Edging into 2013

It has been pouring on and off the whole of today. Just my favourite sort of weather, when I have the luxury to sit at home and enjoy it. (Actually, I don’t – I’ve got work to do, but when the weather is all beautiful like that I get distracted.)

Anyway, I thought I’d take the chance to set out my New Year’s Resolutions for 2013:

1) Shop my stash. I have way too many things – clothes, bags, makeup, skin care, bath & body products, perfume, you name it. Clothes and bags go out of style (and size, sadly), and makeup and skincare have expiry dates. So my resolution for 2013 is to use these up instead of getting new things. (I’m ashamed to admit that it being the last day of 2012, I bought two Maybelline Color Tattoo Cream Eyeshadows and a Revlon Just Bitton Kissable Balm Stain.)

2) Get more sleep. I haven’t quite figured out how to go about doing this, but I do know that I’ve not been getting enough sleep. You know how it is – it is such a struggle waking up at 7am to go to work I always vow to sleep early that night, but when night comes I end up planting myself in front of the computer for hours and only going to bed at 1am. The cycle repeats itself over and over. It needs to stop. I’m thinking of having a routine whereby I sleep by 11pm two nights a week. This is to ensure that I get eight hours of sleep at least twice a week.

3) Clear my emails each day. This is a work related resolution. I already do read all my emails everyday, but I normally don’t get around to sorting them into folders until I get emails from the System Administrator informing me that my mailbox is full. It would be a good habit, not terribly difficult to accomplish and it would make life so much easier.

4) Start the day with fruit juice. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been starting every morning with a cup of tea – English Breakfast tea, sweetened with a large teaspoon of condensed milk. I need it to jolt my brain into functioning, but it really isn’t too healthy. Therefore, I shall try to drink fruit juice every morning instead – but I will reward myself with tea on the weekends.

5) Experiment with my hair. For much of my life, my hair has been straight, long and layered. It has always been black, never dyed or even highlighted. Sometimes, when I feel I need a change, I cut it short to about somewhere between my chin and my shoulders. But now it is long again, nearly reaching my waist. Everyday I wear it down. I comb it after a shower. That is about all I ever do to my hair (not counting when I sometimes have my hair up in a messy bun at home). It is a waste because there is really a lot that can be done with long hair. Recently I acquired a Babyliss curler, so for the Christmas season I’ve been curling my hair a little. For 2013, I shall try to do more with my hair.

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My top 10 finds of 2012

As 2012 draws to a close, I look back on my best finds of 2012. Here are the top 10 (plus one honourable mention):

1)    My Kindle

My boyfriend bought this for me one day; I was very touched as it was not a special occasion. I used to be one of those people who scoffed at non-paper reading, but this has turned out to be my best find of 2012.

It is just so convenient. I’m a huge believer of carrying only what is necessary (though you wouldn’t know it, looking at my bag); back in my schooling days I would specially plan my study timetable in a way that would minimise my having to lug books back and forth. Anyway, my point is that the Kindle is like carrying 50 books rolled into one. When I went to Shanghai earlier this year, I didn’t have to fret about what I books I was going to want to read and whether I was wasting luggage space bringing them. I popped my Kindle into my carry-on and that was that. It helps that: 1) one charge can last for about a month; and 2) there is no backlight, so it feels just like you’re reading off paper.

The version I have is the most basic Kindle there is. I was a bit unaccustomed to the fact that it wasn’t touch-screen (I kept trying to scroll by swiping my fingers across the screen) but I got used to it and I’ve realised that this is exactly the way I like it. I mostly read while commuting, and a lot of the time I have to clip my Kindle under one arm or the like – the fact that it’s not touch screen means that when I decide to read again, I find myself on the exact same page I left off. (Don’t you hate it when while in the midst of sending a message on your touch screen phone, you take a moment to do something else while holding onto the phone, and later find that you’ve unintentionally typed gibberish?)

Anyway, that was my TOP FIND OF 2012.

2)    Shower oils

Okay, so I really only tried two shower oils this year, but those were good enough to make shower oils one of my top finds of 2012. First, it was the Aromatherapy Associates Miniature Bath & Shower Oil Collection – there are 9 x 3ml bottles in these, so technically I’ve tried 10 shower oils in all.

I don’ t have a bath tub and I don’t want to waste the mini bottles, so for the Aromatherapy Associates oils, I just pour a little into the cap, toss the oil around on my shower floor, and that’s enough to flood my bathroom with fragrance. These are absolutely gorgeous and have become almost a necessity after a stressful day at work (and believe me, I have a lot of stressful days at work).

The second (or tenth, depending on how you look at it) one I’ve tried is the L’Occitane Almond Bath & Shower Oil. This one I apply directly on my body, like shower gel, and the scent is just wonderful and lingers on my skin after my shower. Very moisturising and not at all oily feeling, even in tropical weather.

