January 31, 2013

Things I Love: January

Shopping for cute mugs, and trying to hunt down this specific one.

Jotting everything down in my new planner (I wrote about it here)

This song.

Wearing scarves with everything.

The Face Shop Escargot Sheet Masks (I wrote about them here)

This dress for both work and weekends (runs small, order a size up).

Layering eyeliner - lining eyes with eyeshadow before pencil liner for added dimension.

This quote (source)

Last but not least, getting excited for Chinese New Year (which falls on February 10 this year). In particular, Hong Kong's IFC shopping mall has the most adorable pandas scattered all over the mall. Ready for some major cuddliness?


Are you really ready?

Embrace yourself.

Look how cute!

So cuddly. So so cuddly.

Next up, Chinese New Year, Valentine's Day and my boyfriend's birthday - all coming together to make one eventful February :)

January 29, 2013

Cute Etsy Finds

Etsy has become my number one go-to for gift/jewelry shopping. I get these moments when I'll see a random object and wish I had a dainty necklace pendant version of it (recently it was a teddy bear) - I search Etsy, and there it is. I love how Etsy pieces are made by independent sellers, so each piece is special and unique. With Valentine's coming up, definitely search through Etsy for gift ideas (I ordered something too, but more about that later in case my sneaky boyfriend reads this), or just a little treat for yourself (which I also bought. Oops).

How cute are these Etsy pieces?

Sweet & Savory Trinkets (Etsy shop here)
Cake and cookie charms to drool over, literally.

Oia Jules (Etsy shop here)
Perfect chunky chain bracelets, embellished with pave diamonds or gems.
I caved and ordered the silver ball bracelet, shown in the image on the right

Sujin Simple Chic (Etsy shop here)
I love these animal shaped necklaces, especially the elephant and teddy bear.

January 28, 2013

Organic Monday: Melvita Orange Blossom Extraordinary Water

My usual Monday mornings are nothing but grogginess and yawning, but this morning I woke up to the loveliest surprise - a sweet shout out from one of my favorite bloggers, and with that, a sudden wave of online traffic to my blog. Thank you Sofia - "giddy with excitement" is an understatement as I secretly have a major blog crush on Sofia's Journal. I distinctly remember that one night when I clicked through all her "100 Things" posts in one go, stalker style, and drifted off to sleep feeling all warm and fuzzies (it really works, try it!).

She also mentions a handful of other lovely blogs in her post, which I'm planning to click and scroll through tonight one by one.

And if you've dropped by from Sofia's, a big welcome and hello!


For the longest time, I saw toning as the least important step in the classic "cleanse-tone-moisturize" skincare routine. I did not really see what it did for my skin, until the sales at Melvita recommended the Orange Blossom Extraordinary Water to me. Melvita has been my recent favorite skincare brand (I've raved about it here and here), because although their products are made of organic natural ingredients, their price range is relatively more reasonable than other organic skincare labels in the market.

The Orange Blossom Extraordinary Water is packed full of wonderful ingredients. It contains hyaluronic acid and glycerine, which help skin retain moisture. In other words, this toner helps your moisturizer do more for your skin. On top of that, its orange extract has a mild bleaching property that helps with skin discoloration, thus brightening and evening out skintone. Orange extract also contains Vitamin E which is a source of anti-oxidants that rejuvenates skin.

Melvita's Extraordinary Waters are very different to the usual toner, because its unique consistency is more like a gel than a water. As opposed to the usual toner, which at times can feel a bit drying, the Extraordinary Water feels extremely soothing and moisturizing on. It softens and calms skin, prepping it for moisturizer. I've never come across a product that leaves skin this soft instantly. It's become a staple in my routine and I'm on my third bottle already.

I think I'm slightly addicted to this stuff.

If you're on the hunt for a good toner, I highly recommend checking out Melvita's Extraordinary Waters. They're amazing!

Missed last week's "Organic Monday"? I reviewed one of my recent go-to organic face masks here.

January 26, 2013

As Good As New - Continued

Last week I blogged about digging out some makeup products that I already had, and you all seemed to really like the idea. So did I! I have been using my re-discovered products all week - and they even helped curb my craving for the newest Chanel Spring collection eyeshadow quad in Raffinement (which by the way is GORGEOUS, if you are not saving up for something nor own way too many neutral eyeshadows, do check it out here).

