Restaurants post-covid will not be saved by the good old days!
Pre-covid, a chef saw empty rooms and buildings as something that could be filled with dreams, romantically speaking, of course.
In the world we thought we knew, chef-entrepreneurs would sense what an empty building or space could become - like sensed echo of potential; whispering of noises and sounds. The faint staccato of kitchen sounds, guests wielding cutleries, friends calling-out friends, along with laughter and music. Definitely, architects sensed this, too. In fact, they are smarter than chefs. Architects are like butterflies, they move on quickly, leaving chefs to be the custodians to grow and nurture this envisioned potential.
To honour this potential, chefs must try to control those which are naturally uncontrollable; humans, perishable, the irrational and subjective opinions of others. To attempt to do this, a chef needs to foresee, expect and prepare for tomorrow, for the next week and even next month.
Try to be in control during a pandemic? The normal state of thinking that we are somehow in control is proven daily to be an illusion. Everyday we know more about this virus, from the sources that we use, to provide us with levelheaded factual news. Imagine a balloon.
Individually and collectively, our knowledge grows just like this imaginary balloon that’s inflated with increasing data and information. But, as with any other balloons, the more it grows the surface expands and stretches. This surface is the border to all the unknown of the virus. So, while our sphere of knowledge increases, the surface or border to the unknown, expands at a similar pace and speed. It makes us feel that we know more and more, but we still face continuous unknowns.
A little bit of psychology will tell us, that we, chefs, based our thinking and assessments on the events and happenings of what we had seen or experienced before. It is not a surprise that most of our decisions are influenced by our personal thoughts. What we believe to be a likely event is based on our most recent memories and biases.
Our opinions are heavily influenced by this raw impression and memories. People who have seen a traffic accident recently, will say that the probability of traffic accidents is higher than someone who have not witnessed one recently. A recent memory and a recent topic, increases recall. In other words, it inflates how believe that it can continue to happen - any crafty politician knows this!
Most of what we recall these days, is about the pandemic and its challenges. So for many chefs it seems like never ending despair leading to a pivot - home-delivery and source low rental cloud-kitchens as means to survive.In restaurants and hotels the costs that lockdowns have caused are beyond brutal.
We know that a lockdown is a protective measure; what is good for all of us is good for me and what is good for me is good for you and so on.
Pre-covid, normal life imposed risks of harm on other people all the time, even for trivial reasons. A chef’s joke, “Life is dangerous and we eventually die from it.” Daily activities like driving, e-scootering, ball games in the park - they all impose risks on other people; risks in varying degrees from potentially lethal to mere scrapes or minor nuisance. If we weren’t permitted to impose at least some such risks, by way of who we are, our capacity to create our own lives would be unacceptably lost.
Now, we are all experienced - with the expectation, that we must stop our personal projects and livelihoods to avoid imposing significant risks to others. This crisis calls for us to be willing to do more than we would normally do to save lives. Imagine that a stranger is caught in a river and will drown unless you help. You can save the person, but only by suffering the loss of your own arm in the process, or perhaps even your life.
Most people do not think that we are required to suffer an “unreasonable-overpriced” loss. We are in fact, socially permitted to let such a high cost to ourselves, of jumping into that wild river attempting to save this strangers life.
Now it is our shared action of inaction to put ‘ourselves on pause’ that help to save lives. That has come with high level of loss to some. Countless hotels and restaurants have already been swept away or gone under. For the ones who can still stay afloat, it seems prudent to ask ourselves, “What is a good restaurant anyway? And which deeper contribution can we offer to society as a whole once our restaurants open-up again?”
Restaurants and nightlife have always played an essential role in the social, intellectual, entrepreneural and artistic life of a thriving society. Good neighbor-hoods are determined by many factors, amongst those, is the food environment. Does the neighbor-hood have a lot of eating options and which ones are there? Accessibility and convenience of food choices are important.
A city delivers value to inhabitants by facilitating human interaction. To add to this equation, the world populations are increasingly moving on to become city dwellers. Living affordably in big cities means living with tiny kitchenettes and without dining or living room space - restaurants are like the shared kitchens and dining rooms of these densely populated cities. Life’s major events, personal and professional, are celebrated in restaurants. Strangers have been known to become friends around restaurant tables. We are by nature seeking connection, edification and validation when we go out to eat. Restaurants are also safe and controlled environment with higher levels of comfort, atmosphere and hygiene than most homes that the cities offer. They are vital part of who we feel we are and they become a part of our personal narrative that we tell the world about.
Lockdowns happened and restaurants scrambled to do deliveries, anything to keep afloat, financially. Some observers labeled this as Darwinian event, survival of the fittest and so on - to some extent it is a fair observation. However, most restaurants who survive this, probably will return to their main focus and previous value and quality proposition from before, with various adjustments to their previous operations.
There has been a cornucopia of industry-covid research showing that consumers will be -
“Predisposed to impulse purchasing while still exhibiting a strong adherence to familiar and trusted brands. And experiences and products creating feelings of reliability, health, safety and security by way of symbolism or benefits will gain in desirability…”
I have aligned myself with the part of the research concluding, food now more than ever must be connected with health, sustainability, artisanship and honest passion. Those restaurants with a brand promise of mastery, authenticity and care behind their food and service will stand to recover well.
In the end hospitality is about human connection. When we meet in person, we start to mirror each other, body language and even our pupils will align. Go on a date and see for yourself.
As our facial expressions begin to mirror each other, we are subconsciously synchronizing. People, who synchronize like this will like each other more, even collaborate more. In hospitality we rave about the importance of eye contact and a genuine smile before a verbal hello. “You do not say hello with your back half turned!”
