Fish SOLD

I expected a lot more yelling at an auction, then again I had never been to an auction before, so I suppose my expectations were solely based on movie stereotypes.

I had never been to an auction before, let alone a fish auction.

 It’s funny how you learn secrets to the tricks of the trade when you started getting into the business of a particular trade. When the doors to our café opened, we started learning a lot of tricks of the café trade – namely attending fish auctions to get the freshest seafood at the lowest cost. This was my first time attending a fish market auction. I know what you’re thinking, “A fish auction? What even is that?” Yeah, I know, it sounds wild. Thankfully, it wasn’t all that wild at all – just a little fishy.

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The road trip it took to get there was much longer than the 15 minutes I was assured when my mom talked me into attending the auction the night before. I had no idea what to expect – chaos most likely, a lot of yelling and hollering. I had mentally prepared myself the night before to either, be slapped by a slimy fish or step into a puddle of fishy water (thankfully neither happened). We eventually arrived at our destination as I voiced my intimidation of the anticipated yelling to which my dad responded, “they don’t yell. They whisper.” The man wasn’t joking.

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We walked up to the circle of auctioneers, spectators, loiterers and fishermen just as 15 kilograms’ worth of large shrimp were dumped on the ground. There it was, the heap of gold we drove 35 minutes into a rural fishing village for. The crowd started murmuring and I could begin to distinguish the ‘regular’ auctioneers from the ordinary crowd. The lanky fisherman was tugged at the arm by a man and a deal was whispered in his ear. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was as if stepping on the auction grounds instantaneously came with the adoption of a new culture – a culture I had never witnessed before. Watching the scene unfold was entertaining and intimidating and marvellous, all at the same time.

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I guess the slight intimidation was mutually felt by my mom too, but mixed in with exuberance, she looked over to my dad for confirmation of the shrimps’ high quality and freshness and dove into the crowd. She was headed straight for the fisherman. She quickly named her price and a second passed while he considered the offer. He nodded and my mom flashed a cheeky, triumphant grin. Cash was traded and Dad carted off our winnings. It all happened so fast. I watched from the sidelines, for the next 30 minutes, as their confidence grew alongside our bucket of fresh seafood. Most of the seafood was carted off to the café’s kitchen, but I managed to snag a crab and a handful of shrimp for myself. Oh, happy days!

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Taking a Leap

Oh, the Leap of Faith! So highly spoken of, yet so rarely achieved. The intimidation of challenging oneself can so easily overpower one’s hunger for greatness – or at least, something ‘more’. It doesn’t even have to be a daredevil stunt or something life changing; something as simple as facing your fear of heights by rock climbing would suffice. For me, it was finally gathering enough courage to create and showcase my fashion designs on a runway.

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Towards the beginning of the first semester, I decided I wanted to get more involved in school activities. I attended several orientation club meetings – one of them being a meeting about the university’s biannual fashion show. I dragged my friend Agnes along thinking the meeting was about planning, designing and organizing the fashion show (a.k.a. behind the scenes stuff). To my surprise, the meeting was actually targeted at students interested in designing for the fashion show. I found out midway through the meeting and zoned out for the rest of the meeting. When the meeting ended and I was getting ready to leave, Agnes looked over at me and said, “let’s do it!” For the second time that day, I was shocked. Agnes had never sewn anything in her life, not even a button.

Dumbfounded I naturally asked her if she was serious. She responded with an enthusiastic series of nods and asked “why not?” I clearly had nothing left to do in the situation but comply with her enthusiasm. We put down our names on a spreadsheet titled “Designers” and left the room buzzed with newfound excitement and little knowledge of the commitment we just consigned ourselves to.

The semester came and went and before we knew it, it was Thanksgiving weekend. Ask any college student and they’ll tell you that your academic position is virtually decided pre-Thanksgiving – after that, redemption on pre-Thanksgiving procrastinated work is hard to achieve. That weekend, we discovered the club’s sewing machine we had loaned out with damaged. After much frustration, Agnes and I decided it wasn’t worth dragging out the procrastination. Instead, we committed to the torture (and secret reward) of hand-sewing our garments. Talk about commitment, huh?

Agnes and I slaved away, days on end, running on sleep deprivation and a significant amount of adrenaline. 4am bed times and 12am model fittings became our lives for a straight week prior to the fashion show. But we pushed through the hardship and needle pricks because we knew, with every blistering stitch, that we were creating something we would be proud to showcase come December 2nd, 2015.

