Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Monday Night Shopping

Singapore may be the ultimate shopping mecca, but in time you get tired of the mob of crazy shoppers that congregate in Orchard every weekend. Eventually I figured out that the best time for me to shop would be after work on Mondays - there are way less people, staff are less harassed and are therefore (somewhat) nicer, and did I mention there are less people? I can actually walk from one store to the next without getting elbowed! Insane, right? Plus, I get to save my weekends for more important stuff like laundry, household chores, and the pinnacle of all activities, doing nothing. I binge-watched Castle the entire day yesterday, and I also managed to iron my clothes, do some hoovering, and mop the floors with lavender-scented cleaner. Mmmm Sunday.

I've actually been on makeup rehab for a couple of months now, and have been pretty good about it too. I'm pretty adept at talking myself out of buying stuff now. *beams*

So this is a bit of a relapse, I guess, but I prefer to think of it as a reward. Or as a preventive measure so I don't go batshit crazy.

First stop: Illamasqua.
Robinsons Orchard started carrying them when they re-opened a while back, and I've always been curious to try the brand but kept getting sidetracked. Their blushes get consistently good reviews, and since I recently hit pan on my NARS Gaiety (one of this year's biggest achievements, no doubt) it seemed like a good place to start.

I wasn't feeling very adventurous so I ended up with what I felt was a safe bet. Nymph is described as a warm, candy pink, which is accurate. It's like a matte, slightly warmer version of Gaiety, which (fingers crossed) makes for the perfect everyday blush. Very excited. Oh, and I also got a free feather pen (you can see it in the photo) which, quite frankly, I do not know what to make of. 

I dropped by the NARS counter to take a look at the new lipsticks. I'm not gonna lie, they're kinda awesome, but as I went a little backup-crazy with the lip pencil in Descanso I shouldn't really be getting any more NARS. Or at least that was what I told myself, repeatedly, as I slowly inched away from the counter. I can't promise I won't be back in the next couple of weeks days hours.

In the meantime, this is what I ended up with instead. ^^

There's just something about a YSL lippie that makes me happy (the free foundation samples make me doubly so). 
I'll be the first to admit that the Rouge Volupte Sheer Candy line is nothing more than glorified tinted lip balms, but they just do it so well - from the luxe packaging to the gorgeous, gorgeous scent. Mine's in 04 Grenade Suave (Luscious Pomegranate), a bright but sheer pink you can happily slap on without worrying about it too much. I have a feeling this is going to be a mainstay in my kikay kit.

Aaaaaand that caps my first makeup haul in months. May there be no more to follow. ^^

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Kitchen Misadventures: Sinigang Variations

I've been under the weather the last couple of days, partly from exhaustion from touring my mother (and a couple of her friends) all over Singapore last week, but more so from this nasty bout of sniffles - I've been sneezing and wheezing and my voice sounds like a polyphonic ringtone. Ugh.

Naturally I've been craving piping hot, soup-y comfort food, but at the same time I wanted something other than my usual repertoire that is protein + veggies + sinigang mix.

The first one is inspired by the soup that came with the steamed fish from the Thai hawker stall next door, but I decided to use shrimp instead, so it ended up like a shrimp sinigang of sorts.

Our friendly neighborhood FairPrice sells Tom Yum vegetable packets with two stalks of lemongrass, a knob of ginger, a piece of lime, a couple of Thai chillies, and a handful of kaffir lime leaves, which was perfect for this recipe.

I always peel and devein my shrimp whenever I can, just because I'm a lazy eater. The heads and shell were boiled to create a stock (and so as not to waste that shrimpy flavor), and then to the strained liquid I added lime juice, lemongrass (bruised and sliced into one-inch pieces), sliced ginger, chopped chillies, and torn kaffir lime leaves. I let that boil away for a while, and then plopped in the shrimp together with some canned straw mushrooms and brown shimeji mushrooms - our favorite Thai restaurant in Japan serves these two in their Tom Yum so I thought they would work here as well (and they did ^^).

It was missing a bit of a kick, and even after I juiced in two more limes I still felt it wasn't sour enough, so in the end I caved and added a teeny tiny teaspoon of sinigang mix. Success! Yay, citric acid.

The second dish is courtesy of Gordon Ramsay: poached salmon in miso.

(Excuse the crappy photos; I could not plate for sh*t)

The recipe was pretty easy to follow, and the only modification I did was to omit the broccoli (forgot to buy :p) and the fish stock because my miso paste already contains dashi (seafood stock). It's a bit like sinigang sa miso, but milder. Here's a video of the recipe, because why put into words what Gordon Ramsay can demonstrate for you?