Babies quickly learn that broken eye contact means that interest has gone. Eye contact is the very key to our feelings of social happiness. Please do not tell a chef that the future hinges on a robot barista, or at least not until it can look us in the eyes and activate our mirror-neurons!
The pandemic made many businesses go online. It is clear that hospitality cannot do its magic from screen, restaurant cooks can’t work from home. The closest thing that restaurants have to a zoom-meeting, is probably a drive through ordering screen. A screen will allow us to be there but not be present. We become spectators but not participants. Just try to watch sports on TV, and you will see.
And then comes, “Nothing will ever be the same again!!!” Academics, intellectuals, politicians and entrepreneurs have made lots of sweeping pronouncements about the transformations that this pandemic will bring.
“Our social lives will never go back to normal - the end of hugs and handshakes. Less casual sex, no wait, increased condom sales…”
Sensationalist predictions are likely to be highly inaccurate, but made very good clickbaits.
A clickbait perspective is called, Chronocentrism. Chronocentrism is the belief that one’s own times is paramount, that other previous periods are pale in comparison. A bit similar to a five-year old child who stumped his toes on a big rock and promptly experience pain like none other in the whole wide world! All of our individual selfish brains look at the timeline of human history in reference to, well, itself. We seethe past through the lens of what can meet our needs today. While the future is understood through the lens of what stimulates rewarding neurochemicals in our brains this very day. We are alive today, therefore we perceive ourselves to be at the actual, real, true turning point in history. Looking back at the devastation of World War I, the 1918 flu pandemic, the Wall street collapse, World War 2, terror and it’s war on terror, plus more economic collapses; these events have still not stopped the determination to socialize. But the Covid19 pandemic has hopefully taught us a lesson about responsibility, and it will undoubtedly cause some important shifts.
All these clickbait hungry chronocentric voices have claimed that we are on the cusp of unprecedented change.
We should hope that they are right. Before Covid, taking responsibility was not the same as taking a responsibility for people, or for society as whole. My personal moral responsibility was about what I was trying to do in my sphere, while your moral concerns were over there with you. We were separate beings, not really connected but sort of, loosely morally aligned. However, pre-covid we were all equally careless about our ever-present dependency on depleted environmental resources and a climate catastrophe that will surely dwarf this pandemic.
We have now lost our careless freedom, and our ignorance about our connectedness to each other. What we have experienced collectively and individually, for more than a year, must be the reason that we shift the goalposts of what we can do for this shared world. Covid19 was the disruption, but also the catalyst that must lead us to a changed and wiser society. This pandemic must highlight the mastery we possess as a world tribe, to fix each and every little thing we know that our world needs. We just shut the whole world down, so how hard can it be to change many small things one at a time?
Nothing MUST ever be the same again!
We chefs must trust and count on our global food community and therefore take an even greater responsibility towards it.
Come eat, and we can talk about it - food is on me!
I’m kidding!!! Of course, we use plates here at Canvass KL
Technology conveniences almost every minute habits of our daily lives that are eventually changing the way we live. We no longer need directions to locate a new address, memorizing phone numbers is obsolete and even the daily reminder notifications to 'call mom'!
So, of course when humankind was most isolated during a global lockdown, technology stepped into the rescue. As time stretched interminably and experiences ranged from anxiety to self-growth, we all really have a lot to talk about! Silicon Valley's solution? The much-buzzed-about voice-based social app Clubhouse, which launched (along with COVID in the US) in March 2020. It is fascinating to hear an excited Paul Davison (co-founder) who has just left a chat room on Clubhouse after initiating new users. “In the world of social media, voice is a relatively new medium. But in the real world, it’s the oldest. We were talking and hearing long before we were writing and reading,” he responded to the obvious why-no-video question.
Aligning the stars like anything good, Clubhouse is a product of need. When Davison found himself not having enough time to read, he turned to audio and then to podcasts. He elaborates on the problem he was trying to solve. "For images, we have Instagram, for text Twitter, for video Youtube and TikTok. But for spoken audio content its difficult, and honestly a bit of a mess." That's when he and Rohan (cofounders) had a eureka moment and said, “Dude we gotta build a consumer social app!”
The partners dove in deep into the audio space to work on revolutionizing it. "With audio, you have all the intimation, inflection, fidelity and asks without any of the anxiety of video. People tend to be much more authentic - they can talk about all sorts of different topics and close the app at the end of the day feeling better because they have deeper friendships. It is just something really rewarding to work on," Davison is thrilled. It is social in more ways than one as America witnessed a historical election campaign and the Black Lives Movement took a life of its own, Clubhouse amped it up.
"There were lots of meaningful conversations that happened where people talked to others with different life experiences. The diversity of Clubhouse is the single greatest thing about it. It is part of our life mission to build an app for those kinds of conversations," says Davison. While it has been proven beyond doubt that we are at the mercy of algorithms that keep us scrolling mindlessly, but really at the heart of it, most applications really promote connectivity. But do all social media apps have what it takes to last? While conversations run the gamut from what color is your voice, to early morning meditations, your favorite kind of coffee to Bitcoin, I find myself in a chatroom 'Clubhouse, Fad Or Not?' Though the FOMO (the-fear-of-missing-out) aspect is hyped through the 'invite-only model, I wonder if it is enough to anchor the millennials and gen-z without the 'social' aspect of shareability? The founders assure that the capability of giving moderators the freedom to record (and raise revenue) conversations to be shared outside the app will be offered in the future.
WONDER WHO IS LISTENING? The initial charm of the app was that it had a relatively small community of content creators and moderators. Now, however, it has grown exponentially to over 100 million users.
