February 28, 2013

Farewell

Today was my last day at my job.
2.5 years ago, I graduated from college with a business degree.
Not really knowing what I wanted to do, this safe and secure finance job offer was a huge blessing to me.
And although I am about to move on to different endeavors, I have been so grateful for this job.
It taught me that persistence and hard work pays off,
that sincerity and genuineness is always appreciated,
that kindness can never hurt,
and that you can do much more than you think you can.

The best thing that I am taking away with me are all the amazing friendships I've made at work. After a week of farewell dinners and drinks, I left the office teary eyed, with cheery faces waving bye at me today.

My lovely colleagues also surprised me with very thoughtful farewell presents. A Kate Spade makeup bag, a baking recipe binder, and a "Keep Calm and Eat Cupcakes" farewell card - you can tell they know me well. Funnily enough, 2 groups of my colleagues both got me exact same card, I love that I am that associated with cupcakes!

is this not the prettiest candy colored packaging ever?




Bye for now, office job!

mr. koala bear at my keyboard / central business district, hong kong

Next up, a bit of traveling. First stop... London!

February 27, 2013

Things I Love: February

My Tumblr (I'm a newbie!). I use Tumblr to capture the random mish mash of pretty things I love.
If you like staring at slices of cake, litters of puppies, bouquets of flowers and beautiful spaces, hop on over.
(I'm on a hunt for more pretty Tumblr blogs too, please leave me any recommendations!)

Simple flower arrangements. How rustic and beautiful are these glass bottle vases?

Lenka's songs, like this one.

Dental Hygiene, i.e. being obsessed with proper flossing. 
(after a much needed reminder from a checkup at the dentist)

Laura Mercier Mineral Powder. I have Ellie to thank for recommending this amazing stuff! (my review here)

This long but interesting article on 20-something year olds from a developmental psychology perspective.

The book "On Chesil Beach" by Ian McEwan, recommended to me by my bestie

Quotes like this that have helped me to decide on making a big move in my life.

And this one.

The iPad mini which my boyfriend surprised me with for Valentines (now in it's pretty mint/Tiffany blue case!)... and discovering all the wonderful things I can use it for. Like Hay Day.
Similar cases here and here.

Next up, March. Are you ready for Spring? For me, the weather is not the only thing that will be changing... more on that tomorrow!

Instagram Diary: Life Lately






- pink tulips may be my new favorite flower - 
- a post chinese new year hike to walk off the big meals -
- cutest little lunch set from a new cafe near my office -
- pink floral bread with cheese -
- trying out kora skincare products -
- breathless view... sometimes i forget how beautiful you are, hong kong -

A few random snippets of life recently according to my Instagram (@rachhanne). 
It's been an eventful few weeks as I am gearing up for some big changes in my life that I can't wait to share with you all real soon. First up I'll be off traveling to a couple destinations in the coming 2 weeks, which means there will be a few blog posts on travel skincare/packing tips coming your way. I love the excitement of preparing for a trip, so I never dread packing - I feel like it's part of the fun! And now blogging about it has nothing but added to the anticipation :)

February 25, 2013

Organic Monday: Kora Organics Exfoliating Cream


Is it just me or do products that are harder-to-get always seem extra exciting to try out? Thanks to my good friend at work who's from Australia, I was able to get my hands on some Kora Organics products. Kora Organics is supermodel Miranda Kerr's organic skincare line, inspired by her natural and healthy lifestyle. The line focuses on skincare packed full of super ingredients such as Noni antioxidants, Rose Hip oil, vitamins A, C, and E, and many other lovely ingredients.

This exfoliating cream contains oat flour and bamboo, and is a creamy cleanser with fine but sparse exfoliants to mildly buff away dead skin cells. Thanks to the essential oils in the cleanser, my skin feels clean and nourished after using this, instead of stripped and tight like how most exfoliators leave my skin.

All in all I am really enjoying this product. I feel like it's one of those rare exfoliators that's mild enough to use frequently, which is great for people like me who have easily clogged pores, but yet the most sensitive skin. I've been using this every other day, as the product instructions recommend. I noticed that after the first few uses, the cleanser has caused my skin to purge a slight bit - tiny clogged spots on my skin surfaced and I was able to easily extract them with no significant damage to my skin.



I also love the minty green packaging of the Kora line - it's one of my favorite colors, especially in skincare products. Somehow this shade of green always makes me feel refreshing and clean! It's also great knowing that this product is filled with ingredients that not only deep clean, but also repair and nourish.

The only downside? The hefty price tag of roughly USD$55. Ouch!

The Kora skincare line is most easily-accessible in Australia, where it's stocked at David Jones department stores and other selected spas and outlets. For the rest of us, we can shop the line on their official website, or ask a friend who's visiting to pick them up for us... like I did :)

Have you tried Miranda Kerr's organic skincare line? What are your thoughts? 

February 23, 2013

Best Mineral Powder Ever



I'm kind of a foundation-phobe. I don't like the idea of covering my skin all day with liquid foundations, because I feel like they slightly suffocate the skin underneath it, and occasionally can break me out. So although I have much love for tinted moisturizers/BB creams, I always prefer a mineral powder over any BB cream. I love that mineral makeup is pure, light, and does not clog pores.

