Try The World

Since IPSY, I have been on a look out for cool subscription boxes that I could try out and review for you guys. I found Try The World, a food subscription box that mails you a selection of about 7 – 8 gourmet snacks and food items from a particular country every 2 months. With my love for travel and learning about various cultures, this seemed right up my alley, so I gave it a go. I got the trial Paris box (you only pay US$5 for shipping), which you can get too, here!

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I was so excited to receive it in the mail, a nice brown package at my doorstep. In it, sat this beautiful Tiffany blue box! Isn’t it pretty? This is one of my favorite colors!

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Once opened, I found this glossy Culture Guide for the Paris Box, designed with France’s colors and looking oh so chic!

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The full color culture guide provided a helpful map of France and where all the items in the box came from, as well as little blurbs on each item. It even indicates with symbols if the item is from a family business, organic etc…

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On the other side of the Culture Guide are 2 Paris Experiences you could try out. They included a list of French movies, a curated French playlist (with a link you can use to access it) and some fun recipes you could experiment with, using ingredients found in the box they just sent you. Basically, all you need to have a mini French night in with your loved ones!

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Cute navy blue packing material aside, here are all the gourmet items I found in my little French box…. I’m sorry my keyboard doesn’t allow me to type in the accents to some words, so the names may not be fully accurate!

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1. Le Saunier De Camargue – Finishing Salt

Finishing salt from France, so you can feel slightly more fancy when cooking with it! 😀

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2. La Mere Poulard – Sables Cookies

Okay, I gave these a try and I love them! They are super crumbly, buttery cookies that melt in your mouth. They remind me of Scottish shortbread, which I also adore. They are very rich and yummy. There was only 4 cookies in the box, which was not nearly enough.

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3. Charles Antona – Clementine Jam

I simply spread this on some bread to try it, and it was pretty delicious. It was not too sweet but very tasty and I think could go with a variety of food items beyond bread.

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4. Domaine des Vignes – Dijon Mustard

I mean, we’ve all had mustard, but this is straight from Dijon (the mustard town), so it’s gotta be better right? 😛

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5. La Maison d’Armorine – Butter Caramels

These are amazingly good and without a doubt, my favorite item from the box. I had to restrain myself and not eat it all in one sitting. It is super rich, like the cookies, but soooo good!!!

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6. Un Brin Sauvage – Herb Blend

This herb blend supposedly works best with fish, but could also work pretty well with meat! I’m going to try it the next time I cook, as an herb rub.

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7. Palais Des Thes – Tea Bags

I can’t wait to take an afternoon with some French Tea and cookies!

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I enjoyed the little surprise in the mail very much, and while the full price tag to continue my subscription was a little too steep for me, the contents are definitely of greater value than the cost!

The full costs are as follows, depending on your subscription length. Clearly, the longer you commit to, the cheaper the boxes will be!

1 time subscription – US$39 for 1 box (billed every 2 months)

Half a year subcription – US$35 for 1 box (billed every 6 months)

1 year subscription – US$33 for 1 box (billed every 12 months)

I am a big lover for travel, and exploring new cultures. I have traveled to about 20 countries by now, and cannot wait to keep expanding that list. Food, really teaches you so much about each culture, their way of life, and that adventurous streak in me just loves trying new things.

When I was living abroad (and am still living abroad right now, technically), receiving care packages of food from friends and family in other countries was an amazing way to connect. I get so excited to see a nice brown package at my doorstep, it’s like Christmas! It was so much fun unboxing this Paris box and trying everything in it. I even made my husband sit with me while I opened the package, and showed him everything in it like a kid at Christmas. Our cats were also curious and sniffed around the box trying to figure out what the buzz was about. Haha!

For a little surprise every other month, and a unique insight into a new culture, the US$33-US$39 is well worth it.

I contacted Try The World and they kindly offered a coupon code for all my dear readers, simply quote TheDollhouseDiaries to received 15% off your first box!! You can also click on the link to view their website for more detailed information.

I hope you enjoy your little surprise soon! Share your thoughts and reviews of Try The World with me too. I will love to hear your experiences.

❤ Joy

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Who Eats Fish For Breakfast?

So, at the McDonald’s in Singapore, the filet-o-fish is listed as a breakfast item. I used to get it fairly regularly as breakfast. Here in the US, filet-o-fish is not on the breakfast menu (I just learnt that this weekend). We rolled up to McDonald’s drive-thru last weekend and our conversation went like this:

S: So, what are you having?

Me: Hmm… filet-o-fish.

S: What? I mean, for breakfast.

Me: Yeah, filet-o-fish.

S: That’s lunch.

Me: No, it’s not. It’s also in the breakfast menu. Look, it’s on the menu *points to menu*.

(McDonald’s list ALL food items all day on the drive-thru menu)

S: Yeah, but it’s for lunch.

Me: *sudden realization that the filet-o-fish might actually not be on the breakfast menu here* Why is it not for breakfast?

S: Who eats fish for breakfast?

