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Singapore Expat LifeTravel

Body piercings, colorful kavadis and chanting: Thaipusam Festival 2019

Usually, I run from needles. The idea of something sharp sliding through anyone’s flesh is enough to make me feel a little less steady on my feet. But yesterday, I walked willingly through the country’s epicenter of all things sharp, spikey and barbed and I actually watched as men pierced each other’s chest, back, arms, tongue and head. Yesterday was Thaipusam, the Hindu festival of devotion, prayers and penance. (Thai = the name of the month on the Tamil calendar, and Pusam = the name of a star, which is at its highest point during the festival). Hindus dedicate the

Singapore Expat Life

One more step along the world I go

Before I had children, my company sent me to London for a two-week business trip (or secondment, as they so fancily called it) to fill in for one of my counterparts in public relations who was away on her honeymoon. Not only was it my first time in the U.K., it was my first time to travel internationally by myself. I had a bit of a rocky start, thanks to a mix-up with my hotel, which landed me in a NON-AIRCONDITIONED room during a midsummer heat wave. And I swear the hotel looked just like the one in The Shining,

How Cooking is Like Writing
Writing Tips

The Top 5 Ways Writing is Like Cooking

I write, I cook, and I often write about cooking. As it turns out, cooking and writing have a lot in common! The Top 5 Ways Writing is Like Cooking   1. Like Grandma’s famous chicken wings, stories should be a blend of sweetness and spice to make them oh so savory.   2. Writing and food should be fresh. Clichés are as stale as graham crackers in an already-opened package.    3. If you’re a newbie, keep it simple. Hold off on the complicated plot structures and Pâté en Croûte until you have a liiiitle more experience.   4. Whether

Caption this crazy Halloween photo
Writing Tips

Photo Caption Challenge – A Handy Halloween

Alright, my writerly friends… let’s stretch our creative muscles and write a caption for this fun photo! Your caption can be funny, poignant, poetic, mysterious—it’s up to you!  Halloween is in several weeks, which means stores are keeping shelves stocked with candy, spooky decorations and other fun tricks and treats. I snapped this photo at my local grocery store in early October, so kudos to the folks at HEB for their Halloween decorating awesomeness.  Captions from Instagram A special thanks to the super-creative Instagrammers who initially provided a caption for this writing challenge. I’m lovin’ the puns and humor in

Book Recommendations

The book that will make you adore historical fiction

Even if you snoozed through ninety percent of your college history classes, Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network will whisk you into the wonderful realm of historical fiction faster than you can say World War I. And speaking of World War I, that’s the setting for about half of Quinn’s novel, which is both a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. The other half of the novel is set in 1947, after World War II. Chapter by chapter, the story alternates between the two time frames and two main characters.  1915 Eve Gardner is a woman with a severe speech

Book Club Central

Put on Your Best Book Face

Have you ever been accused of having your nose in a book? Of course you have! This month, challenge your book club friends or writing group to put their nose behind a book. That’s right, stand behind a book and start snapping photos. Book face photos are nothing short of hysterical because they look so odd. It’s similar to swapping heads or bodies using photo editing software, but it’s much easier to pull it off. There are numerous books with covers that are perfect for book face photos. Before you head to the library or bookstore, browse the books on

Book Club Central

Picture Books You Can (and Should!) Give to Adults

If I added up all the time I’ve spent in the greeting card aisle at the grocery store, it would probably equal at least a day. Why? Because it is hard to find the perfect card. Sometimes they’re too sappy. Sometimes they’re too flippant. Sometimes I love the artwork and the message, but then I turn it over and see that the card is $7.00. Yikes! This past Mother’s Day, instead of getting my mom a card, I gave her a picture book as one of her gifts and wrote a message inside—just like I would in a greeting card.

Book Club Central

The 15 Best Book Flat Lays on Instagram

One of my favorite trends in the bookish community is the book flat lay. They’re fun, they’re beautiful, and they tell a story by using a variety of items.  I love book flat lays that include elements from the story. Some of the best ones show what the story is about better than a written summary.  I’m convinced that one day authors will replace their back-cover blurbs with flat lay photos. Anyone else with me on this? Book flat lay photos are a fun between-meetings activity for your book club. Just read your club’s monthly book, snap your photos, then vote

Review of Turtles All The Way Down by John Green
Book Recommendations

Turtles All the Way Down

The amazing ladies in my book club selected John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down for our meeting last month. I give it five stars for the writing (I don’t think John Green is capable of not writing well), and another five stars for character development. This book blends two main plots: One external, where Aza and her friend Daisy play detective to find a missing person, and one internal, which focuses on Aza’s debilitating mental illness; and a number of subplots: Aza’s romance with Davis, Aza’s relationship with Daisy, etc. It sounds like a lot of plot, but the

Book Bites for Turtles All the Way Down
Book Club Central

Book Bites for Turtles All the Way Down

I’ve never paid much attention to wine and food pairings. If I want red, I’ll drink red. I don’t care if I’m eating steak or fish or cheese or chicken. (Blasphemy, I know!) But when it comes to books and food, I do care—probably too much. I like to show up at book club meetings with an appetizer or dessert that somehow relates to the story we’ll be discussing. Sometimes it’s a subtle link and sometimes everyone sees the connection right away. During a recent book club meeting, we discussed John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down (you can read

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