A few of his favourite things

4 of Jasmine’s favourite gifts for Andrew

4. Shirts

I’m pretty traditional (read: boring) when it comes to gifts for guys. Usually I just end up buying books. When we first got together, what he wore never bothered me and I never made any effort to change the way he looked. To me, he looked great, and I liked his geeky vibe whenever he wore his “uniform” of polo t-shirt, worn-in jeans and Adidas sneakers.

A month later, Andrew confessed that he’d been hoping that I would make him over and upgrade his style because he wanted to be more stylish for my sake. It was one of the sweetest and most endearing things I had heard him say- a guy who once survived a whole year in Leeds on just one coat  (no gloves, no scarves, or even a hat) was willing to invest in his appearance for me!

Checked shirt from Domanchi

To be honest, Andrew looks handsome in anything that he puts on (yes yes, as they say, beauty is in the eye of the blindfolded), but he looks especially good in collared shirts with the sleeves rolled up. I lucked out when I invested in a dove grey Calvin Klein shirt for his birthday which fit him to a tee, and a checkered shirt from Domanchi (have since discovered that Korean brands have the best fits for menswear!). I refuse to buy Andrew basic corporate blue! Last week, I got him a Pierre Cardin shirt in a sunny shade of lemon yellow.

3. Just Like Heaven by Patrick MacDonnell

This was my graduation gift to Andrew when he was elected as valedictorian for our cohort in NIE. (Frankly, I was planning to do the boring thing and get him a pen, but my friends talked me out of it. “Talked” was a euphemism. When our classmates heard about my unceremonious choice of gift, they warned me in no uncertain terms that I had to step it up… So I ended up buying a book instead. Groundbreaking.)

I had actually compiled a shortlist of children’s picture books (including a Dr Seuss which he later got for me!) but alas, Borders did not stock any of them. In other words, this was an eleventh-hour option, but I found the message very meaningful, especially given the trying transitory period that we were in- it was about a cat who tries to find utopia but ultimately discovers that heaven is right here where his best friend is. 

2. Casio watch

I love old-school gifts, and nothing is more reminiscent of primary school jogs than a retro Casio watch! I bought this for my dear when his previous watch broke and he needed a watch whenever he went jogging or swimming. Andrew, ever the packrat, insisted on keeping his broken watch on the dashboard of his car so that he could read the time. When there was a built-in radio clock right under his rearview mirror.

So, I locked him out of the car until he agreed to throw the watch away. 

And then I bought him this as a replacement.

Mr Chong is now the proud owner of an identical Casio watch- I chose one with copper-coloured bands for him, instead of the blue and silver in the picture, for a sleeker look

1. Soup

My mum used to say, “Aiyah, actually it is very easy to keep your Andrew happy one… Just hold his hand and make him soup.”

I’m not much of a cook (my sis will readily attest to that). The last time I tried to make Andrew breakfast, I went to watch TV and left the eggs to boil… for ninety minutes. I totally forgot about the stove until my sis and I noticed a strange burning smell. Initially I thought there might have been a fire in a neighbour’s home! Even the shells of the eggs were burned into oblivion.

They were eggs once

So cooking is actually no mean feat for me. When Andrew was really tired during the first few weeks of our courtship, I would deliver soup to his place in a thermos flask. Under my mum’s eagle eye, I’ve made herbal chicken soup, clam chowder and mushroom soup.

Mr Chong forgoes the grapefruit juice and takes a long swig of his clam chowder instead

And yes, I’ve stopped burning eggs!

4 of Andrew’s favourite gifts from Jasmine

4. Her intricately designed cards

My dearie really has a knack for art and making cards. Most importantly, the cards she designs are not just beautiful, but they actually take a lot of time and effort. She hardly buys me any cards, but always personally spends time and effort to make her cards individualised and special, just for me.

