The Wonders of Technology

Back when I was a student in the UK (this was in 2012 – feels like a lifetime ago, lol), I remember walking into a Sainsbury and seeing self-checkout counters for the first time. I was absolutely mindblown. “Whoever invented this is a freaking genius,” I thought in glee, as I scanned my items, bagged them, paid with my debit and left the store, without so much as a hello to another human. This, my introverted self thought, was the pinnacle of technology. 

Fast forward eight years later, and this tech is finally picking up in Malaysia, as people opt for cashless, contactless transactions (accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic). Digitalisation has been on the country’s agenda for some time now, and while we’ve been slower to adopt it compared to countries in the West, or places like Singapore and China things are slowly but surely changing. Menus at restaurants are digital: you scan a QR code on your mobile, and order through the intranet. Delivery apps make it convenient to have food delivered right to your doorstep. You go to the movies, you order your tickets through a touch screen and pay through cards or mobile wallets. At airports, you check-in on a machine, get your baggage tags printed out and attach them on your own before sending them to the conveyor, without having to deal with the airport staff.

But technology is changing at such a rapid pace that it can be intimidating, even for millennials like me who are quite comfortable around machines and the digital space. I was at an autopay machine today and spent a good minute looking for an opening to insert my parking card – before realising that the instructions were to ‘scan the barcode’, and to pay via debit card. In time, I’m sure all of the machines will be replaced with this new mode of payment, and cash will be obsolete.

When I go out with my parents, they usually rely on me (because my brother is an airhead) to figure out anything to do with tech. My dad is good with gadgets, but my mom isn’t very literate in technology. She uses her phone to surf the net but does not know the difference between a Facebook account and a Facebook page. We were chatting earlier about Youtube, and I was explaining to her about subscriptions and the concept of ‘going live’. “Oooh,” she said, nodding after my third explanation. “I see. But I’ll probably forget it in a couple of hours.”

When we went to Yogyakarta a couple of years ago, AirAsia had just implemented a new contactless check-in system at KLIA2, and my mom was absolutely lost. She simply could not wrap her head around the fact that she now had to deal with a machine rather than a human. “You do it,” she said. “I’m not good with these things”. Leaving me to lug our suitcases alone to the self-check-in counter, tag them and send them on their merry way to the conveyor belt.

“What would you do if you’re travelling without me?” I asked half-jokingly, to which she replied in the utmost seriousness, “I wouldn’t be travelling. I’d be lost.

It’s a little sad whenever I hear these things as it conveys a sense of helplessness; not just from my mom, but from some people from the older generation (this does not include aunties who spread gossip and unverified info via Whatsapp – those people are experts) when it comes to adapting to the rapid technological changes that are being implemented in our everyday lives. It feels as if rather than providing convenience, tech limits some people from doing things, like the aforementioned travel. With my mom, there is also a certain degree of resistance – like how she still refuses to open an online bank account lol.

But then again, there’s one thing she has taken to like a fish to water: Online shopping. I currently have five or six orders pending on the Lazada account, from water bottles to cutlery and home decor items.

Maybe it’s all about the incentives? 

 

 

Are Shops Actually Observing SOPs? – An Ordinary Malaysian’s Observations

On May 4, after close to two months under a strict movement control order, the Malaysian government started lifting restrictions, allowing for most businesses to resume their operations –provided they follow strict ‘SOPs’ (standard operating procedures). They’ve also called for people to observe social distancing and practice good hygiene.

Some parties (and medical experts) have decried the move as premature, since the number of daily cases are still at the time of this writing in the double digits. With the upcoming Hari Raya celebrations, there is fear of a second wave of infections, which might be worse than the last.

This has not been helped by the indecisive policies and often rushed announcements that are clearly not thought through, as well as conflicting statements from different ministries – which has caused even more confusion among businesses and the public.

