Thursday, January 29, 2009

The big layoff week

When I got the call at 8.30 two mornings ago, I thought, Oh no.. so this is it. My company has been going through a very challenging period, so I wasn't too surprised that a bunch of us were laid off.

In a weird way, I am actually relieved. I never felt I belonged there so leaving was easy because there were no feelings of attachment.

I haven't been bored either. And I have never felt so care-free in a long time. Although frugality will play a major role from now on, I think we will be able to manage for awhile.
My only worry right now is whether I will land myself another job before I deplete my bank account.
In the meantime, I'll be watching soap operas, eating bon bons and spending more time on Laksaware. Indeed, this could be a blessing in disguise.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Welcoming in the Year of the Ox

Today is the eve of Chinese New Year. The biggest event of any Chinese New Year's Eve is the reunion dinner every family will have. So not forgetting this tradition, we had a little feast and invited the family over. We were also fortunate to have our friends, Selena and Phillip, over for the weekend.

It is also believed that the color red is commonly worn during Chinese New Year because red will scare away evil spirits and bad fortune. So here we are in red...

Here are other beliefs :

For Good luck

  • Opening windows and/or doors is considered to bring in the good luck of the new year. (It's going to be really cold tonight)
  • Switching on the lights for the night is considered good luck to 'scare away' ghosts and spirits of misfortune that may compromise the luck and fortune of the new year. (maybe the night light counts)
  • Sweets are eaten to ensure the consumer a "sweet" year. (chocolates are sweet. So that counts)
  • It is important to have the house completely clean from top to bottom before New Year's Day for good luck in the coming year. (however, cleaning the house on or after New Year's Day is frowned upon)(Hmm... I tried. But the house is never completely clean, but I can be sure I won't be cleaning tomorrow :))
  • Some believe that what happens on the first day of the new year reflects the rest of the year to come. Chinese people will often gamble at the beginning of the year, hoping to get luck and prosperity. (so I should play poker on Facebook?)
  • Wearing a new pair of slippers that is bought before the new year, because it means to step on the people who gossip about you. (Check. Yes, I am wearing one. So stop gossiping about me you people)
  • The night before the new year, bathe yourself in pomelo leaves and some say that you will be healthy for the rest of the new year. (Would showering in handmade soap that smells like pomelo work?)
Kong Hee Fatt Choy!!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Spicing it up

Recently, I discovered our Barkers' Rib Rub and All-purpose spice was in a Treasury. (yayy!)

A customer requested a sugar-free version for her diabetic husband, so we made a batch with splenda instead of sugar. She was very pleased with it. She left us feedback that it works great on fish too. We also sold another sugar-free one to another buyer in Michigan. I guess we need to make more.

I still get a warm fuzzy feeling when our buyers tell us they love what we make.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

My new Toy-ota

In the U.S, the end of the year is the best time to hunt for a car because that's when most dealerships offer incentives and price breaks so that they could meet their year-end budget. We have talked about switching my car for a better one, for various little hypothetical reasons.

While I absolutely love my 2005 Hyundai Elantra because it is versatile, easy to drive, fuel efficient, great A/C, excellent visibility and the right size for little me (plus I can spot it from far away because of its' striking blue color), it does have its' cons.

1) The check-engine light has been coming on for no reason. But it goes off after a few days. We think the gas cap might be the culprit or it may just be dirty gas.
2) Car pulls to the right. Twice it was because of a nail in the tire. But after fixing that, it still does that even after sending it for alignment.
3) Not so fun to drive on road trips because of the noise factor and bumpy suspension.
4) Not practical if we were to have kids/kid.(no Child seat latch)
5) Poor crash rating.
6) Car depreciates fast.

So we went scouting. Honestly, I was hoping I would not find anything so that I can keep my blue thang and not have to put myself through listening to those vultures car salesmen.
We tried the Fords, Toyotas and Hyundais. And narrowed down our choices to the Hyundai Elantra 2008 model (yes I still love the Elantra), Hyundai Tucson, Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4 and Toyota Corolla LE (or the Altis in Malaysia). Although I would love to have a smaller car like the Toyota Matrix but I have to remind myself that I am not single anymore and the Matrix would not allow me to haul luggages, stuff from Lowes or maybe baby strollers one day.

Did more research and more sleepless nights and we were finally down to two - Hyundai Elantra and Toyota Corolla LE. We drove them again and got to keep them for 2 hours. But I still could not make up my mind. (It is not like buying a dress or a pair of shoes)
We managed to get a good price for the Toyota which put it in the same price range as the Elantra that we were looking at. We wanted something that would allow us to make the same monthly payments as our existing Hyundai.

While the Toyota drives a lot smoother and has a great pickup, it did not have all the bells and whistles of the Hyundai.(satellite station, extra compartments, pockets behind the seat, volume control on the steering wheel, blue tooth capability).

But I would like to keep this next car for the next 100 20 years or so. And the Toyota definitely holds its value better and is more fuel efficient. (can go up to 40 mpg).

So the Toyota won.

I had only 10 minutes to say goodbye to my blue thang. And I actually cried. Yes I can get sentimental.
I know I will love the Toyota (I don't even have a name for him yet. What do you call something that is gray and the color of ash? without sounding too depressing) and it will grow on me and I will get used to the gray color.

Farewell my blue thang....