Counting my blessings

Friday, 31 July 2015
ootd roses


Lately, I've been getting a lot of love from various individuals. They came rather unexpectedly and took me by surprise. I dithered....hummed and hawed for ages trying to find the right words to express my heartfelt gratitude but felt somewhat inadequate to properly thank thank all these lovely ladies.

The thing was I've been in a funk and feeling somewhat despondent for the past few months. I'd let harsh words from a few individuals to affect me. They took root and festered within me which was a pointless exercise. It seemed rather silly when I think about it now. I concentrated needlessly on the negatives when I have many blessings to be grateful for. A prayer and a nice kick in the arse were all it took to knock some sense into myself again.

A friend, Hong Yi whom I've never ever met face to face though we've Skyped (yes, we have an interesting but wonderful friendship) contacted me out of the blue to say that she was thinking of me. She sent me a link to a TedTalk video with a message I needed to hear. A former classmate of mine, Sheela found me on the internet two years ago.  We discarded our childhood angst and rebuilt a friendship, one that we never had before. Forgiveness is a wondrous thing. Sheela interviewed me recently for her blog but I was touched by her heartwarming post (read the interview here).

My Instagram account is far from popular nor do I have tens of thousands of followers. I guess you could say I did a few celebratory dance around my coffee table and whoops loud enough to wake up the living dead when it was featured in a few publications and recognized by some of my favorite Instagrammers. I was on the list of Brit + Co's 20 Amazing Female Travelers to Follow on Instagram.  Kelly, a fellow Kiwi who resides in the U.K and writes the popular travel blog, Around the world in 80 pairs of shoes had me down on her 10 of the Best Travel Instagram Accounts to follow in 2015. Next was Localgrapher's Top 10 Inspiring Female Travel Instagrammers to Follow. This was soon followed by Huffington Post via Oyster Hotels' 7 Unknown Instagram Accounts You Need to Follow.   Polina of Polabur who has an Instagram feed to die for recently included me on her Favorite Instagrams from London. I couldn't thank them enough for the recognition.

My friends and family can tell you that I'm not very sentimental. Hell, my own kid often reminds me to show more enthusiasm when she announces good news. BUT....this one from Sue of Susie So So teared me up. I must've read her post a dozen times while trying to hold back my tears. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Jacket project was emotionally grueling. It took me more than half a year to recover. Dealing with sensitive and controversial subject matters is never easy. I've asked myself a million times over the past year whether it'd helped anyone, if it was a worthwhile project. It wasn't just my story but six others who trusted me to shared their deepest secrets in the hope that they'd help those who are dealing with similar issues. Sue, thank you for choosing me as your "Someone Inspirational."



Little Black Dress

Friday, 17 July 2015
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Outfit: Étoile Isabel Marant "Gemma" dress (on sale, additional 10% off with code SALE10) , Miu Miu sunglasses, Hermes Cape Cod watch, Birkenstock Arizona sandals (on sale, additional 10% off with code SALE10), Étoile Isabel Marant parka, Charlotte Olympia Kitty flats.




As you can tell, I'm wearing a dress which is something of a rare occurrence. Like a solar eclipse. In a bid to get in touch with my feminine side,  I caved in and bought myself a LBD (Little Black Dress). As someone once mentioned to me, the hemline of Isabel Marant's skirts and dresses tend to be well above the knee but they're never vulgar. The pleats are stiff enough to prevent a Marilyn Monroe moment which can be easily misconstrued as "flashing" if you're other than the siren.

2 things I've learned from wearing a dress. By the way, I should mention that while this is common sense to those who wear dresses on a regular basis (couldn't find the right words...), this is somewhat a revelation (lots of doh moments) to me. One. Knees together as you're getting out of a car. Ahem. Or wear your best knickers. Two. Do not get too comfortable while you're at a cafe. Especially if you're in full view of other patrons. Splayed legs and dresses do not go hand in hand. *facepalm*





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Goldfinger.....I mean...Goldfeet (not to be confused with cold feet. Sorry. Couldn't resist)



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I had a mini reunion with a friend of mine who flew in from Singapore with her family recently. 5 years wheezed past in a blink of an eye. Our daughters have grown though in our minds, they'll always be toddlers. We tried to pack 5 years worth of conversations into a single day. I decided to book us a table at the newly opened Aubaine by Hyde Park where food is guaranteed to be excellent and the setting's cozy and intimate even for families with kids. We were famished by the time our food arrived and managed only a few snaps of the impressive dessert tray before we dug in.

