The Courage to Give Up on Dreams

A friend of mine was sharing a story today, of how a friend of his confided in him: “How do you do it?? How do you go out there and create something of your own? I know I have it in me. But I don’t know what’s holding me back. Maybe I’m scared I won’t have enough clients. Maybe I’m afraid I won’t be able to make it. You’re out there doing these amazing things and I’m here… a salaried employee.”

And so my super-successful-investing-millionaire-at-19 friend was “seriously ready to unleash” one of his motivational pep talks, when he realized that this man’s fear wasn’t unfounded, it was very real. “He was a dad with two young pre-school kids. Taking risks and starting something new with the possibility of not having income to feed his kids was something very REAL!”

And he compared it to how he had little to no obligations or people to answer to other than himself when he started out, and so, grasping every benefit of having youth on his side, he made full use of his time and resources, making those calculated risks while he still could afford to lose. He didn’t want to look back one day, with mortgage payments and a baby in tow only to realize that it was too difficult to live his dreams.

And so his message was to all the 20 somethings out there: “If you’re reading this. Whatever it is that you want to do. Don’t wait already. You might just look back one day. And think. Man I WISH I did it when I was younger. I don’t know about you but I’m never ever gonna let that happen to me.”

I wanted to write this post because I like the way he approached this. He was right in not telling his friend to just give up everything and chase his dreams anyway.

I used to have that feeling too every time somebody said what I was doing was inspiring and that they wanted to do it too, “If only…”, and I was always ready to say “THEN GO DO IT!!!” Completely oblivious to the fact that for many people, it’s simply NOT an option. I used to think, “There’s no such thing as not an option, you just have to have the guts to do it! Take the first step!” Again, not true. Not everyone is fortunate enough to be in certain positions to take first steps.

We’re not talking fear of trying or fear of failing holding you back here, we’re talking some very, very real situations in which wanting to do what you really want to do, is just not possible. It could be a family situation, a disability or an injury, seriously debilitating finances… there are so many factors that may prevent someone from being in full control of their own lives. Would you say to someone you see on the street, homeless and who hasn’t had a meal in months — “You’ve always wanted to travel the world? Well, why don’t you then?! GO DO IT ALREADY!”

Nope. And we as people who have stories to share, have to realize this with newfound humility, and never forget that just because we were blessed to be able to do certain things, doesn’t mean that everyone else can, or is in the same position to. And we really shouldn’t abuse that power by making people feel even worse for not being able to pursue their dreams as much as they wish they could. Not everyone is willing to be homeless and jobless with a baby in a cardboard box. And I am not saying this metaphorically. ;)

The message that we need to keep sharing is: “Do what makes you happy.” We keep saying “Chase your success!” but we forget to tag that huge asterisk — Success SHOULD mean different things to you and me. No one is to say that his friend, with whatever job he’s doing, even as a salaried employee, with his own lovely family, isn’t more successful than my acknowledgeably and arguably successful friend. People really just need to learn to redefine success more accurate on their own terms, instead of society’s.

There are days I have -$0.25 in my bank, and yet I have never ever once thought of myself NOT as a success, because money doesn’t define me. You draw happiness from doing the things that GENUINELY make you happy. And to find out what they are, you just need to learn how to be honest with yourself, in all things big and small. Don’t let someone else define you. Don’t let the rules of other people govern you. Seize control of what you can control — who you are and what makes you happy.

It’s probably taken old age to teach me this, but sometimes it takes courage to give up your dreams too. And make new dreams. Real dreams. YOUR dreams.

I Wanna Be Like Me


Have you ever met someone that just blew you away? A motivational speaker, perhaps? A mentor, maybe? Someone who’s doing good work? Someone you look at and go, “Wow, I want to be like him/her one day.”

Maybe it’s their outwardly cheerful personality you admire. Maybe it’s how their hearts seem so full of love. Maybe it’s how giving they seem to be. Maybe it’s how they achieve so much. Maybe it’s how great they look. Maybe it’s the awesome tips they share that you’ve benefitted from. Maybe it’s just the entire package that managed to gain your respect, and makes you even a little envious.

Perhaps you even secretly wished you looked like them, or wanted to be more like them, or wanted to taste success like they have.

If you’ve ever felt this way, as I know I have at some points in my life, here’s something you should do. Look at yourself in the mirror, and ask yourself, “Am I that bad?”

