Thursday, January 28, 2010

But you all look the same...

When Aaron first started working here in Singapore, he often heard the same phrase from the locals in his office: "All you Americans look alike. I cannot tell you apart."

One of the guy's children even confused my tall, skinny husband with dark brown hair with his short, chubby coworker with light brown hair.

It was so weird to us. Then again, we could not tell any of the locals apart from each other either. They all had black hair, smaller bone structure and slanted brown eyes (except for the Indian-Singaporeans).

I experienced the same situation when I showed up to work for the first time in Singapore. My Chinese-Singaporean boss was going over everyone's name in the office and I got stuck on one person.

I asked her "Is that the blonde?"

My boss got a really confused look on her face and said "I have no idea. I don't pay attention to that."

I was so baffled by this. How do you not notice the color of someone's hair? It's one of the first things I notice about someone right along with their eyes.

Well almost two years later, I finally have my answer. A new study published in ScienceDaily found that Caucasians and Asians assess and recognize faces in a totally different way. They also explained a little bit as to why we have trouble telling people from the other race apart.

"Caucasian and Asian subjects excelled at recognizing someone of their race, yet both had the same level of difficulty in identifying someone of another ethnic group. According to Blais, this says more about the analytical approach of Caucasians and the holistic approach of Asians." -University of Montreal (2010, January 27). Caucasians and Asians don't examine faces in the same way. ScienceDaily.

According to ScienceDaily, Asians study faces as an overall picture and Caucasians tend to break down the face into specific parts.

Specifically, Caucasians tend to focus on the triangle of the eyes, nose and mouth. Asians just focus on the nose and observe the whole face at once.

I found this crazy interesting. It totally made sense of the conversations we'd had with Singaporeans here. I'm sure the facial structure recognition also goes along with the fact that they don't notice hair color, eye color and so on.

I did later ask my previous boss what features she notices about people when she first meets them. She told me that she more often notices face shape and body type. At the time, I thought she was just weird.

Now I realize that I just grew up in a place where different things matter (i.e. hair color) in aiding our recognition.

In a place like Singapore, where the majority of the population is from surrounding Asian countries, those same things don't help at all. Everyone has dark brown or black hair (naturally, at least) and dark brown eyes. So they've grown up learning to recognize completely different things to tell their friends apart.

This is such an "Aha!" moment for me that I feel really slow for not putting this all together until now.

It's interesting though, right?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I Didn't Know I Loved My Microwave This Much

What's the longest amount of time you've gone without a microwave?

We went five days.

It. Was. Torture.

Our microwave decided to conk out on us last Friday with a very loud and distinct "POP". After that, it's like it just forgot to warm up the food we stuck in it. It's not a very fun game for hungry people to play.

We're lucky that the US Government furnishes us with one of these appliances as part of our living arrangement here. We're unlucky in that if it breaks, we must wait until the maintenance office either opens or has time to replace it. Since it broke on a Friday evening, we had to go all weekend without the miracle food warmer upper. Then we waited a couple more days until our "number" was up at the maintenance office.

All I can say is this: You really don't know what you got till it's gone.

We felt like we were a part of Little House on the Prairie. We had to "manually" warm up everything. Leftover coffee, queso, cold pancakes, etc. It all had to be either put in the oven, in the toaster or on the stove. We even had to get out a saucepan to warm up maple syrup for our pancakes on Saturday. I didn't even know you could do that!

See there? That's sad.

It's sad that I've never gone long enough without a microwave that I had to learn to reheat things the conventional way before now.

I definitely have a new found respect for who have the time, patience and will to live without a microwave.

I just still don't see how or why you do it.

I'm not going to lie, I skipped making quite a few things to avoid having to heat it up on the stove. I also admit that I ate cereal for dinner twice and it was awesome.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sing us a song, you're the piano man

I have a mild obsession with piano bars. I think they are the greatest places to unwind on a Friday or Saturday night. They play good music (requests from the audience, so you're guaranteed to hear what you want) and incorporate humor and activities to embarrass other people on everyone's behalf. It's fun, it's hilarious and you have to have a sense of humor to enjoy it.

Therefore, it weeds out the douchey type people. I would love it for that reason alone. Yet, there are many reasons why I love these magical places.

I get ridiculously excited when I live next to one.

When we heard there was a Howl at the Moon in Singapore. We went there for my birthday.

It was a blast. One of the pianists was from Chicago and the other was from New Zealand. It was a very interesting show because the guys combined their two styles of music, humor and playlists. I was laughing the whole night.

