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Friday Favorites: Deliveroo

29 April 2017
Or, how to be a total recluse.

Seriously though. The one good motivator for me to leave the house is hunger (it’s the one good motivator for everything), but now that I’ve discovered you can have restaurant-quality food delivered to my doorstep faster than I could get myself to the shower? Game over.

It’s the dream y’all: proper meals without having to dress up and deal with people. And I get to prop my feet up and watch Netflix. Mmnmnm.

For the uninitiated, Deliveroo is a service that lets you order from nearby restaurants, to be picked up and delivered by their own fleet of riders. And by restaurants, I don’t mean just the typical pizza and fastfood joints - there’s a wide variety ranging from the hole-in-the-wall Nasi Lemak stall to hipster cafes to fancy schmancy fine dining establishments. The only limitation is, well, whatever’s near you. I happen to be spoilt for choice because the East is teeming with good food. Here are a couple of my favorites (although I’m sure there’s tons more waiting to be discovered).

Muchachos {Deliveroo Editions}

Muchachos is a Mexican joint all the way down in Keong Saik Road, but is available to Katong residents via Deliveroo Editions (until May, if I’m not mistaken). I ordered the Carne Asada burrito, and it was humongous and devoid of fillers - just lots of chunks of juicy steak and lots of rice and beans and avocado (had to pay extra but so so worth it). I liked it so much I ordered the exact same thing the very next day. Yas.
P.S. They also sell Mexican Coke, made of real cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup. I personally find it nothing revolutionary - it does taste different, but I can’t say it’s necessarily better, flavor-wise.

Sacha & Sons {Deliveroo Editions}

Sacha & Sons is a take on New York deli food, which I am completely unfamiliar with. But you can't really go wrong with thick slices of meat sandwiched in a sesame seed bagel in my book And they’re crazy generous with the pastrami, too. Easiest way to my heart, if you ask me.

Alt Pizza

Confession: I’m not too fond of pizza (I know, I know, I’m a monster), just because I don’t particularly enjoy meat drenched with cheese. Alt Pizza, however, does not go overboard with the fromage, and they offer several options, including a DIY, which makes me very, very happy (I had chorizo with kale and artichokes and it was lovely in a way that probably only I can appreciate lol).

Rice and Fries

I don’t quite get their concept, but (1) crab meat risotto, and (2) luncheon meat fries (with salted egg dip!!! OMG). End of story.

Honorable Mention

Nando’s. The service in their restaurants is usually abyssmal, except when they have this competition where the staff of branch with the highest rating gets sent to Universal Studios for free or whatever, in which case they become insufferably overbearing. But I do love their peri-peri chicken so I just have it delivered. Win.

Ng Ah Sio Bak Kut Teh. Perfect for when you’re under the weather. Doubly perfect because you don’t have to get out of your pajamas yay.

Fatboy’s The Burger Bar. Their YOLO burger has fried onion strings, a sunny side up egg, fried luncheon meat, and a tower of mozzarella sticks. Oh, and a giant beef patty. I’m pretty sure my arteries constricted a bit just by typing this. It’s seriously good, and seriously bad.

The Minimalist Project: An Update

16 April 2017
It may have gotten a bit waylaid by all the wedding preps, but I still think I made significant progress over the past year, not just in the amount of things I owned, but also in the way I go about my purchases.

For 2017, I’m moving away from the shopping fasts and mass decluttering; instead it will be all about editing - looking at what I have right now, figuring out what needs to go, and what I might have to add. It’s a long work in progress, and I’ll be posting some updates soon.

In the meantime, here are a couple of “lessons learned” over the course of my minimalist (mis)adventures.

Don’t discard for the sake of discarding.

As tempting as it is to just throw away everything and start fresh, it is neither practical nor realistic. One of my biggest mistakes when downsizing was assuming I could build an entirely new wardrobe over a single weekend. I was convinced that I could find the perfect shirt and the perfect pair of trousers and I’d just buy five of each and call it a day.

It was, of course, largely unsuccessful, and I’m still building up my wardrobe to this day. But I am glad that I didn’t actually get around to throwing away all my clothes in my haste to become a full-fledged minimalist (whatever that means), because that would leave me with literally nothing to wear to work. I realized that, while not perfect, my current clothes were still useful, and deserved a spot in my wardrobe.

As intentional as we are with what we add into our lives, so should we be with what we remove from it. The guiding principle is to “have nothing that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. Sometimes in our haste to curate a perfect-looking life, we forget all about the useful items that, while not pretty, or perfect, deserve to stay.

