Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Happiness is power. Happiness is carbonated consciousness. It wants to spill out and radiate and be articulated. And every time we downplay our joy we confuse our synapses. Our brain is firing smiley neurons and our mouth is short circuiting them. Repeated happiness muffling numbs our senses. If you keep it under the surface too long, it just might stay there … a light under a bushel.

--Danielle Laporte, The Daily Love, April

On a side note, I'm super happy cos I'm going Japan for a holiday tomorrow! Counting down!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sophyto Anti-aging Antioxidant Serum

I've been getting some success with finishing up my skincare and toiletries before buying new ones. When my iS Clinical Active Serum ran out awhile ago, I decided to be a little bit adventurous and tried out new face serum. Organic of course, and it's always good to switch skincare around a little so your skin doesn't get too used to the same products anyway.

This time, I try out Sophyto Anti-Aging Antioxidant Serum and I'm glad to say that it is quite a lovely product! This award-winning (The Elle Green Stars Award 2009 and many more) is brimming with high percentage of polyphenols derived from fermented apple and tea for its great anti-aging and skin repairing properties. The amber colored serum has a very light fluid texture that's very much watery as it's free from any artificial fillers (unlike yucky stuff like Lancome Vissionaire that has mineral oils and silicone as fillers!). With a herbal aroma, it's instantly absorbed into your skin to leave a clean non sticky feel which I love. It's definitely great for people with oily skin because of its light texture.

I've been using this close to a month now (once a day only at night, before doubling up with Burt's Bees Radiance Serum) and I can feel that my skin is more radiant and healthier looking so I can say this is quite a great product especially if you're looking for a light weight serum. It's not some miracle product as the improvement isn't as dramatic as say iS Clinical serum but this would be a good maintenance item for sure, or when you need something to alternate your regular stuff with. I'm pretty happy with this and I'm likely to buy this again.

The downside is that it's retailing at $89 at Bud Cosmetics which is a bit steep considering when it's supposed to be only $49 USD, which is about $61SGD. So if you have friends in the US, you'll save about 30 bucks if you get them to send it over!

Next up, I'm gonna try the Suki Skincare Bio C 10% Formula Face Serum cos my Burt's Bees Radiance Serum is running out. I can't wait! Watch this space for review soon!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Early Mid Life Crisis

I'm having an early mid-life crisis of sort. I can't call it quarter-life crisis any more now that I'm way past the 25-year-old mark but lately, I got thinking about my good old "days of youth" and realized perhaps, just perhaps, that I had not lived it up enough. That I wasn't reckless enough, that I was a bit too safe with my choices, that I was too responsible and wasn't impulsive enough, that I hadn't lived it large enough. Yes, that kind of underachieving.

It all started with a dinner with an old friend where we spoke of our crazy road trip once upon a time where I had a meltdown covered in mud chopping woods to plank our four-wheel-drive out of the ditch somewhere in Malaysia. The memory still fresh. I could remember the very morning where I was dropped off at Newton Hawker Centre car park by my douchebag of a then-boyfriend to be transferred to the Land Rover Discovery for some off roading adventure.

That very image crystal clear in my head like it happened just a couple of weeks ago. Only that it was, in actual fact, more than 10 years ago! A fucking decade has passed and the sense of nostalgia has set off my longing for the lightness that comes with being in my days of youth. Free of responsibilities, free of worries.

Now, here's the problem. Fast forward a decade or so, and my walk down the memory lane made me feel that I haven't done enough crazy stuff that's worthy of being one of those cool stories that start with "You know, that one time...".

I still feel like the 19-year-old I once was, running in some kind of standstill, while my peers have progressed to do the whole adult shebang of marriage, mortgage, and 2.5 kids. My entire 20s seemed to have happened in a blur and now I found myself longing to be a 20-year-old all over again because if I could, I promise I wouldn't worry as much, I wouldn't grip as much and I wouldn't mope around too long over silly things. Next I came face-to-face with the heavy question and burning burden on how to live it up well so I won't have the same feeling of underachievement in 10 years' time.