Rohan (co-founder) explains, "We are trying to grow the community in a measured way and to make sure the experience scales. The room is a flexible container. It is like going to a conference and choosing between interacting with the speakers or those in attendance, and to do that is having the right network structure, privacy controls, and settings. You can power moderators to create clubs to have conversations with those they want to, allowing all sorts of experiences to thrive. From that, you grow from a single community of beta testers to many communities." This is fundamentally why the app is only open to iOs users as of this time as there are many more users on the android platform. This feature is coming soon though. It has been established that Big Tech knows us intimately and using technology to promote further human interaction, freedom of speech and thought is indeed noble.
What happens when the obvious monetization aspects seep in? Profitability over privacy? At this time Clubhouse does not plan to raise it through ad revenue and targeting but by offering direct monetary benefits to moderators and 'tipping' from happy listeners. WILL YOU OR WON'T YOU?
Joining Clubhouse is much like being a member of a real world-club with an invite-only exclusivity membership albeit a virtual one, where here you are listening in to some of the most creative minds in the world without it just being lucky or having to pay an admission fee. It is so cool. All you need to do is talk or listen. While Clubhouse won't feed the dopamine hit in the same way as a 'like', follow or retweet might, but if it makes you feel like you are part of a larger conversation that is worth having, then it is for you!
We each have a story on how technology has impacted our lives, for the good and not so. Which side does Clubhouse belong to? I guess you will find out for yourself when the invite is in!
“Who run the world? Girls!”
Women-run luxury brands in celebration of International Women’s Day 2021.
Every year on March 8, the world celebrates International Women’s Day, a day that promotes gender equality and women’s rights. Looking back, the first celebration actually took place on February 28 in 1909 when the Socialist Party of America organised a Women's Day in New York City. However, it wasn’t annually celebrated worldwide until the United Nations began celebrating it in 1977. In fact, in some countries, International Women’s Day is a public holiday and gatherings alongside marches dedicated to women can be seen worldwide.
International Women’s Day is an opportunity for many to show their support to women in their family and community. One of the best ways to show your support is to embrace women-run businesses wherever you can. When supported, women-run businesses will flourish and gain recognition throughout the world, proving to young aspiring girls that everything is possible. This month, we’ve curated the ultimate list of women-run luxury brands in support of International Women’s Day 2021!
Fenty Beauty and Fenty Skin
Launched on September 8, 2017 by well-known singer Rihanna, Fenty Beauty and Fenty Skin is the ultimate brand that displays an amazing climb to success in such a short time. What drove Fenty Beauty into the limelight is its wide inclusivity across different skin tones and gender, especially with the Pro Filt'R foundation. This game changing liquid foundation launched a whopping 40 shades, and has since expanded to 50 shades. The brand then expanded to having 50 shades of concealer, as well as recently providing powder foundations. In 2017, Time Magazine actually named Fenty Beauty one of the best inventions of the year.
Fenty Skin on the other hand is a newly launched skincare range by Rihanna. The notion behind this creation is to make skincare simple and uncomplicated, which is why most of Fenty Skin’s products are multitasking. For example, the cleanser is a two-in-one makeup remover and cleanser, while the hydra vizor moisturiser contains sunscreen, allowing skincare users to moisturise and apply sunblock in one simple step. Truly, it’s an innovation that exhibits the impeccable thinking of women, and deserves the utmost support from skincare enthusiasts worldwide.
If there’s any brand that defines ‘putting women at the forefront’, it has to be Glossier. In fact, one of the reasons the brand was created was to actually drive women to the frontline of the beauty industry. Emily Weiss, an American businesswoman founded cosmetics company Glossier as well as a blog called, Into The Gloss back in 2014. It all started with the idea to cater to millennials, and with that, she started approaching venture capitalists with ideas for expansion.
In October 2014, Glossier launched their first ever line of products which include an all-purpose balm, a facial mist, a sheer skin tint as well as a moisturiser. Within six weeks of the launch, Glossier was a hit and continued in the spotlight till today. Other than minimalist packaging and potent ingredients, Glossier creates products that users wish existed. This brings customer service to a whole new level, proving that women are creators of products that matter. Which is why Glossier is a brand you should consider supporting this International Women’s Day.
Anastasia Beverly Hills
Founded by Romanian-born Anastasia Soare in 1997, Anastasia Beverly Hills also known as ABH is a cosmetics company best known for its eyebrow products. ABH started when Anastasia herself opened a flagship salon in Beverly Hills. In 2000, the company’s first line of products were released to the public. However, ABH grew in popularity when they introduced a new brow-shaping service to customers. The service, also known as the "Golden Ratio Eyebrow Shaping Method", was a way to get the perfect, balanced and symmetrical eyebrows that work perfectly on any face shape.
Today, ABH is run by Anastasia’s daughter, Claudia Soare, and has ventured into more than just eyebrows. They’ve created eyeshadows, highlighters, powder foundations, mascara and more. Nevertheless, it’s their eyebrow products that still ranks at the top. In fact, ABH has just recently released the new brow styling wax that helps users create natural feathered brows without the use of any other products.
So if you’re looking for new eyebrow products and don’t know which brand to support this coming International Women’s Day, here’s the one!
When you think of the biggest cosmetic companies in the world, it’s no surprise that Estée Lauder pops into your mind. But did you know that the founder of Estée Lauder is Estée Lauder herself? Well, Estée Lauder’s actual name is Josephine Esther Mentzer and she founded the cosmetic company alongside her husband Joseph Lauter (who later changed his last name to Lauder).
She was born in 1906 and started selling her uncle’s blends to her friends. One day, she was getting her hair done in a salon and the owner asked her about her flawless skin. That was what started Estée’s passion for selling skincare products.