Speaking of desserts, I'm sure I'm not the only one feeling like her body or internal organs have gone bonkers. Gorging on pastries and pasta or downing umpteen cups of coffee with milk never really had  a massive effect on me. I had to cut out milk for now after my tummy went spastic on me while I was just about to speak at a workshop. Perfect timing. NOT. Pffffft.....!! I hovered between blacking out and clenching the sides of my stool in a vice like grip throughout the entire 4 hours. Gluten knocks me out and puts me to sleep within minutes. Anyone had similar problems recently?



Summer Beauty Essentials

Tuesday, 14 July 2015
summer_essentials

1. MAC "Twig" lipstick
2. Laneige BB Cushion Pore Control SPF 50+/PA or here (color #21 Natural Beige)
3. Korres Wild Rose Brightening Moisturizer (cheapest deal: buy 1 get 1 free)
4. Colorescience Pro Sunforgettable (a cheaper option but equally good here)
5. Essie nail polish






1. MAC "Twig" lipstick

I've been using MAC lipsticks for a decade now. Actually, let me rephrase that. I've been buying MAC lippy in Twig for longer than I can remember. In fact, I've only ever owned one lipstick at a time until a few years ago when I branched out a little (by which I mean, I bought another one which is still buried somewhere in a pile of unused junk in the bathroom ). Interestingly enough, it's the one beauty product I get asked a lot by friends and strangers even to this day. The Twig color has a matte soft brownish pink hue which looks natural on most lips. The lipstick's lightly vanilla scented and doesn't really taste of anything (I can't abide strong lipstick smell or taste).

For a longer staying power and light coverage, I brush a thin layer of mineral powder over my lips and then lightly dab the lipstick across the upper and lower lip. I then use my finger and gently press/dab my lips so that the lipstick sort of blends into my lips to create a more natural look. If I need to head out in the evening to an event or for drinks with friends, I'd lightly color my lips with a lip pencil (MAC "Spice"), apply the lipstick, blot with tissue and reapply. You'll end up with a matte dusky pink color that'll pop.




2. Laneige BB Cushion Pore Control SPF 50+/PA

My quest for a good foundation is a never ending process. I have a few bottles of pricey foundation from high end brands that I've only ever used once or twice (ouch!). The truth is I don't fancy apply globs of foundation especially after watching what seems like a million YouTube tutorials. I just don't have the willpower to apply primer, concealer, eye concealer, foundation, pressed powder, bronzer for contouring, luminizer......before I even paint the rest of my face. I might as well get a job as a Beijing opera actor.

The Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer is perfect during the winter months but it's too heavy in summer particularly for someone with an oily T zone like me. A friend recommended me the Korean cushion BB cream and boy, am I glad I listened to her advice. I went ahead and bought Laneige BB Cushion Pore Control SPF 50+/PA. I now understand why Korean beauty products are gaining popularity worldwide. The cushion compact makes it so easy to apply foundation (dab, not rub). The sheer texture has fantastic coverage which you can easily build on. I've now ditched my primer and only use a teensy bit of concealer. The BB cream evens out my skin tone and does an ok job disguising my crater sized pores with one light application. I rarely need to touch up and my face doesn't ooze with oil after a few hours either. It gives a nice dewy finish which even my nosy husband and daughter commented on several occasions.

I'm thrilled to find a light BB cream/foundation with SPF 50 that's sheer enough not to make me feel like I'm wearing a mask but gives ample coverage. Prolonged sun exposure causes irreversible damage to the skin so my personal opinion is, prevention's better than cure. The natural beige shade is closest to my skin tone. I've learned that Koreans prefer to buy a shade lighter than their skin tone whereas those of us who live in the west like to match our exact skin tone.




