The thing about online shopping

Thursday, 20 November 2014
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Lately, my doorbell seems to chime like the church bells which go off without fail every hour. It's a succession of deliveries, a nod to the overzealous online shopping mode that I'm in right now.  In fact, I know most of the courier drivers from various companies by sight. Even the grumpiest fella has gotten to know me well enough to crack a few jokes. Ahh....success, at last. We've finally settled into a comfortable relationship where he wouldn't chew my head off for not being at home to sign for the package.

Despite its imbecilic bureaucratic bullshit that most of us have to endure, the U.K is an online shopping haven. I don't have to reiterate how much I hate malls, ESPECIALLY outlet malls. It's like being imprisoned in a building without a stitch of natural sunlight, three counties away so you can't escape easily (ingenious marketing ploy).

Working from home has its pros and cons. Let's start with the negative. My butt has taken root (literally) after being perched on the same chair for hours on end. The pros? I can wear anything I fancy and I don't have to leave my home when I need to get some shopping done. Two weeks ago, I went into the newly opened and lavishly furnished J.Crew on Sloane Street. A chirpy sales assistant greeted me at the door and asked if I needed help.

Me: "Sure. I'm looking for a particular sweatshirt."
Her: "Which one?"
A spiel about its likeness ensued.
Her: "No idea....." Looking perplexed. "We've got sooooo many sweatshirts!"
Me: "In that case, point me in the right direction"
Her: "They're everywhere......!! You just have to find them"

So off I went.....on a treasure hunt. All the customers were left to our own devices while the sales staff gossiped. Cost of this exercise? 30 minutes that I'll never get back. I went home and logged onto to their website. I went through the entire new autumn/winter collection, picked out what I wanted, checked out and paid in under 10 minutes. No smirking, sneering, chirpy and useless sales staff to deal with.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a 100% advocate for online shopping. I still like to touch the fabric, try on the clothes, explore the merchandise, chat with competent sales staff.......when I have the time to do so. When online shopping has been set up to run like clockwork - let's take Zara and Uniqlo (they're both ridiculously efficient) as great examples, spending an hour trying to locate a specific garment and queueing up to get into the fitting room or pay seems like a waste of time. Not to mention having to catch public transportation just to get there and back. Since I have such a low pain threshold for shopping, I often ended up shelling out more money "resting" at cafés in between spurts of activity.

I don't always get it right. This time around, I've had to return nearly 80% of my purchases. Thankfully, I've got the post office literally in my backyard so dropping the packages off isn't a problem. I've calculated I've spent far less time clicking on websites than trudging from one store to the next and all that jazz associated with buying clothes.

Despite being a self proclaimed foodie, let me tell you.....online grocery shopping is THE best invention EVER. I remember the days of wasting an entire Saturday just flitting from store to store when I was living in Auckland (New Zealand). Now? My fingers do a 10 minute exercise on the keyboard and I'm done for the week. No more heavy lifting (other than the occasional top ups) or buying tons of unnecessary (but very tasty) junk food on "special".

Sure, I've experienced a few duds but the pros outweigh the cons for now. What about you?



Beauty products & anti ageing

Monday, 17 November 2014
portrait

Being surrounded by beauty fanatics has had a positive effect on me. I went from being totally clueless to having subpar knowledge about skincare. The great thing about having a blog is getting readers who're more knowledgeable than moi. Over the past 2 years, I've been slowly getting home schooled by a few young friends who are at least a decade (or two) younger than me. I was dragged off to watch countless YouTube tutorials, none of which I can replicate easily.

"Now apply from the outer eye....."
"blend blend blend" (either I'm using the wrong brush because clearly we're not going for the raccoon look which is the result I'm getting)
"draw a thin line just above your water line" (what the HECK is water line? I had to google the word halfway through the video) (what happens if you can only draw one eye because the other hand's useless??)