Me: Me. I like fish. I want fish for breakfast.

S: *can’t stop laughing* Of course you eat fish for breakfast.

Me: Ask them. It has to be breakfast. It is in Singapore.

S: But it’s… okay. *to the drive-thru lady: Hi, urm, is the filet-o-fish on the breakfast menu? No. Okay. Thanks. Give us a minute.*

Me: But it should be.

S: *super patiently* What would you like for breakfast?

Me: Filet-o-fish. *laughs* Fine, Egg white delight.

*Ordering complete*

Me: I don’t understand why you guys don’t have fish for breakfast. Everyone loves fish.

S: *can’t stop laughing*

Me: I mean, it’s fish. I want my filet-o-fish. They already do all day breakfast, make them do all day lunch. Or just filet-o-fish. All day fish.

S: *can’t stop laughing*

Me: One day I’m just gonna insist to them that I want a filet-o-fish for breakfast and maybe they’ll make me a filet-o-fish?

Sometimes, you discover funny little differences like that when you are from different places. We learn new things every day. Life filled with differences like ours really makes it very interesting, and oftentimes funny! What tiny differences have you experienced with your significant other of a different culture?

❤ Joy

 

 

 

We Speak A Different Reality

On the topic of Intercultural communication and cross-cultural relationships, I love hearing about the quirky differences that people experience on a daily basis. If you know anyone who is in a cross-cultural relationship (and that includes friendship!), you are bound to hear fun stories about times when they stare at each other, all tickled pink, when they discover a difference in the words they were taught to use growing up. This happens even when both partners speak the same language. I call it simply, speaking a different reality. I have lived in 3 different countries over the years, and picked up plenty of vocabulary and pronunciations from various places and made them my own. This makes it even funnier for some people I encounter, because they never really know what I am going to say.

Now, I could talk for days on the topic of speaking a different reality, but to start off, keeping it light, I decided to make a list of all the English words I have used that S, or his family & friends, have remarked “I have never heard anyone say that before” or something along those lines. To be honest, S and his family are the most supportive in terms of our differences, and they fully embrace me for who I am. The fact that I’m not born here, grew up halfway across the world, or that I’m of a different race does not bother them one bit. They just get amused sometimes (and so do I) when they hear something new or different from me (happens regularly). S says he loves my quirks and even the way I pronounce words different. Sometimes he will try to correct me, being the school teacher he is, but I would mostly defiantly repeat the word the way I said it hahahaha.

1. Maccas

“Maccas” is simply the Australian way of saying Mcdonald’s. S thinks this is hilarious for some reason.

2. Keen

This mostly occurs in writing form. It basically is used to convey enthusiasm or interest in a matter. You’ll see this in prevalence in Singaporean business emails. Examples of usage in a sentence are “I have a keen interest in art”, “I am not keen on that decision”, or “I am keen to pursue a career in Marketing”. I first came across this while working on my resume. Apparently this is not used commonly here in the United States, and comes across slightly odd. I have since stopped using it in my US resume, or US emails, though I find it comfortingly familiar to see it in an email from Singapore.

3. Peckish

I say this usually in the middle of the night when I get hungry. It seems to fascinate people, because they rarely hear this word being used here. But a little hungry just seems like too many words when “peckish” exists.

4. Lift

Instead of “elevator”. We “catch the lift” in Singapore, which just means running after a closing elevator to make sure you get in. I’ve been pretty good about this and say “elevator” half the time now.

5. Pram

Americans use “stroller”. Strangely enough, the two words evoke different images in my mind and “pram” just seems so much more proper. We’ll probably see how this difference plays out more when we have kids. I think I still prefer the word “pram” and might just keep using it, just because.

6. Schedule (Pronunciation)

The many times I have said “SHED-ule” and people just stare at me blankly. The teachers always want to correct me (not S, though, oddly enough). Apparently they said “SKED-ule” here. I cannot seem to change it, and still slip up and say “SHED-ule” all the time.

7. Boot

This refers to the trunk of the car. In Singapore, we would say “open the boot” or “pop the boot” to get the driver to open the car trunk when we need to get something out/put something in.

8. Dodgy

This is used mostly in Australia, or at least I picked it up while living there. I think the British use it as well? It means something is bad, or weird, or just wonky. I say this about lots of things. I sprained my ankle yesterday and now I keep telling people “My ankle is still kinda dodgy”. I also say that of shady places, like, “that place looks dodgy, let’s not go there.”

9. Dustbin

When I first moved to America, I kept asking people where the dustbin was, and realized nobody knew what I was asking. They call it “trash can” here. Huh. In Singapore, we are trained to hang on to trash till we find a dustbin to dispose it in, so this is still pretty innate. I forget all the time and still say “Where’s the dustbin?” or “Throw this in the dustbin for me, please”.

10. British Spelling 

This means an extra ‘u’ in words like colour or favourite. It means “program” will always looks wrong and abbreviated to me, because we spell in “programme”. It also means spelling “center” as “centre” and using -ize in words like “realize”. It’s always the small things that add up.