All the pensive pondering and dwelling on the what ifs, should haves and could haves plunged me in some dark pit of philosophical mulling until one crazy hardcore Vinyasa yoga session some nights ago ended with some sense of epiphany. When your body is contorted and twisted in complicated and sometimes painful yoga poses, your mind probably simplifies and straightens up to compensate and suddenly, that moment of clarity happens. Heavens open, the angels sing!

While standing upside down on my head with legs in full lotus, a little voice in my head told me that precisely because I'm feeling that I didn't live it up enough in my 20s, I should STOP feeling moody and worrying how best to live it up! No more wasting time fretting and feeling gloomy, my "living it up" starts NOW! Yes NOW!

The fact that I'm a happier person these days as opposed to the somewhat miserable sod I was in my 20s means that I'm doing something right. When in doubt, always go back to happiness for your bearings. That much I'm sure.

Having lost my bearings and found it back means I'm back on track, more sure of myself than before. Now, even the clouds of an early mid life crisis has its silver linings. All is well. All is well. Now, more Vinyasa Yoga next week for me!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Notable Quotable

"Peace isn't an experience free of challenges, free of rough and smooth; it's an experience that's expansive enough to include all that arises without feeling threatened."

-- Pema Chödrön

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Traveling Scent Trio

It's no secret I'm a perfume whore or rather, a "scent-imental" person as I would prefer to be known. I love fragrance. Quite obsessively in fact. So much so that I not only wear them, I travel everywhere with a couple of them. My "Traveling Trio".  From left to right, Sage Citrine Perfume Oil, Kai Perfume Oil and Diptyque Do Son solid perfume.

Residing more or less permanently in my bag du jour, these three perfumes seem to be the only three I'm wearing these days for the simple reason that morning mad rush always leave me forgetting to spray on a cloud of fragrance before I leave the door. I'm sure there's something to do with the fact that they're all Phalates-free as I'm embracing a non-toxic lifestyle. Oh how I love them!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Someone That I Used to Know

Song of the moment and I couldn't stop obsessing it cos it's such a major ear worm with awesome lyrics.

Don't we all have some douchebag ex who kinda fits the lyrics? I can think of a few myself...enjoy!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Omakase Kaiseki @ KUMO Kaiseki

Never underestimate the power of comfort food.

Some people indulge in a chocolate feast, some commit "carb-icide" with tons of pasta or potato anything, while others binge themselves sick with junk food. Different strokes for different folks indeed. I, on the other hand, would like to think that I'm a little bit more sophisticated when it comes to beating the occasional blues  with comfort food cos I go for Chef Nobu's Omakase Kaiseki Menu at Kumo Japanese Kaiseki to make myself happy!

For those not too familiar with Japanese cuisine, Kaiseki is a traditional multi-course dinner that is carefully prepared using the freshest ingredients in season. On top of its exquisite taste, each dish is carefully decorated with much attention to details to ensure its visual appeal. It usually comprises appetizer, a simmered dish, sashimi, a grilled course, a steamed course and whatever that's up to the chef. It's the western equivalent to haute cuisine. Omakase means the chef gets to decide what you get to eat and they basically start with your palate preference to tailor something for you.

My discovery on the mood-lifting power of Chef Nobu's Omakase Kaiseki came when someone  mentioned his comfort food of choice is none other than Omakase Kaiseki at Kumo. When he's depressed, he looks for Chef Nobu to hit him with some skillfully and artistically prepared Japanese cuisine. Omakase Kaiseki is definitely out of the choc-and-chips norm when choices of comfort food is concerned, but one visit to Kumo for Nobu's Omakase Kaiseki and I totally understand why.

Trained in Kyoto directly under Kaiseki Maestro Teiichi Yuki (the man who made Kaiseki dining famous and possibly the best Kaiseki chef in the world), Nobu is one of the few licensed chefs trained to serve fugu or the poisonous puffer fish (he jokingly asked who I'd like to kill when I tried to order some) and his attention to detail means every dish is an edible art piece to really savour. Below are the courses I had in its order.