There is no such thing as a “must-have”.

Back when I shared a flat with my dear friend Anj and had access to her immense library, I stumbled across a book by Nina Garcia that listed a hundred (a hundred!) pieces “every stylish woman must own”. Quite predictably, I immediately sprang into action, trying to acquire every single item on that list. Never mind that I live in Singapore, where there is absolutely no need for a cable-knit sweater, or a camel coat, or cowboy boots (and that’s just the C’s!) - I was convinced this was what it took to be stylish and who doesn’t want that?

It sounds all so silly in retrospect, but just a cursory look around the internet would reveal no shortage of such lists - wardrobe essentials, must-have items for spring, ten things every woman should own by age 30. There’s even a list of “must-haves for minimalists” which is so laughably oxymoronic. It’s like we are so out of touch with our needs that someone has to write them all out for us. And just the general silliness of it all - of buying things off a list and trying to make it work out for me instead of the reverse! But it’s a trap I find myself falling into so often. 

Like for example, I have been trying to find the perfect red lipstick for years now, because "no makeup collection is complete without one". But here’s the thing - I don’t like red lips on me. I never did. It’s just not my style. And yet there I was, splurging on Chanel Rouge Coco, in the hopes that it just might work out this time because Chanel. It just does not compute. The same can be said for every other thing I deemed aspirational by virtue of its inclusion in some list - blazers, leopard print (it’s a family inside joke that will take pages to explain, but I just can’t wear animal print un-ironically), highlighters (the makeup kind, not the pen), you get the gist. Does it really make me less of a woman if I don't own a leather jacket (in 30 degree weather, may I add)? Will my summer be incomplete without a pair of platform espadrilles that I will probably wear only twice (at most)? Will I be incapable of conquering my thirties if I don't own a wrap dress?

There is no such thing as a Holy Grail.

An HG, for the uninitiated, is the ultimate makeup item - perfect in every way. For years, my makeup consumption was largely driven by the search for an HG for every single category. It’s seemingly harmless on the surface, but it’s a very problematic mindset - every single purchase is evaluated against an oftentimes impossible ideal, and when it falls short, it generates a disproportionate amount of dissatisfaction. The slightest perceived flaw was enough for me to abandon the product and move on to something else. It's a shame because instead of enjoying what I have, I'm just trying to find excuses to buy more. At the end of the day, all I really need is something that is good, and something that works. If it's HG material, then great, I'll repurchase when I run out. Otherwise, I'm sure I can still enjoy it and make it work. It doesn’t have to be perfect, all the time.


22 March 2017
Or, how I gained all the weight that took me a year to shed in a span of four days.

Both Abe and I have been to Amsterdam before, so this leg of the honeymoon was intended to be fairly relaxed after all the traipsing about in Iceland. We booked this neat little hotel in De Hallen (concept hotel + rain shower = yes please), an historic area that used to be the service station for the city’s first electric trams. Apart from the hotel, it’s now home to a cinema complex, a network of shops, and Foodhallen, which reminds me of a Singapore hawker center, except Dutch.

I initially felt bad for Amsterdam because I thought it could never measure up to the awesomeness that is Iceland, but all of that changed when we started eating. Maybe it’s the variety of food choices, or how everything seemed affordable relatively to the crazy Icelandic prices, but we'd find ourselves discussing our dinner plans when we're barely even halfway through lunch. I mean, we did make it to the Rijksmuseum and the Anne Frank house, the latter being a huge missed opportunity during my first visit because my colleagues didn't know who she was. But mostly it's been all about food. The couple that eats together, gets fat stays together, right?

Foodhallen grub. We ate here more times than I would like to admit because we're lazy creatures of habit. 

Van Kerkwij. Really neat concept (they have a "talking" menu).
Their signature dish is steak with goat's cheese and strawberry sauce and I still don't know how I feel about it :/

Fresh (and cheap!) berries + Stroopwafel <3

I can never hate a city with good coffee (and this is a real coffeeshop, not a "coffeeshop", btw :p)

Just Japan Things: Shinkansen-ing

16 March 2017
I’ve been missing Japan lately. Must be the horrible Singapore weather. I miss my flat and all its natural light, I miss my early morning weekend walks through the park, and gosh I miss the trains.

It was around this time last year when I started taking weekly shinkansen trips for work. No matter how horribly my meetings with our customer went, or how late I got home (in the middle of the work week, no less), I never got tired of it.