This week I decided to do a part 2 and shop my stash some more. I dug deeper into my makeup drawers, brushed off the cobwebs, and found 3 more goodies that I have completely forgotten about. It's funny how sometimes a product can be a let down at first, but works out great a couple months later when giving it another try. This is exactly the case for these 3 products - I remember not liking them but by now I have forgotten why.

 Laura Mercier Lip Glace in "Blush"
I remember picking this up last year while I was re-purchasing my trusty Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder at the mall. I did not like it initially because I found it too dark for me. But somehow trying it again this week I love it! "Blush" is a brownish pink that serves as a refreshing alternative to my usual lighter or more baby pink shades. It's still natural enough to go with everything and to me is perfect for a winter makeup look since it's darker and warmer toned. Consistency wise it's thinner than the average gloss which some people might not care for, but if you do not like sticky glosses like me, this formula might actually work better for you.

Reading reviews on Makeupalley, I think this product is one of those "love it or hate it" purchases. I suggest trying this out in person at the makeup counter before buying this. This blog I found also has some great swatches of "Blush" and some other Laura Mercier shades.

Rimmel Natural Bronzer in "021 Sun Light"
This was an impulse buy at the drugstore during my initial learning-to-work-the-bronzer phase. I could not get this one to work because it seemed too orange for me. But now re-trying it with a stippling brush (less dense than your usual blush brush), I find it works great for contouring on fair skin. It's very natural and warms up my complexion. A nice matte bronzer with a friendly price tag.

MAC Eyeshadow in "Retrospeck"
"Retrospeck" is a light wash of beige shimmer that looks like a mix of gold and silver. I completely overlooked it at first - it seemed like one of those easily-dupable nude shades. Giving it another try this week, I've found that "Retrospeck" is in fact a very unique all-over-the-lid shade. What makes it special is it does not have any brown or gold hues, unlike many popular neutral lid shades like MAC's "All That Glitters" or Stila's "Kitten." It's neither distinctly cool or warm, making it work for all skintones. Its shimmery finish brightens the eyes and could work well on its own for a nude day look, or under darker eyeshadows to create great contouring. My only complaint would be that it's not the most pigmented (MAC lustre eyeshadows go on sheer), but I find the sheerness works well if you're going for that light daytime look.

Have a great weekend!

January 24, 2013

My "Everything" Pouch

daily essentials
pen / headphones / pocket mirror / eyedrops

just in case
band aid / toothpick / tide-to-go / pain killers / peach mint breath spray

beauty goodies
lip gloss / concealer / eye liner

I discovered Tide-To-Go a couple years ago and it has become a staple in my purse. It's basically fabric bleach in a pen. It has come in very handy since my boyfriend and I are messy eaters and get food on ourselves all the time.  I don't carry much makeup with me except for my 3 touch-up essentials - lip gloss, concealer and a pencil liner. Specific products vary but this combo stays consistent in my purse. I currently love the Clarins Instant Lip Perfector for plump and glossy lips, Maybelline Mineral Concealer just in case any nasty spot decides to come visit, and Urban Decay 24/6 Eyeliner in Zero for touch-ups before last minute drinks and dinner plans.

There's a reason girls need purses while guys don't - we just have so.much.more.stuff that we need to keep in handy! I am a huge purse girl who loves to switch out of purses every couple days, so I find keeping all these small and miscellaneous possessions in a pouch really helps with switching purses and finding stuff in my bag, also known as a bottomless pit.

Lights On Trees

I have a serious obsession over strings of lights in trees. It's almost magical how these tiny bulbs can make a simple chat on a park bench, a short stroll in the park, or a silly dance under the tree seem so much more dreamy. They're to me the secret ingredient to create the most romantic date night.

Look how pretty!

all images from weheartit.com

January 21, 2013

Organic Monday: Korres Wild Rose Instant Brightening Mask

Reading through the ingredients of my makeup and skincare products early last year, it kind of scared me how many chemical terms that I've never heard of are on the lists. After all, these are products I apply onto my face every day. So since last year I've been learning more about the idea of "green beauty" and products that contain natural ingredients. I like the idea that I can apply these products onto my skin knowing what's in them, and knowing that they do more good than harm in the long run.