Today, the Estée Lauder Companies Inc. is an American multinational manufacturer and marketer of skincare, makeup, fragrance and hair care products. Well-known brands under the company include Becca, Bobbi Brown, Clinique, Jo Malone, DKNY and more.
It’s incredible to know that a woman like Estée, who was first selling products to her friends, would eventually build a luxury empire that embeds itself so deep in our minds. If there’s a luxury brand to continue supporting in order to empower other young aspiring women, it’s Estée Lauder.
Tata Harper Skincare
There’s beauty in supporting brands that are all for the environment, whether it’d be in their packaging or whether they use 100% natural ingredients. And the best part about Tata Harper Skincare, is that it’s founded by Colombian beauty guru Tata Harper, alongside her husband Henry Harper. It all started when Tata couldn't find 100% natural products that were up to her standards of efficacy, quality, and purity. Thus, she started making skincare for women who refuse to risk their health by using chemical filled products in order to beautify their looks. One thing that Tata Harper Skincare assures, is that if Tata doesn’t feel like the product is ideal, she will not launch it.
Products from Tata Harper Skincare dons a leafy green packaging with gold elements. To make things better, the brand is 100% cruelty-free, while the ingredients used in the products are organically grown and free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In fact, they are produced and packaged at Tata Harper’s very own farm in Vermont, ensuring utmost quality and freshness. With the importance of all-natural skincare these days, there’s no better skincare brand to support than Tata Harper Skincare. By doing so, we’ll also empower and encourage women to further look into all-natural skincare, driving them to the forefront of the industry.
The world celebrates women’s day every year on March 8th . This year to mark the occasion, Fab! Luxe speaks to two women fronting male-dominated professions. They are bold and very beautiful and have carved out a niche for themselves in these unconventional professions. They are definitely setting and raising the bar (no puns intended).
Alison Christ, an independent sommelier is a firebrand when it comes to talking about wine. A spirited New Yorker, who grew up in Long Island, has always loved the culture of food and wine. She moved to Hong Kong in 2012 because of her desire to discover and explore Asia. That got her to move next door to Kuala Lumpur almost 4 years back.
Christ curates wine lists from the most extensive to the most exclusive which people experienced while she held the position of wine director at Troika Sky Dining. She has moved on to doing more independent projects like online blind tastings and private events. She is extremely modest when you ask her about her certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers. “Yes, that was a proud moment and I am sure there must have been champagne around to celebrate,” reveals Christ.
Interesting less than 15 percent of master sommeliers are women and Christ is among that niche percentage to have carved a name to reckon with. How does she feel about breaking that barrier in this industry that is predominantly male dominated? “I am lucky to have not experienced anything even though I must admit that it can get intimidating sometimes. I am glad that I accomplished what I set out to achieve,” adds Christ.
It’s definitely a challenging profession but she ensures she keeps herself up to date with new technicalities of being in this business. In her opinion, one of the most overrated wines are the ones from Bordeaux, due to its snob value, especially in Asia. Ask her, which ones are underrated and pat comes the reply, “Definitely the ones from the Piedmont region”.
Christ was packed and set to move to Portugal before the pandemic hit. While that’s still on her radar, she is embracing all that Malaysia has to offer. Womanly words of wisdom and Christ advices, “start as soon as possible, just do it!” before she signs off. That’s the daily dose of inspiration we need. Here’s hoping she holds the keys to prestigious cellars around the world.
Diva Of The Bartending Scene
She best describes herself as a “potion pharmacist” behind the bar. “I can diagnose customers emotion of the day and make a drink to enlighten their mood. In return, they share with me their stories, or secret.,” explains Chan. It was her stint with Shangri-la Hotel, when she discovered bartending could be a profession.
She recalls, how Amanda Wan, Malaysia’s first award winning bartender, was a great inspiration and mentor who passed on the fundamental techniques to her. Besides Wan, she got immense motivation from her father, a fisherman, who spent most of his time on the sea. “Yes following his footsteps, I decided to dive into the sea, and the sea of spirits too”. says Chan. Clearly, boasting with courage, skill and personality, Chan, first shook up a storm when she started work with Omasake + Appreciate, the first proper speakeasy cocktail bar in Malaysia. In 2019, she took home the Bartender of the year KL Award.
There has been no looking back for Chan, as she made her way up the ranks in bars. How difficult was it for her to do that in an industry where men have run the show? “I am not a feminist but male ego is a challenge in any industry, but we (female professionals) should not be let down by this. Action speaks louder than words. I earned the respect and reputation by my skills. The more I interact with customers, the more they can understand my role and appreciate me as a bartender, not just a girl working behind the bar,” admits Chan.
She has managed to smash old stereotypes and her advice to women looking to explore an unconventional profession, would be to believe in themselves. “Miles to go and keep going. It takes a few steps to explore an unconventional profession but it’s a long journey to make it a profession that help you gain respect and confidence, explains Chan.
And where is she headed next? Oh there will be no-where-next. It is an idea of Shirmy is here! She clearly has arrived!
Here’s toasting to a strong drink and even stronger women!
This cocktail is dedicated to my father. The gold dust reflects upon the catches from the sea, and as the ice melting into blue water, represents the golden times my father dedicated to the sea and to my family.
