The Minimalist Project: Progress Report #1

Conceptually it was so easy - just get rid of all the junk. I had visions of myself going from cluttered to minimalist in a month. Clearly I was delusional.

Status: Fairly okay

I rarely buy makeup now, which is huge considering how much I used to shop back in the day (and by back in the day, I mean a couple of months ago). I have also managed to whittle down my collection to fit in a single five-layer Muji drawer. It's still a lot, but these are products I genuinely enjoy so I'm keeping them; I'm not going to throw away things I love just for the sake of throwing things away, you know?

I have also "decluttered" my YouTube subscriptions. It has evolved so much from women filming in their bedrooms talking about products they love to PR-managed mini-celebrities shilling products they have barely even touched but are paid to endorse. It's great that they have made a career out of it, but that's just not the content I originally subscribed to. I mean these girls have started filming themselves while taking a shower to hawk shampoo or some other bath product. Seriously, why is this a thing? Do normal, non-pervy people really get a kick out of watching other people bathe? "Hey, I didn't know you could wash your hair like that, how innovative." Nope, I'm good, thanks.

Status: Getting there

Ever since I moved here I've worn flats almost exclusively, especially now that I walk (a kilometer!) to work. However, I love shopping for heels, because in-store they do nothing but elongate your legs. The pinching and the blistering and the bloodshed, that only happens when you get home. The end result is a shoe cabinet filled with barely-used heels and a few very worn-out flats.

I must have thrown away around twenty pairs over the course of a month, which was painful but necessary. Singapore heat and humidity is not kind to shoes on storage, so regardless of how much I loved them it was too much of a risk to wear them out.

As it stands now, I have several pairs of flats on rotation, and still a handful of heels. From this point forward it's going to be a one-in one-out situation - I can only get new shoes to replace a pair that is on its way out.

Status: Not yet started

Purses are not as much of a problem for me because I rarely buy new ones now. I guess it's because I really love the ones I currently own - I've had my Neverfull for three years now, and it still makes me smile everytime I use it - and they are absolute workhorses so there has been no need to get a replacement.

I'm pretty sure there are still a couple of bags lurking in storage that I have forgotten about and should get rid of, but after that I don't think I will have a problem managing the size of my collection (if you could even call it that).

Status: Majestic Failure

My closet can be summarized in one word: Meh.
I read this article where the author suggests we only keep things that "spark joy" and if you apply that to my wardrobe I will be left with two pairs of jeans that only fit on good days and maybe a scarf.

It raises the question of how on earth I ended up with a closet filled to the brim with pieces of clothing I don't necessarily enjoy - and the answer to that is sales. I always shop the sales. I mean, sure, this blazer is purple and it doesn't go with any other item I own and I don't even like wearing blazers because it's not a good look for me but holy crap only 19.90, from the original price of 79.90! Yep, story of my life. Blazer is in the trash now, along with two garbage bags of clothes that should not have made it into my closet in the first place.

I now have a significantly whittled-down wardrobe, after a month-long purge in which everything that made me feel just the slightest bit frumpy when worn went straight to the trash pile. In a way it was a question of why I would force myself to wear things I only remotely like when I could be wearing my favorites everyday. In the next couple of months I am going to be working on a capsule wardrobe of sorts, because I'm really liking the idea of having a "uniform". The goal is to look effortless but put-together. We'll see how it goes.

In the meantime, my Christmas vacation has officially begun. Happy holidays, everyone. ^^

On Coffee

I have started my day with a hot cup of coffee for as long as I can remember. Literally. I have memories of sneaking into the kitchen after my mother has left for work and finishing what's left of her coffee - she only ever drinks half, until now. And one of the things I learned from my grandmother is that pandesal is best dunked into black coffee.

I have gone through several phases since then. High school was Taster's Choice I stole from home, college was 3-in-1 packets and flavored creamers, and when I got my first job I slowly but surely developed a relationship with Starbucks - at the height of it all I was guzzling half a liter of brewed Verona beans per day.

And then there were flings. The crazy strong canned coffee from Japanese vending machines (one step away from directly inhaling coffee grounds). Kopi-C in a plastic bag from Singapore hawker centers. The Aerobie Aeropress, which I loved but at one point I realized hand-grinding beans was not an ideal way to start the day. Eventually I resorted to pre-ground coffee, but it wasn't as good. There was the momentary allure of the Nespresso, that sexy machine that promises wonderful coffee with next-to-nothing effort, but after their trying the strongest brew they had and going "eh?" I decided it was not meant to be.

These days I like my coffee uncomplicated - just with sugar and plain, non-dairy creamer (milk in the morning = migraine). I have had my fair share of lattes in the past, but I have come to realize that I really, really, really do not like foam. It's like an extra layer I have to sift through to get to my caffeine. And the only flavored syrup I like in my coffee is mint, because it's interesting. I've also grown out of love with Starbucks. Something changed - either their brew or my tastebuds - but their coffee these days just tastes burnt and watered down (to me, at least). And then there's the price, which just compounds my disappointment.