3. Korres Wild Rose 24 hour Brightening Moisturizer

I can wax lyrical about this moisturizer all day. It actually does what it says - hydrates the skin all day and night (there's one with sunscreen and another without) and brightens the complexion. I've found out that if I apply the moisturizer at night, my skin literally glows the next morning. That's saying a lot when you're in your 40s and your skin ain't what it used to be (sigh...gravity). Lately, my skin has gotten a lot more sensitive than when I was in my 30s. The Korres wild rose moisturizer doesn't make my skin break out. What I love is my skin stays moisturized but not oily. I've used moisturizers from various brands. Some are not hydrating enough which caused my skin to peel and others are too oily.



4. Colorescience Pro Sunforgettable

I've used Colorescience Pro Sunforgettable for a couple of years now. It makes reapplying sunscreen a breeze. We're told to reapply every two hours particularly if we're outside with the harsh sun beaming down on us. When I'm out and about, I find it easier to carry a small tube with a retractable brush than dealing with spills and sticky mess. I prefer to use natural products over one that's laden with chemicals unless I have no choice in the matter. The mineral sunscreen powder isn't cheap, particularly for those of us who reside outside of the U.S but there's an alternative that's just as good and far cheaper - BareMinerals Natural Sunscreen. If you're the sort that do tan, be sure to buy one shade darker or else you'll end up with streaks of light powder on your face.



5. Essie nail polish

I'm probably one of the last person standing to convert to Essie. I was hooked on Chanel but Essie nail polishes are far more affordable, chip resistant and come in a larger range of colors. I got bored of dark colors so I went a little crazy at the drug store. As you can tell, I'm allergic to colors.......which means my entire wardrobe's made up of black, black, black....military green.....grey and black. What I lack in my attire, I make it up with my nail polish.


Outfit & Éclairs

Wednesday, 8 July 2015
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Outfit: Rick Owens bomber leather jacket, Étoile Isabel Marant "Andrei" striped t-shirt (sale or similar here), Zara jeans, Hermes Cape Cod watch, Miu Miu sunglasses (sale) and New Balance 420 sneakers (sale).


I get a detailed commentary on my outfits every single morning by a 9 year old fashion critic on the way to school. Some days, I don't pass muster (hey, what's wrong with denim cutoffs and my favorite worn sweatshirt???!) and get a tsk tsk tsk after a head to toe inspection. I mean seriously........what's wrong with kids these days?? Back in MY generation, otherwise known as the dinosaur era  (as described by Lil L and her friends), kids were seen and not heard so the 21st century parents over-compensated. And now, we have kids who abuse their freedom of speech. By the way, I bought a set of fabulous earphones. Comes in real handy........




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I love the Instagram community. A fellow Instagrammer messaged me on the week Belgian chocolatier Pierre Marcolini set up shop on Marylebone High Street. So off I went in search of éclairs despite being on a less sugar/non-dairy diet. Oh well....life's too short to be on a diet everyday. I resisted the urge to order my favorite - salted caramel and went for the coffee and bitter chocolate instead. They're smaller, creamier and not as cloyingly sweet as the ones from Paris based famed L'éclair de Génie. It may be too rich for some if you're used to lighter desserts. 




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I shot a step by step no bake marshmallow lollipops tutorial which Angela made. They're something you can whip up in a jiffy and still look mighty impressive. If you're heading off to your summer vacation soon, be sure to check out these 5 best high SPF sunscreens.



Never say never

Tuesday, 30 June 2015
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Outfit: Vanessa Bruno Athé playsuit, Hermes Cape Cod watch and Charlotte Olympia Kitty flats.


Never say never. That should be my mantra. I didn't hide my disdain for jumpsuits and playsuits (or rompers to those of you in the U.S) previously. After all, my ever practical self sniffed at all the rigmarole one has to go through just to pee. And then.....I succumbed. This broderie anglaise playsuit from Vanessa Bruno Athé hung in my closet for so long that I was convinced it would be properly vintage by the time I wore it at 80 years of age with knobbly knees. I get why the trend is still going strong. Just put on the all in one outfit and you're good to go. You don't even have to think.