For example, our health DG has asked everyone to wear face masks to reduce the probability of transmitting/contracting the disease. On the other hand, our Senior Minister has said that businesses are not allowed to turn customers away if they choose not to wear face masks . Also, interstate travel isn’t allowed to avoid people travelling back to their hometowns during the festive season, BUT up to 20 people are allowed to visit relatives on the first day of Hari Raya (provided they don’t travel between states). Idk about you, but 20 people still sounds like a mass gathering to me – and a comment on FB sums it up best:  “Apparently the virus needs to take a holiday too so they’ll be like ‘oh it’s the first day of Raya, let’s take a break from infecting people'”.

The constant call from the gov is to ‘adhere to SOPs’, but nothing much has been put into place to ensure this is enforced. To put it more accurately, it is IMPOSSIBLE to enforce due to the lack of manpower. People are inherently undisciplined (just look at the United States) and without strict enforcement, you cannot rely on them to police themselves. Already, over 1,000 vehicles tried their luck at travelling interstate to ‘go back to their hometowns’ despite knowing it was a clear violation and were turned back at the border. And these are just the ones the police managed to stop. How many more slipped through the cracks, we’ll never know.

But hey, I’m just an ordinary person going about my daily life – so let’s see how many places are actually adhering to the ‘SOPs’.

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Task: Buy lunch

Venue: Soon Lok, Bandar Puteri Puchong

To avoid going out and to minimise the risk of outside contact, the fam and I have been cooking most of our meals at home – but in the last two weeks we’ve gone out once or twice for takeaway. Went to Soon Lok, which has always been my preferred place for roasties (roast duck, chicken and pork). They’ve expanded some of their offerings to include convenient ready-packed meals, kuih and drinks. The resto is not yet open for dine-in, and there weren’t many customers during my visit.

  • Red strips of tape outside the shop indicated where customers are supposed to queue.
  • Most customers followed the rules and waited for their turn.
  • Staff followed good hygienic practices and wore face masks and gloves.
  • After placing an order, the staff gave me a number placard and I collected the order when the number was called.
  • The display area can be a bit problematic, as some customers move to the front to see what’s on display and ignore the line. When calling out an uncle for not lining up, he said “I’m just looking” but he was clearly too close for comfort.

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Task: Buy vegetables and groceries

Venue: 3 Onions, Bandar Puteri Puchong

3 Onions is a fresh grocer / convenience store that sells vegetables and daily goods. I took the mom out for our weekly grocery run, and she popped in while I waited in the car. While I didn’t go in, I could clearly see from the outside that NO SOPs were followed.

  • ‘Desk’ at front where customers are supposed to leave their names and phone numbers for tracking purposes was completely ignored by everyone who went in because it was hard to see. Even the Mom went in straight. I asked her later if she saw the table and she said she didn’t. Most other shops have an attendant to ensure that you fill in the details, this shop didn’t.
  • No crowd control. Customers waltzed in and out freely.
  • No temperatures were taken.
  • Mom reported that the shop was packed, and there was no social distancing whatsoever.

We were supposed to go to another store to buy groceries, but the line stretched almost the whole block so we went to 3 Onions instead. In retrospect, if you aren’t rushed for time, then go to a shop with better crowd control, even if you have to wait in line.

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Task: Buy bread for breakfast

Venue: Berry’s Cake House, Puchong Batu 14

This is the closest decent bakery near my place, so we usually come here for bread and pastries.

  • Excellent crowd control. Staff is stationed at the entrance to ensure that only five customers are allowed into the shop at any time.
  • Temperature is taken at the front door and the staff ensures you sanitise your hands.
  • Clear demarcation where you’re supposed to line up. Good flow despite the small space.
  • Customers write down their name and phone number at the counter during check out. Although they don’t seem to have the SeLANGKAH QR Code so everything has to be written down manually.

So out of the three places I visited, one adhered strictly to SOPs, one could do with improvement, and one did not follow the SOPs at all.