And how right we were.
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The night rolled around and with a lot of boob tape, repeated last minute fittings, and stressful sweating, our garments went down the runway just as we had envisioned. We were proud of ourselves and our models, to say the least. Even thinking back on the moment to this day gives me chills. It was surreal seeing our first piece go down the runway – the very first dress I had designed sitting in bed at boarding school one morning in 2013. But like a dance recital, the four-minute duration of the show was all we had to show for ourselves. The hours and hours of stitching and stencilling happened behind the scenes, efforts hidden and disguised between the semi-opaque chiffon and jersey fabrics. Or was it? All we hoped for when we began our creative process was for appreciation of the final product, and we truly hope we achieved this. We know we did for ourselves at least. In fact, we felt so rewarded that we already have potential designs for the next fashion show. Let’s see what 2016 has to bring.

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Change

A bend in the road, a falling of leaves, the change of scenery. Some dread the evolution that change brings while others thrive on new experiences. Change is something we all have to endure at some point or another.

It’s simply inevitable.

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I often reflect on theories I studied in Psychology for scientific reasoning and evidence as to why certain things happen the way they do. As much as I despise Physics, I must admit, Science is often the only way to objectively visualize life. Being someone who always needs an answer to “why things are the way they are”, it’s also nice to have some sort of ‘logical’ explanation for inexplainable things that often cause me distress. It’s nice to (think I) have the answers for everything.

But what if the answer doesn’t exist? Sure, emotional states and stress can be ‘scientifically’ and ‘logically’ reasoned for, but does it really answer why things happened the way they did?

Change is stressful, regardless of the ‘change’ endured. One second your life is one way, but all of a sudden it isn’t. It is different. Foreign. New. Scary. Yet, exciting at the same time. My father once told me he didn’t believe in ‘stress’. “There is no such thing as ‘stress’, because once you admit to yourself that something is ‘stressful’, you give up. Nothing is stressful. It’s just a motivator for you to be better than you were before.” It’s a beautiful mantra easily forgotten in the face of adversity.

Over the course of seven weeks I have moved across the globe, started a new life, immersed myself in culture, met incredible (and not so incredible) people, been beat down by the hazing of a fraternity, survived on a lack of sleep, been severely homesick, endured an uninvited loneliness, persisted through midterms, joined clubs, explored my passions, loved, hated and learned a lot about myself. Yes, change brings the inevitability of stress and anxiety, but it pushes you to explore something new. So try to embrace it, and remember, Science can’t explain everything, so why not just leave some things up to Fate?

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Happy UnBirthday

I remember by seventh birthday vividly – it was incredible. My mom had meticulously planned every last detail, making sure to invite all my close friends, their parents and even some of my favourite teachers from school. There was a treehouse, an archery barn, games, presents, a decadently iced Disney Princess cake (featuring no less than my favourite, of course, Belle) and lots of food. Even the timing of the party had been perfectly in tune with the arrival of my cousin who had been studying in Vancouver at the time. I remember the humidity being perfect enough to where the physical games had me glistening under the summer sun, and dense enough to where it was comfortably inviting. It was a perfect day. I remember a few other scattered birthday parties from my childhood and some additional ones as a teenager with a cookies and cream Häagen-Dazs ice cream cake to share with the company of my parents. Regardless of how many or few people I was surrounded by on my birthday, I always knew I would be alright if I was with my mom. That is, after all, what a ‘Birth Day’ signifies – the day when you were first united with the incredible woman who carried you for nine months.

But when you are away from your family, under the pressures of school and surrounded by foreign-ness, the significance of the day seems to diminish. I remember crumbling on my birthday last year. Although I still can’t identify what specifically caused the breakdown, it’s now dismiss it as the combination of all things above. So, I was determined to make the most of it this year – starting was a birthday celebration more than a month pre actual birthday date!
It was a cold, post-drizzley night in Sydney when I gathered my friends and boyfriend, who had just arrived in the city early that day, to huddle up and get warm the best possible way: eating Sydney’s most authentic Neapolitan pizza. Lucio Pizzaria sits on the corner of a mini restaurant strip in the middle of what seemed like the metropolitan suburbia of Darlinghurst. With no sign or obvious advertising, the taxi driver had difficulty finding the joint and I was forced to rely on my memory for the visuals of the restaurant. When everyone had arrived and we were seated under the warmth of the patio heaters, I felt utterly content. It was the first time my Sydney friends were meeting my boyfriend and so far, are seemed to be going well. The rest of dinner was filled with get-to-know-each-other chatter and laughter mingled with pizza chomping.