Are you that bad that you’re hoping to become more like someone else instead of simply becoming the best that you can be? (Also because, you don’t REALLY know other people’s lives inside and out.) I will never excel at anything much in this life, not because I don’t have the potential for it, but because I don’t have the desire or ambition to, and that’s fine with me. I like who I am, I like the way I am, I like what I’m doing, I like where I’m going, I like being me.

Sure, sometimes I wish I had a more outgoing and cheerful spirit, or was more sociable or friendly. I can be a little shy and introverted sometimes, not really having the energy to engage more, even though I would love to.

Or if I admire someone’s generosity, I try and remember that I’m generous in my own little ways too. Sometimes I even forget how much I give because I don’t count these things or am even aware that I’m giving. And I could be more generous, but I believe that if you have little, you share little, that’s perfectly fine.

When it comes to looks, my life turned around when I stopped looking at my flaws and started loving all of me. It took me some time but I accepted how I look, and now it’s become more important to me to look real and authentically ME, than it is to look like anyone else.

I admit, sometimes I admire people for how inspirational they are, how they inspire others. How people look up to them. How they seem to make a difference in the world. And then it only takes one comment from someone else, even a stranger, like a random reader comment in my mailbox that says, “Thank you for that article, I really related to it, and it really inspired me,” to know that I am capable of inspiration too.

I remember at one point in my life, people were asking me why I don’t try and build up my blog and make it “go viral” and have thousands of supporters blah blah blah. And I honestly did think about it. Freebies are a perk (well, not any more that you’ll get taxed on them haha), and people saying nice things about you, well, that’s ALWAYS gotta feel awesome.

But I saw how things change when that happens, you end up blogging a lot more for your readers and for “the market” and “the clients” etc, than for yourself. And that’s exactly why I started blogging and will always continue blogging – for myself. And if along the way, I manage to touch a single soul with my writing, AWESOME. Like one reader said to me, “I don’t know how many people you touched with that article, but you certainly touched mine, and to me, that matters a whole darn lot.”

I may not be as good looking or high-spirited or even show off how great I am that much (you know, cuz I’m humble like that LOLOLOL), but it doesn’t mean I’m not wonderful in my own ways – in fact, how do you know if perhaps you are even MORE wonderful? ;) Believe in yourself, and just become the most wonderful version of you that you can be. Stress-free.

What Would You Fix?

I recently came into a situation where I had to actually sit down and honestly and seriously think and identify one part of my life that needs real fixing. I thought about all the usual suspects – family, relationship, career, myself… And realized that there was nothing. Well, some aches and pains in this old girl, sure. And more money would always be welcome.

Other than that, it almost seems I’m functioning at optimum haha. I’m happy with where my life has taken me so far, and will continue to take me (actually I don’t know anything about this part, and that makes it all the more exciting for someone who loves the thrill of adventure hehe). I’m surrounded by people who absolutely love me, because I choose to be surrounded only by people who absolutely love me. Every day I wake up happy to pursue my passions and know I’m making a difference in this world, and go to bed feeling fulfilled and very loved (thanks to a personal bolster thing), but also excited about the future.

My only insecurities can be counted and deposited into the bank, or massaged away. I know who I am, what I’m like, what I like and dislike, what I want to be more like, and who I want to be when I grow up. Almost. I’m still keeping my options open. Like figure skating on ice-cream. One day, that’ll be a thing.

It’s probably a good place to be. After all, I’m the youngest I’ll ever be right this minute, there’s so much more excitement to expect in the future. Then again, I’m also the oldest I’ve ever been so far, so maybe I should have gained *some* wisdom at least haha.

What about you? What would you fix? <3

Stop Spending & Start Living

Of course, I *try* to stay abreast (tee hee) of industry news, but seriously, reading articles with words like “ad spend”, “regional networks”, “2016 outlook”, “fourth-quarter earnings”, “strategic priorities”, “fast growth markets”, “investment management”, “global trends”……… *YAWN*

Many years ago I made a promise to myself to never work for anything with a bottom line to protect, or a profit and loss sheet to balance. And every day that I’m not doing that, has been a good day worth living.

Maybe one day the world will realize that a meaningful life is OUT THERE, not in a hierarchical boardroom, not in a fancy branded store, and most definitely not in that wad in their wallet.

Consumerism is so out of whack. Here, almost everyone’s lifestyle revolves around activities and services that require money. Why do we pay others to do things we can do for ourselves? Why do we pay to be entertained, pay to be fed, pay to work out, pay to hang out, pay to be pampered, pay to feel good about ourselves?