I understand that it’s going to be difficult for the authorities to investigate all complaints and enforce the rules – which is why it’s imperative for us to be smart consumers and protect ourselves. Here are some things my fam and I adopt that I think can be helpful:

A) Shop on Weekdays

If you’re working from home or don’t have to go to the office every day, try to do your grocery runs on weekdays. Since many companies are now up and running again, people have gone back to doing their marketing on weekends, resulting in massive traffic (and human) congestion. I currently go to work on a rotational basis (2 days in the office, 3 working from home), so this has given me the flexibility to go out grocery shopping on weekdays. But for those who don’t have that option:

B) Shop Online 

With many people opting for delivery services, getting a delivery slot might prove difficult – so self pickup may be an option. Some major supermarkets such as AEON Big offer ‘drive-through’ services whereby you place an order and they’ll have your things ready at a specific time; all you need to do is pick it up.

C) Go to Supermarkets 

Some people prefer going to wet markets because produce is apparently fresher and cheaper – but many wet markets have poor control and poor hygiene (case in point: The PJ Old Town Wet Market and the Selayang Market were both fenced off after they were identify as coronavirus infection hubs). Major supermarkets have better crowd control and also better hygiene, so if you’re really concerned about safety and health then you might have to consider sacrificing ‘freshness and variety’. Personal opinion: I also think that the crowd is less rowdy in supermarkets – have you tried jostling with loud-mouthed aunties trying to snatch up the best shrimp (pre-coronavirus)? Well, these same aunties have NOT adapted to a new normal, lol.

D) If they won’t distance themselves, distance YOURSELF 

People cutting queues is a pet peeve of mine. Unfortunately, we have a lot of uncouth peasants running around who don’t know what queueing up is, and they will attempt to jostle to the front in a bid to get what they want faster than everyone else. Depending on the situation, I will usually tell them (politely first, of course!) queue up, or advise them that even if they’re ‘just looking’, they need to observe social distancing.

BUT I’ve also met people who get really defensive and rude when you tell them nicely, so if you don’t want to cause a scene, then distance yourself and let them rejoice in their hollow victory.

How are social distancing measures being adopted in your area? Are people following SOPs? Let me know in the comments section below. Til then, stay safe !

Day 1 Of A New Normal – Returning to Work Post-MCO in Malaysia

If you wanted to sweat the deets, then we’re technically still under a movement control order until May 12. But I’m calling it Post-MCO because all businesses (except close contact ones like spas and hair salons) have already been allowed to reopen on May 4.

At my workplace, we’re currently doing rotational shifts where we go into the office twice a week on different days. I’ve gotten used to working from home, so it feels a little weird to be driving to work again after so long. Granted, the traffic was pretty smooth, so I guess not all businesses are running yet. Schools definitely aren’t.

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At the lift, signs of the new normal are already in place. The building management also posted guards at the lobby, where they took temperatures, jotted down names and check-in times, and prepped hand sanitisers. Almost everyone I see is wearing a face mask.

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I worked on an article for a bit, then got too distracted because my colleagues were busy cleaning out their desks (we’re moving to a new office soon). So I decided to clean out my own desk. I’ve been putting it off because there’s just too much shit to be sorted, but I finally managed to get it all done. Hooray!

I also found this note from when my company organised a DiSC training to determine our working styles and discuss how best to work with each other. The DiSC test is often used by employers to assess workers and potential employees. Mine is a high C (conscientiousness). People who fall into C types are analytical, systematic, detailed, independent and make decisions based on objective reasoning. We are also afraid of being wrong, which is why I like to have as much detail as possible before embarking on a project. I find it difficult to work with I types (these are the ones that are usually lively and have that ‘lets do it and figure things out later!’ attitude), as well as D types (domineering and forceful). Whatever the case, most workplaces have different types of people – the reason why I’ve lasted so long here is that most of my colleagues are C and S (supportive) types. I had an ex-colleague who was a D, and we did not get along one iota.

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For lunch, I drove to a cafe nearby called Bookmark Coffee PJ. Ever since I came here with my editor, I’ve been a big fan of their smoked duck pandan rice, which is superb and comes in generous portions – and I’ve really missed it after nearly two months in quarantine.