5ml Giffard Blue Curacao
10ml Giffard Grapefruit Syrup
1nos Fresh Lime Wedge
Valentine’s Day is indeed one of the most anticipated events in the month of February. It’s when the world fills up with love, and people are showered with gifts of blooming flowers, wholesome chocolates and unique date experiences like picnics, a staycation and more! And while the gesture of gifting flowers and chocolates have become a norm on the 14th of February every year, we at Fab! Luxe curated the perfect idea list for you to elevate your expression of love to your partner this year. With the stressful shift in daily activities due to the pandemic, there’s no better escapade to relax luxuriously with your loved one than these:
Picnic at the beach? How about renting an entire yacht instead! Not only do you get to spend time alone with your partner, but soak in the view of the horizon while you’re at it. In fact, you and your partner can also learn to steer the yacht together, making it a memorable trip. To make your luxury yacht date even better, lay out your very own picnic and pop some champagne. Don’t forget to pack some cosy throw pillows and blankets to cuddle in as you watch the sun set.
Movie dates are probably the most popular type of dates that people generally go for, whether on Valentine’s Day or even on normal days. However, make your date luxuriously romantic this Valentine’s by renting out the entire cinema just for you and your partner or spouse. Add in some wine or champagne as you enjoy the movie, and even get the cinema to play a montage of pictures of the both of you, with a sweet message at the end of the movie for an unforgettable night.
There’s no better way to spend time with each other than a calming drive through scenic routes as you jam out to 70s music or chat about anything and everything. And truly, there’s no better experience than taking a drive in style this Valentine’s Day, by renting a luxury sports car. Take your pick from Maseratis and Lamborghinis to Porsche and even Audis - one thing’s for sure, it’ll be a date night you most likely will never forget.
Here’s one for the sporty aficionados - instead of bouldering, hiking and mountain biking this Valentine’s, level up your endearing activity to a unique hot air balloon ride. Take the initiative to learn with your partner on how a hot air balloon functions and rent one for Valentine’s Day as you soar up high for the first time in your life. To end the session, set up a romantic lunch below for some memorable picturesque photos capturing colourful hot air balloons from above.
Booking for a table at any fine dining restaurants this Valentine’s Day will definitely put you in a labyrinth. Restaurants are sure to be booked out months in advance, and for those of you last minute lads, it’s going to be a hectic day. However, lucky for you, fine dining take outs are still available and a nice candlelight dinner at home can sometimes be better than a packed and noisy environment outside. Just remember to end your night with some decadent petit gâteau!
We can’t think of a more luxurious experience to treat your partner to this Valentine’s Day than a relaxing spa session at a 5-star hotel. Starting off with a warm lavender foot soak to a full body massage and ending with a facial and manicure will surely tickle your partner’s fancy. You can opt to dine out after the spa session or even book the presidential suite to have room service as you spend the night cuddling and watching movies together..
For couples who love the sea and the marine life it offers, can opt to book a scuba diving trip this Valentine’s Day. Not only do you escape the cold weather and indulge in the heat and beach, but experience something entirely new. In fact, after your trip, you can choose if you’d like to be a certified diver and even attend classes together. Diving is also 100 times better when done with your lover as it builds trust, communication and the endearment you have for each other..
Forget about the usual cafe hopping, it’s all about luxury this Valentine’s Day and nothing says luxury like high-tea hopping. If you haven’t already known, high-tea is a British tradition of enjoying tea whilst having some delightful bites of scones, smoked salmon sandwiches, fruit tarts and other sweet treats. It’s also not to be confused with afternoon tea, as high-tea is typically enjoyed on sofas or casual chairs. High-tea is a great date idea, especially if your date enjoys taking pictures and indulging in high-quality tea alongside high-grade ingredients.
Any date isn’t complete without a glass of wine, but for wine enthusiasts, a date that revolves around wine-tasting seems like the perfect one. Which is why this year, scrap the idea of enjoying bottles of wine at home and take a trip to your local vineyard for a wine-tasting session instead. For those who stay far away from vineyards can opt to visit wine factories or wine bars as well. Aside from exploring different types of wine, you may just walk home with an abundance of knowledge that could spark up interesting conversations with your partner the next time you share a bottle of wine.
Due to the pandemic, it’s always a safe bet to stay home during seasons like this. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t need to compromise a luxurious dinner for our lover. Thus, we suggest booking a personal chef for the night to treat your lover to the best foie gras, ribeye with truffle butter and the ultimate chocolate dessert that’s sure to express your love. You can also opt to add in the finest bottle of champagne and a bouquet of roses to elevate the night.
The day is magnificent – I look up and see clear blue skies and a smiling, happy sun. I am out on a boat, hair blowing in the wind; the waves flapping and boat jumping in the elated water. Ella Fitzgerald’s Get Happy is playing at the background and I can’t help but feel tremendous joy. I think to myself, “This is what life is all about.” The beauty that surrounds me and happiness that embraces me, while basking in luxurious nature.
Feed your mind and soul soothing, beautiful music, poems, pieces of literature that boost your spirit and make you feel inspired. Wake up every morning surrounded with beauty; be it words, music, flowers or beautiful aroma of your favourite coffee. , and Imagine living your life daily on a cinematic lens; how lovely it will be – taking in all the littlest blessings that is ever present in your life, feeling glad to be alive.
Life in 2020 has not been easy for all of us; some have it better than others while a handful, hope things had been different. No matter how resentful or regretful we are, the fact that the whole world has been hit by a pandemic remains true. We are not able to change the fact but we are able to shift the thoughts we have. It is not going to be easy but living life on a cinematic lens might be one approach for a happy life; the kind of life that takes note of every little thing that steps-in your day and comes in your way. In our busy-ness, we often overlook those minute details, which could be our saving grace in this time of need.
The last couple of months give me perspective like never before. I learn that I am truly the director and producer of my life; I steer the direction; emotions and feelings come with it. Life is not meant to be constantly smooth sailing, however let’s put our focus on abundance, which is tremendous, if we care to put our rose-tinted glass on.