The shinkansen is Japan’s very own network of high-speed trains, connecting Tokyo with most major cities. They’re often referred to as bullet trains, although the name simply means “new trunk line”. The maximum speed during operation is 320 kph, but during test runs the trains can breach the 400 kph mark (up to 600kph for the maglev trains).

The Tōkaidō Shinkansen, which is what I take during my business trips, connects Tokyo and Osaka, and is the world’s busiest high-speed line. In true Japanese fashion, it is extremely punctual. Like, to the second. In the eight months or so of going back and forth, I’ve only been delayed twice – once because of a power outage, and then another due to a crazy strong typhoon (and even then they still had one train running). The rest of the time, well, an 8:55 train leaves at exactly 8:55 (a common mistake is to assume that the time on the ticket is the time the train arrives on the platform, but it's actually the time the train leaves). I usually make my way to the platform a good five minutes before the departure time, because the bullet train waits for no one.

A couple of other tidbits I’ve picked up:
  • There are three types of trains on the Tōkaidō line: the Kodama, which stops at all stations; the Nozomi, which only stops at major cities; and the Hikari, which is somewhat of a cross between the two. To provide some context, Tokyo to Shin-Osaka takes 2.5 hours via Nozomi, 3 hours via Hikari, and 4 hours via Kodama. If you have the Japan Rail (JR) Pass, you can only take the Kodama and Hikari.
  • Seat classes are organized by car: there are cars with non-reserved seats, cars with reserved seats, and green cars (business class). The JR pass does not cover seat reservations, so you either go the non-reserved routes or pay extra (you need to go to the ticket counter for this). The Kodama line usually has more non-reserved cars compared to Hikari and Nozomi. The car number with non-reserved seats varies per train, so you have to check the signboard outside. The kanji for non-reserved cars is: 自由席. The first character means “self” and in this context it’s the only one that you need to commit to memory (think: three-layer chest of drawers with top handle: 自).
  • Tickets can be purchased over the counter or on specially marked vending machines, which accept credit card and cash payments. Most of them have English menus, and can also do a route search – you input your origin and destination stations and it will present several options depending on time, cost, number of transfers, etc.
    I can't tell you what the tickets mean, though.
  • Before boarding, make sure to take note of your train number and car number. In major stations such as Tokyo, and especially during rush hour, there is a train departing every five minutes, and the boarding time is usually all of two minutes, which makes hopping aboard the wrong train a bit difficult to rectify (i.e. by the time you realize it, the train is likely to have left the station already). The car number is important because the shinkansen can be twenty cars long, so if you show up on the wrong end you're in for quite a hike. 
  • If you wish to see Fuji-san (assuming, of course, that she wishes to show herself), pick seat E. The direction, whether to Osaka or to Tokyo, does not matter, because when the train reaches the terminal, it does not turn around; instead, they just rotate the seats to face the other way. So the side facing Mt. Fuji is always seat E. You’re welcome.
    This was when I bought my ticket too late and got seat D instead,
    hence anonymous kuya by the window XD.
  • If you’re traveling from Tokyo you should see Mt. Fuji around the 45 minute mark. If you don’t get a good picture after the first sighting, don’t fret, because the next one is going to be at a better angle.
  • The electric outlets are only on the window seats (except in some Kodama trains, where they have none) and the front row seats.
  • If you have huge luggage in tow, it is best to reserve the seats in the back, so you can store them in the space behind the seats. Sometimes you can get away with leaving your bags at the back even if you are seated in the middle, but I’ve seen several cases where the train staff did not allow this and the owners had to hoist the bags up into the overhead compartments. I sometimes travel with a smaller rolling luggage, and I can just squeeze it in front of my seat, butat the expense of legroom.
  • While eating inside the trains is generally frowned upon, the shinkansen is an exception – it’s practically a requirement. You don’t want to be the person staring longingly at other people’s pretty (and yummy) bento boxes. There is a wide variety available in almost every major station, from the (relatively) cheap 500JPY boxes to the fancy schmancy lacquered ones that cost upwards of 3000JPY. And yes, sometimes I eat McDonald’s. #sorrynotsorry
    I can really use a tako (octopus) nigiri right about now
  • Shinkansen “regulars” are mostly businessmen (“salary men”), so beer and beer-adjacent snacks (nuts, cheese, beef jerky, et al) are ubiquitous.
  • The shinkansen platforms are one of the few public places in Japan with garbage bins. Half of the people who alight head straight to the nearest one to throw away their bento box remnants, and I suggest you do the same, because who knows when you will see the next trash can?
  • Should you forget to buy food before boarding (WHY), there is an in-train service in Hikari and Nozomi (tough luck for Kodama passengers) that sells coffee and bento and beer things. And super premium ice cream. However there have been cases when I would not see the cart until I’m about to alight from the train, so really, buy snacks beforehand.
  • There are smoking cars. Gah. If you are as averse to cigarette smoke as I am, avoid this like the plague. Even just passing through was enough to give me a headache, and the adjacent cars reek of smoke as well. Ugh.
  • Riding the shinkansen is not so different from a normal train ride, but during the first couple of rides I did get dizzy when working on my laptop (working on the train because Japan).
  • If you’re not working, there’s not much to do apart from eating and looking outside the window so remember to bring some form of entertainment. This was how I got addicted to podcasts.
  • There are payphones on board. Yes. Payphones. Should you have a need to call someone while speeding away at 300kph (kinda cool tbh) , you can purchase a phone card onboard.
  • Some cars have mirrored booths at the end so you can do your brows before you alight.
  • Selfie sticks are not allowed on the train platform. True story.
  • Selfies are allowed though. And shoe-fies.
  • Have I mentioned Seat E? ;p

