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.

IMG_0971

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.

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