I don't generally do cutesy things but don't these whimsical Kitty flats put a smile on your face? Erm...I mean mine. The golden cat is supposed to bring luck. That remains to be seen....... I can't bring myself to buy a maneki-neko (the ceramic kitty with a waving paw) but I don't mind them on my feet (shoe obsessed individual here so normal logic doesn't prevail.....). I've learned that patent leather takes an awfully long time to break in. This includes having these patent Kitty flats professionally stretched twice and a week of hobbling about at home with them glued to my feet. I have very verrrrry low pain threshold for fashion. They're finally just right. So my advice is.....get the velvet ones.











Disclaimer: Bribery was used for this post. Photos were only taken after ice cream was consumed by child.


Summer Vacation Edits Under £175

Wednesday, 24 June 2015




Shoes


I'm sure I'm not the only one dreaming of places with long stretches of sandy beaches, guaranteed sunshine and a gelato stand at every corner. My pile of summer clothes is growing steadily by the week in anticipation for the warm weather ahead (trying to be optimistic!). Gladiator sandals are all the rage but these ones from Ancient Greek Sandals are subtly eye catching without being overly dramatic. They're a bargain at 55% off too.










Accessories


I can't make myself spend more than £40 on straw hats and bags. As you know...the English weather and all. These look good and the very affordable price tag won't leave you feeling guilty.










Clothes

I've finally caved in and bought a dress and am loving it. I'm very impressed with the line up of pretty dresses over at Other Stories. They have a knack of coming up with unique clothes that are surprisingly very inexpensive.






Back to basics and summer months

Monday, 22 June 2015
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Outfit: Miu Miu sunglasses, J.Crew sweatshirt, 7 for All Mankind cutoffs, Hermes Cape Cod watch and Birkenstock Arizona sandals. Nail varnish: Chanel "Paradoxical"


I admit I went bonkers for lace up sandals and flats when they first came out. I'm still mad for them cos you know....they're so eye catching even if your ankles end up looking like they've been whipped multiple times or turned bloodless from strangulation. And then I got reeeeal lazy. The constant tying and untying took a toll on my fingers. Walking out the door meant an additional 5 minutes of lacing the right way so that they don't collapse in a heap around my ankles.

I decided I deserved a reprieve from all this hullabaloo and bought myself a pair of Birkenstocks instead. Funny how fashion goes round and round in circles. I used to backpack and trek through the rivers, mountains and into rural villages in similar Birkenstock sandals except they were brown. They were virtually indestructible and survived on many grand adventures with me.

Here's the lowdown of the Arizona sandals if you're planning on getting them. They're true to size and are wider than the Madras which has a narrower fit. Mine has a single band footbed but if you prefer more cushioning, go for the double. There's the platform version if you want to add a few more inches to your height. There are also two options for straps - textured leather (their fancy way of saying synthetic) and genuine leather. I chose the second which took a few wears to break in. I normally go for darker colors but this time, I decided to break free from my usual and go the white instead. If you happen to live in the U.K, I would suggest you get them here as they're less than half the price anywhere else. More options available down below.






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artist Rawberry-chocolatecake


It's officially summer now with yesterday being the longest day of the year. The sun's still up at 9pm which is brilliant until you realize that you can't convince your kids to GO TO BED.  I'm emphasizing the last 3 words because if you're a mom, you'll feel like a tape recorder but the volume is ever increasing until you hit the climax and all hell breaks loose. Meanwhile, your kid pretends she's deaf and mute. Ah...the joys of motherhood.

The weather's been brilliant until....well.....today. But hey ho, over here in England, you just learn to roll with it and put your coats on standby because you just never know when it'll pour. I've been going on endless walks which is an easy task here because there are tons to see and friends live close by. The High St has turned into a strip of market stalls practically all week. Despite the congestion, it's heartwarming to see how a historic town is still so vibrant and lively in the 21st century.

I was amazed to see climbing roses everywhere. I've played tourist on many occasions with a camera around my neck as I explored the neighborhood to spot the roses. What do you enjoy doing around your neighborhood?



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