Until we got our bill. That part was not at all funny. (For the record, I don't blame HATM for it, I blame Singapore and their outrageous alcohol taxes.)

So you can imagine just how ecstatic I was to find a piano bar in my old college town when we were home. When I left to move to Singapore, the closest piano bar was in Columbia, Missouri.

If you know anything about the KU/MU rivalry, you know how painful it is for a jayhawk to step foot in Columbia.

And as much as I like the pianos, I just couldn't bring myself to go there again. (I also can't easily go to the recently opened HATM in Kansas City because it's an hour's drive from where we stay.)

So thank you Piano Gods for bringing me a piano place of my own in Lawrence.

This is The Barrel House.

I friggin' love it. Not only are the players there extremely talented, but the place is huge and has four private rooms.

The manager let us hang out in the Blue Moon room for the evening.

(Picture from

It was awesome. All 20 of us had a perfect view of the stage, our own waitress (you can hire your own bartender if you choose) and plenty of seats.

We had enough privacy to talk amongst ourselves without interrupting the show and yet could hear and participate in everything that went on down on stage which was quite entertaining.

We got there early because the weather wasn't cooperating with us and it was pretty mellow at first. We walked right in from the snow without having to wait at all. Things really picked up around eleven when all of the students finally staggered in though. I'd suggest coming just a while before then to avoid standing in line.

It was a great night.

And when we got this bill, we were again shocked but this time at the incredibly low amount. It was a fourth of what we paid at the Singapore place for relatively the same amount of drinks.

So yes, I love The Barrel House. If you're in the Lawrence area, you should definitely check it out.

(As always, no one paid me to say any of the above statements. I simply like to tell readers when a place rocks.)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Giveaway Winner

The winner of the Bump-its is......

Entry #3:

Jenny, please contact me at to arrange delivery of your prize. Thank you to everyone who entered. I loved reading your responses.

Maybe I'll give away a Snuggie next!

Just kidding. I don't even own a Snuggie. I live in Singapore. We don't have much use for Snuggies over here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Remember my rave about Bump-its?

Today, I'm giving away a set to one lucky reader.

Yep, fo FREE.

And all you have to do is answer the following question in the comments section:

"What is your favorite hair product for humidity?"

I'd really like to know. I swear by Phyto, but I'm sure everyone has their own rock star hair stuff. I want to know what it is.

*This contest is only open to readers in the United States and Singapore. Also, please only enter once (I will check and disqualify you for cheating if you enter more than once! I have a thing with cheating). The contest ends on Thursday at 4pm (Singapore time) when the winner will be randomly selected by the handy dandy tool at

Good luck!

SORRY! Contest time has ended.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Apple pie, improvised

One of the first things I ever learned how to bake was an apple pie. Yes, I know it's stereotypical. The American girl bakes apple pies. Big surprise.

But anyways. That's what I first learned to make.

Here's me at age four, first learning to make an apple pie in my Grandma Jackie's kitchen.

(Did you notice that my 4-year-old self already knew the importance of costume jewelry when baking? It's all about the details.)

I've always loved apple pie. It's tangy, sweet, buttery and gooey. It's even better with ice cream on top.

Fast forward to the year 2010. I'm craving apple pie, but I live in Singapore.


The first and last time we bought apples here, they were smaller than my fist and already rotten in the center. They also made us buy five because that was the special. In Singapore you only buy what the special says. You cannot buy two or three if the special says "Five for $5". You buy five. Trust me. They get really confused at the register and call their manager over. You must buy five if the sign says five.

So basically, we had five nasty apples and a headache from trying to explain our desire to only purchase three apples.

This was so something I never wanted to deal with again.

But I wanted apple pie. So it's a good thing that Aaron's grandma sent us this stuff.

It also worked out that I had a pie crust mix that desperately needed to be used as well. We're in "Operation Clean Out our Pantry" mode and things like that are better to be used than packed and shipped back to Kansas where they may sit in storage for weeks and weeks.

So I mixed the crust mix with water, rolled it out, filled it with the pie filling and baked it.

Ta-da! Apple pie in Singapore. It wasn't perfect, but it was apple pie.

And sometimes that's all you need it to be.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Two very different Decembers

This is what December looked like in Kansas.

This is what December looked like in Singapore.

I feel very fortunate to have experienced Christmas in both places.

Although, I'm not gonna lie. It's really hard to sing all of those Christmas carols about snow when you're sweating your butt off in shorts and flip flops.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The American Chinese Restaurant

When I first moved to Singapore, the question I most often got from my parents was "What do they eat there?"

To which I'd respond, "They eat Asian-style food, Mom."