They're always remarkably up to date with all the latest products from around the world, blurting brands that don't even sound remotely intelligible. Another hauled a box full of beauty products to my flat and upended it on the floor. If life wasn't complicated before, now....... I have to know that there's a serum, scrub or cream for practically every part of my body. The neck, hands, body, boob (firming and lifting), lips, elbow, feet......  And then we start zooming in on the itty bitty details - pores, blackheads, eyebrows, eyelashes, nails..... One can easily lose themselves in an unending and confusing labyrinth of beauty routines. Motherhood is starting to sound easier and easier.

I started using anti-ageing products for the very first time last year. Do they work? NO idea. My face hasn't collapsed yet. My philosophy on anti-ageing is very......Asian. It's hard to reverse the signs of ageing if the skin's already been damaged by over-exposure to sun. It's like trying to transform a raisin to its original state (a grape). Highly unlikely. If you've lived in Australia or New Zealand and have experienced our lovely scorching sun with extra dose of UV rays, you'll understand why I'm rather anal about sun protection. I once burned in 10 minutes......in the middle of winter.

I got talking to friend of mine who has an insider knowledge of the Asian entertainment industry. Who knew all those lovely celebs pimping products for big brands started injecting fillers and botox in their 20s? Call it naivety but I had NO IDEA. Goes to show you can't believe everything that you see in media. My question is that if a person started pumping chemicals into her face from such an early age, wouldn't she need more just to prop up the underused facial muscles when she's 40?

A friend and I were having lunch at Knightsbridge a few weeks ago and gaped open-mouthed at some of the worst face lifts we've ever seen. Permanent Jack Nicholson joker grin. Shiny plastic skin. One had an impossibly narrow forehead. A friend (let's call her A) was horrified when another (B) started pointing out bits that she needed to correct. B went under the knife last year but decided that the results didn't look exactly as she envisioned so the second round of cosmetic surgery ensued. What's surprising is A has a totally laissez-faire attitude towards ageing yet looks at least 10 years younger (she gets mistaken for someone in her early 30s ALL THE TIME when she's actually 43).

I can safely say that jumping on the beauty bandwagon has helped me become more vigilant about moisturizing especially when I used to have dehydrated skin that peeled (ouch....truly). I still get the occasional break outs complete with ever growing crater sized pores. My bathroom shelf is littered with various masks these days. A sign of a growing obsession.......

What are your thoughts and experience with anti ageing products?



Most flattering sweatshirt ever

Saturday, 15 November 2014
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Forgive me as I bang on about sweatshirts again. This sweatshirt from J.Crew is fabulously flattering with its scoop neckline compared to the usual crew neck which isn't all that great for those of us with a more generous bust.  I love the curved hem. Perfect for pairing with skinny jeans. All my sweatshirts tend to be slouchy but this lovely design enhances your curves. Take your usual size (I bought a small) or go the next size up if you prefer a looser fit. Best of all, it's on sale for £39 (cheaper if you're lucky enough to live in the U.S) here

Having a blast with the cool Bose SoundLink Mini

Thursday, 13 November 2014
Bose soundlink mini 2
Bose Soundlink Mini 3

I've been accused of being a gadget girl.  *grin* Guilty as charged. The husband knows that when it comes to birthdays, anniversaries etc etc....it's gadgets that I want. I do like my gadgets but I rarely upgrade unless they're on the verge of death and ready to be buried. In my defense, I don't do geek talk very well. Spending more than a decade working with geeks have drummed that out of my system because nothing puts me into a comatose state quicker than arguing about specs and wires. *yaaaawn*

My husband likes his music but he also thinks that BIGGER is better. A few years ago, he came home lugging a Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin. It's the size of 2.5 rugby balls and takes up a ridiculous amount of space. That thing doesn't even like Android smartphones. Too bad I can't even use it as a rugby ball. Now....if you live in a tiny flat like me, S-P-A-C-E is precious. And you all know that I hate clutter as much as I hate rude brats.

I've tried various speakers including teeny tiny ones that plug into my laptop but the sound quality is bloody awful. To think my singing caterwauling was enough to petrify most humans into fossils........

