Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Blissful Things : Great Skin Edition

Two Blissful Things posts in a row? I must've been getting lazy! Anyway, my skin has been in its best condition as of late and I have been itching to share with you my so-called skincare revelation that leads me to where I am today.

A little back-story: I have always had problematic skin since I hit puberty. I used to have super oily skin that I hated with a passion and I suffered from horrible acne growing up which left me with uneven skin texture especially on the cheeks. I had to be put on Acutane continuously in order to control them which was expensive and not good in the long run because it's extremely drying. For a while, though, I had a taste of how it was like to be having clear skin and it was joy.

Fortunately I came to my senses and appreciated my oily skin more as I grew older. Now it is not as oily as before and I still get the occasional hormonal acne along my jaw line. However, as with many other things in life as you get older, you've learned to accept your predicament and work with it instead of against it.

When I started earning money, I'd probably spent half of them on skincare and cosmetics, thinking the more expensive they are, the better they got at reversing all the damage I'd done to my skin while I was growing up. I've tried many expensive skincare (and the cheap ones, too) over the past 5 years. At my craziest, I've got about 20 products in my daily regimen and honestly, it didn't produce any significant result.

Deep down, I knew spending more money didn't necessarily mean better result and this revelation came on the heels of my big financial revelation. There was a major shift in my priority and scaling back on tertiary expenses was the way to go. So I stripped down my daily regimen to the essentials and my skin has never been better. Ok, to be honest, not all the stuff on the list below are cheap but they are the essentials and more importantly, they work well on me.

So, on to the list:

From top left corner, clockwise:

Daily Regimen:
1. FANCL Mild Cleansing Oil. This is the first cleansing oil I've ever tried and since then, I've gone on and tried almost every other cleansing oil available in the business and this one still beats all of them every time. This is not exactly cheap but given the performance, I'd say it's well-justified.

2. Biore Pure Mild Facial Foam. I used to use Cetaphil because my skin has gotten drier in the recent years and Cetaphil helps a lot with it but I don't like the suffocated feeling my skin gets every time I rinse it off. Biore Pure Mild leaves my skin feeling fresh, with the right balance between clean and moist. It is also mildly scented with a fresh scent.

3. Clarisonic Mia with Deep Pore Brush Head. The most expensive item on the list but it's an investment. Facial brushes have worked well on me in the past and they still do. I've had my Clarisonic for a year+ and I must say I've been loving every moment of it. They recently came up with the Deep Pore brush head which I'm currently using and loving.

4. Curel Moisture Lotion II. I love to use toner after cleansing. I usually squirt this soothing product onto a cotton pad and swipe it all over my face then pat it gently over my eye lids.

5. Akin Pure Radiance Rosehip Oil. I've read everywhere that rosehip oil is a clinically-proven natural remedy for scars. I use this as serum / moisturizer. Simple, relatively cheap, and natural. This isn't a miracle worker, mind you, but so far I've noticed my skin's texture has improved albeit gradually.

6. Seven Wonders Moroccan Argan Oil Skin Serum. This product claims to contain 98% certified organic argan oil. It is enriched with vitamin E and contains natural rose fragrance but I must warn you it is very strong. Combined with rosehip oil, however, this stuff works like magic, making my skin soft and plump.

Special treatments (twice a week):
7. Lush Oatifix Fresh Face Mask. This is meant for sensitive skin and my skin feels extremely soft after using this. I am utterly speechless.

8. ExfoliKate by Kate Sommerville. Super expensive product but a little bit goes a long way. Use sparingly. This product also leaves my skin as smooth as a baby's bottom after usage.

There you have it, my entire skincare regimen. Together, these stuff have provided me with my best skin ever, no prescription needed.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Blissful Things : Summer 2013 Edition

Wow, just realized I haven't been posting any Blissful Things lists since November last year! Without further ado, here goes the list, summer 2013 edition (from the far left, clockwise):

1. Dior Jelly Lip Pen in Carioca 636. This is from Dior Bird of Paradise Summer Look 2013 collection. Of all the chubby pens out there, I love this one the most. Moisturizing with a sheer color that surprisingly lasts (!).

2. Dejavu Fiberwig mascara. This is the so-called 'tubing' mascara that can't be removed by anything but warm water. Perfect for summer where skin tends to get more oily.

3. Fragile Eau de Toilette by Jean Paul Gaultier. A surprise appearance on this list considering this is considered as heavy fragrance for nighttime wear. The key is light hand when applying. Just two spritz will do or spray it onto the air and walk into the fume. It will leave you with the most delectable island smell because of the white flower base notes.

4. Diorsnow BB Creme SPF50 PA+++. Summer is not the time I want to have things piled on my face, nor do I want to spend that kind of time in front of the mirror. This product is like a tinted moisturizer, light enough but does a very decent job evening out skin tone. The SPF and PA levels seal the deal.