The appetizer opens with a pretty display of seafood, vegetable and beef, decorated with fresh peach blossom. They tasted as good as they looked, leaving you lusting for more

This signature Bonito soup with crab meat dumpling and a hint of yuzu is definitely something I can never get enough! Oiishi!

Freshest sashimi (Kampachi, Tuna Toro and Kijiki) just got prettier with edible decorations

A simmered dish of fish might look ordinary but it's bursting with flavor. A total surprise

Grilled dish of tuna with side dishes of vegetable. Notice even the bean was so carefully cut to reveal just the right amount of peas in the pod and one of the pea was half-cut. Now that would take some skills

An interesting dish both in taste and texture. It's actually baby eels in special ponzu sauce

Steamed wakame and bamboo shoot came with matching bowl. It's super tasty with a rich flavored broth

Lightly pan seared wagyu beef in light sauce

Sushi platter haute cuisine style. They're all carefully made and decorated and extremely tasty. The fish was so fresh you simply don't need any soy sauce

Rare marbled wagyu beef. Nobu said it's an extremely rare cut near the shoulder blade (if I remember correctly) and they're rationed out to licensed restaurants around the world (Kumo Kaiseki is one of them). They don't come easy! I was really lucky!

The Omakase menu at Kumo normally ends with their special cheese cake but I traded it for my favorite Choya jelly! They use Choya, the famed Japanese Plum Wine, to cook the jelly before putting a bunch of fresh fruits. It's amazingly aromatic and super refreshing!

Kumo Omakase Kaiseki is nothing short of heavenly. In a somewhat corny way, Kumo is quitely aptly named as it means clouds in Japanese and I was definitely on cloud 9 in heaven every time I go there! It's my happy place where every dish makes my heart sing cos it's a visual treat as much as a gastronomical wonder. Kumo is officially my favorite Japanese restaurant in Singapore and really the best I've been to outside of Japan (yes, it totally trumps Oedo in Hong Kong). You seriously NEED to try it out! Satisfaction Guaranteed and I know I'm gonna be a regular now!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Notable Quotable

"You is Kind, You is Smart, You is Important"

-- Aibileen, The Help

 Yes, YOU!
Amazing movie by the way!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

i Switched

By Colleen Day from Thought Catalog

On my twenty-fifth birthday, life as I knew it changed. Sure, it ushered in the inevitable Era of the Existential Crisis, during which twenty-somethings slog and plod their way through the barren wasteland of quarter-life existence. But that’s not the change I’m referring to. What I’m talking about is one of the biggest decisions a person can make nowadays, one that involves mixed emotions that occur in stages: first, guilt; second, elation; and third—and this could go either way—continued elation or disillusionment. I’m talking about the switch from a Blackberry to an iPhone.

For months, I had a sinking feeling that my Blackberry was reaching the end of its somewhat short (but undeniably event-filled) life. It’s as though it knew that my youth was also withering away and it felt obliged to take the journey with me. “It” was the Tour 9630 model, the one whose defining feature was its ability to provide service across the globe. I never had a reason to actually activate this feature, seeing as how I’ve been overseas once in my life and my financial situation has made sushi dinners—let alone foreign expeditions—feel like a burden. Regardless, the Tour was my pride and joy, not to mention an impressive upgrade from the RAZR I had been using long after it was socially acceptable to do so. My Blackberry marked my entry into the world of casually texting in bars, casually texting at work, and casually texting while grocery shopping, as well as unmannerly gestures like casually placing my phone on the table at restaurants (read: Dunkin Donuts) and watching it with my peripheral vision—all novelties I had never before enjoyed. It also introduced me to the concept of having three separate email accounts accessible at all times, and knowing every time another Blackberry user read my message and opted not to respond to it STAT.

But as the months went by, and 2010 came and went, I watched my friends abandon their Blackberrys one by one, lured into the iPhone miasma, practically delirious in their enthusiasm for “apps.” I remained skeptical, standing firm in my loyalty to Blackberry even though I knew my Tour was not the spry young chicken it once had been. It was slower than it used to be and sometimes willfully neglected its smartphone duties, denying me vital information like Facebook invitations to jewelry parties and alumni mixers, and emails about Panera’s new salad. I found myself having to pull its battery out several times a week, and then more than once a day, and re-charge it on the reg. I spent more time nursing it back to health than actually using it for its intended purpose—keeping me in constant contact with even those who did not want to be in constant contact with me—and I began to resent its incompetence, helplessness, and refusal to be a team player.