Here's the thing:
1. I want my speaker small and portable (I like moving it around just.....because) with a bluetooth function so that I can still use my phone (the docking thing just doesn't work for me). Don't you hate scrambling for the phone when it rings and the sound amplifies on the speaker???? Not cool.
2. I want to be able to control the speaker from my iPad, laptop or phone.
3. I like cool designs so yup....looks matter. It's like comparing George Clooney to Jack Black. Both are awesome actors but Clooney is waaaaay more slick and sophisticated. Agreed?
4. High definition sound that's just as good and powerful as a big buffoon speaker.
5. Affordable. I'm a consumer but I still like my dollar sitting in my bank or investments.

I've been using my new Bose SoundLink Mini for the past week now and it's a blast. Literally. I'm amazed my neighbors haven't complained....... There isn't any fiddly setting up to do. Turn on your laptop, phone or tablet (whichever bluetooth gadget you're using). Once the words - Bose Soundlink Mini pop up on the screen, just hit pair and then connect. And.....you're off to a good start. Now crank up your favorite playlist at full volume.

It takes about 7 hours of playing to run its juice down. I can move my laptop approximately 6 meters (19 feet) away before the connection goes a little wonky. I've seen the latest Bose SoundLink Color which is a slightly cheaper model. It's a little too plasticky for my liking and not as small as I'd like it to be.  All in all, the Bose SoundLink Mini is one sexy but very useful gadget to have.


p.s. The speaker was sponsored by my husband......so that I'd leave his monstrous Zeppelin alone.



Hair loss recovery & Hair products that rock

Monday, 10 November 2014
favorite hair products


While I like to talk about all things beautiful on this blog, we know life isn't quite like that. Every now and then, I'll inject a healthy dose of reality into my posts. I wrote about my battle with hair loss in February 2013. It was a relief to hear that I wasn't alone. It can be difficult for those around you to understand. Only a few took me seriously. I was appalled after going to the toilet at a friend's house only to find clumps of hair on her floor after I've washed my hands. Or strands of hair falling onto friends' arms, laps or their food when we went out for coffee. After a few mishaps, I had to be extra careful when preparing meals. I was hoovering every other day too. Some of the "comforting words" I'd received were:

hey....at least you're alive...it's not like a life threatening disease  
I think you're being too sensitive. You're over-reacting. Come on......
It's not that bad......you've got plenty of hair anyway

To the two individuals who uttered the first sentence......please excuse me while I yank out your hair in various parts of your scalp and donate it to individuals who need it....seeing that you don't mind losing yours. Yes, I'm V-A-I-N. I like hair on my head and eyebrows above my eyes.

I was lucky to act really quick when hair loss sped up. It's been nearly 20 months since the first two photos were taken and boy, how things have changed. I haven't shown these pictures to anyone other than 2 individuals but seeing how little visible evidence regarding recovery from hair loss are out there, I figure why not.........




THEN

 Jan/Feb 2013




NOW

Nov 2014



I have lots of itty bitty hair everywhere which is a welcoming sight. The exposed top part of my scalp doesn't look like a light beacon which shines in the dark. For the first time in my life, I was pleased to see grey hair..... (this may come back and bite me in my ass). Now that hair growth is back on track, I need a shampoo that can put moisture back and tame my frizzy mane. You know I'm rather anal about natural products. I've tried many. M-A-N-Y. They left residue on my hair and my scalp became increasingly irritated and greasy. 

None worked until I finally tried Apivita haircare range. They're not 100% natural. I think the blurb on the shampoo states 88% natural. Whatever. It works. I no longer have itchy scalp and there's bounce in my hair. It's a shame that not many stores stock the Apivita range. I've finished an entire bottle of Apivita Propoline Shampoo for dry/dehydrated hair. I love love love the Apivita Shine & Revitalising Hair conditioner (mask). It kicks ass. It's that good. It adds lots of shine into my hair despite the fact that I rarely style or blow-dry it. The Apivita haircare products aren't cheap but they're bloody awesome (sorry, language deteriorating here due to hunger). If you want to save a few pennies, pin down friends who're going to Greece and bribe them to bring you back some. Otherwise, if you're like me, you'll just have to cough up the extra pennies. I've just tried out Farmaline which stocks a wide range of Apivita products. So far so good and they're far cheaper than most online stores out there. Do check them out here.