Since the MCO is still technically in place, most eateries that are open cater to delivery and takeaway only. I waited for about 20 minutes for my orders (got the smoked duck pesto for my boss).

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Back at the office. Ah, how much I’ve missed this! Imagine juicy pieces of smoked duck with no trace of gaminess whatsoever. The meat is tender and succulent, while the skin and its layer of fattiness underneath just melts in your mouth. The fragrant pandan rice boasts a light blue tinge from natural blue pea flowers, and it is topped with a fried egg for good measure, garnished with vegetables and thin slices of cucumber. Bellissimo! 

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For a spicy kick, have your meal with some homemade sambal and orange glaze sauce. The sauce is slightly sweet and tart, which goes really well with the duck meat.

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One of my colleagues asked for help taking some photos for product placement on his Instagram (he’s an influencer), so we ended up messing around the lobby at our workplace. It was deserted, so we were definitely observing social distancing lol.


The rest of the day was uneventful. Traffic was a bit busier going home, but travel time was still shorter than usual.

I’m foreseeing things to get much busier next week, what with Hari Raya coming up, but hopefully people will still remember to adhere to social distancing and avoid public gatherings. Until we get a vaccine, we’re not out of the woods.

How is your country dealing with COVID 19? Are measures being relaxed, or are they extending the quarantine? 

 

 

My Mini Library

Hey guys!

It’s Day 6 of the Restricted Movement Order in Malaysia. Officially, there are 8 more days to go –  but looking at the upward trend of cases, an extension might be imminent. 😦 I know I am luckier than most in that I have enough savings to tide me over should the RMO be prolonged, but there are many out there such as the homeless and the destitute who are in danger of falling through the cracks as governments scramble to control the spread of the virus. Aside from doing our part as good citizens, we should also help donate what we can to help frontliners such as charity workers and NGOs.

As for what I’ve been doing at home: I’ve been working on my articles, both for my main job as well as my side hustles. It’s a good thing I did them way ahead of time, because looking at how things are, it’ll be a while before I can go out to conduct any sort of interview.

It can be difficult to keep yourself disciplined when you’re ‘working’ from home (my workspace is literally two steps away from my bed) but so far I’ve been adhering to my routine – wakeup at around 8.30 am to 9, breakfast, and then start working by 10. I take a short break for lunch, and then I work until 5pm and wrap up for the day. In the evenings I either help my mom out in the kitchen, or I work out for half an hour. After dinner, I surf the net, read or write for the blog.

The good thing about not having to spend time in traffic is that I have more time to do the things I want. I recently sorted out some photos in my laptop and realised I never blogged about my book cabinet. I had it installed at the end of last year because my mom, a neat freak, was losing it over how many books I had (and kept buying). I had books all over the place; on a bookshelf in my room, in the cabinet downstairs, in giant containers and boxes. She gave me an ultimatum – either I got a bigger space to keep everything, or she’d throw them away. So, cabinet it was.

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It took a couple of days to set up (problem with parts and stuff) but the result was great. It’s harder to get to the books at the top though, so we put stuff we don’t normally take out often like the photo albums and some old magazines.

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N was still here last year (he’s now in the Phils due to job commitments) so he had no choice but to help me sort out my mountain of books lol. You gotta work for your board and lodging, bruh

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It took us several hours but we finally got everything nicely in place! Even had them sorted out according to category, so there’s like a section for all the comics, Asian literature, fantasy, historical fiction and horror. How do you sort your books? I know some people like to sort their books according to colour, or alphabetical order, or genre.

 

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My favourite shelf.

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If you see books that look like they’re in a less-than-stellar condition, they’re either a) second-hand books, or b) my favourites, because I like to reread books and they somehow end up in tatters lol.

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Asian literature.

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Another shelf in my room. The books ended up in the upper cabinets.