The best things in life are free. They’re just waiting for you to stop spending to discover them.


Just a little thought today. I received a little mail in my inbox today from a colleague who always sends out nice inspirational messages when she receives them from a friend. Today’s one said that one of the secrets to happiness is learning to figure out your needs from the wants. It made me chuckle, so I thought I’d share this.

For most people, the issue comes when they want a lot more than they need. So makes sense, when you finally figure out that you don’t actually need a lot, you’ll be a lot happier, you know, without all that “other stuff”.

For me, it’s the complete opposite. My husband hates it how every time he asks me “Do you want this?” – and it could be referring to everything from the last sip of drink in a cup to a pair of dazzling earrings I’m staring at outside a jewelry shop – almost always, my answer would be, “Nah, I don’t need it.”

It infuriates him to no end. Which, I couldn’t, for the life of me, understand. Why isn’t it good that I don’t need anything? Doesn’t that make me a superbly low-maintenance wife? I don’t stress my husband out needing to be placated with sparkly baubles or branded tissue paper carriers. That’s good, right?

Turns out, it’s pretty selfish of me, actually. You have to think about it this way: Having a wife who does not actually need anything means he’s not able to give me something he knows I will like or enjoy. In other words, I’m pretty much denying him any opportunity to make me happy.

Without knowing what somebody likes, wants, needs, how do you ever give anything, surprise them, offer to do something for them etc. And without actions, how do you show love? At the end of the day, the more I said, “No thanks, I don’t need it,” he was running out of more and more ways to show me just how much he loves me.

Nowadays the same thing happens – “Do you want this?” – “Nah, I don’t need it.” – “I know you don’t need it. But do you want it?” And then I’m forced to look inwardly into the deep dark caves of my being, where my most selfish innermost desires lay, and ask myself, “DO I WANT it? Would it make me happy (to slurp up that last sip of drink, or whatever)?”

It’s a lot of introspection and self-querying on my part. I have to come to understand myself a whole lot better. And it’s an ongoing process, for sure. Sometimes when I’m eating certain foods I’ve always eaten before, now I feel like a robot trying it for the very first time and sorting them into categories, like “When he asks, say YES!!” and “When he asks, say NO I don’t WANT it.”

I realize for many people who’ve always been able to get the things they want and have their way all their lives, this comes easy to them. They know exactly what they want and they go for it. For me, it’s always been more of a case of, since you know you’ll never be able to afford the stuff you really do want, you learn to acquire a more “affordable” taste, you know what I mean?

Like I’m pretty sure if you showed me any two things, and asked me which one I wanted, and I pointed at the one I thought was prettier, but upon reveal of the price, learnt the other (uglier) one was wayyyyyy cheaper, the uglier bag would actually grow to become more attractive to me. Yes, it’s actually true, for me at least. My brain actually self-compensates in this way.

Along the same vein, if there’s something wonderful I love, but I know there are others who don’t have it, I instinctively love it less so that I’m more inclined to share it with others and not keep it for myself. Again, completely true story.

I’m sure there are psychological theories on these. I call it “Survival” and “Being nice”. But over the years, they’ve become inbuilt mechanisms, and now I face the difficult uphill task of unravelling all that programming, and discovering once and for all, what I truly do need and want.

On successful days, he asks me if I want the last piece of brownie and ice cream on the plate, and my eyes light up, and I say “YES!!!!” And we commence to fight over it, of course with me winning, because he lets me. And that’s his little way of showing me he loves me. :)

Budget Bruschetta At Just $3.50!

Money has been really tight of late (we’re talking single-digit unwithdrawable bank balances), so we’ve had to really watch our spending. Since we’ve always shied away from luxury experiences (restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, entertainment etc), and can’t cut down any further on the bare necessities (from toiletries to transport), the only area we’ve been trying to tighten our purse strings in is FOOD. (OMG, FOOD!)

Luckily for us, Singapore offers an array of cheap makan (eating) options, with coffee shops, hawker centres and food courts in abundance. But being the “Western food” lovers we are, there are days where you feel like you just can’t stomach another chicken rice or bakchor mee, and you realise you can’t deceive yourself anymore with a plate of sub-quality steak and call it good grub.

Those are the days you crave tastes and textures that are much more elevated (to borrow a MasterChef word), much more otherworldly. You yearn for food you can call scrumptious, lavish, delectable, exquisite, you know, all those words you don’t just want to see in a thesaurus, but rather, want to express upon biting down on yummy food.