Anyway, the whole point of this whole ramble is thus: I am crazy addicted to instant drip coffee packets from Muji.

They come individually wrapped, and the through some creative origami sorcery you end up with a basket on top of your coffee mug, like in the picture. You pour in some hot water, and voila! Five-minute drip coffee with zero cleanup. It's a bit on the strong side, but not as acidic as most Japanese blends, and very smooth (I don't know if that's a proper term for describing coffee, but that's what it feels like).

They are quite difficult to get ahold of, though. In fact I was just in Muji this afternoon to stock up hoard and they only had two packets left *sniff*. I guess I'm not the only one addicted to them.

Let them eat Steak

It is no secret that I have a bit of a steak obsession, so much so that our target for our monthly "flatmate" (in air quotes because we have since parted ways *sniff*) dinner is to try out as many steak houses in Singapore as we could.

The most recent one was a huge success (despite our getting jilted by Anj), so I thought I'd do a rundown of the places I've tried so far.

1. Pigs Fly {Novena}
This one's within walking distance from our former flat, and my goodness, do I miss it.

Pigs Fly has several stalls, each serving a different cuisine. The sirloin steak is from the Japanese one, and it is served medium rare with rice and miso soup, but I believe there is also a salmon sashimi option. The rice set goes for fifteen dollars (or maybe even less), which is almost ridiculous for steak this good. I don't think it's possible to find a better value for money elsewhere, and this easily beats a lot of other steaks I've had that are several times the price.

2. Les Bouchons {Ann Siang Road}
I celebrated my birthday here last year, and while it did not disappoint I felt that the duck-fat fries overshone the steak.

I had the ribeye, and while cooked to a perfect medium (my preferred temperature) I cannot help but wish it was charred on the grill a bit more. I also find it a bit bland, but my palate has always been a bit on the salty side, or it might also have been deliberate to accommodate the various sauces that came with it. Personally though I feel that really good steak should be able to stand on its own, but that's just me.

3. Lawry's {Mandarin Gallery}
Lawry's is famous for their Signature USDA Prime Rib, served from their ginormous silver cart.

The meat was very tender, as expected, and the gravy it was swimming in was not half bad. But like I said I prefer my steak charred and a bit more... chewable, for lack of a better term.

4. Bochinche {Martin Road}
Confession: we were here for brunch.

But when I see steak on the menu my eyes kind of glaze over everything else, so brunch schmunch. We tried to behave ourselves and split one order between the three of us, which of course we regretted exactly five minutes after the steak arrived. It was pure grilled beefy goodness, and while I did not care for whatever sauce was inside that jar there was absolutely no need for it anyway.

5. Bedrock {Somerset}

So... umm... their mac and cheese was good.
The steak? Bland and borderline rare (we requested for medium). It was so forgettable it didn't even make it to neither mine nor Anj's Instagram. And with the price I expected nothing short of perfection.
But yep, seriously good mac and cheese. Worth the migraine that came charging right after.

6. L'Entrecote {Suntec City}
I enjoyed my first meal at L'Entrecote so much that I returned the very next week, albeit with different company.

Like I said, I usually like my steak unadorned, but oh my goodness this sauce. So wonderfully good. Like, I want to bathe in it. And this is considering how ridiculous my expectations were, as the menu is so rife with allusions to the "secret sauce" it's almost annoying.

It even made up for the completely forgettable fries, because you can dip them in the sauce. Mmmmm. The price is surprisingly reasonable, too, and if you feel like you didn't get your money's worth you can always ask for a second helping of fries (they're bottomless!) and more sauce :p.

I must say, though, that this establishment is maddeningly inconsistent in terms of service. I was there on two consecutive Saturday nights, and the second time around the cloth napkins have transformed into yellow paper towels, and what once was table cloth is now a large of paper upon which the waiter scribbled our order. That's in a span of one week! I would probably have to go a third time so I can determine which experience is the norm and which one's a glitch.

7. Jamie's Italian {VivoCity}
This is the first, and so far only, restaurant I know that serves rump steak, which is one of my favorite cuts (incidentally I also first heard of rump steak while watching Jamie Oliver's FoodTube).

Rump is a cheaper cut than, say, rib eye and sirloin, but what it lacks in marbling it makes up for in intensity. 

8. Luke's {The Hereen}
I saved the best for last.

My only problem with Luke's is how difficult it is to find, tucked away in a corner at the second floor of Robinson's. We ordered the "naked" style rib-eye, which was presented quite simply with nothing but roasted garlic (we split the serving and we each got an entire bulb, yay). I don't know what kind of sorcery is going on in their kitchens, but the steak was extremely good - perfectly pink with a thick, yummy crust on either side. There was so much sadness when it was time to take that last bite. And if you haven't tried roasted garlic with your steak anything, well why are you still here reading? Take a bulb of garlic, slice the top off, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil, pop in a preheated oven (or air fryer) and thank me in 30 to 55 minutes. You're welcome.

Last I checked there were thirty steakhouses on our list of must-tries, so this is barely scratching the surface. Cut by Wolfgang Puck, I'm coming for you. One day.