5. Stila Convertible Color in Gerbera. Described as rosy peachy pink on their US website, I'm not sure if this shade is still available in Singapore. Can't seem to find this shade at Sephora. There's a reason why Convertible Color is so popular. It's the creamiest cream blush I've ever tried but doesn't cost you an arm and a leg. On me, Gerbera turns out a beautiful soft pink, the peach tone seems to disappear into my olive skin.

6. Popsicles. Do you know that legally you cannot refer to the frozen sweet concoction on a stick as popsicle because the name is a registered trademark of Unilever? Don't believe me? Scroll down to the bottom of their website here. Legality aside, I can't wait to make my own this summer. Watch for the recipe soon!

Friday, May 24, 2013


The title says it all. Just a few snapshots of dogs to cheer up the day =)

Fat Bunny

Went to a mall a week ago and there was this animal fest. I've seen some fat bunnies previously but this one takes the cake.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

NOTD - Etude Ice Cream Nails - Pastel Green

I've never given much thought to Etude's nail polishes so I was quite surprised when I set foot at their shop one day and found that they had a lot of offerings, many of them so up-to-date but with extremely affordable prices.

One pet peeve: They use numbers instead of names for their polishes.

I picked this one up from their Spring 2013 line, called Ice Cream Nails. A selection of pastel colors, some with glitters in it. This pastel green / mint one has the speckled/staccato effect that has risen to popularity these lately. This is kinda a dupe for Illamasqua's Mottle albeit lighter.

The container literally resembles ice cream.

With Flash

WIthout Flash

Without Flash

Without Flash

With Flash

WIth Flash
The color looks off in the pictures without flash, the color looks more true to life in the pictures with flash.

NOTD - Chanel Holiday

Just like the title says, Chanel Le Vernis in Holiday. It's a rich, bright orange with a touch of jelly finish which makes your nails look...pillowy? cushiony? It's this plastic finish that reminds me of a beach ball. How appropriate, no?

Without Flash

Without Flash

With Flash
With Flash

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Blogsale #3

Hi, if you have time, please check out my blogsale, I just put up several things for sale ;-)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Poached Egg and Pancakes

I LOVE poached eggs. I made a poached egg for the first time today. Not bad, I'd say *self-pat my back*. The yolk is still too runny for my liking but there will always be next weekend.

The yolk is still too runny

Wall Art and Vanity

I love to play with my wall arts and I rearrange my vanity almost every week. I don't know, it's a very girlie thing to do. I especially love playing with wall arts because it really helps setting the mood of the room.

However, as I am only renting my place, there are restrictions of what I can and cannot do. Putting a hole in the wall, for instance, is out of the question. There are also the budget issue as well as the logistical issue should we ever need to move to a new place. And then there's a question of maintenance. Living in the city is expensive so the least maintenance required is always most favorable.

Sometimes, I'd think it might be easier for me to just live with plain walls and boring room but what kind of life would that be? If there's anything I've learned in life so far is that if you came across any chance at happiness, how little or trivial it may be, you gotta snag it. That's what frills and whimsy mean to me, a little chance at happiness.

So, practicality be damned, I had to find my way through these limitations. Budget issues meaning I got my frames from places such as IKEA and Daiso. I also framed tear sheets from magazines or created my own poster/art instead of buying for the bigger ones. No holes meaning I compromised by using bluetacks to hang my wall arts. This poses another issue because bluetacks can only support so much and it has given way several times but I just have to live with it.

For example, the big frame with Katharine Hepburn in it fell a month ago and cracked open the black border. It's too bad because I really liked the composition of the frames but I was wary about getting a new one because the big ones have a history of falling down one too many.

Instead, I decided to replace it with two smaller frames which are lighter.

Now I only have one big frame up on the wall to worry about.

Here's how my wall looks now.

I have taken down the other wall art that I created and used it as a backing for my vanity. I just love rearranging and looking at my vanity! I think it's a very magpie thing to do, my vanity is like my magpie nest where I store all my beautiful and colorful shiny little trinkets.

In this last shot, I'd like to introduce Missy. Missy can look petrifying sometimes but at the same time she is stylish and endearing, kinda like Cara Delevigne, lol.

Our resident stuffed animal, Missy

Quick Weekend Dinner Recipe : My Version of Steak Au Poivre

My version of Steak Au Poivre

A little backstory, I was always bummed because as someone who can't afford to rent a whole flat, cooking is very tedious for me, or so I thought. I got myself a multi-cooker few weeks ago and has been loving it ever since. Seriously guys, if you live in the city and you're short of space, you should really get a multi-cooker! It's a space-saver, powerful, versatile, and very easy to clean. I got me a Cornell because it comes with a non-stick pan for less than S$60.