We know. We’re there. So we try to recreate restaurant quality dishes (you can tell we’re fans of MasterChef) that wow and amaze ourselves. This week we made a bruschetta (pronounced brusketta, by the way) that left us so mind-blown, we literally felt a sadness wash over us when the last crumb was cleaned from the plate.

So for everyone out there who loves a good bruschetta but can’t afford $15 a plate in a fancy cafe, we hope this recipe will help you attain ambrosia at just $3.50 per person (not including kitchen staples). Buon appetito!

Heaven even for the health-conscious!

Our Bruschetta Recipe


  • Walnut bread ($3.20 a loaf)
  • Tomatoes ($0.70 for 3)
  • Cream cheese ($3 worth used for this recipe)
  • Garlic
  • Bacon bits (optional)
  • Herbs like thyme and basil
  • Seasoning ingredients like salt and pepper

Making It:

Bread: We love it with a good walnut loaf, you know, the kind with seeds and grains and nuts on the outside as well as on the inside. The nutty flavour really does come through, so yes, it’s worth getting a bread that’s not just plain old baguette. If you have a grill or grill pan, try grilling your bread slices. Unfortunately we don’t, so we opt for toasting them in a little oven toaster without the tray, just straight on the rack. Remember to turn the rack around and flip the slices to get evenly toasted toast.

Tomatoes: It’s best to buy fresh tomatoes from the store rather than get some out of the fridge. Apparently fresh non-refrigerated tomatoes are just more tomatoey. Don’t ask why! About three good-sized tomatoes work for the both of us – that makes about 12 slices of bruschetta. Of course, if you want to heap more on, go ahead! The sky’s your limit (or the size of your mouth)! First core the tomato (slice out a window down the middle and pop out the core), then chop them up into little pieces. Always remember, you don’t want to end up fighting with your food, so chop them so they’re easy to work with!

Garlic: Prepare about two cloves, peeled and chop off the head a little so its raring to go. Rub this on the bread after its freshly grilled or toasted, while its still warm. This is apparently not only the most authentic way of making bruschetta, but also the best way to infuse that aromatic garlicky goodness into the bread. Get another clove or two (this is all up to personal preference, some people shy away from garlic like traditional vampires – though, even for non-traditional ones, if Edward Cullen ate a lot of garlic, he probably wouldn’t have gotten the girl, I mean, halitosis just isn’t sexy the way being really white and sparkly is) and mince them up really fine.

Here’s the fun part. Toss the chopped up tomatoes with olive oil, the minced garlic, black pepper (I use both grounded Sarawak pepper and Jamie Oliver’s tellicherry black pepper), salt, some thyme (or other italian herbs you like), a little white pepper just because we like the flavour white pepper brings to a dish, I add just a dash of soy sauce but that’s optional, and maybe even some chili flakes (just a little, you don’t want this to become a spicy dish). I also add a little garlic bread spice blend if I have it, I think it just adds a little extra something something. But don’t worry, it totally works without it as well. Just something to note: Tomatoes are very “absorbable”, so you might have to add more seasoning than you expect. Just keep tasting your food (enough with the MasterChef references, I know).

Okay, toss it all together, and then let it sit for a while, say at least five minutes. The sitting part is where the infusion and absorption magic takes place, and you really want the tomatoes to soak in as much of that flavour as possible. Also, they release some juices while sitting, and this makes for really awesome stuff later – you’ll see (literally, like in the next paragraph). Don’t lick it all away!

Now it’s time to put it all together. Spread a thick layer of cream cheese (we use good old Philadelphia, but any works) on the toast, spoon some tomato bits on it, sprinkle some totally optional bacon bits (store bought or better still, freshly sizzled bacon bits mmmmm!), and top it all off with a splash of the yummy tomato juices left sitting in the bowl, and a pinch of basil right on top.

And there you go! Tuck into the most heavenly, most divine bruschetta we’ve ever had (and we’ve tried a lot)!

Smakelijk! :)

The 7-Day Rediscover Yourself Selfie Challenge

Or how to rediscover yourself through selfies in 7 days

These days, it’s getting easier and easier to lose yourself, lose sight of what you want, lose faith in what you believe in. Every now and then I like to take a break and do a reality check on myself, make sure I’m still who I think I am VS who I’m expected to be.