People have asked me if I’ve actually read ALL of the books I have. And no, I haven’t. My reading habits have gone down the drain ever since I started working, but I’ve been trying to get back into it these last couple of months, and I can proudly say I’ve finished at least one book a month in the last 3 months. Now, only several dozen to go…

 

 

 

Why I Hate Contact Lenses

I hate contact lenses.

I hate them with the intensity of a thousand suns, and while I understand why people wear them, that doesn’t make me hate them any less. If hell exists, one of its punishments should be having people put them on and off, every minute, every day, for the rest of eternity.  I can’t imagine a worse fate for my enemies.

In my 27 years of wearing glasses (I was born with astigmatism, so I started wearing them when I was 3. Big metal ones), I’ve only tried wearing contacts once, back in 2013, out of curiosity. The experience was unpleasant enough to put me off wearing them – that is, until recently.

Eris circa 1994. Nothing much has changed.

So I’m having my wedding ceremony in a couple of days, and it completely did not cross my mind until I went for my trial makeup session and my makeup artist asked me if I had gotten my contacts yet.

Me: What ?

Stacey (my makeup artist): Your contacts?

Me: *stunned* Oh, that.

*Uncomfortable pause.*

Me: ….Can I wear my glasses? lol

I could sense Stacey stifling her laughter although she answered me with a straight face that it would be better if I wore contacts, since she’d have to put falsies on for me and all that other shit (I don’t like wearing makeup. ie I’m too lazy). I grudgingly nodded, my mind already reliving that one traumatic episode from back in 2013, when I wore contacts for the first time, in which it took me hours to get the freaking contact lenses out of my eyeballs.

Image via pixabay

Anyway, I ended up at the optometrist near my office. Some eye tests later, they gave me a set of trial lenses and told me to try them on for a couple of days, in increasing hours each time, so that my eyes could get used to it. The optometrist demonstrated to me on how to put on the accursed things. I wasn’t very good at it (sausage fingers), and spent a good 45 minutes trying to get them on and off (the optometrist wouldn’t let me leave until I successfully did it 3 times idk if I should applaud her for being thorough, or call her a devil).

And for the first couple of days, I tried. I really did. I’d bring the trial lenses to the office and try to put them on in the bathroom. The thing is, I’m fucking blind as a bat without my glasses (I can make out shapes but everything looks like they have a bokeh effect on them if I don’t lean in within 10cm of something, I kid you not) so the optometrist’s advice of ‘use your other eye to see how your contacts are going in’ might as well have been her telling me to use my naked eyes to look at Pluto. After a couple of tries, I managed to get them in and they were actually okay for like four hours.

Who needs bokeh when you can just take off your glasses – every person with severe astigmatism

Then it was time to take them out again and boy oh boy why did I lull myself into believing it would get better? Agony. Pure agony. I couldn’t see where the lenses were and could only guess its position. I ended up pinching my eyeball which was excruciating – I would rather go through an 11-hour hike through the Bario jungle again than do this on a daily basis.

Everyone tells me that contacts are not as clear because they move around slightly + the power is not as specific as what can be achieved with glasses. Which makes zero sense to me. Suffer through the agony of putting them on and taking them off everyday just to enjoy ‘okay’ vision? Like I said, I understand people wear them for different reasons (eg sports people, etc.) but if it’s for beauty .. like, why ?

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I gave up trying to ‘get used to it’ after a couple of days, because the experience just wasn’t getting better. Maybe I’m just dumb and I can’t pick up the correct way of wearing them; maybe I’ve developed a phobia (you know how animals learn how not to go near an electric fence after they’ve been shocked a couple of times because = pain?). The trial lenses have been sitting around for two weeks (I change the solution every 2-3 days, coz they’re monthly ones), and I think I’m only going to wear them on my wedding day. I mean I’m already going to be uncomfortable with all the makeup caked on and the falsies and the girdle and the high heels and the tight dress so what’s a little more ?