Over the months I've transitioned a good portion of my skincare routine to natural/organic products, so I thought it would be fun to share with you all my thoughts on some of them every Monday. Because what better way to beat the Monday blues than to learn more about a feel-good product (and perhaps drop by the makeup counter over lunch break to check it out)?

To start the series - the Korres Wild Rose Instant Brightening Mask.

As its name suggests, this wash-off mask claims to instantly brighten your complexion by lightening discoloration of the skin. In the long run it also claims to repair skin and reduce lines or marks.

First off it really does what it claims - it instantly brightens. And by instantly, I really do mean immediately after I wash off the mask. By no means exaggerating - I literally feel like I have lights glowing from under my skin. So I'd definitely recommend using this right before an important date or special occasion. Emphasis on the "right before" though, because I don't feel like the brightening effect lasts much longer than that. 

What I love most about this mask however is that it contains wild rose oil, which is natural source of Vitamin C. The ascorbic acid in Vitamin C is an antioxidant that increases collagen production, keeping skin youthful and radiant. Its repairing properties help reverse environmental damages done to skin. Therefore apart from its brightening effects, I tend to see this as a repairing mask that I like to reach for after a long week.

The list above from the packaging does mention fragrance so if you have sensitive skin, do ask for a sample before taking the plunge. On the contrary, if you're a fan of rose scents like I am, you'll definitely enjoy this one. The rose scent is beautiful and soothing, which is a bonus for me.

Let me know your thoughts on organic products too. Are you a fan or skeptic?

January 20, 2013

Current Loves: Pets, Sunshine, Earrings

Some things I've been enjoying this weekend:

Cozying up on the couch with a blanket (and dozing off at times)

This baking blog which I recently stumbled upon and fell in love with.
I love her baking, and her tone of writing is endearing. I can't wait to try out some of her recipes.

This picture of Coco. And peanut butter.

little treat to remember my first job promotion
These earrings have been on my wishlist since last summer (I blogged about them here), but I'm so glad I held off and did not buy them impulsively. Now as a celebratory purchase they seem more well deserved and will always be special to me.

Sunny winter days in Hong Kong

P.S. I had to call off my Sunday hiking plans due to cramps... "boo" for wasting such a beautiful sunny weekend! Do you girls have any good cramp-relieving tips?

Linking up with Sami's Shenanigans

January 19, 2013

Pumpkin Bread

First bake of 2013!

Back when I made fresh pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, what I did not mention in my blog post was that I had bought a can of pre-made pumpkin puree... just in case. So if my fresh-pumpkin-attempt did not work out as expected, I would have the canned pumpkin as a quick backup. Fortunately my fresh pumpkin pie came was a success, so I never did end up using the can. Since it's been pretty chilly this week and I'm craving something warm and doughy for breakfast, I decided to finally use up the canned pumpkin by making pumpkin bread this weekend.

Googling recipes online I was pretty shocked to find that pumpkin bread is not as healthy as I had thought it to be. Recipes called for many cups of sugar and oil... which I knew would come out tasting amazing, but a bit too unhealthy for regular intake. So referencing this recipe, I tweaked the sugar and oil amounts and got a healthier not-too-sweet pumpkin loaf.

My tweaked recipe:
15 ounces canned pumpkin puree
4 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger

1. Preheat oven to 175c
2.In a large bowl, mix pumpkin puree, eggs, vegetable oil, water and sugar until well blended
3. In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Add this dry mixture to the pumpkin mixture in step 1
4. Pour batter into a loaf pan
5. Bake for 1 hour or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean

I had extra batter after filling my 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf pan, so I poured the remaining batter into my cupcake trays (my go-to way to use up any extra batter whenever I bake). I managed to fill 7 cupcake shells, which came out like pumpkin muffins.

I slathered some butter onto a hot slice of the bread and it tasted amazing. I can't wait to have another slice tomorrow morning with my Sunday morning coffee!

(Note: my tweaked recipe has only half as much sugar as the original recipe. So expect your pumpkin bread to really come out more like bread than cake. The sweetness is subtle but mixes nicely with with the cinnamon and pumpkin fragrance, which I really like. But if you like your bread sweeter, I'd suggest adding more sugar than I did)

January 18, 2013

Fragrance Love: Viva La Juicy Le Fleur

It's been a long, long week... TGIF! Credits to my latest favorite perfume for lifting my spirits all week.

