Thursday, May 31, 2012

Darth Vader vs Care Bear

"The painful thing is that when we buy into disapproval, we're practicing disapproval. When we buy into harshness, we're practicing harshness. The more we do it, the stronger these qualities become. How sad it is that we become so expert at causing harm to ourselves and others. The trick is to practise gentleness and letting go. We can learn to meet whatever arises with curiosity and not make it such a big deal" -- Pema Chödrön  

Most people went through some sort of a moody grouchy teenage years of rebellion in one way or another. You question authority, you talk back to your folks, and you resist everything bright and chirpy while crawling into that little dark miserable cave called Puberty, with emo songs like Creep by Radiohead plugged into your ears no less. Moodiness seems cool and being dark means sexy. 

While some teenage Darth Vaders and Voldemorts eventually grew out of their moody broody phase to be more-adjusted adults with just the healthy amount of scepticism, some got stuck in their own black clouds in their adulthood, spreading their bad vibes everywhere they go through osmosis or otherwise. 

And spreading the bad vibes they did. Right to the social media platform of Facebook lately in fact, making me extremely repulsed and disgusted. I post cute animal pictures, they comment about animal abuse (completed with a whatsapp photo of maggots oozing out of a gaping open wound sent to me!! WTF!). I post a warm fuzzy photo of tiger and piglets getting along, they slam the photo being a zoo sham. I share happy positive post and pictures, they spread negative news about mankind, cancer or other shitty tragic news. I update my status on happy things, they rant about being angry and woe is them. Yes, you get the drift. "I'm merely injecting a sense of harsh reality and practicality" they said. 

As a former broody teenage Darth Vader who hated almost everyone and everything, my ascension to the bright side of Care Bear and Rainbow Brite doesn't tantamount to being ignorant of the harsh reality or sweeping the sharp shards of worldly problems under the carpet and pretending they don't exist. 

Being positive has nothing to do with thinking that everything is fine, nothing is wrong and all is well. It's about knowing that there're many things wrong and things are way far from perfect but let's make the best out of it and not be miserable about it. It's about finding a sense of equanimity in times of adversity while not losing your sense of joy and humour. It's about realizing that gripping on all the bad things in life gets you nowhere and only attracts more bad things as it's the simple law of attraction. 

More importantly, it's also about doing something about the things you're not satisfied with. My new pact as being a Care Bear means that instead of whining and getting bitter about all these poor kittens and puppies getting abused, I DO SOMETHING about it by donating monthly to the Cat Welfare Society and volunteering at the SPCA. Instead of feeling sorry for the underprivileged children, I contribute monthly to Club Rainbow and participate in the annual toy collection drive for the kids. Do I see those Darth Vaders and Voldemorts do something? So far, I haven't, unfortunately.  

My message to all the Darth Vaders and Voldemorts out there is simple: If you haven't got anything positive to say, then don't say it to me. It's okay to wallow in your own black vomit of negativity, but just don't go wet-blanketing us with your bad vibes and bash positive people/things/message. Happiness really is a choice, and we Care Bears and Rainbow Brites make a conscious effort to guard our happiness with all our might, stay on the bright side, and see the good in things as we solider on. Simple as that. 

Why be a bitter miserable sod when you can be light and happy? Don't be Darth Vader! Choose Care Bear! Breathing through that ugly mask can't be that fun! Besides, we've got cookies and chocolate on the bright side! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

ACV Your Face

Ages ago, I've blogged about the amazing wonders of Apple Cider Vinegar for health. It's always been on on-going health remedy I take on a "regularly on-and-off" basis. Meaning, I'll go through phases where I'll down it and then stop for a bit before going back on it.

Lately, due to a horrendous bouts of cystic acne that's thankfully clearing up, I've been super obsessed with cleaning out pores or any pore-unblocking remedies. Then, while I was de-cluttering my fridge, I was reminded of the amazing health benefits of ACV when I saw a bottle lying in the fridge. So I whipped out my ACV health book, got back on drinking it with honey and started using it on my face as it's supposed to be anti-acne with pore/oil unclogging properties on top of many goodness for some skin loving.

After using it for a week, I can totally attest to its skin loving properties and I have no problem running this somewhat smelly liquid on my face on a daily basis in the pursuit of better, healthier skin. And it's crazily simply. I mix one part of ACV to one part of filtered water, then apply and massage it onto the face in circular motion (not too rough please!) after cleansing every alternate night. You can rinse it off lightly with some water if you don't like the smell but I'll just leave it on for a bit before lightly patting some water over it to lighten the smell. It acts as a mild exfoliating agent while delivering the goodness of ACV directly to your skin. It also unclogs pores over time and helps surface impurities while maintaining a healthy skin pH (our skin thrives on a slighly acidic environment).