If you were to pause and take a minute to look through your “Photos of You” album on Facebook, what would you see? Does it accurately paint a picture of the person you are? Often times, our smile is just the right balance between too much and too little, the tilt of our head/jawline/cheek just the right angle to capture our best side, the glimmer in our eyes a guilty indication that we’re much too aware of ourselves.

For once, let go of that need to look pretty and present your “best” self. Truth is, you are your best when you are, simply and truthfully, just you.

When was the last time you took a picture of yourself that just represented YOU? So if you’re up for rediscovering the real you, try out this 7-day challenge. I look forward to seeing your pictures. Remember to tag #7dayselfie :P

Day 1: The Big Head Big Grin

Hold your camera up close, tilt your head upwards, and grin your biggest grin. Smile until your eyes disappear. And you can see your brains up your nostrils. That’s you at your happiest. Now that you remember what it looks like, aim to do it more often. Honestly, nobody cares what your teeth look like except your dentist, and even then, it’s cuz he’s getting paid to.

Day 2: The Classic Pimple Shot

This time around, don’t shy away from taking pictures just because you have a huge zit on your face people can’t look away from when talking to you. Embrace it. Become one with your pusball. Do not, under any circumstances, use one of those blemish-erasing apps. Don’t you dare. You are beautiful as you are, naturally.

Day 3: The Real OOTD

When you think about putting on something today, don’t think about what’s trendy, or what looks good on you. Think about what you feel like wearing. Don’t care if it doesn’t match, the last time you wore it you were 8 years old, or that your 2-year-old toddler picked it out for you. Just put it on and feel proud. This picture should capture that moment of pride. Because that feeling of wearing what makes you feel comfortable and happy? Welcome to the world of dressing for yourself, not society.

Day 4: The Bad Side

Everyone kinda feels they have one side that looks better, and we try to present this side every time we take a picture. For this one, flip it. Try to make an effort to take a bunch of pictures with your “bad” side. You’ll start to realise you don’t actually have a bad side. You never did.

Day 5: The Candid Paparazzi

Get a friend, family member, other half, stranger to take secret candid pictures of you as you go about your day. And get them to pick their favourite picture of you. It might be a picture you would never pick for yourself, but then again, nobody views you the way you the exact way you view yourself, and your view isn’t the most important in the world. Sometimes it’s nice to open yourself up to another perspective every now and then. You see a lot more that way.

Day 6: The Super Un-Glam Pose

Hand on hips, leg a little bent, facing a 45 degree angle… scrap all that and give me your best un-glamourous pose. Don’t think, just be. Shake your limbs out, let your hair down, and just act silly. As silly as you want, as silly as you can be. Let it go. Let yourself go.

Day 7: The Passport Photo

Fresh faced, no makeup, no hairdo, no rose water face spritz. Just you. Look straight ahead into the camera and smile. Smile like you’ve just gotten a raise. Smile like there’s a batch of fresh cookies waiting for you. Smile like you just got face-licked by your dog. Smile like there are no worries big enough to get you down, the laundry’s done, and tomorrow will be an awesome day. Because it will. Just tap into your deepest self, and smile like you mean it. This is you, beautiful in all your glory. Remember this, hold on to this, and never let this person go.

Copywriting 101 [Issue 01]

I’ve gotten lots of questions as to “how to do copywriting?” First thing you have to know, copywriting is very different from fiction writing, poetry writing, song writing… The difference is: There is a clear objective that needs to be met. Whether it’s to persuade someone to buy something or to brainwash their thinking, there is something that needs to be achieved.

Therefore in copywriting, you have to select your arsenal carefully. Writing for marketing is a skill – every choice of word, phrase, sentence structure, flow – there must be a rationale to justify it. Using a simple one-paragraph example I recently edited, here are some things you can consider:

Original paragraph:

I love my job because it allows me to put my passion into my profession and gives me the opportunity to inspire the next generation of artists to create something beautiful and engaging for the art industry. (To date, Stanley’s online art gallery on deviantART has been viewed for more than 85 million times and have 300,000 active followers around the world.)

New paragraph:

I love my job – I’m making my passion my profession! Every day, I get to share this passion with an international art community (Stanley’s gallery has more than 85 million views!) and inspire the next generation of artists to create beautiful and engaging art.

#1: “…because it allows me to put” is passive, uninteresting and unnecessary. Remove it.

#2: You could edit it to become “I love making my passion my profession”, but I chose to keep the phrase “I love my job” because honestly, how many people can say that? It’s a bold statement in itself, 4 words that are hard to come by, and also somewhat envy-inspiring. And in marketing, anything envy-inspiring is gold.