The grandness of our giant universe is undeniable; look for beauty, no matter how small. Analyze each scene of your life with a director’s lens and start writing your own life’s script; inject lots of happiness into the scenes. Start by appreciating and marveling everything in your life. Live life like you are the hero of your story. Know that no matter how bad your life is at this point, nothing is permanent. You are the protagonist of your movie and going to emerge out as the hero.
Take a walk in nature and observe everything around you. Knowing that every single thing is placed there, including yourself for reasons and that is enough to be assured you matter in this vast world.We’ve often been made to feel bad if we dream. Truth of the matter is, I always see dream as a step towards my reality. Every single thing that had been made started off from a dream; so dreaming is not so bad, is it? Invite whatever you desire in your dream, work towards it and see that very thing manifest in your life.
The road to abundance of happiness in life is within grasp for every single one of us. We just need to pay attention to details that make our days; those little details that might even set our heart and soul on fire if we care enough to invite them into our daily thoughts towards a more lush and luxurious living.
As we bid farewell to 2020, it’s that time of the year again to bring out your notebooks, planners and colourful pens as we list down our New Year’s Resolutions for the upcoming year of 2021!
New Year’s Resolutions is a yearly tradition followed by many, in which a person sets a yearly goal to instill good practices or change a bad behavior to overall improve their life.
Why should we have New Year’s Resolutions?
It’s common for people to discourage you from setting New Year’s Resolutions with the reason being that you’ll feel unmotivated one month into achieving that goal. While that may sometimes be true, New Year’s Resolutions are still important to keeping you motivated as you adjourn into the new year.
It can be quite frightening for some of us as we’re unsure of the plan for next weekend, let alone next year. Which is why setting goals at the start of the year can help keep your mind on track and assure you throughout the year. It will also help you make the right decisions in life as you have a rough idea of what you want.
Setting resolutions will also help you in your personal growth, to become who you really want to be. Like how you aspire to be fit and healthy that you’re able to run a full marathon with ease. Well, setting resolutions is a great way to help you become that person. It will assist you in self-reflecting and clearing your mind to focus on the person you want to become.
Setting your New Year’s Resolutions
#1 Start small
When you start small, you set goals that are easier to achieve yet amounts to that one big goal at the end. Not only do you allow yourself to relish in these mini accomplishments, you also don’t damage your motivation by overwhelming yourself with such a big and overpowering goal.
Therefore, when it comes to setting New Year’s Resolutions, start out small. Set goals that are manageable for the kind of lifestyle that you live in and set those that you’ll most likely be able to keep. This makes it more realistic and gives you more focus in life.
#2 Define your goals clearly
Once you’ve set a goal, define it. Let’s say your goal is to save money. But how will you save money if you don’t know how much to save in the first place? So, define your goal. For example, note down that you’ll save RM10 a week and the way to achieve that amount of saving is to limit how much you spend on food every week.
When you define your goals, it’s much easier to stay focused because you already know what you should do in order to achieve that goal. Having a small target with clear and precise definition, you’ll be more encouraged and there will be more reasons to celebrate your progress.
#3 Plan ahead
To ensure success, you will need to plan ahead. This involves reading up on how you can make the change and planning your steps day-by-day. Remember, your resolutions don't have to start on the 1st of January itself. So, take some time to think and work on a plan that would ensure success as you progress throughout the year.
Another thing to note is to ensure you have everything you need in order to achieve that goal. For example, if you’re planning to take up hiking, then make sure you have your equipment ready like hiking boots, waterproof backpack, water bottle and a face towel. By doing so, you’ll have no excuse not to do it.
#4 Educate yourself
Let’s say your goal is to lose 20 kilograms but you don’t have a single knowledge on fitness or exercising. It’s likely that you’ll struggle to achieve this goal. Which is why it’s important to research before writing down your New Year’s Resolutions.
When you’ve figured out roughly what you want your goal to be, start researching and reading up. Try googling about it or maybe take a trip to your local library. You can also ask your family and friends for advice, because you never know if any of them have had similar experiences as you. Educating yourself with more knowledge will help you achieve your goal better.
#5 Go public with your resolutions
Don’t be afraid to share your resolutions with the public. In fact, it may help you achieve it even more. This is because when sharing our goals with the public, it holds us accountable, making it harder to back down or back out from it.
It also reminds us about the resolution we made when we share it with friends and family as the topic may come out when you meet up with them. Having a friend share the same resolution with you is even better, as you both can keep each other on track and celebrate together when you achieve it.
How to achieve your goals this 2021
#1 Don’t be perfect
Striving to be perfect all the time can weigh on unnecessary stress and overwhelm you to the point of giving up. It can also mean failing more. Try to do your best every time you take a step towards your goal instead of being perfect.
#2 Have discipline
If you want to achieve something, it’s important to be disciplined throughout the progress. This is because having little to no discipline will encourage procrastination, resulting in your tasks being undone. So, do your best to instill discipline in your life and get at least one thing done everyday.
#3 Embrace positivity
Instead of thinking of all the bad things that can happen when it comes to achieving your resolutions, switch it around and think of all the good things that could happen instead. By embracing positivity, you’ll have the drive to keep going.
#4 One a day
Take at least one step a day to achieve your goal. It may look small right now, but these steps will add up to bigger things in the future. It also doesn’t feel too much, which will help in keeping you motivated.
#5 Have fun with it
It is indeed important to be serious when it comes to achieving your goals. However, it’s also alright to have fun with it to make sure that you don’t burn yourself out in the process. Just ensure to balance it all out and you’ll have a memorable progres
There is something about sexual harassment that most often than not, leaves the victim feel helpless, uncertain and angry. In many cases, the perpetrators said or did things with a smile or giggle or nonchalantly, that mask-off the malicious intentions. This makes the victim feel like the feeling she or he has might be an overreaction.