For a more nourishing treat, you can mix it with honey and some pounded oats for a DIY exfoliating mask that packs in the moisture too!

Yes, it's that simple and doesn't cost a bomb! Awesome natural skin and health remedies from mother nature!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Chanel-ized Me

You've seen Chanel nails, Chanel basketballs, Chanel snowboard and now there's Chanel font! Notice my header? Yes, it's the Chanel font where the letters are constructed with Chanel cosmetics! Get it here and send a Chanel-ized message to your Chanel-crazy friends! Now I'm gonna whip out my 2.55 to complete the look and feel! TGIF Chanel style! Now here's one cheap thrill that looks and feels expensive for sure!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Reason to save the Earth

Such wisdom from my yoga teacher.....oh yes, it's the only planet with Japanese food too! go Reuse, Reduce and Recycle!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Japanese Loot

When I said I didn't shop much in Japan, I meant it. Mostly because I didn't have the patience to go into every store and browse through racks after racks of clothes, and also because I'm more interested in sight-seeing than shopping really.

After failing to find a Issey Miyaki BaoBao Bag in a colour of my choice, I ended up hitting the drug stores and falling off the organic/non-toxic bandwagon cos the allure of the Japanese drug stores is simply too irresistible. Given that I was plagued by really bad cystic acnes (ok, there were only two but they were HUGE) while I was there, I thought I would give the organic/non-toxic options a rest until my skin recovers and stabilizes with products that have been tried and tested before.

So here's my drug-store loot. Not that crazy really....I was mostly stocking up on the Maquillage foundation and Anessa BB Sunscreen which are a hell lot more expensive in Singapore. These two are freaking amazeballs with great texture and performance. I'm really hoping the organic brands can quickly come up with products that can rival the Anessa BB Sunscreen as it has such great texture that's non sticky, wears so comfortably and acts perfectly well as make up base!

Then in Kyoto, I bought a trial skincare set from Yojiya which is a Japanese cult favorite from Japan's old capital. Rumour has it that they're also a favorite among many Geisha so that can't be bad! They're on the pricey side but I've been using it for close to a month now and so far so good. Will write more in another post.

Then below is my favorite loot from Kyoto. A famous stationery shop at the Teramachi Mall named Kyu Kyo Do that sells things like paper, incense, calligraphy supplies and many artsy stuff I so love! These are actually courtesy of my amazing bf cos the shop was closed by the time we get there (they close at 6pm) the day before we left Kyoto. So, the next day, while I was still sleeping, he ran to the shop early in the morning to get the stuff I wanted before we left Kyoto!

Anyway, I was thrilled when he came back with gorgeously wrapped up packages that I couldn't bear to open!

This Japanese prayer beads, or Juzu in Japanese, is my favorite item from the trip. It's so pretty and they have an array of pastel colour prayer beads especially for women.

Kyu Kyo Do also produces their own incense too and these ones are great when I want to bring back my Kyoto memory in my room. Always perfect for a tranquil night in reading a book curled up in bed.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Leave Aishwarya Rai Alone!

So apparently, it seems like the Asian entertainment media's activity-du-jour is to bash Bollywood actress and one time Miss World Aishwarya Rai for not losing her baby weight after she gave birth. Read more here

"The Indian media, though, latched onto the fact that she looked like a 38-year-old woman who had recently given birth."

Last check, Aishwarya Rai IS indeed a 38-year-old woman who had recently given birth! So I have no idea why her fans and the media alike can't just let her be the 38-year-old who had just given birth recently, and is now nursing her baby! Any medical doctor would attest to the fact that a nursing mom needs proper nutrition to breast feed her baby, so there is nothing wrong if there's some weight on the body to properly raise the child! It's basic human rights to care for and nurture the smallest member of our society. 

What outrage me most is that when it comes to post-baby body, a woman in the public eye can do no right, thanks to both the media and public. If you lose too much weight too soon ala the Hollywood celebrity way like Heidi Klum (she was back on the runway modeling for Victoria Secret a mere six weeks after she gave birth), Miranda Kerr and the supermodel gang, you're blamed for creating unrealistic expectation for new mothers who are pressurized conform to that standard. Some slagged them off for not caring for their baby by breast feeding with proper nutrition. Evil mother they said. 

Now, we have a Bollywood actress who chooses the health and welfare of her newborn over conforming to that skinny post-baby standard, and still she got shamed for not up-keeping her role as the most beautiful Bollywood actress. Not just by the horrendous and despicable media, but by her so-called fans and supporters. 

What is the world coming to when the most basic human right of motherhood is being scrutinized and criticized? This is pure insanity. 

