Archive for the ‘How to’ Category

A guide for Santa’s littlest helpers.

December 9, 2008

If you have been living under the rock for the past month, it is time to lift up your hermit head and take a look around. The adverts are up and Christmas has begun. Families throng the mall to play with foamed snow while taking pictures with the best Christmas centerpieces in the shopping malls. And Santa’s little helpers are out and about on a race against time to find the perfect gift for the perfect people without breaking their banks.

I have always enjoyed doing Christmas shopping for friends and family. The idea of seeing something you think they might like, and the feeling of when they tear open the presents and seeing their faces, just makes the shopping trips and the money you spent worthwhile.

Alas, I have not all the money in the world, thus I need to watch my spending. But it just makes the challenge all the more fun. Forsaking the famous brands and names around, and going down untrodden paths to search for that special something. It feels like you have emerged from a mine with the rarest gems whenever you hit the right spots.

Here is my little version of things I would consider good gift ideas, without looking too tacky, but still able to keep your budget. Say, RM20 max per person.

Mind you, gift ideas here are found in and around the vicinity of The Curve, Ikano and Ikea. I am a lazy girl, and that place happens to give me everything I need. Heh.

1. For elves who believe in DIYs.

If you enjoy handicrafts and things that come out from your own kitchen, take time out to put together something unique for your friends and family. From the specially designed greeting cards and cookies, to the personally selected songs on the mixed CDs, to the meticulously collected collages and scrapbooks. It is a sureshot to win over the receiver’s heart. I doubt anybody would trade a personalised coffee table book for a Louis Vuitton clutch.

Check out Papier at The Curve if you want to get the most comprehensive DIY kits. They have got anything and everything for any occasions, and also for gifts given on any day just for kicks. Every time I step into the store, I just want to buy something, even though I am no expert in putting together a scrapbook. There is also Da Vinci at Ikano, if you want some rock-painting or canvas-painting, and the likes.

If you want to put together a coffee table book, but still want to keep the quality intact, check out Prinzbook. Download the program, arrange the pictures according to the designs of your choice, and voila, your very own coffee table book. Who needs publishing companies when you can set up one in your own laptop?

2. For elves who believe in the littlest things.

Take time out to visit street markets, as well as those stalls peppered all along the corridors of the shopping malls. You’d never know what you might find that is cute yet affordable. Not to mention, you get to bargain for a cheaper price too. Like the compact mirror shaped of a biscuit, these cute button earrings, as well as those quirky car signs. All of these, I found while taking a stroll down the stalls set up for the weekend over at The Curve and Cineleisure.

Don’t forsake the gift corners in departmental stores as well. Like Parkson, Jusco, Metrojaya and the likes. Some items may be a little too expensive, but look thoroughly enough and you might find something suitable within your budget. You even get to collect those membership points too. Hitting two birds with one stone.

Don’t go ahead and assume that you would only step into a bookstore for books as gifts. Stop by the stationary corner and try your luck. Found in the MPH bookstore: a donkey with a keyboard duster ass, a stapler shaped as a cat, and a puff fish that blows up to be a rest pad for your wrist.

Also, check out the Borders bookstore for those hobby kits and calendars. Awesome way for your loved ones to pick up or rediscover a favourite past time, and remember your birthday by. You can also stop by Take Note at The Curve for some funky writing pads and stuff.

For more little trinkets, who could leave out Ikea on this? Visit their website for their advent promotions, going throughout December till Christmas Day. Just make sure you go on the right days, and pray real hard they don’t go out of stock. Swedish elves do a better job being Santa’s helpers, apparently.

3. For elves who believe nobody should be left behind.

It is quite impossible to get everyone in your workspace a gift of their own, yet a little rude to leave some behind, especially when you have more than 30 colleagues in your office.

In this case, you need to go for bulks. Cookies, greeting cards, candy canes… go for the 5/10/20 items in one price thing. You can easily find these in supermarkets like Cold Storage or Tesco, and even Famous Amos in Ikano. Make sure to look for good bargains and not get ripped off at the end of the day.

4. For elves who have absolutely no idea.

Ah, screw you. I bet it happened to you every year too. There will always be someone on your Christmas list whom you have no idea what to get at least once a year. After spending hours and days loitering about the mall looking for something for them, you would somehow eventually wander into The Body Shop and gaze at the prettily gift-wrapped toiletries. For a staunch present-giver who believes in personality in gifts, I would not advise such gift ideas, but who am I kidding. We all fall short anyway.

Take time out to check out Guardian and Watson as well. Not only are their ready-to-go gifts quite attractive to the eye, they are probably more affordable and in variety compared to the ones in The Body Shop and L’occitane. Can’t really say that for the quality, though, so be prepared.

Now, this is something I would definitely not opt for unless I really have no idea what to get someone who has everything in the world, and especially when that someone are my parents. Heh.