I've tried the famed Moroccanoil which is fab. I've switched to the cheaper but equally awesome Redken Argan oil  and my hair really couldn't tell the difference between the two. They both produce shiny tresses which I could flip about like those models in hair commercials.





Hitting the Sample Sales

Friday, 7 November 2014
Pierre Herme macarons
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Earlier this week, I figured that since I was in London for press day to view the new Spring/Summer 2015 collections, I might as well kill two birds with a stone and hit the sample sales too. You might be wondering the lack of photos of the sample sales....... The security is so tight around the manic sales these days that I would appear too conspicuous trying to sneak a photo, lest I risk being bodily thrown out by burly security guards (I've seen a lady being picked up and chucked out by 3 security guards at a Burberry sample sale once!).

The first on my list was The Kooples which was by invitation only. It was held in an obscure warehouse-like location, a 10 minute walk from Liverpool St tube station (unless you have NO sense of direction like me and managed to go the opposite direction while eyeballing Google map on the phone.....it took triple that time). By the time I got there, it was nearly 1.30pm. The place was filled to the brim with racks and clothes, jam packed into a large space with more staff than customers. Prices were........high. Coats were £195, jackets £150, sweaters £55 etc......  The cash registers were eerily silent. I was tempted by a black woolen/cashmere blend coat but £195 wasn't enough of a bargain so I left empty handed.

After dodging many fellow commuters, I managed to make it out of the Underground maze alive. The Matches Fashion sample sale was at the Music Room on South Molton St, a popular destination for most designer brands. Again, coats, bags and anything that could possibly hold an item the size of a guinea pig was stripped off all unsuspecting bargain hunters. This time, I was prepared. I arrived with my Chanel WOC which wasn't even big enough to stuff a pint sized Stuart Little.

The racks and tables were picked clean by vultures bargain hunters. All that was left were dozens of Issey Miyake garments with discounted price tags that made my eye watered. Regardless, I must've missed an awesome sale seeing how the queue at the checkout snaked around the room.

Feeling somewhat dejected by my lack of success (shopping wise), I hopped over to Selfridges to try out the DRKSHDW range by Rick Owens The affable sales associate couldn't find what I wanted in the stock room. Yes, apparently, Rick Owens has a cult following.......and his clothes fly out the shelves as soon as they're unpacked. Sigh.

See those Pierre Hermé macarons? You're probably wondering why there are photos of macarons instead of clothes. They're a consolation prize for my lack of success during my short stint at bargain hunting. If shopping becomes a pain, there's always macarons...........

For those of you who live in the U.K, here's a list of upcoming sample sales this month. My favorites are Maje, Chinti & Parker as well as Nicholas Kirkwood. Have you had any success at sample sales lately? Do tell.

Shhh.....it's a secret!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014
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I've been told MANY secrets in my lifetime (I'm sure most of you have as well). Some were troubling, others were funny, many just needed someone to confide in. There's a caveat that one must know about me. I wasn't joking when I said that my brain resembled a sieve. It still does, only the holes have gotten bigger over time. Once the words "shhh....it's a secret" are uttered, my processor (aka brain) takes that as an instruction that the data isn't relevant on the hard drive and automatically discards it within a week.

To my dear friends who were dismayed when all efforts failed to dredge up deleted memory......I'm sorry. But at least your secret's safe............. My friend, Red Hong Yi suggests I take a look at this ingenious website called Post Secrets where people posts secrets anonymously. It went viral and to date, Frank Warren has received half a million of secrets.

It's the middle of the week and the weekend seems miles away so let's do something fun for a change. How about posting a humorous secret here anonymously (don't show your name or ID)? I'll do the same!

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