Adding to my woes was my Facebook newsfeed, which was increasingly dominated by iPhone uploads, videos, check-ins, and more. I became painfully aware of my exclusion from Words with Friends and Angry Birds. I started to have some serious feelings of insecurity due to my inability to, with only a tap of a phone screen, watch Dancing with the Stars clips, auto-tune my voice, post a Yelp review (do people do this?) and manipulate photos so that everyone appears to be wearing a fat suit. It was official: my marriage to Blackberry was officially strained. It was the #firstworldproblem to end all #firstworldproblems. And then came the white screen.

My twenty-fifth birthday fell on an average, overcast Wednesday. As a brief aside, it is my opinion that birthdays have taken on a new shape in the age of the smartphone, since people have so many ways to get in touch with you. How will your friends and family choose to extend a birthday greeting? Will they text it? Tweet it? Email it? BBM it? Facebook-wall it? (Phone calls are for moms and for People Who Just Don’t Get It.) Now a good part of birthdays are spent, as mine was that fateful Wednesday, waiting for people to blow me up. If you don’t have at least twenty notifications by 10 AM, you’re doing something wrong. Sitting at my desk, I gleefully watched the little red Blackberry notification asterisks appear, mostly from people who I hadn’t spoken to in three years or more, never suspecting that with every birthday wish, my Blackberry was being punched in its metaphorical gullet. Yes, on the day I turned twenty-five, my Blackberry was on its last leg of life, perfectly in sync with my fading youth. And just as I went to text an obligatory “Thank youuuu!!” Blackberry committed the ultimate birthday partyfoul: it white screened. It white screened hard.

Looking back, I could have reacted to its death differently. I could have vowed to fight for its life and sent it away to be rehabilitated and repaired. But I didn’t. Instead, on my lunch break, I drove to the nearest Verizon store and a guy named Tim sold me an iPhone 4. It was done quickly, and without hesitation or ceremony. I was ready to embrace the genius of Steve Jobs. I was ready to be mesmerized by apps. I was ready to watch Aaron Carter’s jive whenever I wanted to, wherever I wanted to, simply because I could. I was ready for my life to change. This is what 25 would be like.

That was nearly two months ago. Since then, life hasn’t changed all that drastically. My feelings of elation subsided when I realized that my fingers are either too chubby or too clumsy to operate a touch screen with anything resembling precision. I haven’t “checked in” anywhere because the most exciting place I’ve been in the last sixty days is the Cloisters. I also haven’t YouTubed Aaron Carter’s jive (or, to be honest, Aaron Carter’s anything), played Words with Friends, or read a single Yelp review, much less post one. (Although after eating sushi at what I’m pretty sure is an opium den last weekend, don’t think it hasn’t crossed my mind.) I am happy to report that I’ve taken several high-resolution photos; however, they are all of my dog. She looks awesome in a fat suit.

In other words, life with the iPhone hasn’t been life-altering. Instead of being a twenty-five-year-old with a semi-business-professional (albeit borderline-useless) Blackberry Tour, I am a twenty-five-year-old who wastes no less than twenty minutes a day slicing fruit with a sword and trying to beat a guy named Byron at Family Feud during my lunch hour. And yet I don’t think I’ll ever return to my Blackberry days. That time, along with my early twenties, is gone. Now my Blackberry is a relic and a symbol of those years, a time capsule of moments and memories: Low-battery on the train ride home from school; a miscellaneous “PIN” that may or may not belong to that guy from that bar we went to for my friend’s twenty-third birthday; the signature blinking red light that simultaneously calmed me, haunted me, and made me a little bit high-strung.

I’ll remember these things and more with fondness. But now it’s time to “check in” to the next quarter-century of life. TC mark

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Aubrey Moisturizing Face Mask

So here's one of the very few things I bought while I was in NYC for work. My dry skin had some kind of skincare emergency that required a moisture intensive mask and I picked up the Aubrey Moisturizing Face Mask with Sea Buckthorn and Cucumber at The Whole Food.