Suqqu Extra Rich Cream Foundation

12 March 2017
One of my first purchases when I moved to Japan was a Suqqu foundation, and we've been inseparable ever since (yes, there was that tryst with the Temptu Air but that stopped after the second refill because $$$). Back then it was still called Frame Fix Cream Foundation, but it has since been reformulated into the Extra Rich Foundation.

I've always found the Suqqu counter quite intimidating. The brand is targeted towards a more mature demographic - the brand concept speaks of "sophistication" and "inner composure" - and I definitely felt like I wasn't polished enough to so much as approach it. When I did muster enough cojones to finally make a purchase (I may have dressed up for the occasion too), it was rather spectacular - it came with their famed gankin massage. I'm generally not a fan of massages, but hmnmnmmm this one... my face has never been so plump and bouncy since. The staff also don white gloves before handling the product, which they do so with a reverence normally reserved for Hermès bags or Harry Winston diamonds.

Back to the product in question. The Extra Rich Cream Foundation promises to be light and long-lasting, while providing moisture and a smooth, full coverage . It's a lot of promises. It also has SPF30 which is kind of standard with most Japanese bases, but it's also the reason why I didn't use it for my engagement shoot - I was worried there might be flashback.

I normally apply it with a buffer brush, like the classic Sigma ones or the Zoeva 104, but a damp beauty blender works great as well. The finish is definitely on the dewy side, but I can usually tone it down with setting powder (lately I've been using NARS Light Reflecting Loose Powder). Coverage is medium, and can be layered to full (although I prefer just using concealer on blemishes instead).

The Good

  • Star for all seasons. I've used this in -20C and 40C weather, and it has held up beautifully in both cases. It does not cling to dry patches in winter, nor does it slide off the face in summer (although I do set it with powder).
  • Colormatch is awesome. Japanese have perfected yellow-toned foundations, and the rest of the world has yet to catch up.
  • It's very comfortable to wear; at no point does it feel like I've caked my face in makeup.
  • Considerably long-lasting. Even in good ol' humid Singapore, I find that at the end of the work day I still have a bit of coverage left. Of course it does not look exactly like it did that morning, but it fades nicely instead of in patches.
  • Probably the most skin-like finish out of all the non-airbrush foundations I've tried.

The Bad

  • Eyewateringly expensive, even more so than other luxury brands like Chanel or Dior. Definitely not a foundation I would purchase blind. Having said that, on a cost-per-wear basis it is of great value for me because it took me more than six months of near-daily use to finish a jar. Also, I finished an entire jar, which is something that cannot be said for the other foundations I've purchased.
  • Can be streaky upon application, so I make sure to stipple instead of swipe.
  • Extremely limited availability. As far as I know Suqqu is only available in Japan and in the UK, with a couple of counters in Taipei and Bangkok as well. At the moment I'm still trying to figure out how to get a replacement when this jar runs out. T.T

The Ugly

  • Shade range is very limited. I found this to be the case for most Japanese brands. I'm in the light-medium range in most Western foundations (around NC25 in MAC), but with Suqqu I'm using one of the darkest shades they offer (003, for reference).
  • The packaging, gorgeous as it is, is such a bitch to work with. The plastic lid gets gunky real fast, and if you make the mistake of traveling with it, well, . I've wasted many, many applications worth of foundation just from decanting and cleaning the goddamned lid, and this is the one foundation I really would hate to waste.
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