What we ordered:

  • Lucio – half margherita, half calzone with ricotta, mozzarella and ham
  • Margherita – tomato, mozzarella and basil
  • 4 Formaggi – mozzarella, fontina, gorgonzola and swiss cheese

UnBirthday

I guess sometimes you just need to take control of situations for yourself and make the most of any given moment. And sometimes it’s nice to have an excuse to eat a pizza and a couple slices of gelato cake with a group of really great people.

Thank you, guys, for a memorable night x

Self Proclaimed Foodie (and my occasional battle with food)

Let’s face it, there is nothing better than a solid meal (or three) after a hard day’s work. But having just endured almost two weeks of ‘exam diet’, a.k.a. excessive cookies, egg tarts, custard buns and sushi, I decided it’s time to purge the guilty indulgences of sugary cravings and unnecessary eating with healthier options. It got me thinking about all the homemade food I used to enjoy whipping up.

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Homemade Mango Upside Down Cake

Whether it’s an ‘exam diet’, ‘holiday diet’ or ‘cheat meal/day’ it’s always good to remind yourself that the line of constant indulgence should be drawn somewhere. And although home cooking may seem like a chore to some, opting for an easy chicken salad at dinner after an all day gelato-and-Orange-Is-The-New-Black binge marathon may actually be healthier in the long run. Having left home for boarding school in my early teens, I learnt about balancing my diet the hard way. People can be incredibly critical about body image, but even more so about the way that you choose to eat. Eat ‘too much’ and you get the side eye, eat ‘too little’ and you get snarky comments about your ‘self deprivation’. I think most girls go through phases were we’re unhappy with our bodies and put ourselves through extremities of diets and exercise to ‘fix’ themselves. So what exactly did I learn about balanced diets and body image in boarding school? Eat and exercise sufficiently and disregard what others have to say.Yes, it’s important to be happy about yourself whether you’re goal may be to lose/gain weight, cut that waist or perk up that bum. But it may be time to reconsider the object of your ‘ideal’ when you begin to venture into dangerously unhealthy habits. You and I both know what I’m talking about, and although it may sometimes seem like a necessary reflex for a quick fix, crash diets, excessive exercising and unhealthy purging can’t be sustained forever – trust me.

Talking about this is often ‘taboo’, but if you have been affected by it, please don’t feel ashamed and know that you’re not alone. More importantly, know that there are far better solutions to getting on the healthy track. Like I said, I am an avid home cook – sometimes making food (and washing the dishes after) can be therapeutic and it’s always good to know in ingredients of the food you put in your body. Afterall, you are what you eat.

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What’s In My Uni Bag?

With university finals dawning, my Internet crashing and everyone’s stress levels snowballing, I decided the best thing to do was to turn my room into a make-shift photography studio. Obviously, slightly inappropriate and unproductive to the high-achieving grades that I am hoping for, but I truly needed an outlet. That was, honestly, the reason why I started lifedeesigned.com in the middle of all this academic chaos – divergence, relief and (a little bit of undeniable) procrastination.

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There’s something nostalgically pleasing about going through my bag at the end of the day. Piles of receipts from dim sum the day before, scattered pens and highlighters, and the occasional discovery of two dollar coins that aid my uni-kid pockets in feeling less broke are just some of the old discoveries that create trivial excitement. Being the friend with band-aids, tissues, wet wipes, Hollywood Tape and extra pens with her at all time, you could say I’m anything but a light packer. But after long hallways walks and 160 uphill steps connecting my school’s campuses, I have learnt that the concrete jungle of a school campus is no friend to over-packers. And so we have the bare minimum:

  • Notebooks, one for every subject of that day
  • Juicy Couture camo bag, occasionally substituted for my Cambridge Co. ‘Batchel’ when things get too heavy
  • Pencil case
  • Dior reading glasses with its black case
  • Gold Kate Spade purse
  • Current novel (a memoir), My Paris Dream by Kate Betts (a review will be coming up)
  • MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch in a gold case
  • Makeup bag by The Balm Cosmetics for all my lipsticks, balms and first-aid necessities
  • Casio fx-9860GII
  • Go-to lip products: NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream (Istanbul), YSL Babydoll Kiss and Blush (No. 8) and Carmex lip balm
  • Crabtree and Evelyn Gardeners Hand Therapy hand cream
  • Apple earphones

Spot anything you think is classifiably unnecessary? Comment down below.