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The Makeup Edit

10 May 2017
The moment I discovered makeup I pretty much went from zero to a hundred real quick. Between the fixation on finding an HG, limited edition releases (Hello Kitty x MAC omg), and access to designer labels that I could not afford otherwise (read: Chanel), I found myself filling up one Muji drawer after another.

These days I feel quite “set” in my preferences; after years of constant hoarding and experimentation I have (thankfully) figured out which looks I prefer on myself, which products work on my face, and which items are most likely to languish at the back of my makeup drawer. And while I’m not completely immune to marketing (who is?), I no longer feel the need to scurry off to Sephora with every new product release.

My makeup drawer has been subject to a number of edits over the last year or so, but recently I decided to do yet another round and document it for, err, science.



Base

I find that very few makeup brands really understand Asian undertones (read: WE ARE NOT ORANGE), so I mostly stick to those that do - Japanese brands, and NARS (a Shiseido subsidiary, so it's quasi-Japanese, really).



IN
Suqqu Extra Rich Cream Foundation. Love love love this. (Review)
Temptu Air Pod. Reserved for special occasions only, because $$$. (Review)
NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. I'm actually scraping the sides of these two tubes. Repurchasing in the airport (cheaper there!).
it Cosmetics CC Cream. I was trying this out as a possible replacement for Suqqu, but unfortunately it dissipates off my face in like three hours. Still keeping it because it's a nice handy size and it's still good for quick errands.
Becca Mineral Powder. Used mainly for touch ups.
Cle de Peau Concealer. Eye-wateringly expensive but an incredible color match. I always have to stop myself from spreading it all over my face; saving it for use on blemishes only.
Hourglass Mineral Primer. I just got the trial size to test it out; now I'm a convert (but will probably still repurchase the trial size because it lasts a decent amount of time).

OUT
Estee Lauder Double Wear Nude. I was expecting a slightly glow-y version of the Double Wear Light. It's not.
Chanel Les Beiges. Meh.

Blush

One of my biggest Eureka! moments was when I realized that most blushes look the same. I mean sure, they swatch differently, especially when compared side by side, but when buffed on to the cheeks? You'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference.



IN
NARS Exhibit A. Kept for sentimental reasons. Also, it's pretty.
Dior Rosy Glow Blush. This was supposed to be my cool-toned blush, but it warms up a bit when applied. Still a good color, though, and it lasts quite a bit.
Benefit Rockateur. Hate the packaging (hate), but love the color.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush. To be honest this was a bit meh, but it's a good neutral so I'm keeping it.
Bare Minerals Warmth. For when I look deathly pale.
Becca Beach Tint. Good for on-the-go, but not particularly exciting or interesting.

OUT
Makeup Forever HD Cream Blush. Discarding because it's more than two years old, which for a cream product means goodbye. I did hit pan on this, but not repurchasing because I didn't find it particularly long-lasting.
The Balm Instain. Also really old. Not repurchasing because I don't think it's particularly unique.
NARS Douceur. I love this blush, but it's five years old. FIVE. Unfortunately it's discontinued. I might try to find a dupe.

Brows

I change my mind about my brows a lot - I vacillate between "barely there" to "so very defined" - hence the variety of product.



IN
MAC Brow Shader. I don't think I've ever used the highlight shade, but the brow powder is my everyday staple.
Anastasia Brow Powder. For when I want stronger brows.
Tom Ford Brow Pencil. Great for natural brows. Crazy expensive, so I try not to use it too often, but even then I'm already on my second one.
Charlotte Tillbury Brow Pencil. There was a learning curve with this one, but now it's yet another product I love but don't use too often because it's not locally available.

OUT
MAC Eyeshadow. This is in Charcoal Brown. The SA told me it would be a good brow powder but it's just not for me.
Billion Dollar Brows Eyebrow Powder. Bought when my hair was kinda turning orange. Probably not going that route again.

Eyeshadow

I don't wear eyeshadow daily, just because I have a hooded eye and would rather not deal with all the creasing. I do like a smokey eye on occasion, though. Realistically I think a well-designed quad (or quint) is probably enough to serve all my eyeshadow needs.



IN
Burberry Eyeshadow {Pearl Barley}. A relatively new purchase; works well as a single sweep of color.
Chanel Charming Palette. This was a gift from the husband but it's so old he doesn't even remember buying it. I'm still keeping it out of sentiment, but will probably replace with something similar (it's limited edition).

OUT
Laura Mercier Artists Palette. It was a good idea, in theory, but I really don't get as much use out of this as I thought I would. Also pink eyeshadow makes me look like I have an infection.

Lipstick

Lip color is probably my one remaining problem area, because I haven't quite gotten my "signature" lipstick color down just yet.



IN
Charlotte Tillbury {Bitch Perfect}. I actually bought this off of my bridal makeup artist. A nice peachy nude. 
Chanel Rouge Coco {Adrienne}. A sheer everyday nude. 
NARS Audacious {Racquel, Barbara}. Lovely colors, drying formula. Will keep only one because the colors are too close to justify both. 
YSL Rouge Volupte Shine {Nude in Private}. I've worn this down to a nub; will repurchase in the airport. 

OUT
MAC Plumful, Intoxica. Bought during a "bright lipstick" phase that didn't quite work out.
Givenchy Le Rouge. I bought two of these, in different shades, and both turned into a gritty mess shortly after purchase. Never again.
Tom Ford Lipstick. Not in photo, but I just feel I have to mention that of all the lipsticks I own, drugstore and high-end, these were the fastest to go off. For the (ridiculous) price, it's just unacceptable.