3)    Websites with free international shipping

There was always ASOS, but this year I also discovered feelunique.com, beautybay.com and shopbop.com. These will be the death of me. Those who live in the US will not understand. But for those who live in Asia / Australia especially… So many beauty / fashion brands, suddenly within my reach and with FREE INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING. Seeing those words on a shopping website just makes my heart skip a beat. There is really nothing more that can be said about that.

4)    A Model Recommends

The blogger / Youtuber, Ruth Crilly, is beautiful, articulate and seems very sensible (the latter description might seem very blah but I find it is something I appreciate in beauty bloggers / Youtubers). Her posts / videos are engaging, informative, sometimes humorous. She appears to have a weakness for luxury, as do I. Her recent video on hibernation (sleeping) cemented her spot in my list of top Youtubers (will do another blog post on this).

5)    Under eye concealer

Till this year, I never really used under eye concealer. But because of work the dark circles under my eyes got progressively worse (I started work in January of last year) until I couldn’t not do something about it. Now, I can’t leave the house without some form of under eye concealing. Okay, I exaggerate, but you get the idea. It is now the one makeup item that I can’t live without because it makes the biggest difference to my face.

I combine an under eye concealer (L’Oreal True Match Super-Blendable Concealer in Warm, MAC Select Moisturecover in NW20 or ZA Concealer Perfection in 2) with a highlighter (YSL Touche Eclat in 02 or L’oreal True Match Touche Magique in Natural Beige).

6)    Rebecca Minkoff Mini Mac Clutch in black

I got this from Shopbop (free international shipping! See number 3 above) during their friends and family sale, so it was US$156 or about S$200! Not a bad deal at all, I’d say. This bag is super versatile – you can take it shopping or for a casual lunch date, but the gold hardware makes it appropriate for nights out clubbing or for wedding dinners as well. And it goes with nearly every outfit I can think of.

To be honest, I’m not used to carrying little clutches around. The bags I carry around often need to be large enough to fit at least a wallet, an iPhone, a blackberry, an iPod, a card case, a pouch containing lip balm, perfume, sweets and other bits and bobs, a cardigan, hand cream and tissue paper. I also try to fit my kindle in there.

When I use the Mini Mac, I have to really pare down what I bring with me. My long wallet is out of the question; instead, I stuff my money and cards into my card case (which usually only holds my bus card and two credit cards). Instead of a pouch carrying my small things, I just take a lip balm and maybe one other lip item. I bring my smallest hand cream (a 30ml tube of L’Occitane Cherry Blossom hand cream which is down to its last 10 uses). I carry my cardigan in my hands, or go without.

It annoys me to not have everything on me when I go out, but this is more than made up for by how light and neat the bag feels on my shoulders and how stylish it looks. (By the way, I never use it as a clutch. Usually I double up the straps so that it’s sort of a shoulder bag.)

7)    Chirashi from Teppei

Teppei is a small Japanese restaurant near my office. It only has counter seats which form three sides of a rectangle, and in the middle is the kitchen, where you can see the chef / kitchen staff doing anything from frying tempura and chopping vegetables to de-organing (what’s the word for this?) a giant raw tuna.

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We discovered this place because of the tempura, but later found that they have the most amazing chirashi. It’s just the place to go for an indulgent but affordable lunch when you’ve had a terrible morning at work.

8)    The colour green

I know emerald green is the Pantone Colour of the Year for 2013, not 2012, but it has been my colour of 2012. At least, green has been, in any and every shade – from the gold-flecked green eyeliner I started experimenting with to the two beautiful dark green bags I bought in the last quarter of the year. From the pale green ballet flats which I bought in Bangkok (hardly worn due to them being just a tad too snug) to the various pieces of costume jewellery I’ve picked up with stones of pale jade and aquamarine. From the gorgeous olive green Mango top I just scored to nail polishes in shades of mint and teal.

I just find it so beautiful and versatile.

9)    Lip gloss

I never was a lip gloss kind of girl. I was firmly in the lipstick camp, though on a daily basis I don’t wear much of that either, to be honest. But as between lipstick and lip gloss, my favour always fell on the side of lipstick.

My main problem with lip gloss was the stickiness, how it sat in a goopy, uncomfortable layer on top of my lips. When the wind blew, a few strands or an unfortunate lock of hair would inevitably land in some lip gloss. When I would try to pull it away, the hair would trail lip gloss across one cheek. Not glam at all.

One day, I decided to try the L’Oreal Glam Shine Candy lip glosses. Fleur De Force had worn one of the lip glosses in a video and her lips looked fantastic. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the shade she had on – it wasn’t sold in Singapore and the free international shipping sites which had it didn’t allow it to be shipped to Singapore. Instead, I got the shade 708 Miss Apricot from a local drugstore. Not only does it impart a lovely colour and sheen to my lips, it is not sticky and feels so nice going on. The applicator has sort of a sponge tip and feels soft on the lips. And it smells like candy. After that, I got two more of the L’Oreal Glam Shine Candy lip glosses and some from other brands… I’ve not looked back since.