Gift certificates and gift cards would always be the safest way to go, though not usually the prettiest. But hey, if it is to shop at your favourite store, dine at your favourite restaurant, or do mani/pedi for free, it is still cool.

Christmas shopping is not that hard if you care enough to pay attention to the littlest details. Whatever shopping catalog you can grab hold of, or whichever store you have wandered into, take a look around and weigh things out in your head. Don’t force it if the price is not right, or if time is running out. Take a breather. Rinse and repeat. You will find something eventually. Don’t be too staunch about the budget either. A couple of cents difference isn’t going to empty out your savings anyway.

You have 16 days left till Christmas. Unless you have Santa’s private number at the North Pole, I’d suggest you go forth and shop for presents soon.

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How to teleport – well, almost.

July 13, 2008

Yes, how we all wish we can teleport like Hiro Nakamura of Heroes. If not to the past or the future, but at least just to get from one place to another at the snap of the fingers, and in zilch seconds. Small time travellers don’t just travel long distance to other countries or states, and only hop on airplanes and buses. Sometimes, we have to be our own drivers, figure out the route ourselves and pay up on the insanely high fuel pumps.

So, this is what I think: Why spread out your appointments to different days when you can do them all at the same day to save time in so many dimensions. Sure, there is a line to draw on biting off more than you can chew, but hey, what’s life without a little adventure, especially when there aren’t much to look forward to in your life anymore.

This is how it goes.

1. Making appointments
Consider the travelling time that you will need, and I don’t mean only the time you are going to spend in your appointments, but also how much time you need to get from one place to another. Bring into mind also the rush hours and lunch hours, which you may need to put in an extra half an hour or more, give or take.

Next, consider also the journey path. What is the point of saving time and money if you travel from A to C then back to B but need to get to D and then back to A again. Know the locations of your appointments then arrange them accordingly so that it makes a straight path. Maybe not literally, but straight to not make you go on two trips back to the same location.

I managed to arrange four appointments, which are in three different locations, with two hours apart for each, and all during the office hours, lunch hours included. If you are staying in KL, you would know that Bangsar stands in between Petaling Jaya and the KL city, and you would know as well that during lunch hours (or any fucking hours for that matter), it is a headache to drive in KL. And for someone who doesn’t hail from KL, getting lost is pretty damn easier than getting on the right roads.

So, I decided to start things off from Petaling Jaya, get to Bangsar, then to KL (whereby the two locations are nearby as well), before going back to PJ. OK, so going back to PJ from KL ain’t exactly a joy ride, but one must cut some slacks too.

2. Getting directions
A map directory is always handy, but a GPS will always be handier. But if you don’t have the luxury to afford such expensive gadgets, settle for the next best thing. You can also look for a friend who has grown up in these parts of town, and is more familiar with directions.

For me, I hit up JoeVern, a kid grown up beneath the KL city lights and has – according to him – discovered every nook and cranny possible in Klang Valley. Someone as fluent as he, gave me a rough idea how to get from one place to another, which expressway to hit up, and which route is better to get on to avoid certain gridlocks. Check out the map directory along with his directions and you would already have a next to clear idea of the journey.

3. Pushing appointments forward
Time is crucial, we know that right about now. If it so happens that you manage to wrap up an appointment earlier, why not ring up the next appointment and see if they can push the appointment forward? That way, not only can you get to another location without rushing, you can also wrap things up earlier.

But keep in mind not to push things. You are, after all, riding the waves according to the wind; going against it will just break your sail and capsize your boat. If the appointed person is not free to do so – or just not nice enough to grant you such flexibility – let it be. Just head to the place earlier, hang out in your car to read a book or listen to Death Cab’s new one, or just wander around the mall a little.

4. Biting the right mouthful
If you can’t make it, you can’t make it. If you can’t fit in more than five appointments in the allocated day, you can’t. It’s Murphy’s Law, or some other guy’s law. In fact, it’s common sense, really. Would you date more than three girls simultaneously when you know each need alternate days and your money cannot support it? No. You will, at most, date two girls, and leave Sundays all to yourself. So, same goes for appointments, if you can’t go any more than four appointments a day, give it a rest.

5. Prepping for the journey
The usual drill. Make sure your car is in good condition. Yes, even when it is just travelling in town. And make sure you have sufficient fuel in the car to run for the day. Have your map directory bookmarked, or your directions in close proximity so that you can check them from time to time without getting into an accident. And, don’t be an ass: pull over and figure out where you are if you are lost; don’t just stop in the middle of the road. Ask someone too, if you may. Also, have the appointed people’s contact numbers, just in case you need to call them up.

Have a good book with you in case #3 isn’t possible to carry out. And for a comfortable drive, put in your favourite band to listen to. For me, it was Death Cab’s Transatlanticism, Plans and Narrow Stairs. But hey, each to his own. You can listen to whatever genre of music you like for all I care. As long as it keeps you from getting on a road rage, we on the road at the same time are as happy as you are.

Happy driving!