And my dad would say "Oh! You mean like Red Fortune's food."

Red Fortune is the Chinese-style restaurant back in my hometown. My family has been eating there since I was in the 3rd grade. We've been there so many times that we know the owners (actually the owners' adult children) by name (Maria and Dom) and give them hugs whenever we enter the door. They know everything about us and we know all about them.

Basically, they're awesome and we love them.

But I had to break it gently to Mom and Dad that Red Fortune isn't anything like the food we are eating in the actual Orient.

I believe my words were, "They don't have crab rangoon here, Dad."

To that I heard "WHAT?! You're kidding me?! But that's Asian food!"

Nope. It's not. And it makes me sad to say it because crab rangoon is my ultimate favorite thing at Red Fortune.

Singapore has never heard of crab rangoon.

A sad, sad day.

So to introduce Singapore to the American version of Chinese-style food, I brought my camera to Red Fortune while we were home.

Drum roll please.

Ladies and gentlemen of Singapore......

I give you.....

The delicious Crab Rangoon

It's an ultra crispy wonton filled with a mixture of cream cheese, crab and some other secret ingredients.

Basically, it's a happy party in your mouth. I dip mine in sweet n' sour sauce and spicy mustard (also two sauces that they do not serve as dipping sauces in Asia).

I ate three crab rangoons. I'm an American piggy who can't say no to cream cheese anything. It's a really good thing that cream cheese isn't popular in Singapore. Otherwise I'd be the size of the Merlion statue.

For the actual meal part of our dining experience (the crab rangoon is strictly an appetizer, duh), Aaron ordered the Szechuan chicken with a side of fried rice and an egg roll.

It's very different than anything I've consumed on this side of the pond. While the Chinese dishes in Singapore do usually come with some kind of sauce, they are not near as thick or sweet. Also, the vegetables are not usually the ones pictured above. They use a lot of greens, tofu, and bean sprouts...but mostly just greens.

The Chinese restaurants in the US have "Americanized" their menus to ensure that people will actually eat their food. They've added much more sugar and salt, switched out the limp, cooked greens for vegetables more common in the American diet, removed all bones and heads from the food, and added things like the decadent crab rangoon. (I'm also fairly sure that the egg roll is an American creation as well.)

For my lunch, I ordered the Cashew Chicken with a side of fried rice and a crab rangoon (because I obviously need to attend a 12 step Crab Rangoon program).
I've seen Cashew Chicken on a menu in a Chinese restaurant here in Singapore, but I did not get a chance to try it yet. Therefore, I have no idea if it's similar or not. My guess is that it's probably not. The one from Red Fortune is delicious and I kind of like the idea of not tainting it in my mind with an authentic "imposter".

And to finish our meal, we got the token American-Chinese fortune cookie.

The fortune in Aaron's said that he would travel to far away places.

Those cookies are smart little suckers.

Monday, January 11, 2010

One of the seven little reasons...

that my trip back home was awesome.

This is my youngest nephew, Cooper. He is the epitome of a ray of sunshine. His cute little voice forces you to smile, no matter what mood you're in. So basically everytime he speaks, I just want to squeeze him. It's like a reflex. And I can't control it.

When he and my other cutie pie nephew, Tyson, get together, it's cuteness overload. That's when I have to look away so I don't burst from all the cuteness.

We got to spend a lot more time with our little people this trip home. We sat by them at dinner, we made Easy Bake oven cookies, we fed the small one a bottle, we played dress up, we played with new toys from Santa and we kissed and hugged them until we got on their nerves. We had so much fun and it made it that much harder to leave again.

Living in Singapore is a wonderful experience. The weather is always Summer-ish and the walking keeps me somewhat slimmer than my Kansas-dwelling self.

But I just can't resist all this cute.

I've got to live by the cute again. In a few months. :)

(See you soon Aidan, Rachel, Ava, Jack, Tyson, Cooper and Lexi! Remember, Aunt Megan always has candy!)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Well hello there

I just wanted you all to know that I did not fall in a hole somewhere for the last two weeks.

I've been on a much needed holiday back home to the United States. The picture above accurately depicts what our Christmas, New Year's and every other day that we were home looked like. We were so busy running from house to house, store to store and restaurant to restaurant that I barely touched a computer. My iPhone was the only thing that kept me linked to the rest of the world.

So it's only my second day back in Singapore and I've been welcomed back with one of the signature headaches that I seem to so often get here.

So as soon as that's gone, and as soon as I sort through all of the 500 pictures that we took while we're home, I will be a much more productive blogger.

Hope your holidays were as wonderful as ours were.