“Oh wow, you look sexy in that dress,” said Mark when Ashley walked into the office. Mark is Ashley’s colleague. The day before, when Ashley requested for a document, Mark remarked that he’ll pass it over to her if she’d go for a drink with him.
Some years ago, these two scenarios might just be brushed off as a boy’s mischief or a joke. Well, not anymore. Sexual harassment has been the topic in the media for the last several years. Of late, things have started to reveal themselves – sportsmen, movie producers, medical practitioners and even educators have been put in the spotlight for what is deemed as the act of sexual harassment.
For decades, we have often been made to believe that sexual harassment is the act of sex itself. The truth of the matter is, sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual behaviour that is offensive, humiliating or intimidating; can be written, verbal or physical and can happen in person or online – to the perpetrators, it is all about power, aggression and manipulation.
You see sexual harassment everywhere - in the office, amongst business partners, on the streets, in schools, even online professional platforms not sparred. We have seen many revelations in the media recently, however, there is still something not right with the current climate of communication. Words exchanged are often taken to a different level; a level that should have never even been treaded-on.
So, let’s walk down the list and see what constitute sexual harassment. This includes but not limited to :
It is reported that 52% of women had experienced some form of sexual harassment at work. A fifth of this number has experienced sexual advances, while a quarter had been touched.
Do bear in mind that both men and women can be the victims of sexual harassment. A 2019 study on Sexual Harassment and Assault by UC San Diego Center on Gender Equity and Health reveals the following.
This is how alarming the situation is.
What do you do when you feel you are sexually harassed? The Association of Women And Research, Singapore (AWARE) stressed that you should indicate clearly that you are uncomfortable with the behaviour. Say NO effectively. It is more important to be firm than polite. If you are more comfortable not speaking to the perpetrator face to face, send an SMS or email. This message and the perpetrator’s reply may also be used as evidence.
Start collecting evidence; logs and note down dates, times, places and who was present at the time of the incidents and give detailed accounts of the unwelcomed sexual behaviour. Also, keep any email or message correspondence with the harasser as evidence. Taped evidence is also useful.
It is also good to alert or inform someone whom you trust of the harassment. Talk to friends or family members even if they were not present at the harassment scene, they may be able to support your case as witnesses.
Just sad how sexual harassment is so pervasive that it is accepted as way of life in some societies. Something has got to change and it starts with all of us speaking-up and out.
I had been called “nancy-of-many-master-of-none” – not once but many times over. I’ve had people telling me that I am flaky; changing my vocation every so often.
I was a dancer and have a degree in Business Management and later, a Post-Graduate Degree in Journalism. Started my career in the airlines, then the hospitality industry as a communications specialist; stayed on it for more than a decade. Then, made my move as a trailing spouse, teaching English in Korea and then setting up my events firm in Norway. Fast forward seven years later, we moved to Malaysia.
It was then, I realised I have always wanted to learn in-depth yoga so, I took up yoga instructor’s certification and went on to teach for about a year or so. Another long-time calling came around and I took up Image Branding Consultant certification and started having clients, ranging from individuals to corporate ones. Having been a writer since I was 18, I am always writing for periodicals in their lifestyle sections, wherever I was in the world. So a few years later, I was offered to be an Editor for a start-up magazine. Took up the offer, it flourished, left it and here I am today, owning my magazine title. Phew, what a journey that was but not without few raised-brows.
Not so long ago, after leaving college an average person joined a company, worked his or her way up and finally joined the upper management. The said person will not even cast a second look at other companies outside, citing career growth and pre-historical concepts like pensions and accumulated off-days as their pushing factors.
Today, however, career paths are much less conventional. How many of us can say we have been in a company for more than 6 years? A very small handful and even smaller if we take in Gen Z or centennials into the equation.
That said, how many of us list a couple of professional identifiers on our LinkedIn account? I’ve met many, over the last couple of years dabbling in full-time work and side-hustle at a given time.
Marci Alboher popularized the phrase, Slash Career in her book, One Person/Multiple Careers. Be it “writer/singer/florist,” “writer/actor,” or some other amalgamation of combos, Millenials have taken-up what is called the Slash Career. They are choosing to take more creative, passionate routes to success, breaking the old rules in the process.
So, my question is, does this make you flaky? Are you being accused of being someone who cannot make up his / her mind when it comes to holding on to a job or a specific industry – that you haven’t had things figured...out yet. Does this make you less credible?
Why should it be? Many of us, whether we are aware or not, have multiple talents and passion; so, why not make use of the talent and passion to live your best life.
I was speaking to a friend some days ago, discussing this very topic and something hit me, People who make differences are usually those who are multi-passionate. Take Leonardo Da Vinci for example; he was an inventor, painter, mathematician, architect amongst other things. If we are to look into a much recent time, there is Maya Angelou who was a dancer, poet, actor, activist and linguist. Then, there is James Franco who lists university lecturer, actor, director, author and visual artists in his resume.
If you’re still feeling up-in-the-air about your Slash Career work-life, I have these tips to share to make sense of them altogether.
Embrace your flake
Be real about your journey; stop being ashamed – at least you are living your dreams. Own the fact that you are multi-passionate.
Be an all-rounded achiever
Whatever skills you’re polishing in an area of your career is most certainly serving you well in your other pursuits. Working on being a strong writer, makes you a better speaker. Look into each one of your vocations; every one of them enhances the other, arming you with a robust skillset.
Position yourself properly
Treat your multi-passionateness as a strength rather than weakness. Show the world that there is absolutely nothing wrong with living all your dreams at the same time. Life is short; do what sets your soul on fire!