I've never liked Juicy Couture fragrances before - I find them a bit overpowering, and the loud "Juicy-esque" bottle designs are a bit much. But their newest fragrance, La Fleur, is amazing enough to make me overlook the loud pink bow and dangly sparkly charms that I feel like I've grown out of now as an adult. After a sniff of the fragrance ad in my Cosmo magazine, I was in love.

I had not bought a fragrance in a long time since this, which is probably why I had forgotten how expensive perfumes are these days. The $90 USD price tag for a 5 oz bottle put me off for a long time, until I came across the 2.5 oz bottle for $50 in Singapore in December. It's still not cheap, but considering that I can never go through an entire bottle of fragrance, $50 seemed a lot more reasonable to splash out.

The official description:
"Viva la Juicy La Fleur is a sheer veil of sparkling mandarin and wild berries, combined with luminous florals of lush honeysuckle, gardenia petals, and soft jasmine. A whisper of creamy gourmand reminiscent of the Classic Viva la Juicy elicits an addiction that envelops the skin." (source)

To me, the scent is girly and romantic but youthful at the same time. I love how it's light and cheery, perfect to brighten up a dull winter day. Every morning I'd spritz this baby on and feel just that tad bit more cheerful and ready to start my day :)

January 16, 2013

As Good As New

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm trying to save up for upcoming traveling plans. That means more travel research, less makeup shopping. So when I recently got bored of my daily makeup routine and felt the itch to browse the makeup counters after work, I instead hopped on a bus straight home (to avoid the tempting sales, of course) and shopped my stash instead.

Sure enough, I re-kindled my love for 3 products which I have almost forgotten about. I love them and although they are a bit beaten up packaging-wise, the products themselves are good as new, and make for a nice change to my usual products that I have been reaching for these days.

Too Faced Naked Eye Palette
Not to be confused with the Urban Decay Naked Palette, this one has a lot more lighter, cooler neutral shades, plus a lovely pink shade ("satin sheets") which I love using all over the lid. I also love "pillow talk," "like a virgin," "birthday suit," and "lap dance."

MAC Mineralized Skinfinish in "By Candlelight"
This MSF is very similar to "Soft and Gentle," which is a beautiful highlighting MSF in their permanent line. I like that "By Candlelight" is pinker, so that it acts as a blush as well. Although it was limited edition, check eBay and keep your eyes out at MAC, because they seem to re-promote this baby every now and then. Also if you can't get hold of it, "Soft and Gentle" comes close and is also amazing. Oh MAC, why do you always make the best products limited edition? 

Benefit Box Blush in "Dandelion"
This was probably my first blush, ever. Although the typical Benefit box blush scent has faded by now (I've had this blush for years!), this will always be my favorite no-brainer perfect pink blush. It's the perfect matte, natural, rosy pink that looks good on almost anyone.

P.S. I just got promoted today at work :) I guess that deserves a little shopping as a treat?

January 14, 2013

Oh Darling, Let's Be Adventurers

all from Pinterest

A lot of our best memories together as a couple have been from adventures away from home - seeing the world, living out of suitcases, studying maps together, and getting lost in the streets of a foreign country.
With the new year, we've been starting to save up (no less shopping!) and plan our travels for 2013, and I can't wait.

rome, summer 2012

January 13, 2013

A Healthy Start

One of my favorite things about the weekend is the extra time I have in the morning to enjoy a wholesome, healthy, leisurely breakfast. This Saturday I had my favorite combo - coffee, avocado and toast. As simple as it sounds, these go so well together - easy, healthy and yummy. I usually mash half the avocado to spread on toast, and eat the other half on its own while sipping coffee (and clicking away at Pinterest, of course).

Thanks to new year motivation, I also managed to put an end to my severe lack of exercise this weekend. My girlfriends and I swapped our usual purses and ankle boots for water bottles and gym shoes, and went on a light hike to the Victoria Peak. The hour or so hike was filled with much needed fresh air, chit chat and breathtaking views of Hong Kong. It felt really refreshing to take a break from all the crowds in the city (Google image "Causeway Bay crowd" to get a better picture), so much that I'm planning to go back again next weekend for another go at the trail.

We're not much of an athletic bunch, so the hike was kind of a big deal accomplishment for us :) *pats self on the back*
May this be the first of many more hikes to come!

Linking up with Sami's Shenanigans


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