I shall now tuck myself into bed with a book and a giant mug of Lemsip. *sniff*
(For dinner, my sister and I shall feast on leftovers :p)
Happy weekend!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Binge Watching Diaries

So this was me the last couple of days weeks months.

Which explains why this blog is practically dead. Sort of. Sorry, loyal readers (and by "loyal readers" I mean you Maymay).

It all started with The Good Wife.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

New on the Lemming List: Meli Melo Thela Bag

I blame Olivia Palermo.

It has been out for a while, so I'm a bit late to the party. I only discovered it while googling around for a new schlepping bag (I want one in tan this time).

I like how the handles go from front to back instead of the conventional left to right - it reminds me of the Hermes Lindy (which is only the element of dreams for now). I also like that you can tuck in the sides to make it more compact, and that the long strap can be fastened to the middle buckle when not in use is a pretty nifty, and well thought out, detail.

I would get it in a heartbeat if only it weren't so prohibitively priced - it retails for around five hundred pounds (ouch). I'm really trying to behave myself this year and curb my impulse spending, so I'm waiting it out for a couple more months to see if I really like it enough to splurge. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

I'm Back! House Favorites

A whole month without posts. Eep.
I guess moving, for the third time in three years, was more unsettling than I thought. I do love my new apartment, though.

Home sweet home ^^

I have realized, over the last couple of years, that I have a preference for small, uncluttered spaces. In fact big apartments freak me out - I once stayed in this massive room in Prague by my lonesome and I was so anxious I barely got any sleep.

So when I found this teeny tiny unit within walking distance from work I decided it was worth looking at. It's a studio apartment with a loft bed, and I don't dispute that one of the main deciding factors was its resemblance to my former flat in Tokyo. What it lacks in square footage it makes up for with the high ceiling and the amount of light from the window. The space is small, but it's more than enough for me. Maybe just shy of enough if you include my stuff, but I'm working on that.

I've spent the last couple of weeks trying to get the apartment up and running with my sister (who I'm sharing it with) - two trips to Ikea, countless more to Daiso, and shuttling back and forth between department stores to find the best deals on appliances. I'm quite pleased with how it all turned out (so far), so I thought I'd let out a barrage of my favorite things to somehow make up for the lack of posts. Somehow.

Zojirushi Rice Cooker

Zojirushi Rice Cooker
Can we all take a moment to acknowledge how insanely cute my rice cooker is? It's only as big as Puck (the hedgehog)! 

Zojirushi is a Japanese brand well-known for their rice cookers, and knowing how I've only ever had perfectly cooked rice in Tokyo I took that as a very, very good sign. This one uses fuzzy logic - a notch above the traditional rice cooker in that it is able to adjust the cooking cycle based on temperature fluctuations and the program selected. In layman's terms: perfect rice, every time, even if you screw up the water ratio. If there's anything I hate, it's gluey, watery rice (malata). 

There is also a porridge mode, which I have used to cook steel-cut oats, and another one for sushi rice and for brown rice which I have yet to try out. The only thing missing is a setting for scorched rice (tutong) which I love. People find it weird but I don't think I'm alone in this because one of the higher-end (read: can't afford) Zojirushi models has one, and I'm definitely getting that one when it's time to upgrade and the budget allows for it. 

The one nifty feature of Japanese rice cookers is the timer setting - you prepare everything in the morning, let it know what time you're eating dinner, and come home to perfectly cooked rice. Not burnt, not soggy. If only I could do the same for ulam - wouldn't that be perfect? 

And have I mentioned it plays Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star when it starts cooking and Amarylis to announce that it is done? And that you can change this "ring tone" if you're so inclined? Yeah, it's that awesome.

Philips Garment Steamer

Philips Garment Steamer
Or, the best impulse purchase ever. I bought it more than a year ago, when I just got back from a two-month business trip to Germany followed by a two-week trip home and I came back to a shitload of clean, rumpled clothes begging to be ironed. Being the world-class procrastinator that I am I decided to go to the mall instead, where I found a heavily-discounted Philips Garment Steamer (in Singapore, land of crazy sales, you never buy at full price), and I have never burned a single article of clothing since. It still took me two weekends to clear the mountain of laundry, though. It was a lot of clothes.