In all seriousness… I’m never. wearing. contacts. again. after. this. EVER. I actually like a little pain, but even masochists can’t enjoy this shit. People might go ‘aww but you didn’t give it enough time!’. Nope. Pretty sure I wouldn’t like it even if I tried wearing them for a couple of months. You know how sometimes you just don’t like eating something and you can’t force yourself to like it no matter how you try? Yeah.

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Admittedly they do make my eyes look bigger (me being chinky and all), but it’s just not worth it.  Also it looks weird. Like some sort of dysmorphia.

PS:  Me hating on contacts has nothing to do with how I feel about other people wearing contacts. If you’re happy /comfortable wearing contacts and they make you feel good about yourself, by all means! They’re just not for me. I love wearing glasses, actually. An ex once told me it’s like having two girlfriends when I take them off; wink wink.

I Did A Vlog! New Haircut For The New Year, CNY Deco and Makeup Haul

A new thing for 2020? We’ll see how long it lasts.

sabotaging self before it even begins; gotta stop doing this to myself lmao

 

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30 Day Challenge Day 12: Wtf Am I Doing

Hey guys!

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that earlier this month I “committed” myself to doing the 30 Day Writing Challenge, in conjunction with NaNoWriMo. And as you can see, I’ve been failing miserably. While I HAVE been posting daily (mostly backdated posts about stuff I’ve been doing and what not) , they’re not following the challenge prompts at all. I suppose that’s better than nothing. :’D

Day 12’s prompt was supposed to be about “Five Blessings In Life”.

I have a lot to be thankful for. A loving, if somewhat dysfunctional family (show me a perfect one!), a roof over my head, a job that gives me some pretty sweet perks, a doting boyfriend , and despite not being able to own a house, the financial ability to live in relative comfort.

The only thing missing in my life right now is a pet. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m absolutely OBSESSED with cats. I want one so bad. Just looking at videos of cute cats after a stressful day at work calms me. Friends who have cats have to tear me away from their pets whenever I visit because I’d be so busy trying to get them to sit on my lap (the cat, not the friend). I can’t pass by a stray on the street without miao-ing at it. And I’m constantly shoving pictures of cute cats in people’s faces, the same way mothers show their baby pictures to people.

The problem is, I still live with my parents and my mom HATES cats. She half-jokes (actually I think she means this in full seriousness) that the day I can have a cat in the house is when she dies. lol. She is more open to the idea of a dog, but we’ve had bad experiences with previous pet dogs so I don’t want to go there again. While I like dogs, I can’t say I would like them as pets because they’re just so excitable. It’s like having an extrovert in the house, God forbid.

But then again, I don’t think I would mind having a Samoyed, like Maya the Polar Bear. Just look at how sweet she is:

Also sums up my feelings about coming in to work today.

Happy Monday!

 

Quickie Entry

Hi! Just sneaked online for a quickie – I’ve been hogging the computer lately (coz there’s nothing to do at home) so my mum’s pretty annoyed. “You think your glasses not thick enough ar?”

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Dad made this with the leftover flour my mum didn’t use for the cake yesterday. His specialty? Meen fun gui (made from frying flour into patties and dipping them into a sauce). The sauce is the result of stir-frying anchovies, onions and garlic. Really nice, and it’s a family recipe XD

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My youngest aunt bought this for me. She actually bought Children of Hurin ( by JRR Tolkien) for me since she knows I’m a fanatic – but then I already had that book so she exchanged it for something else.
I usually hate anything with a pink cover, but I decided to give this a shot. The first quarter of the book is okay so I guess it should be alright.
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My not so cluttered desk. Includes nail polish, box of presents by hubby for Valentine’s, my sketch book, a comb, a notepad, a souvenir from my cute junior Li Teeng, nail polish remover and a moon cake box housing all my accessories and whatnot.
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Had the mood to sketch today, so I just drew something. On other days my sketches look really cacat.
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Since my aunt was staying for dinner, mum made this: roast chicken 😀
Drizzled with honey sauce. yum ~
That’s all for this quickie. Toodles 🙂