It does what it says by providing some pretty good hydration. Ten minutes and you get pretty well hydrated skin. The only drawback is that the texture isn't as luxurious as I would want it to be. I like my face mask thick and gooey but this one is thin on the consistency with a food-like natural smell, making it feels like a homemade formula. I know it doesn't bug that many people but for me, the ritual of face masking means I want it to feel nice too. To make it wear better upon application, I keep it in the fridge to impart a cooling sensation to tantalize the skin a little. That makes it a bit more enjoyable. 

Also, it has a slight buttery after feel that could potentially turn off some people. My dry skin doesn't mind it but it's obviously an issue with my mom who prefers a squeaky clean feeling. But at less than $10 USD, this organic mask is quite some bang for your bucks if a basic no nonsense basic face mask is what you're after. It's definitely worth trying cos for all you know, it could be a perfect match for your skin.

Monday, April 02, 2012

April Muses

Reading: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This is gifted by my boyfriend (who has extremely good taste in books and many other stuff) in my Kindle and has been sitting there unread for months. I'm finally at it and loving every bit of this well written story of a girl who enjoyed stealing books and reading while living in Germany under the Nazi's reign. It's a fantastic read!

Listening to: Amy Winehouse. The most recent artist to join the " 27 Club" , Amy Winehouse had it coming for her with her crazy substance abuse habits, but what a waste of talent cos I could never get enough of her soulful voice. Her Love is A Loving Game popped out the other day on my iPod when it shuffled and I've been listening nonstop since to revisit her sexy magnetic vocals.

Wearing: I have an addiction to stripes shirt and while shopping for corporate dresses for work, I ended up with the most un-corporate green stripes tee shirt from Mango. I love green and the beige accent makes the green pop even more.

Also wearing Kai Perfume Oil. Toted as one of the top 5 cult perfume by In Style Magazine, there's a reason why this is such a favorite with its nice accords of Gardenia, Jasmine, Tuberose and Lily. Its soft floral of white flower accords is indeed a winner. I'm hooked!

Using: 100% Pure Healthy Flawless Skin Foundation with SPF 20. I've finally finished my Juice Beauty Refining Finishing Powder! Yes, for once, I actually finished up my face makeup since I've made a commitment to be a responsible consumer. I'm loving the 100% Pure foundation! It's a dry powder foundation that gives light to medium coverage that evens out the skin tone to give you a nice glow. It lasts pretty well and doesn't cake up. Looks like I might have found my perfect organic match for foundation.

Also using Dean & Deluca canvas tote. I couldn't help but bought a gray Dean & Deluca tote while in NYC. It was an impulse buy that turned out to be a good buy cos it holds everything. I'm using this to hold all my workout clothes and it doubles up as a light-weight casual weekend bag.

Loving: Illume Twilight Vanilla Candle. I impulse bought the Ladurée Candle while I was in NYC 2 weeks ago. It looks gorgeous but burns quite poorly because it's using bad quality paraffin wax! What horror! I didn't expect that from a high end iconic brand so my Ladurée Candle will remain as a decorative piece. But say hello to Illume Twilight Soy Wax Candle in Twilight Vanilla. Soy wax candles are heaps better and burns cleaner. This one smells quite potent if you give it direct sniff but when it burns, it's soft! Nice!

Ecotools makeup brushes. Started by animal activist and Hollywood actress Alicia Silverstone, the Ecotools range features grooming products made with bamboo and recycled materials. I love their eco-friendly makeup brushes that's not only functional, great for the environment but very affordable too.

Eating: Endangered Species Chocolate. I love my dark chocolate and Endangered Species Chocolate not only does really good ones with no nasty palm oil, they donate part of their profits to yes, you got it, endangered species around the world. What better way to enjoy life's little pleasure while knowing you're contributing to helping animals!

Looking forward to: JAPAN!!! I can't wait for my trip to Japan end of April!! It's been more than a decade since I last went there during my college days!


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