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Update No. 1

26 March 2016
Good news first: the first month was pretty solid. No purchases other than earmuffs and gloves (and right in the nick of time, too, because goodness me did it get cold). There has been replacements - moisturizers (same exact brands as the ones I emptied), knit jumpers (destroyed in the wash, and destroyed the replacements too, so in summary no more jumpers), and G-Tech pens (because all it takes to destroy them is an accidental drop while uncapped). And there was the emergency hand cream purchase because my hands got so dry that they started bleeding.

Oddly enough, it wasn't as difficult as I thought. Mostly it's thanks to the (unholy) trinity of Netflix, winter, and the rediscovery of cross stitching which made me extremely reluctant to leave the comfort of my apartment. But there is also this shift from the shopping mindset of chasing after the best bargains to just getting the best I can afford, discount or no discount. I find that to be extremely effective in preventing subsequent purchase - if I already have, in my possession, what I perceive to be the best, what would be the point in getting a presumably inferior item, no matter how huge the discount?

And then there's the bad. Well, not so much bad as it is a complication.
Two things: work and our engagement shoot. The latter is self-explanatory. The former, well, I've gone from barely one meeting a month, to three meetings a week. Now I own exactly one (1) white button down shirt, so you can see how this new state of things became slightly problematic. I have no qualms wearing the same thing every meeting, but I do insist on them being laundered in between wears, you know?

So for a few weeks now I have been actively trying to shop for new clothes. Trying is the operative word, because nine times out of ten I would come home empty handed. I know, I know, I can't believe it either. As it turns out, I don't like shopping if it's something I have to do. But I would like to think that the fact that once I gave myself "permission" to go ahead and purchase stuff I didn't go bonkers and just started buying things left and right is a sign that maybe, maybe this whole thing could be working after all,

Chasing Trains: Work Edition

23 March 2016
Today I woke up in a hotel room somewhere north south of Tokyo, got lost finding our branch office which was actually in the exact same building (but different entrance, see), had my lunch break in the form of a twenty minute cab ride, and spent three hours in a meeting conducted entirely in Nihongo which, despite my weekly lessons, I am still struggling with (read: wakarimasen).

It's not the most ideal of situations, but now I'm all bundled up under fluffy sheets, my tummy happy after downing an avocado burger (from Freshness Burger, which if you can't tell from the name, is like the best franchise ever), wearing the first hotel robe I seriously considered stealing (I even checked if they have it up for sale), with this view right outside my window.

So I can't complain, really.

I've been doing a fair bit of flitting about for work lately. It's exhausting, to say the least - there are days when I leave the apartment before sunrise to catch the first shinkansen out of Tokyo, and then take the last train back - but part of me is enjoying it. It's no secret I love trains, and to get to ride the shinkansen for free is not going to get old for a good while. I think it comes from the weekly back and forth from my home to Manila since high school - it takes four hours one way, and there was nothing to do inside the bus apart from staring out into the window, and so eventually I somehow just learned to entertain myself that way.

Just between you and me, though, I slightly prefer Germany's ICE, with the huge tables and the restaurant car and the free gummy bears in first class. But on a clear day and if I somehow manage to pick the right window seat, I do get to stare at Mt. Fuji for a good hour.

So I guess what I'm saying is, things have been quite hectic lately, but in a very good way. ^^

Depachika Diaries: Gramercy New York

16 March 2016
I've been trying to avoid the depachika - the sprawling wasteland of wonderful food that is the department store basement - because it's terrible for the waistline, but today is Happy Wednesday (no work after six, yay) and my colleague told me she was going to this place that sells "the fluffiest yummiest cake" and well, who am I to resist.

It's called Gramercy New York, but it's a Japanese company.

But of course.
Like crepes and baumkuchen, it's just one of those things that the Japanese have made their own. And they do it so well, too, so no complaints here.

Now, I'm usually wary of desserts in these parts because they seldom taste as pretty as they look (so very heartbreakingly pretty, so maybe it's not fair), and maybe ninety percent would contain some form of red bean filling, which makes me irrationally angry (case in point: Muji's giant sakura marshmallows - I was so, so very upset). But I'm happy to report that this seems to be an exception.

Even the freaking ice pack comes nicely packaged

I ordered the classic New York cheesecake. It's not much of a looker, but oh my goodness.

Fluffy, creamy, cheesy goodness with just the right hint of citrus, nestled on top of a lovely pecan crust. So totally worth the calories, and the migraine that is brewing right at this very moment.