A couple of caveats, though. One, it doesn't produce crisp shirts and perfectly creased trousers. I don't mind because living in Singapore has filled my closet with flimsy, breezy fabric that combust upon contact with a normal flat iron. So I guess it all depends on the contents of your wardrobe. The second caveat is the need to be good with maintenance - it should be emptied after every use and rinsed every so often to prevent blockage and condensation from building up. Otherwise you risk having the steam head spout boiling water every which way in something akin to a volcanic eruption. Not fun, and also quite dangerous. But avoidable. So there's that. Still, I enjoy using it and have no intention of going back to the traditional flat iron.

Philips Air Fryer

Philips Air Fryer
I've been unsure of the air fryer for the longest time, but two weeks of living without one (after a year of using Anj's) I found myself at a loss. 

I got mine in one of those wonderful GSS promotions, with a hefty discount and a free grill pan, and even a trolley to bring it home.

Philips Air Fryer Grill Pan

It originally comes with a wire basket but I find myself using the grill pan more just because it's easier to clean.

For the record, I don't think it's something that should be in every kitchen; it fits a very specific set of needs, and they happen to be perfectly aligned with mine. For one, the capacity is on a small side; I don't think it would be enough for a household larger than three. Also, it is essentially just a fan-forced oven, so if you already have one then it would be redundant.

I also think the name is misleading - it's not really a fryer, no way can this compete with the results of a deep fryer, and for food that is not naturally fatty you would still have to add oil unless you like your food dry and chewy and... sad.

Having said that, I still bought one because it's excellent for roasting vegetables. And chicken, and pork belly, and fish (which can also be steamed by wrapping it in foil). It's more effective than an oven toaster (temperature is more consistent) and it's less bulky and needs less preheating time than an actual oven. Oh, and it's excellent for making toasts too.

Le Creuset

Le Creuset Cast Iron Pan
I have always wanted a cast-iron pan (the better to cook steak with) so I've always been on the lookout for Le Creuset sales. Imagine my glee when I found this red one going for nearly half the retail price! The staff told me it was because they were coming out with a new model with a second handle, which is so not worth that extra hundred dollars but hey, I'm not complaining.

Le Creuset

I follow the Anthony Bourdain criteria when selecting pans: by the amount of damage caused when you bash it into someone's skull. This clocks in just a bit shy of two kilograms, so I would say it passes muster.

Room shoes

Room shoes
Confession: we don't actually use these because they're too pretty. We bought some sensible (read: boring) room shoes from Muji, which we use for walking around the house, Bbut these were just too cute not to purchase. We literally squealed when we saw them, leaving us completely devoid of bargaining power, but we went home happy and that's what matters. Right? Right. 


Yuzu is this really yummy Japanese citrus fruit which is the base for Japan Airline's signature drink Skytime, which is up there in my list of favorite drinks, right next to full-fat Coke. Somebody, bless him, had the brilliant idea of making yuzu-flavored tabasco. No plus points for the name, but to summarize I have one bottle at home and another one at the office and I cannot, for the love of all that is holy, stop dousing my food with it. 

Preppy fountain pens

Colored Fountain Pens
Okay, so they aren't really a "house thing" but how awesome are these colored fountain pens? The brand is called Preppy, which hails from Japan, the land of wonderful things. The nib is 0.3mm, which I personally prefer, but it also comes in a thicker 0.5mm. The best part? They retail for less than five dollars each!


Because there's an app for everything, including splitting expenses among flatmates. I wish I discovered this a year ago; it would've saved Anj and I a lot of accounting trouble (read: we're often too lazy to keep track). But seriously, if you share a house and you share expenses (e.g. Flatmate A pays for the rent and Flatmate B pays for the cable bill and internet and Flatmate C did the groceries that one time and she also paid for dinner yesterday) it's a godsend. It keeps track of all the household expenses, who paid for them, and who owes how much and to whom. It's quite nifty and it's working well for me and my sister.

There is also an Android app as well as a website, so you don't have to be a flat full of iPhone users to be able to take advantage. And you really should.

A couple other things
1. Colorful chopping boards from Ikea
2. Microfiber sheets - cheap, but awesome. There is no going back to normal sheets now.
3. Wall clock with smooth second-hand movement. Because the ticking of that second hand drives me nuts sometimes.
4. Meet Mr. Basil. My dream is to have an herb garden, and I'm glad to report that I have managed to keep this plant for days now. Days! If you have any tips on how I could make him thrive drop me a comment below :)

Have a good week, everyone. ^^