Know that you’ll never be bored
Having multiple vocations energizes different parts of your brain and keeps your creative juices flowing. You can always turn to the other career if you are a little unenthused with one, to find new inspiration.
You’re more interesting
Staying engaged in different types of vocations means you’re being informed in hosts of areas and collecting life experiences at a faster rate than if you are devoted to one job.
One thing all my multi-passionate aficionados should know is that you can balance being a multi-passionate individual. The very things you’re passionate and curious about, they are truly not by chance those might be your calling.
I am obsessed with my aperitivo hour. What is aperitivo? It is that brilliant couple of hours between 6pm and 9pm, a very social and functional way of meeting up with friends, having a cocktail, and enjoying nibbles or hors d'oeuvres. This is pretty similar to Spanish tapas or happy hour everywhere else, however, aperitivo is an event itself and often taken pretty seriously by the Italians.
The word aperitivo comes from the latin verb ‘to open’ and what it means is to whet your appetite and open up the stomach before dinner. It is a very lengthy but relaxed affair, not meant to replace dinner instead to make you hungry. Nibbles can range from olives, peanuts, mini pizza-like pastries, cold cuts and crostini.
Regardless of which variation of drinks and snacks appeal to you, recreating the ritual of Italian aperitivo is no different from gathering good snacks and good friends, pouring Aperol, prosecco and soda water into a glass over ice and simply letting your hair down.
Let’s talk about the main highlight - drinks. They are supposed to stimulate appetite therefore sweet cocktails are usual no-nos. The classic Italian aperitivo drinks differ by region but usually include a mix with Aperol or Campari liquors. Most often people will order a glass of wine or an alcoholic drink like the Americano, Spritz, or Negroni. The Negroni is a mixed drink using Campari, gin and vermouth. The Americano is pretty similar to the Negroni except it uses Campari, vermouth and soda instead of gin. The Spritz, which is said to have originated in Venice under the Austrian Empire, is a mixed drink using Aperol or Campari (depends on the bartender or area), sparkling white wine and soda. These classics are served in a glass with ice and usually garnished with an orange peel.
Although other cocktails such as Mojito or Cosmopolitan are on the menu, aperitivo drinks should be low in alcohol content and bitter or dry to ensure soft start and get your pre-dinner juices flowing.
While it is pretty likely that aperitivo was born in the 18th century Turin, home of Vermouth, the Milanese might not agree that this idea originated any further south than Rome.
So what nibbles should you serve alongside aperitivo?
While I love to keep it simple at home during our aperitivo hour with drinks, olives, nuts and perhaps some feta cheese in olive oil, some bars and restaurants go all out with their food spread, offering fresh pasta, assortment of Italian cheeses, grilled or sautéed vegetables and sandwiches. While it is nice to be snacking on some food while enjoying sips of your drinks, try and keep your nibbles easy and simple because the main purpose of those few hours is to stimulate your appetite for dinner.
You can also create your own aperitivo while at home, while hosting friends or family, just before heading out for dinner. Open a bottle of wine, bring out some light snacks of whatever you have from your larder, gather everyone around and enjoy the time together.
My ultimate favourite is while at the beach - a casual aperitivo on the sand. I’ll collect some wild flowers, spread out a mat, arrange drinks and nibbles. The evening is just spent sitting, chatting enjoying the lovely air of togetherness.
In Italy, aperitivo remains a quintessential Italian lifestyle – it is very much their dolce vita.
Her last words to me was, 'so you come to Phnom Penh for holiday with your husband to be happy happy..." Mindy’s voice trailed off and she looked away sadly; the look of resignation, despair and a future so bleak.
Whenever we travel, my husband and I will venture in to places where not so many conventional tourists would go, unless of course, they are seeking some sort of service there. We are well aware, many are exploited in name of tourism, the world over and this is our way to make a tiny little difference to the unfortunate ones.
On our last visit to Cambodia, Paal and me spent about an hour with the working girls of Phnom Penh. Hailed from villages all over the country, these ladies were tricked and somewhat forced into prostitution. Waiting in run down clubs at the back streets of the city, they come in all shapes and sizes. Some are young enough to still be in secondary school.
They are all beautiful in their own rights; gentle, soft-spoken - they are all dreaming of a good future - for themselves and for their kids, some back home in their villages, whichever village, that is – some have their kids with them, running in and around the backstreets, accompanying their mothers - working. Thinking about my own kids, comfortably sleeping – safe, nice and warm in their own beds many miles away from Cambodia truly broke my heart.
It has been some years now, but up till today, Mindy’s voice and those last words keep repeating in my head. Their faces – forlorn, devoid of any joy. I don't know if these ladies know - someone, somewhere is thinking of them; their predicament, their future, their lives.
Probably for most of them, there's no way out.
~ I wish you bluebirds, in the spring. To give your heart a song to sing. And then a kiss - but more than this, I wish you love ~
You get a strange feeling when you are about to leave a place. You’ll not only miss the people and sights you love, but also the person you are at this given time and place because you are never ever gonna be this way again.
We evolve, we move on, we get to better or worse places. One thing is for sure; the person we were yesterday will never be the one we are tomorrow. Shifts within us happen whether we are aware or not; big shifts, small shifts.
For the more concious, they strive to be better tomorrow; there’s no need for self-judgement, jealousy, loathing and resenting. Just the best they can – step by step; little by little. Love more, hate less – be in the current moment; develop yourself gradually from within.
“Look around you. Everything changes. Everything on this earth is in a continuous state of evolving, refining, improving, adapting, enhancing and changing. You were not put on this earth to remain stagnant.” Dr Steve Mataboli
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