#3: You could say “I love my job because it’s my passion”, but I’d choose to use the line “making my passion my profession” – there’s just something about using rhymes in marketing: it’s catchy, gives a nice ring to it, and almost creates its own tagline.

#4: In addition to the above, also note there is a difference in meaning when you say “I love my job because it’s my passion” VS “I love my job – I’m making my passion my profession” – the latter more clearly shows that it’s been your passion long before it became your livelihood.

#5: Although many experts will frown upon the use of an exclamation mark here, especially for formal writing such as news articles and business webpages, I chose to use it to drive the spirit of the strong statement in play – you can almost feel the adrenalin that courses through it! Don’t forget, the exclamation mark is used to indicate strong feelings – if this isn’t worthy of an exclamation mark, I’m not sure what is. Especially for a so-called “emotionless” bunch of people, perhaps we should start learning how to interject exclamation marks in our lives once again!

#6: After making such a strong statement, it is almost mandatory for you to utilise the next sentence explaining yourself, or supporting your bold claim. Just HOW exactly? What do you MEAN? Ah, because… “Every day, I get to share this passion (blah blah blah)…”

#7: Why the use of “Every day”? Because I wanted to drive home the message again that we all do work every day, but how many of us get to share our passions with others or inspire others? Work, with its routine nature, is almost more likely to make us feel down, than alive. But I want to evoke your imaginations for a second – Imagine if every single day, you get to share your passion and inspire others… Also, it highlights again what an amazing profession he has chosen for himself that it benefits him every day.

#8: Using the words “I get to” shows again how rare this opportunity is and that he has actually clinched the prize. Again, not everybody gets to – he does. And he gets to say so.

#9: I liked the idea of being able to “share this passion with an international art community” over just saying he has a popular online gallery. “International” shows global reach; “art community” paints the image of an entire group of like-minded people who are in search of inspiration daily – and he’s right there at the forefront of inspiration.

#10: I chose to shorten “Stanley’s online art gallery on deviantART” to “Stanley’s gallery” because 1) the .com shows you it’s online, 2) the former doesn’t give the link that you can visit if you’re actually interested to, after reading this article, and 3) since the word “art” is everywhere, we don’t even need to say “art gallery” anymore, it’s otherwise inferred from the fact that it’s on the deviantART platform.

#11: Between both statistics – more than 85 million views VS 300,000 active followers around the world – I went with the one that said “million”. Yes, it really is that easy. Anything with “million”, “billion”, anything that sounds more mind-boggling than you could possible calculate = good. Use it.

#12: I kept the “inspire the next generation of artists” because it’s about being a mover and shaker, a leader, an innovator, an educator, all in one. It’s about paving the way for others to follow; it’s about becoming a legend, and leaving a legacy. There is something grand about it, and I’d like to keep that imagery and atmosphere.

#13: I chose to keep “beautiful and engaging” because they are good words, but I swopped “something… for the art industry” to just “art”, because the first has a very commercial direction to it, while the latter has a more open, ethereal, inspirational feel to it.

#14: Instead of the more long-winded version, the result is short, to the point, but still encapsulates the essence of how passionate he is about what he does. Job done!

And so there you have it. It might look like one simple paragraph, but a lot of brainwork has gone into it! Sure, there are lots more ways to improve on it, but for its purpose, this will do for now. So remember, when writing or editing anything, just keep in mind your objectives, and rationalise your choices. Happy copywriting! :)

The Sodastream Revolution

A few months ago, we were at a friend’s place in Belgium watching another exciting match (where Belgium won), when our host asked if we’d like a Cuba Libre. We’re fans of the battle-cry cocktail, so naturally, yes please! Yummy sips later, we were surprised to learn that the cola she used in the cocktail she had actually made herself.

Yep, that was the night we discovered the amazing Sodastream. I’ve never done any product reviews before, so you can imagine this one must be pretty good. What does it do? It makes soda drinks. Fizzy drinks, soft drinks, gassy drinks, whatever you like to call it. And you can make it when you want it, right from your couch.


