Sunday, July 20, 2014

Book review: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

I started a new "habit" - and that is to work out while listening to audiobooks. I was getting bored in my daily workout routine and was starting to find it hard to motivate myself, until I came across this idea of working out my "brain" while working out my "brawn"s.  ;)

And it has done wonders. I now look forward to my daily workout sessions with enthusiasm and joy. The first book I listened to was "The Power of Habit: What We Do What We Do in Life and Business" by Charles Duhigg. This to me was fitting because I was having a hard time making exercise a habit!

I find the book relatively interesting, although I'm not sure that I fully agree with everything that it says, and at times his examples are a bit weak. I was also hoping for some more practical guidance as to how to build habits. None-the-less, here are some interesting facts that I had learned…
  • How consumer package industries heavily uses customer info metrics to understand how their consumers behave and thus subtlely change their buying pattern by forcing habits.
  • How AA uses habits to help addicts change their destructive patterns.
  • How casinos uses coupons and free stuff to entice gamblers to return to casinos and build their gambling habits.
From a practical sense, this is how I see it:
  • Create habits so you can free up more brain power for important things, since habits become routines and there is less decision required (e.g., when you brush your teeth, you don't need to really think about the next steps. It's automatic. Pick up toothbrush, put on toothpaste, brush, rinse, mouthwash - it's a routine). By creating as many routines as possible reduces the number of decisions that has to be made, and thus freeing up your brain for more important things.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

What do Starbucks and Disney Princesses have in common?

Source: Wanelo
They've all been names on my latte!

Just for fun, I started giving out Disney princess names to the barristers for my morning lattes. Before long, I'm building up a little collection. It's fun and always funny to see the look of "huh?" on their faces once they've prepared the drink and was about to call out the name. "Vanilla latte, half syrup, lactose free for Cinderella!"

Great idea to cheer me up and to bring two of my favourite things together - Disney and coffee!

Have you ever given barristers different names just for fun?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Fort Lauderdale Riva Sunday Brunch Review

Oh my goodness what a treat that was! I was fortunate enough to enjoy a delicious brunch at Riva, complete with ... bottomless mimosa!


Riva is open and bright, simple yet classy. The restaurant is approximately 1/2 indoor and 1/2 outdoor seating. We chose to sit outdoors that day because the weather was just gorgeous. The restaurant is clean and well maintained, and there is a cheerful and relaxing atmosphere.

Restaurant entrance
Outside, you can see the beautiful ocean with palm (?) trees, and there is this ever pleasant cross breeze that keeps you from being too hot.
View from the patio seating area


Desserts, desserts, desserts! Need I say more? Other than sweet treats, the buffet features a carving station, omelette station, king crab legs, shrimps, and salmon. Also my favourite - eggs benedict!

My savoury dish
And then, onwards to desserts…

Buffet area

My 2nd (3rd?) dessert plate

Whoa chocolate fountain!

These were delicious - chocolate cream cups

What my friends love most about this brunch is the UNLIMITED MIMOSAS - we got to a point where we just asked the waitress to leave us with the bottle of champaign and a jug of OJ. Six girls managed to finish 6 bottles of sparkling wine... that makes for a very wonderful afternoon.  ;)

Unlimited Mimosa
I also love that they give you cream in a little container that looks like a carton of milk. Delightful!


I had a relaxing fantastic afternoon hanging out with the girls at Riva. Food is decent/good (very reasonable at $40pp), and the service is top notch. The view is relaxing and we did not feel rushed at all.

The only downside is if you're not staying at the resort, the parking is valet only so be prepared to shell out some $ for parking. Still, I would come back to Riva for another Sunday Brunch in a heartbeat!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Dinner at Asia Bay Fort Lauderdale

Dinner at Asia Bay

1111 East Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

Lobster seafood pineapple fried rice

Tune Rock on Seaweed Salad - $16

1111 East Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 - See more at:
1111 East Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 - See more at:

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sunset at Mondrian South Beach

After a long day at Miami, our day ended at the beautiful Mondrian South Beach hotel.

The hotel was designed by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders, and the visionary style of the hotel was to pay homage to "Sleeping Beauty's Castle". I'm not sure if this is why there is a giant doll head of a Jessica Alba anime head greeting us as soon as we enter the hotel!

The hotel is no doubt modern and uniquely designed. My Manhattan interior design friend is all excited about this place.

Hey look - you can use the vending machine to order anime figurines! Not sure how this fits into the overall Sleeping Beauty theme, but it's cool!

 At the back of the hotel is a poolside lounge, with a breathtaking view of the sunset.