Today I made my version of Steak Au Poivre and I loved it so much I just had to share the recipe with you. It's so easy and to think you'd have to shell out about S$40++ / pax in a restaurant for something like this is like, blasphemy.

A little disclaimer, I have never had an authentic Steak Au Poivre so I really don't know how my version would fare against the real thing. I got the basic recipe from a French cookbook but I think it was already a tweaked version which I had to tweak even further due to lack of access to certain ingredient.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves 2

1 pc of striploin steak, cut into 2 pcs
20g unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
3 tbsp of plain flour
20ml of cream
1 tbsp of black peppercorn

Sauce broth (mix the following ingredients into 1 cup):
10ml single-malt whiskey
10ml calamansi juice
1 beef bouillon cube, dilute with 1 cup of hot water

How to cook:
1. Heat butter in a non-stick pan, add garlic and onion, cook for 1 minute.

2. Add steaks, cover and cook over high heat for 2 minutes on each side; remove from pan and set aside.
Place steak on top of the sauteed onion
 *Tip: Steak Au Poivre is known for its simplicity so it's best to use the best ingredients you can have, especially the steak which is the star of the dish. Here, I use Australian Angus beef striploin.
Cook briefly on both sides

Remove the steaks and set aside
3. Stir flour through pan juices over low heat until the flour browns, pour in the sauce broth. Over high heat, stir until mixture comes to boil; reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes until it thickens.

Add the sauce broth into the pan
*Trivia: The recipe actually calls for dry sherry or brandy but I couldn't find any at the time so I improvised using single-malt whiskey and calamansi juice;whiskey for the alcohol and calamansi juice for the fruity accord. Brandy is made from fermented fruit while whiskey is from grains, hence the use of calamansi juice.

4. Add peppercorns.
Add peppercorns

5. Add cream; stir occasionally, crushing peppercorns lightly with a spoon.
Add cream

6. Return steak to sauce; cover and cook about 5 minutes for a medium rare steak.
Return the steaks into the pan

7. Serve with aglio olio spaghetti and boiled baby carrots on the side.
8. Enjoy!
Serve with aglio olio spaghetti and boiled baby carrots on the side
Medium rare, just the way I like it

NOTD - Models Own Champagne

Quick post of a nail polish swatch I've been meaning to share. Meet Models Own's Champagne, a gold foil with a hint of copper in it. It's not as yellow as a gold polish can sometimes be, it's a one-coater and has no streaking issue whatsoever!

Reach for this one when you need to look polished for a party quick! You don't even have to use topcoat because the foil will reflect lights and mask the lack of topcoat. Models Own is not big 3-free, though, so it applies easily.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Quick Weekday Dinner Recipe : Stir-fry veggies

I recently made a pact to eat more healthily because I think it's about time I get fit and also because I had a little health scare some time ago. I'd like to cook more so I went out and bought a multi cooker and I've been really enjoying having it around!

Here's what I usually cook for a weekday dinner:

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves 1

1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 broccoli, cut into florettes
1 cauliflower, cut into florettes
a small plate of baby corn
3 pcs of chicken franks, halved
2 pcs of tempeh, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

You can prepare the ingredients ahead of time

How to cook:
1. Preheat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a non-stick pan and fry the chicken franks and tempeh in high heat for 1 minute until the tempeh is golden brown and crispy on the outside. Set aside.
Make a cross cut about an inch deep into the halved sausage so it'll 'bloom' when fried

2. Pour another 1 tbsp of olive oil, let it heat up for a few seconds then toss the sliced carrots. Add 1/5 cup of water, stir fry for a few seconds then cover for 2 minutes in high heat.

3. Toss the rest of the veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, baby corn) into the pan, stir fry for a few second while adding salt and pepper then cover for 2 minutes.

4. Toss the sausages back in, reduce the heat to medium low and cover for 2 minutes.
Don't toss back the tempeh before serving like I did! It kills the crispiness

5. Place in a bowl then sprinkle the fried tempeh on top.
6. Enjoy!

Healthy big bowl of veggies, no carbs please!

PS. I made a mistake by not adding the tempeh last, I tossed it back together with the sausages in step 4, instead. It made the tempeh lost its crispiness :(

Breakfast on a Rainy Morning

The title says it all. It was raining cats and dogs in the morning that Sunday but my roommate and I just thought it would be nice to go out and have breakfast.
We safely made it to the MRT station!
We braved the wind and all to go to our chosen breakfast place: Cafe Cartel at Nex mall at Serangoon.
Cafe Cartel's exterior
It was very cozy inside. We immediately ordered warm mini sweet buns with butter which were so great for its sheer simplicity.
Warm mini sweet buns
Here's our french toast with sausage, bacon,and scrambled eggs complete with honey on the side.
French toasts breakfast