Saturday, October 18, 2014

Schlepping Diaries: What's in my Carry On

It is strangely important to me to have a well-edited carry on. It's way up there next to not forgetting my passport. I think it's my way of coping with the stress of flying. Whenever I have a trip coming up, I would start planning weeks in advance - visiting travel forums, checking out blogs, trawling Muji for newfangled travel-related stuff. In contrast, I wouldn't even know who would pick me up at the airport until the day before my flight.

I do feel that after years of overzealous packing I have finally hit the Goldilocks of carry on bags - not overpacked, not underpacked, just right - when I made a quick trip home over the weekend. Everything I brought, I needed, and I did not forget anything that would've been useful. Well, except hair ties. Stupid me forgot her hair ties.

First, food.

Flying frazzles me a lot (working on it, though; it's getting better each time), so I bring "stress-eating" food. If I'm travelling with le boyfriend, all of this would go in his bag, because I cannot be trusted with candy. Like, seriously, we'll be out of mints before we land depart get to the airport leave the house. And yes, I eat gummy vitamins for kids. Yummy and a tad bit healthier than normal gummy candies (and approved by my college roomie turned pediatrician Dr. Pau for adult consumption yay).

Next, survival gear.

Travel pillow.
I've tried several travel pillows (including the Jpillow which I quite like but people keep telling me how phallic it looks), but this one from Muji is the best I've found. It's very comfy, and also more versatile because you can unclip it into one long pillow. Plus, the cover is removeable and washable. If I took myself a little less seriously (and I really should) I might consider getting an ostrich pillow (look how comfy!!!). We'll see.

We all hate crying babies on a plane, but let's face it, there's no getting rid of them without looking like a giant baby-hating douche. So the next best thing is to get a good pair of headphones and crank up that playlist. Mine are from Bose; I think they're called Sound True and I got the "around ear" kind in the loveliest shade of mint.
To be perfectly honest they do sound a bit 'meh', but being migraine-prone my top priority is comfort. I actually tried on  the audiophile favorites (not that I am one, by any stretch of the imagination) - Audio Technica, AKG, Sennheiser - but after a minute or two my head feels like it's being gripped by a UFO catcher claw. And then I saw these, put them on, and my goodness. They're like a giant hug to the head. Hopefully the sound will improve once I burn them in some more. Fun Fact: did you know that pink noise is often used to burn in headphones? No, not this blog. Actual pink noise. Yes, it's a thing.


Fully-charged Powerbank (and a multitude of charging cables).
Also self-explanatory.

Travel wallet.
I prefer travel wallets to passport holders. It just works better for me to have everything together, because I tend to misplace things as I go about the airport which results in massive panic when I have to present them (one time I left my boarding pass at the Longchamp store in Changi and did not realize it until I was on the other side of the terminal and had to present it to purchase pork jerky for pasalubong). I got this travel wallet two years ago in Germany (where Samsonite is the cheapest option), and it's a bit scruffy looking now but I have yet to find a replacement that would fit my Overseas Employment Certificates without having to fold them. It holds my passport, boarding pass, itineraries, the aforementioned hard-to-fit OECs, and my Be a Changi Millionaire receipts (

Tiny notebook and several pens.
For when I need to scribble things.

This travel bag is from Jetstar, and it came with an inflatable travel pillow, a blanket, socks, sleeping mask, ear plugs, toothbrush, and a Bloom lip balm. And only fifteen dollars, so it's quite a steal! 
Fluffy socks.
Did you know that keeping your feet warm can help you sleep better? I usually get mine from Daiso or Uniqlo or H&M.

I never go anywhere without ibuprofen. And to quote Anthony Bourdain: "The need for Imodium will probably present itself, and you don't want to be caught without it." I keep my meds in these cute ziplock bags from Daiso, with a couple of bandaids thrown in for good measure. Also, very important: Vicks inhaler, because there is no escaping odors in an aircraft, and if they happen to be bad, you'd be glad to have a scented stick to shove up your nostrils.

So yeah, I don't know why I brought tea bags. These are good, though.

Kikay kit.
Only the bare essentials - blotting paper, lip balm, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, and hand cream - because eventually I realized there is no pressing need to deplane with contoured cheeks and a cat eye. My one concession is the tiny eyebrow kit from Kate, because brows need to be on point. Always.

Last but not least: Reading materials.
I never travel without pre-loading my Kindle with a couple of new books. Light reading only, because flying is stressful enough as it is without the complexity of powering through 100 Years of Solitude amidst aircraft turbulence. So it's mostly Anthony Bourdain and Chelsea Handler and David Sedaris (if his books had digital versions; last I checked they weren't available in Amazon boo).
I also try to pick up a magazine or two from the airport kiosks, so I have something to flip through during takeoff and landing; with nothing to distract me every little bump drives me a little bit closer to being batshit crazy. Seriously. One time I didn't have anything with me so I fixated on the in-flight magazines instead, and that is how I know that Cebu Pacific is the first carrier in the Philippines to have A320s equipped with sharklets, which reduce fuel consumption by up to 4% (It was a particularly turbulent flight and to keep my mind from going berserk I kept telling myself to focus on the damn sharklets).

I also found out that this guy is adopted; I hope he knows that too.

And that's it! I try and keep my carry on light and roomy (because Changi Airport Duty Free). For longer trips I might bring along my Macbook, and expand my kikay kit to include facial wipes and a moisturizer, and maybe a cheek tint and face powder. And maybe a change of clothes in case someting happens to my checked baggage. At any rate, I always try to ensure that my bag can fit under the seat so I don't have to deal with people who bring too many carry on bags and occupy the entire overhead compartment.

Up next: the search for the perfect schlepping bag (because my mother has sequestered mine and it has now been discontinued and I do not fancy what they have replaced it with). Stay tuned ;)

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.