Whenever we go into any art shop, Jasmine always disses the over-priced items, saying she can make them on her own. And she’s not kidding – she really can! Just look at the careful selection of colour and the attention paid to the layering of the paper-flower she made above, inspired by what she saw during my sister’s scrap-booking sessions.

This was the birthday card that she made for me – the designs on the top were painstakingly cut out by her. I don’t know how long it took, but it definitely took a long time judging by the intricate designs. I’m sure the curves were especially difficult to cut out accurately, but yet she did it so perfectly.

Other great works by her:

  Stereotypical portrait of a teacher. She made this card for me and asked for an image of it
for her Literature lesson on stereotypes. My dearie’s a genius!

3. The shirts she buys for me

I’ve always prided Jasmine for having a great sense of fashion. As much as I complain about her shopping (heh), I do think that she is quite selective in what she buys and always ensures that what she buys is reasonably priced and can be matched in a variety of ways.

I always feel extremely confident and secure when I’m wearing a shirt that’s bought by her or a shirt that I know she loves. Looks like a man really ‘depends’ on his girlfriend for his ego-food. 🙂 I’m so thankful that Jasmine is always on the look out for me, during her own shopping trips, for shirts that will look good on me. The hunt is still on for a good white shirt that is not see-through under direct lighting! We’ve seen many at Far East, but all of them failed the translucency test. She has already put a picture of the Domanchi shirt that has a wonderful slimming effect on me. Here are the other two shirts she has bought for me:

A very well-cut and smart looking shirt from CK. Fabric’s fantastic too.

2. Skin-care products

Yes, those who know me well will be shocked yet again. Technically this isn’t really a gift, because most of the stuff that Jasmine gives me are samples, i.e. free, but nonetheless, as the cliche goes, it’s the thought that counts. In this case, it’s more than just the thought, but that feeling of being pampered and cared for by your girlfriend something that is much more significant than just the price of the gift itself. This is where my Dearie really makes up for my shortcomings, because I paid almost no attention to skin care prior to knowing her, but now I’m starting to understanding and at times even see the value of using such skin care products.

She has gathered so many free samples for me that I might have to get a skin care product box for myself soon. Here’s my current collection:

I have face moisturiser and eye cream from Clarins Men and Biotherm Homme, moisturiser and toner from shu uemura, Clinique Comfort on Call for skin repair and the one I’m most amazed by is She Umera Deepsea Water (in the orange bottle), it’s supposed to refresh me when I’m feeling tired. All I need to do is to spray it on my face. Who knew such things even existed! Missing in the photo above is another bottle of toner, which I’ve left in my car.

In addition to all these skin products, she also gives me face scrubs from time to time and some other ‘cosmetic’ pampering which would be unmanly to confess to, hence it shall not be mentioned! I feel so blessed to have a girlfriend so willing to pamper me.

1. Food!

Yes, as Jasmine mentioned above, all you need to do is to feed me. I love food and especially home-cooked food. As I’ve discovered through increased contact with her family, cooking isn’ exactly one of my Dearie’s favourite activities (and that’s putting it lightly), but I’ve been touched by her willingness to cook and prepare food for me whenever she has the time to do so. Earlier in our dating days, she made me Lotus Root Soup and Ginseng Chicken Soup, coming all the way down to Toa Payoh just to pass it to me and watch me enjoy it.

For my birthday, she cooked up a sumptuous meal, which we enjoyed at Mt. Faber. I know her mum contributed greatly to it too, so thanks Auntie! Here are pictures of the meal:

Starters: Potato balls

Clam chowder soup, and Pizza, along with Guava Spritzer (guava juice + Sprite)

It was truly an unforgettable meal. I ate so much.

There was another time when she came down to my place after I had finished a very long day at school, just to deliver a meal of seafood chowder and lemon-baked chicken drumsticks. It was really good!

Thanks Dearie for all the effort put into all the gifts. Typing this post has really helped me truly appreciate how much you have given to me over the past few months, not just the actual gifts themselves, but the time, effort and love that went into them. I am truly thankful for you in my life.


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