I did an acting workshop, a kombucha workshop, and three tea workshops.
I took a singing class and a pottery class. And was left with a deformed espresso cup.
After five bloody years,
I finished The Spin-Off Project. And figured out what I want to do for the next five of my life.
I checked off “learn to draw anything,” read more than 20 books, and started learning to code.
I conquered my fear of asking strangers for a picture. And I surfed the waves that had once left me diving for air.
And there was more:
27 yoga classes, 27 artist dates, 91 days of travel, 229 meditation sessions, 267 kilometers of running–and still, more.
I was grateful too,
but surely, not enough.
Now the end of the year is approaching, and I find myself peeking into the one to come.
I want to do less.
And, I want to learn to juggle limes.
In the spirit of wrapping the year up, here are my favorite things of 2017.
Art piece that got me teary-eyed
👨🏻🎨 The Ninth Wave by Cai Guo-Qiang
The Ninth Wave is an explosion event that Guo-Qiang did in 2004. I saw the recorded event in the Netflix documentary Sky Ladder.
Best purchase I made under $100,-
🔥 Brewista Smart Pour Kettle
I used to think tea was kinda “meh” until I learned that different kinds of teas (green, oolong, black) require different brewing times and temperatures. Getting these settings right is super easy with this kettle and makes all the difference in taste. It’s the one tool that has made me fall in love with tea and introduced several much-needed breaks throughout my day.
Tea side faves
🔧 Of all the workshops I did this year, the two tea workshops with Pekoe & Imp (in Singapore) were my favorite. It’s also during one of these workshops that I learned about the Brewista kettle ☝🏻.
🍵 My current go-to teas are the Samidori Matcha from Azuma Tea Garden (recommended to me by Hongyuan from Pekoe & Imp) and Dragon Pearl Jasmine from Harney & Sons (recommended by Timothy Ferriss in The 4-Hour Chef). I especially like drinking the dragon pearl brew chilled from the fridge.
🍃 One tea mug to rule them all. A cup and a pot in one that lets me brew about 450ml of tea at once. That’s plenty of tea for me, and yet, not too much. Plus, there’s that bamboo lid, which apart from looking cool, also keeps the water at the right temperature while my brew goes on.
Book I recommended most often
📖 The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
The 12-week creativity program as introduced in The Artist’s Way saved my creative life. I recommend it to anyone who’s creatively stuck or is getting increasingly self-conscious about their work.
Favorite new app
🍷 Vivino Wine Scanner
I don’t buy a bottle of wine anymore without scanning the label with Vivino first. The app does all the wine aisle guesswork for me and prevents me from spending too much money on averagely rated wines that have more in common with balsamic vinegar than grape juice.
The gift that changed everything
🎧 Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones
Mr. G gifted me these headphones for my birthday, and I’ve used them every day since. I’m quite sensitive to sound and easily get annoyed and distracted by noises. With these headphones though, I always have an escape. I can create a bubble of silence anytime I need to, which has been life-changing.
I also use them to listen to audiobooks when cooking, putting on my makeup, and doing the dishes or the laundry. Because they are wireless, I can leave the device they’re paired to anywhere in the house and move around freely.
Cheeky fact: I named mine “Bye.”
Most memorable travel experience
🛀 Getting a body scrub in Seoul (Spa Lei)
If Silvia hadn’t been with me, I might’ve been more concerned then I was, when a Korean momma, wearing nothing but underwear, told me to lay down on a massage table wrapped in hot pink latex. From my travel notes:
After slathering one side of my body in baby oil and mud, the momma flipped me over. I skid above the neon pink latex, and for a second I thought I might fall flat on the tiles below me. But the momma didn’t let that happen. She held me. Cared for me. That’s what this made me feel like, what it felt like; I felt cared for.
Music album I played on repeat
🎸 I Forget Where We Were by Ben Howard
Introduction friends were most excited about
💉 The 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine
I started experimenting with the 10-step Korean skincare routine in 2016. Since, I’ve gone from religiously following step 1 to 10 to using as many steps as my skin needs on any given day.
My permanent line-up includes Banila Co’s Clean It Zero Purity (step 1, oil cleanser), Skinfood’s Black Sugar Mask Wash Off (step 3, exfoliator), and Erborian’s Seve de Bamboo Eye Matte (step 8, eye cream).
Quote I started 2017 with
🏰 “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” –Henry David Thoreau, Walden