And the best part?

Less than two thousand yen for the entire cake. Now excuse me while I go into a food coma.

P.S. Remember that scene in Friends where Rachel and Chandler were eating cheescake off the floor? It's probably this one <3

Cold Weather Favorites

09 March 2016
It's officially spring, at least commercially, what with the proliferation of everything sakura-themed from train station decor to seasonal Starbucks lattes. The weather is... well, it has yet to decide; a sunny twenty degrees one day, and then back to bleak below-zero chill the next. Kinda makes you miss the comforting predictability of Singapore weather (hahahaha NO).

This winter was/is relatively mild, as is usually the case in these parts. There was one crazy day of snow, but apart from that it's really just fall, minus the colors and a couple of degrees, and so I never really felt like I had to prepare for it too much. Having said that there are a couple of things I like to have around whenever I venture out of the tropics.

Anti-static Keyring

The one thing I hate about winter - more than wading through several inches of slush while feeling as if my ears and nose are about to fall off - is static. For some reason I'm just very prone to getting shocked (my boss posits that it must be because my clothes are made of "plastic or something"). And not tiny ones, mind you - one time I grabbed the train handrail and the resulting spark was so loud that people actually turned to look. As soon as the temperature dips to single-digit territory, I start getting terrified of touching anything with the tips of my fingers - I can honestly say I would much rather get injections than static shocks.

Thankfully Japan has a product for everything - a kitchen tool for slicing avocados (and avocados only), a container for a single banana (or banana-shaped object), a thingamagig made specifically to keep the lid of your cup ramen closed while it cooks, the list goes on - and that includes something to deal with static shock.

Essentially it's just a keyring that you "touch" things with before using your fingers. It has saved me more times than I could remember, and as stupid as I probably look, tapping a pink keychain on to every single thing I come across before touching it, I am not going to be without it. Supposedly using an actual key will achieve the same thing, but I don't have one (my apartment uses keycards), and this was like less than ten dollars and it also doubles as a flashlight so all in all I'd say it's money well spent.

Muji Humidifier

Muji makes the prettiest things, and their humidifier is no exception. I can always tell if I forgot to turn it on the night before because I wake up with itchy, uncomfortable skin and a very scratchy throat. It also doubles as a night lamp (everything doubles as a light source, it seems), and as a fragrance diffuser - mine came with a bottle of Sweet Orange essential oil which is a wonderful yummy citrus scent.

The Body Shop Mango Sugar Scrub

This is one of my very few sample success stories - I got it in one of those five-tiny-things-for-ten-dollars sort of deals. For months it languished in the bottom of my drawer until that one fateful day when I ran out of body wash. Long story short: I am now on my third giant tub.

It's an oil-based scrub, so if you dislike feeling all "slippery" in the shower (think Dove soap x10), then I wouldn't suggest getting this. But if you can get past that (and the extra bathroom cleaning time), you are rewarded with really intense moisture - it has kept my eczema at bay despite the daily hot showers (horrible for the skin, but what choice do I have at zero degrees so early in the morning?). It also helps that mango is one of my favorite scents from The Body Shop - they just do it so well. I have yet to see any other brand that does it better.

Rain Boots

Wellies are like health insurance, or seatbelts. Most of the time, they're utterly useless, but that one single point in time when they're absolutely necessary is enough to justify their entire existence.

It has snowed only once this winter, but it piled on a couple of inches overnight, and then it all started to melt the next morning. Just as everyone was on their way to workk. Oh joy. Picture tiny puddles of ice water bordered by slush. I've never really thought of rain boots as winter apparel, but I am pretty sure I wouldn't have made it to the office without them (or if I did I would've spent the entire morning in the bathroom thawing my feet and quite possibly crying as well).

I initially planned on getting Hunter boots, because they seem to be the popular choice, but then I found these going for half off on Amazon. They are from this brand called Kamik, and they're made in Canada (these days, finding anything not made in that other country is a cause for celebration). This particular style is called Olivia, and it's a bit narrow on the leg so I don't look like a clown when wearing them (I wear a size 7 in these and the calf circumference is around 14 inches). The material is not as flexible as I would like, but for my daily commute it's enough. For prolonged wear I would probably look for something a bit more comfortable and padded (or get fleece liners, maybe). At any rate, even if I don't get a single additional day of wear out of these in the foreseeable future (which is unlikely, because spring showers), they'd still be worth it, having saved me that one crazy winter morning.
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