Put simply, it’s just carbonating water, adding syrup, mixing, and voila, refreshing soda ready to go. To break it down into steps:

Step 1: Pop a pre-compressed CO2 gas canister into the machine
Step 2: Attach a bottle of water
Step 3: Press to dispense gas
Step 4: Remove bottle
Step 5: Pour in syrup
Step 6: Mix
Step 7: Enjoy!
Or as one website says: Fill, Fizz, Flavour and Enjoy!

fill,fiz, less stroke

7 steps might sound like a lot more work than simply buying a bottle of Coca-Cola and pouring it out, but here are 7 reasons why I’m glad we bought one: (No, not just cuz Scarlett Johansson says so / See the behind-the-scenes)

1. Healthier
Purely looking at the numbers, Sodastream’s sodamixes (as their syrups are called) champ our old regulars Coca-Cola, Pepsi, 7-UP and Sprite any day. They also use sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup – yep, that nasty post-war surplus-crop result the US food industry was built upon, and that everyone today seems to be addicted to.

But even for those really going all out down the health route, if you’re on a low-sugar diet, just use less sodamix. And sure, there’s always going to be some controversy over the sodamixes containing chemicals and colourings, so if you really want to go au naturel, you can still use Sodastream to make a seltzer and add your own berry juices, mix your own syrups at home, or just add a dash of lemon the way fancy people do.

2. Saves money
Coca-Cola is expensive. In Belgium, a Coke could cost you more than a beer! One sodamix bottle, going at S$9.80 here, can make about 12 litres or 36 cans of soda. That’s like, what, 27 cents a can?? But ok, granted, we have to add in the cost of the gas canister too. We’re still doing the math on this as we use it, but right now the calculations add up to about 55 cents a can total. That’s still much cheaper than what you’d pay for usually.

3. Many choices
sodastreamsodamixesWhatever you feel like drinking, you’ll be able to make one. Personally, our stash of favourites includes Cola, Raspberry, Ginger Ale, Lemon Lime, Apple and Root Beer. We’ve yet to discover the treasure trove of flavours that Takashimaya promises to restock soon [will update then!], but so far, we’re pretty happy with what we’ve got. Apparently Sodastream has produced more than 50 flavours and plans to release even more in the future. Unfortunately for us, not all the flavours they launch in the US are available on our sunny isle.

By the way: Apparently Sodastream has also introduced Sodastream Caps so you simply pop on a cap full of syrup over your carbonated bottle and press, releasing it instantly. They also have a range of Happy Hour cocktail mixers (check out this video), green teas, and MyWater essences to get lightly-flavoured water. Let’s just hope they’ll bring them in here too!

4. Gets you burping
Because you dispense the gas yourself, you can choose just how fizzy you need your drink to be. One of the main reasons why we got it was because fizzy drinks help my boyfriend burp, a great way of releasing the excess gases in your digestive system. Needless to say, if you don’t release these gases then you’ll end up feeling bloated, sometimes even to the point of pain, or it might lead to endogenous toxins being released into your bloodstream, which is, well, toxic. And you don’t want that. Duh.

5. Saves the earth
Using only the re-useable Sodastream bottle to make soda now, our household has much less wastage in terms of plastic bottles and metal cans that we would usually be piling up. Also, since you use the normal water that comes out of your tap, there’s no need to buy special carbonated water or mineral water which all come in more plastic bottles.


6. Convenient
Ok you guys might not have an issue with this since you have lifts, but we stay in a four-storey walkup, so we’d choose making our own soda from the comforts of our couch versus climbing up a hundred steps tugging heavy bottles of soda any day, tyvm. Also, the Sodastream only takes up a small counter space, and it’s much easier to store the tiny Sodamix bottles the size of your palm, especially space-saving when they contain the equivalent of 8 x 1.5L PET bottles of Coke!

7. Fun
Who are we kidding? Who cares how much healthier it is, we’re just in it cuz it’s fun. (Hee hee!) Sometimes we fight over who gets to carbonate the water. If you’re a parent, tough luck, you’ll have to fight with your kids over it. But yeah, if it’s this much fun for us, I’d imagine it’d be tons fun for little ones as they get to have a hand in making their own yummy drinks. It’s also great for entertaining when we have guests over (our friends are just overgrown kids too anyways).


If you’re thinking of getting a Sodastream, here are 7 tips I’d like to share:

1. Note refill locations: Find out where the nearest places are that stock refills for Sodastream gas canisters. When you run out of gas, you should be able to quickly get a refill nearby (they call it a refill, but in Singapore they do a 1-for-1 replacement instead). A refill is only S$22, compared to a new one at S$55.

2. Keep them chilled: Always keep a bottle in the fridge so you have a cold one ready to go when you want it. We bought three bottles so that we could always have two different flavoured drinks and one on standby. A little indulgent, methinks, but useful!