Intercultural communication is just so fascinating and interesting to me! What words do you say differently from your partner/friends? Share them with me in the comments! I know there are even variations between people from the North or South of USA!

❤ Joy

Lunar New Year 2016

I think this is my 3rd or 4th Lunar New Year (LNY) that I could not be home in Singapore. It is a big deal back in Singapore, and is even bigger than Christmas/Thanksgiving here I think. It is an opportunity to gather with all my extended relatives, catch up and visit everyone. The whole country buzzes with excitement, happy LNY music, and is decked out in red, gold and other “prosperous” colors. We get to put on brand new clothes on the first few days of New Year, and get all dressed up for the visitations around the country. There are red packets (of money) that are given to children and singletons, and lots of delicious Lunar New Year goodies to snack on. Ample pineapple tarts, love letters and what have you, at every single house we visit. I miss it all, and even though it does get tiring running around the place seeing everyone, it’s always fun to hang out with my cousins whom I grew up with, and hear updates from my other relatives.

Since last year, we started a new tradition to chat on Skype with my closest relatives during their reunion dinner at Lunar New Year Eve. S and I get up early (night time over there) and chat with the family.We update everyone on our life here and they tell us about theirs too. It is a precious time together, us being so far away most of the time and essentially leading parallel lives with them. Going forward, we probably will not get many opportunities to go back during LNY because it is usually in the middle of the school year/work year for us. So this Skype tradition might continue over the years!

Here are some photos from our time together. I guess technology does have its perks some days!

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Saying hi from 10,000 miles away.

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Hanging out via Skype

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A modern family photo!

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The spread at reunion dinner that we are missing out on.

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The family doing ‘lou hei’ – a Lunar New Year tradition

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I’m a profile picture in the obligatory cousins (in order of age) photo on the first day of Lunar New Year LOL.

On the U.S side, S and I had our own reunion dinner at a local restaurant in town. While the food is drastically different, as you can see, the idea was the same. Here is our spread: IMG_2982We had a huge cajun chicken pizza and a massive platter of seafood pasta.

It will be interesting to see how we create our own LNY traditions over the next few years, and find our own ways to celebrate. It is still LNY now, so here’s wishing everyone a very happy Lunar New Year!! May you have blessings abound in the year to come. 🙂

❤ Joy

Care Pack!

So this morning, I received a package from my parents in Singapore. It is such a warm fuzzy feeling getting stuff from home. Most of the time, these boxes from home contains small little things that remind me how much my parents think of me. There is a lot of everyday practical items that my parents bought over time and consolidated to send to me. They are very special to me and makes me feel like my parents are there with me every step of the way. I know how expensive postage is and am always touched that my parents love me so much they still send stuff all this way to me. I know I am always on their mind just as they are on mine. My parents are the most amazing people I know, and I always tell people that so much of who I am is because of them. We didn’t have a lot growing up, but we always had enough. I know my parents worked hard every single day of their lives to provide for us and I will not be anywhere near where I am in life now if not for the both of them.

It is difficult starting life in a new country and being so far away from them. Even though I have travelled and lived all over the world, homesickness still hits me as hard as ever. I miss the food and my family in Singapore the most. There will always be a piece of Singaporean in me, even if I am to spend the rest of my life here in my newly adopted home, with my new family. I cannot wait to bring the Mr back to Singapore and show him the place I grew up in and share some good Asian food with him. I am also determined to show my children, in the future, this part of their heritage, hard as it may be. My husband and I want to create a family that celebrates both cultures and we want both countries’ flags to fly in our home because our family is both Singaporean and American. Cross cultural families are not a walk in the park. Just watch the Big Fat Greek Wedding (Oh yes, I have a big extended family)! It is a struggle and there are days when gets so frustrating, we are at a lost as to what to do with the differences. Those are times when we have to sit down together and decide how we want to adapt our individual cultures into our new family looking ahead, what are most important to each of us, and what we choose it to be. In some sense, we end up creating our own unique blend that makes up the culture in our little family. It take continuous work, understanding, patience and compromise, but we are committed to making it work. Our Singaporean American family will always be different here, but it will also be amazingly unique and special.

Anyway, here’s a peek into my latest package from Singapore and the happy thoughts it brings! Big hugs to my loved ones halfway across the world!

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For SG50 (50th birthday of Singapore), every household gets a free goodie bag and my parents sent me the ones they received! It’s such a nice gift from them, along with some SG50 commemorative notes they got for us. 🙂 There were also some food items, some practical items for the house/the car, and some cute trinkets (not in photo).

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Old school lanterns for the Mooncake Festival that has just passed. These bring back childhood memories as we use to light them up and walk around the neighbourhood on the night of the Mooncake Festival/Lantern Festival (with a few which burnt to crisp when we were not careful with them).

Here’s to all the cross-cultural families all over the world, may we create unique loving homes everywhere and always celebrate our diversity and differences!

❤ Joy