More Lip Things

See, I told you this was the problem area.



IN
MAC Vamplify Lip Gloss. Probably the closest I will ever come to a "vampy" color.
NARS Lip Glide {Bound}. A pretty mauve <3 (super comfortable too!)
Lip Pencils. Lately I've been really loving wearing lip pencils on their own, with just a bit of lip balm. I wish they had more variety though.

OUT
Happy Skin Liquid Lip Color. I really wanted to support local Filipino brands, and the colors are wonderful as well, but the formula is just too drying :(
Revlon Ultra HD Liquid Lipstick. Part of aforementioned unsuccessful bright lip phase.


And that's that! From having stacks upon stacks of drawers, I can now fit all my makeup in one small traincase, and I'm pretty chuffed. I think I have fifty items now, more or less, and moving forward I'll try to keep my collection around that number. Of course there's still my makeup brush collection, but let's save that for another post ;p

Iceland Diaries: Food

04 May 2017
Despite being one of the most popular tourist destinations over the last couple of years, not much is being said about the food in Iceland. When I was doing my due diligence (read: trawling the interwebs) for the trip I barely found any information on what people eat in this country. This alarmed me, because more than half of my travel enjoyment comes from eating, and so in the interest of sanity we brought several giant bags of junk food with us.

This proved to be not as necessary as we thought (still finished everything though), because Icelandic food wasn’t as bad as the people of the internet made it out to be. Or maybe I’ll just happily eat anything. It’s one or the other. My husband’s a finicky eater, though, and he didn’t complain nor wrinkle his nose too much, so I suspect it’s the former.

Meat Soup

Icelanders are one of the world’s happiest people, and so are their sheep (incidentally, there are also more sheep in Iceland than people). Because of the absence of any natural predators in the island, they are free to graze and frolic about in the hills (by they I mean the sheep, although I guess it could apply to people, too). This combination of happy sheep + clean air + clean water make for really, really good lamb meat - the best in the world, according to our lovely tour guide. “New Zealanders might protest, but they are wrong.” Baa ram ewe.
The traditional Icelandic meat soup suffers from a fate not dissimilar to the Philippines’ very own sinigang: it photographs horribly (read: not instagram-worthy). Going off the descriptions - slow-cooked lamb with root vegetables - I thought it would be something like goulash (I swear like 85% of why I love Prague can be attributed to that one gorgeous bowl of goulash), but instead I get chunks of meat and vegetables floating about in a cloudy broth.



When I plopped the bowl down the table my husband looked at me with a face that said “yeah, you’re going to have to eat all of that”. Of course ten minutes later and he was practically licking the bowl clean. Don't judge a dish by it's plating (except in MasterChef, maybe).

Hotdogs

The one dish to eat in Iceland, according to Condé Nast. Also the cheapest, at around 3 USD each. It’s mostly made of (happy) lamb meat, which gives it a distinct flavor, but I suspect a lot of my enjoyment was from the bed of crispy fried onions the hotdog is nestled in. We tried it in a random petrol station an hour or so from Reykjavik, and also in the famous Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur stand (only queued for five minutes!), and I honestly cannot tell the difference.



Fish

I’ve always been powerless to resist a giant slab of char-grilled steak, but thankfully Abe likes his fish (waiters often switch our orders because we defy stereotypes - hah). Not the fermented type, mind you, but fresh off the Arctic waters - so good I actually skipped my steak one time!



Fries

I’m convinced Europe is doing something to its potatoes that it’s not sharing to the rest of the world because every single city I’ve been to has awesome fries. Is it because we call them French fries? If we started calling it pomme frites will you let us in on the secret? Pretty please?



Rís Buff

So this looks like the most unremarkable snack - chocolate-covered marshmallows with rice crispies, but I guess there’s really something in the water in these parts (the best-tasting water - ask any Icelander) because it’s seriously, seriously good. The concept is pedestrian, the box is meh, but one bite and I guarantee you’ll be a convert. It makes me sad to not have this in my life right now.
P.S. Sweets are 50% off on Saturdays. Not kidding. Crazy, right?



While I endeavor to try all the local food I possibly could (I tried horsemeat sashimi in Japan once because I told my colleague I can eat anything and I am now Khaleesi, I guess), there are a couple of things I skipped. First is whale meat. Admittedly I am curious. And as controversial as whale-hunting is, I know minke whales still have a relatively healthy population. However, I soon learned from our tours that Iceland has no whale-hunting tradition. There is no traditional whale dish, and the locals don’t even eat whale meat - it’s all for tourists, and that is not something I am willing to support so I passed.

Second is licorice. It’s ubiquitous in Iceland, but I just can’t get on board. I still have bad memories of mindlessly munching on a giant bag of assorted Haribo candies and accidentally biting into a giant licorice bar *shudder*.

Last but not least, Skyr. It’s the Icelandic version of a cultured dairy product. To me it’s like cheese and yogurt had a baby - it sounds like a good idea, but it only left me confused - it’s not salty enough to be cheese and not tangy enough to be yogurt, and so it kind of awkwardly sits in the middle. A lot of people like it though, and I did manage to learn to love sushi and green tea, so there’s still hope. Maybe on our next trip :p
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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.

Amsterdam

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)

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