So, leave Aishwarya Rai alone already!!!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Sushi Land Diary Part 3: Kyoto

If the hipsters want to be Harajuku Girls, then I'm a 100% Kyoto Girl or Teramachi Girl if you must use the city's precinct as name. I love Kyoto. So much that I'm still suffering from Kyoto withdrawal two weeks after I'm back in Durian Land.

A far cry from Tokyo's insane pace and mind-boggling train network system, Kyoto's poised and idyllic energy is much appreciated as a respite from the boring concrete jungle I'm too used to. Throw in the allure and grandeur of its amazing cultural heritage as Japan's old capital, its beautiful nature and temples, and the chance to catch a sight of mysterious Maiko and Geisha shuffling down Gion, I'm sold. I left my heart in Kyoto!

Staying at: Hiiragiya Ryokan. Japanese Omotenashi (the art of hospitality) at its best, Hiiragiya Ryokan is one of Kyoto's most famous and well-loved ryokan, touting Japanese Noble Prize Literature winner Yasunari Kawabata and many international film stars as their regular patrons. Situated conveniently near the famous shopping street of Teramachi, Hiiragiya Ryokan is still owned and run by the family that started it more than a century ago in 1818. Staff are super attentive and helpful, offering first class service that, in my opinion, surpasses that of today's six stars Western hotels. With 28 exclusive rooms, service is highly customized and guests have at least one staff assigned to take care of them during their stay. The traditional interiors and rooms are all decorated with hand painted folding screens in zen style and furnished with wooden beams, reed ceilings, tatami mats, shoji windows and fusuma sliding doors. It's as authentic as it can get and of course, there's a beautiful bathroom with cedar wood bath tub where water of the perfect temperature is drawn ready for you to hop in. How I wish I could live there! I love ryokan!
Eating: Kaiseki at Hiiragiya Ryokan in their newly extended banquet room. The food is amazing and banquet room very pretty.
Lovely omakase menu at Manzara Honten. It's a recommendation by a concierge that turned out to be an amazing last supper in Kyoto. They serve their sashimi on Andy Warhol plates and make amazing Mackerel sushi that happens to be their famous signature dish.
Tucked somewhere in an idyllic street is 红蝙蝠 or "Red bat" cafe. It's such a lovely and kitschy little tea house with beautiful tatami and amazingly tasty macha creme brulee. I regret not ordering another one cos I don't see if anywhere else. Damn!
Drinking: Sokenbicha. This tea, sold everywhere in Japan's vending machine, is so aromatic and divine that I now buy them at a hiked up price at Medeiya at Liang Court.
Visiting: The amazing bamboo forest at Arashiyama. Amazing is really the right word to describe the bamboo forest. It's a reminder of how beautiful nature is and I'm sure to go back again.
Buying: Skincare from Yojiya, the cult Japanese skincare from Kyoto that every Japanese woman is crazy about. I wasn't that keen until I saw every single Japanese woman carrying a Yojiya paper bag and they all have good skin. That many Japanese women with good skin can't go wrong and I made a beeline to their super crowded shop (every one of their outlet is crowded), wrestled my way in and came out with a starter kit and a bottle of essence.

Now watch out...major photo bomb ahead and it's really just a fraction of it. 

The awesome Hiiragiya Ryokan

The tokonoma, or alcove, is a key feature in any traditional Japanese house where they display beautiful scroll or heirloom. Putting anything at the tokonoma is a big no-no. It's sacred. 

 Just cos you asked nicely, here's an up close and personal photo of yours truly and the other half, both decked in Hiiragiya yukata. I had the ryokan staff tied the obi for me. In fact, she lovingly insisted we took a snap shot next to this lovely plant

A traditional wooden dresser! How beautiful...though HL pointed it reminds her of erm, Sadako from The

I can't begin to tell you how much I love Japanese bathroom. I'm not a bath fan but the Japanese cedar wood tub is just too good to miss.

A little decorative feature at the new wing in Hiiragiya
Dinner and breakfast were served at this beautiful banquet room

It's takenoko, or bamboo shoot, season!!! I LOVE takenoko! Can't have enough of it and I've been cooking takenoko nimono at home these days.
Where else but in Kyoto can you find a temple in a shopping lane among modern shops!?

Colorful pickles! So pretty!

This neko-chan dolly seems to be quite a favorite among Japanese food seller. It dances too...

The beautiful trail at Arashiyama! It's so beautiful!

The Imperial Palace garden. Such a shame that it's closed for maintenance while I was there. Now there's more excuse to go back.

The famous Kamo River in Kyoto near the Gion.

A lovely corner at 红蝙蝠 cafe

The macha creme brulee was simply divine!
A giant statue of Kwan-yin
Maiko-wannabe. I thought I was lucky to caught a sight of maiko but nope, these are white tourists dressed up as maiko.

An exhibition with painting of cats draw on plates. I just need to take a picture of it for Mr Bond.


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