoy oriental food on a regular basis.

 

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This is merely a rough guide; the menu may change. I would’ve enjoyed some noodles to be honest but they are way beyond the budget.

While planning for this menu, I realized that I may have more than what I would actually need for 5 days. Sure, there may be a lack of variety but it is definitely enough to feed me for the week! AND I still get a cup of tea every day! I am amazed and already thankful for the good fortune. I am almost certain that I will have some leftover ingredients after this week!

 

 

Well, I’m off! It’s been a long, mentally exhausting day and tomorrow is only going to be more challenging. I savoured every single spoonful of my last scrumptious curry meal tonight. Together with Honey from The Girl Next Shore, we will press on to accomplish this challenge! You can read about her journey on her blog here!

 

If you are taking part in this challenge, do drop me a comment and share your journey with me! I would love to hear all about it!

 

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Remember to check back daily for them recipes and of the journey. I will also be sharing photos on my Instagram, as well as live updates on my Twitter.

Do contact me (or drop me a comment) if you are interested and willing to be involved, i.e. we can form a team! Or, you can choose to join me and participate in this challenge yourself, pick your own charity group that you may wish to fundraise for and experience an eye-opening, humbling 5-day journey. :D  You don’t have to do it this week, this campaign runs until the 30th of June so anytime from now until then!

If, for whatever reasons you are not able to participate in the challenge but still wish to support, you may choose to sponsor me HERE! No amount is too small for any cause, and rest assure that all the money will go to UNICEF UK.

 

You can also like their Facebook page or follow their updates on Twitter; remember to use the hashtag #belowtheline to stay connected!

 

 

 

Toodles. ♥

What’s £1 got to do with ending poverty?
From April 28 – May 2 2014, I am taking the Live Below The Line challenge
in support of UNICEF UK. Join me and thousands of people living on just £1 a
day for five days. Fight extreme poverty. Transform lives.
www.livebelowtheline.org/uk