3. Pick the right one: There are a few different models of Sodastream machines, but you don’t really need the fancy ones unless you are a fancy person. We got the cheapest model (S$155) and it does everything we need it to. The newer, more expensive models feature new snap-lock technology, auto-sliding, LED lights, metal bodies, glass carafes, and other fancy stuff we don’t need. But, to get the one that’s best for your needs, I’d advise you to go to a store and have the demonstrator show you how they all work so you can pick the right one.

4. How much gas? If you have an older model like ours and the gas-dispensing is manual (i.e. it dispenses when you press the button), and you’re not sure how much gas to dispense, listen out for the buzzes. After pressing a few times you’ll hear a loud buzz sound. Don’t worry, it’s all normal. And yes, you’ll be able to tell it’s a buzz; it’ll be obvious. As a handy guide, go with 3 buzzes for fruity flavours and 5 buzzes for cola flavours, and adjust to your preferences.

5. Pouring: When pouring in the syrup, always tilt the bottle at a slight angle so that there’s room for the air to escape as well and you won’t end up with a big wet, sticky mess everywhere.

6. Mixing: When mixing the bottle, we found it better to turn it upside down and then back up, and then maybe one more time upside down. No prizes for guessing what happens if you mix it the way you do a cocktail in a shaker.

7. AU/NZ: A most important note: If you live in Singapore, buy a Sodastream from Singapore. It might be more expensive than the ones retailing in Australia and New Zealand, but those machines utilise a different threading and you won’t be able to fit local gas canisters into them. And no, you can’t travel with a gas canister no matter what flight you’re on. And yes, this only applies to Australia and New Zealand. They’re special. Haha.

Enjoy your Sodastreaming! :)

The True Meaning of Being Open-Minded

A lot of people like to think they’re open-minded. “I’m totally open-minded about cohabiting,” or “I’m totally open-minded about gay marriage.”

Open-mindedness is not about being fine with the things that you’re fine with. If you’re fine with it, then who cares how open you are about it? It’s your opinion. You own it. You agree with it. On the contrary, being open-minded is exactly what’s needed when it’s something you don’t – or even can’t – agree with.

Being open-minded is allowing yourself to be open to the possibility that there may be other ways – other than the way you think is right. It’s saying ‘No’ to narrow-mindedness – the belief that there is only a right way and a wrong way, or that there’s only one entrance and one exit to the maze that is Life.

Fact is: There are a million pathways. And sure, you might think any way but yours will lead to doom, or should not even exist in the first place; fair enough, that’s your opinion. But you have to at least acknowledge they are there, whether you like it or not. And then hopefully open yourself up to the possibility that perhaps, just perhaps, they might lead somewhere, too.

The problem is, all our lives, we are taught one way of doing things, one way that things should be, and that one way becomes the only way, built into our psyche, our entire universe. But guess what? It’s precisely the same thing for the person next to you. And that’s already two really different, diverse ways of doing things. Add more people, and you’ll discover every person might have their own set of rules and values and habits and preferences.

If we all live with the attitude that only our way is the right way, we’ll never have room for others’ opinions. We’ll shut them down before they can even start explaining. We’ll never give them a chance, never give another way an opportunity, never learn new things, never try new things. We’ll be stuck the exactly same flawed way we are, moulded by all those negative disappointments and failures and upsets in life, and never discover the possibility of a better way.

But okay, say it doesn’t lead to a better way. But ah, that’s the other great thing about being open-minded. It doesn’t mean you have to accept it. Understanding is not accepting. Understanding is comprehending where someone else is coming from, seeing their point of view, learning of a new path. You’re totally allowed to disagree with it. You just have to respect it. You just have to acknowledge that while it doesn’t make any frikkin’ sense to you at all, it makes sense to them. And they should be able to live by that, as much as you should be allowed to live by your own thinking.

It’s called open-mindedness because it is literally opening our mind to many, many possibilities, and understanding that our way is just as much merely a “possibility” to others as theirs is to us. It takes the ego away from the situation, and reduces our way to simply one way out of a million, thus humbling us as a person.

It reminds us that we’re just a speck in this vast ocean of people. It helps us take a step back and look at the bigger picture, that we’re all out here just trying to be good people, lead a good life, be happy. We all just have different ways of achieving that. And there are no right ways or wrong ways (except murder and hurting others and such), just my way, your way – and his way and her way and their way… and Frank’s way. But of course.