Wednesday, April 30, 2008

McGriddle has arrived!

One of the things I most looked forward to on our annual trip to the USA is breakfast at Mickey D's. While we would normally not eat at McDonald's unless we are starving and there's nothing else available, I was introduced to its breakfast McGriddle a few years ago when I worked as a secret shopper and had to rate the fastfood chain's service.
It was love at first bite - the Sausage McGriddle. What's there not to love? Sausage: checked; pancake: checked; maple syrup: checked. Packing all my faves into a sandwich was a brilliant idea.

However, when we moved to Singapore, we realized that the McGriddle hasn't gotten this far yet. So, breakfast at Mickey D's was only an annual indulgence for the past three years - until today! While watching tv last night, we came across the "new" McGriddle commercial. I almost screamed in excitement! So, this morning we made our way to the nearest McDonald's and ordered our first McGriddle breakfast in Singapore. Hmmm... yummy.

We all know that global food chains typically make contextual adjustments to their products according to local tastes and preferences. Here's what we think Mickey D's did to the breakfast sandwich in Singapore: the pancake part of the sandwich is not as sweet as in the US, there's probably less maple syrup in the pancake (I remember that in the US, the maple syrup would be dripping out as I bite into the sandwich) and finally, I think they use less or none butter in the sandwich.

Husband and I suspect that they make the sandwich overall less sweet here as Asians typically have a lower tolerance for sweetness.

We observed a similar phenomenon when we were in Jakarta, Indonesia last weekend. Our local friend told us that the Indonesian-bred donut chain, J. Co. is doing better than Krispy Kreme as the latter's donuts are sweeter. Interesting... For us, we were just pleased to treat ourselves to some Krispy Kreme donuts as we reminisce our So. Cal. days!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

G spotted

One of the perks of my work is that I get to stay at pretty decent hotels when I travel. Some of the really nice ones I've stayed at in the last few years include The Broadmoor (Colorado Springs), St Regis (Dana Point, CA.), Ritz-Carlton San Juan (Puerto Rico) and Hilton Los Cabos (Mexico).These are hotels that we would never be able to afford on our own but a real treat when we get to check-in on company expense.

While I've enjoyed all these hotels, I encountered one I really adore this week when I traveled to Penang in Malaysia. G Hotel really impressed me with its generosity with space in its decor of the lobby. I love the modern contemporary design of its decor - very simple lines but yet not stark. The lobby furniture was very voguish and the overall color scheme very apropos. I also love the idea of having music piped right out to its entrance - so, as soon as you get off the cab, you are greeted by hip, rhythmic music ala Incognito inviting you to move to its relaxing beat. Though we stayed there only for a night, I was thoroughly won over by its unique concept. So, if you're ever in Penang and you're a sucker for style and design, I'd recommend the G Hotel. (By the way, they cheekily named one of the F&B outlets, G Spot!)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Thinning out

The last two days saw us cracking our heads (mostly me, really) trying to figure out how to fit all our stuff into our tiny new place. We dropped by the new place to do some measuring so that we can plan our furniture and move. What we saw depressed me. Though it was not the first time we'd seen the place but seeing it again reminds me of our imminent squeeze into a smaller space and the colossal task of moving.

We've been combing through the Ikea catalog (and the stores) and various local mom-and-pop furniture stores plus keeping ourselves posted on what's available on craigslist. Unlike most small-spaced apartments I've looked to for decor inspiration on apartment therapy, our new place has no closet or hidden storage space. My biggest challenge is finding a way to store my 20 pairs of shoes and 20 handbags...

Well, the solution is really obvious to all except to my tendency to deny: throw or give away as many as possible and only keep the ones I really like AND do use. Easier said than done BUT I am learning!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Turning 40 and looking forward to it!

A friend told me two days ago about another who's going through a tough time presently. I asked why. Well, apparently she's overwhelmed at work and she's also depressed as she'll be turning 40. The insensitive me exclaimed, "Why???" (But really, need I ask?)

This friend, I found out, is taking stock of her life - wondering if she's achieved anything worthy thus far, and also fears that she may start looking "old." I recall having similar feelings when I turned 30 but very soon after that I discovered how much I loved being in my thirties! I moved overseas the first time (to Turkey to be precise) and have since not lived in my home country. I got my graduate degree when I was 34 and got married when I was 35. Being in the thirties rocked!

As I stand at the door ushering in another decade of my life (I turn 40 in December), I am excited - at what surprises the 40's would hold for me and at all the possibilities and opportunities that beckon.

Last week I had the pleasure (and honor!) to have tea with a few ladies - one in her early 40's, three in their 50's and another in her 60's. I experienced so much joy (fun would be understating the exhilaration I felt!) with my new friends - they were probably the most lively, fulfilled bunch I've ever been with in a long time! They were gorgeous - both in body and soul, they were successful and most importantly, they weren't just concerned about menopause or how to spend their retirement fund. They were such inspiring individuals! One of them, a widow for over a decade and have two young adult sons, have recently gotten back to college for a degree in counseling and psychotherapy. There's nothing stopping these amazing ladies!

So, downhill after 40? No way! It's just a transition to another wonderful phase of our life. Believe it, as it's true!

p.s. I can't wait till December when I officially join this league of extraordinary ladies!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"Will call you back after I change the diapers."

Over lunch with a psychologist friend today, we lament about how parents, more so mothers, are not spending enough time with their children - especially during those crucial first years when intimacy between parent and child develops, and how such arrangements can adversely affect the child's values, behavior and attitude.

In a city like Singapore where the cost of living is constantly on an escalating high, are working moms really left with no other options than to leave the caring of their children to domestic helpers and daycare centers? Is the future really this bleak?

This is a crucial question for me now that husband and I are ready to consider kids (before my body gets too old for such tasks!) This evening, I came across a news article about how a US company is so mommy-friendly that it allows new moms to bring their babies to work until they get to a certain age. Now that is an intriguing idea! Nursing your baby at work!

However, I do wonder how many large companies would make such an allowance for their staff. Especially here where daycare and domestic help are readily and cheaply available, why should new parents burden themselves with their baby at work? And, why should the employer put up with wails, stinky diapers and the embarrassment of a male boss walking into a new mom nursing?

Due to the nature of my work, I would certainly not mind having my baby with me at work for its first six months. The question then is whether my employer would consent to such a progressive idea. Hmm...