10) Light-as-air foundations

Rimmel Wake Me Up. Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua. Bourjois Healthy Mix. Laura Mercier Tinted moisturiser. These are all lightweight foundations which I’ve picked up this year. I put them on using my fingers and they go on like a dream.

My Revlon Colourstay from 2010 (yes, I know, I really should throw it out) has not been touched in awhile. It’s a good foundation, but after having tried all these lightweight foundations, using Colourstay makes me feel like I’ve got a mask on.

A word though – these lightweight foundations don’t give a ton of coverage. They provide at most medium coverage, so if you’re someone who needs foundation which will act almost like concealer for the face, you need to go back to Revlon Colourstay or the equivalent. They work just fine for me though.

Honourable mention: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

This is an honourable mention because it’s number 11 and because I haven’t actually finished the book. I will say though that what I have read of it (according to my Kindle, I’ve read 43% of it), I really like.

It’s one of those books which is just so absorbing from the start. Howard Roark is an intriguing character. You wonder what he’s thinking, where he’s coming from, what he’ll do next.

On its face it is a book about artistic / creative integrity. On a deeper level, it is about being true to oneself as opposed to the dictates of society. I’m not sure what the ending will be – whether it will be a lesson or a triumph for those who refuse to compromise on their true self.

Well, that’s it for my top 10 finds of 2012. I wonder what 2013 will bring.

Look what my boyfriend made me...

Look what my boyfriend made me…

 

I always feel extra blessed this time of the year. It always puts things into perspective, reminds me that there are more important things in life than my job.

This Christmas has been extra special because my boyfriend and I spent it with each other’s families as well.

Although this blog has zero readership, I’d still like to say Merry Christmas, one and all 🙂

By the way, check out the awesome fake present I got from my boyfriend. I’d asked for an iPod dock.

Work’s been sucky, but here’s an update on the shower gels I’ve tried

I used to find bathtime a chore, but now I enjoy the whole process. My bathroom tabletop is a mess of bottles of various shower gels and jars of various scrubs. Sometime in the past 2-3 years, I discovered the hedonist in me and I’m making up for lost time.

It’s like drowning my sorrows, but instead of turning to drink I turn to another form of liquid… water.

Enough cheesy rambling.

Since I last wrote about my shower products, I’ve opened and tried all three Philosophy limited edition Christmas shower gels (they are technically 3-in-1 products which can be used as shampoo, bubble bath and shower gel, but I’ve tried using them – in other scents – as shampoo and I would not recommend that to anyone). They are Old Fashioned Egg Nog, Have A Cherry Christmas (‘white cherry’) and Snow Angel (‘sweetly fallen snow’). I have to say, a large part of the reason I bought these (apart from the scents, which is a given) is that they are so darn gorgeous. I mean the latter two are shimmery in the bottle, and Have A Cherry Christmas has sort of pink irisdescent microglitter in it. I have no idea how it was possible to make them shimmer like that, but they are absolutely beautiful and would make lovely gifts.

Apart from the prettiness, they smell absolutely wonderful. My top Philosophy pick in terms of scent would actually be something I didn’t buy – Winter Retreat – but be warned, it is extremely sweet. I wouldn’t buy it untested unless you’re a vanilla lover like me. (In case you’re wondering, I didn’t buy it for the practical reason that it only came in a $50+ box set with a body lotion which I would not be able to find a chance to use.) Old Fashioned Egg Nog is a slightly less sweet, boozed up version of Winter Retreat, and the boozey note cuts through the vanilla nicely. Have A Cherry Christmas smells like cherry liquer, or like those marischino cherries you find on top of your ice cream. And it’s so pretty to look at, I felt like I was bathing in fairy dust. BUT for some reason it stung when I put it on. Sort of like my Korres Almond shower gel, but worse. I have yet to figure out what it is that causes the stinging (okay, too lazy to compare ingredient lists), but I’m really sad because that’s a whole thirty bucks down the drain… I’d probably still continue using it, but as expected the stinging takes all the fun out of using a shimmery pink, cherry scented shower gel. Snow Angel on the other hand is 100% lovely. Somehow the description of the scent as sweetly fallen snow is exactly right, although I haven’t smelled freshly fallen snow and doubt it would smell like this anyway. Clean, pure, mildly sweet. It’s what I would have imagined Amazing Grace (which I think is meh) to smell like. My sister says it smells like a generic flowery soap though.

 

 

fa la la

Christmas and New Year are right around the corner. So Orchard Road is so crowded you can barely get around, with the six million people and their giant shopping bags blocking your path. So there are endless taxi queues as you try to leave town to go home at 9.30pm when the shops close – right around the same time as everyone else. So there are more pointless things being bought now, never to be used, than at any other time of the year. Still, it’s my favourite time of the year – the festive season. Just the general feeling of goodwill all around puts a bounce in my step.

If only work weren’t such a bitch.