Everything about this hotel is so unique and different, it wasn't what I had originally expected!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Miami Day Trip: South Beach

Our next stop after lunch at Versailles is towards South Beach. It was a rather windy and cool day (considering it's summer and Florida), so we got to hit the beach with relatively little sweat and discomfort.

Our first stop was to the underwhelming Art Deco Center. Other than a large space with air conditioning (great to get away from the summer heat), there isn't much to see. BUT it is free, so there is no harm spending 5 minutes here. If you have questions about tours, you can also ask the staff who works there. They are friendly and will be willing to help.

To fully absorb the South Beach atmosphere, having a drink by one of the many sidewalk cafes is recommended. Remember to ask to look at the menu, as I find their prices varies (we wanted a Mexican bulldog - one cafe said it was $65, the other - $30)!

The drink Mexican Bulldog originates from Mexico (no surprise there). It is a margarita, with a beer (or two…) sitting upside down on it. The suction keeps the beer from spilling out into your drink. When you need more beer, just lift the beer and jiggle it a little.  Cool, refreshing and delicious.    :)

Competition amongst the cafe must be high, as some pull out all stops to attract customers - including the hiring of Vegas type dance girls to perform - on a Saturday afternoon! A bit out of place I think, but none-the-less very entertaining, and got me thinking about hitting the gym myself so I look as good as those girls do.   ;)

And yes, this is the place with the $65 Mexican Bulldog - I guess an extra $35 for the "view"?

Next, we walked past Versace's Miami Beach mansion, the famous place where he was shot. It's a bit gruesome, to be so close to a place where you know a man has been shot dead… but you can see elements of Versace throughout the mansion, including his famous logo.

On a side note, did you know that his niece inherited half a billion dollars when she turned 18?! I can't even begin to imagine what a kid with so much wealth would do. Become a philanthropist? Travel the world? Spend it all on shoes?

Next, we took a brief walk down to the beach. Look at all these toned dudes and gals making us all jealous and self-conscious of our bodies!

One thing I remembered very well was how the coast guards were VERY anxious in getting people closer to the shores. They would go back and forth along the coastline in their beach buggies and used a whistle to alert swimmers that have gone too far out from the shore. We couldn't understand it at the time, but when we got back to the hotel, we saw this sign that explained everything.

Beware of Katherine the Canadian shark!!! Maybe it's funnier than it actually is because I'm from Canada. I'm not sure.  ^_^

We ended our day watching the sunset at Mondarin hotel, which I will write about in another post.

Great day at Miami! Not too sunny, which is perfect for sun sensitive me. I didn't even need to use my umbrella. Yes, I am one of those Asian girls with umbrellas. I don't understand why there is a social stigma against it. What's wrong with wanting to protect my skin from sun damage? My skin is happy, I'm happy. Less wrinkles, less sun age spots, decreased chance of skin cancer. It's a win-win-win in my books! Sorry didn't mean to rant, but I feel so strongly about this. Sunscreen + hat or umbrella = happy me.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Miami Day Trip: Lunch at Versailles Cuban Restaurant

I'm back from my unofficial bachelorette in Fort Lauderdale. It's been such a wonderful trip, and I got to catch up with a few of my close girl friends. It was glorious! We were mostly in Fort Laud, but did manage to rent a car for a day and headed off to Miami. Our first stop - Versailles Restaurant!

From their website:
Versailles Restaurant, The World’s Most Famous Cuban Restaurant, has been serving tasty Cuban cuisine and culture to the South Florida community and tourists from around the world for four decades.

Their menu is very very long, so it took us a while to figure out what to order...

Cafe Con Leche
Essentially coffee and milk. They bring you a cup of warm milk, and you pour in the espresso yourself (getting a very nice whiff of the aroma in the process). I'm a coffee drinker, and this is REALLY GOOD, so make sure you get yourself a cup!!

Versailles Combo Appetizer
Next, we ordered the Versailles Combo Appetizer. It came out a big dish of FRIED food. We didn't like this too much (we love anything fried, but this was a bit too much and made me crave for some veggies). You can probably skip this dish.

Oven Roasted Beef
I *think* this is what the next dish was. Can't quite remember, but it was good! Very flavourful. But between this and the chicken leg, I'd go for the chicken.

Chicken and Yellow Rice
Sorry I can't remember the name of this dish either! But it was one of my favourites and I think it's the Chicken and Yellow Rice. The chicken was tender and juicy, and it was a great deal for $7.50.  I would prefer chicken over the beef.

Imperial Rice
I love this picture! The imperial rice was fairly good, although it was a huge portion so you probably want to share this.

In summary, this place is authentic with great service and reasonable pricing. Check out Versailles if you're ever in Miami!