However, till only very recently, I had not come across any mineral powder that can perfectly deliver what I love about tinted moisturizers - natural looking coverage, dewy finish, and long lastingness. Then a few weeks back Ellie recommended the Laura Mercier Mineral Powder to me on Twitter, and I decided to give it a go. I was quickly sold due to the fact that it's one of the purest mineral powders on the market. With only 5 ingredients, a nod of approval from my favorite natural beauty blog, and rave reviews on Makeupalley, I had high expectations for this - and it definitely lived up to them!

Comparing it to the MAC mineral powder:
My previous holy grail mineral powder was the MAC Mineralized Skinfinish Natural in light-medium, which I had been using for years. But after trying the Laura Mercier version (let's call it LM for short), I had not gone back to MAC's (sorry old friend!). The LM powder is more finely milled, adheres to skin better, and provides greater coverage without a thick application. The one thing that bothered me about MAC's was it sometimes looking too powdery/matte. The LM version provides a better looking finish - dewy, glowy and very, very natural. None of my girlfriends were able to tell I was wearing a powder based product! Also, unlike the MAC powder, the LM one did not crease on me at all, even after my longest work days.

Comparing it to the Bobbi Brown mineral powder:
I've also tried the Bobbi Brown Mineral Powder a while back (not photographed sorry! I have no idea where mine went). The Bobbi Brown powder is more similar to the LM one - it is finely milled, has decent coverage and comes in loose powder form as well. However comparatively I still prefer LM's due to its dewiness - the Bobbi Brown powder has a more mattifying finish. Also, LM's still wins when it comes to staying power.


How I apply it:
Although the LM sales girl insisted that I must use a kabuki brush to buff in the LM powder, I still prefer my MAC 187 stippling brush for a lighter application. I lightly dip my brush into the pan, swirl it around the lid, tap off the excess, and apply onto my face in circular motions. The swirling will leave some of the product on the lid, which I dip in for more as I buff it into my skin, area by area. Applies easily and quickly, great for mornings when you're in a rush.

If I have any tiny spots or redness, I then take a fluffy eyeshadow brush and dot on a little bit more of the LM powder. I'm able to perfectly cover any minor blemishes this way. No concealer needed unless I have a larger blemish.



I also love that this has SPF 15, putting it on equal playing field with most tinted moisturizers. Also, the adjustable sifter makes for travel-friendly packaging as it keeps the powder in place.

This has now become one of my holy grail staples. A big "thank you" to Ellie for introducing me to this awesome product!

February 22, 2013

Ferroro Rocher Stuffed Cookie Monsters


Last week was a busy one for my oven and I.

After Chinese New Year, my mother's birthday, and Valentines' Day, my boyfriend's birthday trails right after. With full work days followed by nights of eating out, I could barely find time to bake these! But what better excuse to bake the most decadent chocolatey treat than my sweetheart's birthday? Since my boyfriend loves Ferroro Rochers, I wanted to incorporate them into cupcakes. And after reading Bakerita's success with hers, I felt confident to give these a try.

Due to time constraints, I took a shortcut by using Betty Crocker's german chocolate cake mix for these. It's my go-to chocolate cake mix because it's not too sweet, but is perfectly moist. 

Ferroro Rocher stuffed cupcake recipe:
1 box of chocolate cake mix of choice
20 Ferroro Rocher chocolates

1. Prepare cake batter following the box instructions
2. Fill cupcake tins with batter till half full
3. Insert a Ferroro Rocher into each cupcake (it won't be fully submerged in the batter, but don't worry, the cupcakes will cover the Ferroro Rocher as they rise in the oven)
4. Bake as instructed by the cake mix box, or till an inserted toothpick comes out clean

The final product was a chocolatey, hazelnutty cupcake packed with textures and flavors. I'm not usually a fan of very chocolatey cakes but this one really is a winner for me.

sorry cookie monster, had to chop you in half!

My trusty buttercream frosting recipe:
1 cup butter (softened)
2.5 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

1. Whisk butter for a few minutes
2. Add powdered sugar and whisk on low till all blended
3. Add in the salt, milk and vanilla extract and beat till mixture is smooth

Months ago my boyfriend got really amused by a picture of Cookie Monster cupcakes online (lol), so I had taken down a mental note to try to replicate my own version of them for his birthday. For Cookie Monster's face, I added blue food coloring to my buttercream frosting. I then cut up marshmallows into halves as eyes, brown mini M&Ms as eyeballs, and half a Chips Ahoy cookie as the mouth. Halfway through garnishing, I ran out of brown M&Ms and so went with heart sprinkles as eyeballs instead (they're the same ones I used for my Valentines' Day chocolates). I loved how these turned out - they're crazy-in-love Cookie Monsters!





Happy Birthday my love!

February 19, 2013

A Bookworm's Wishlist: Positivity in Books


With the start of a new year, I've been trying to expand my choice of reading material beyond the usual chick flick romance novel. These 3 books top my non-fiction reading wishlist as they inspire and encourage in different ways.

Treasure Yourself by Miranda Kerr
Miranda Kerr is my favorite supermodel, I admire her gorgeousness but also her approach to healthy living. She was one of my first inspirations when it came to learning about nutrition and organic skincare. This national bestseller is her first book (she is working on a second one), and inspires healthy living in order to feel beautiful inside and out.

Listography books are not really reading material - they're more of categorized lists under a common theme for each book, which you fill in on your own. As a list-making fanatic this sounds almost too good to be true... why have I not known about these before? This specific Listography book inspires to take action and tick things off your bucket list. Get off that couch and make it happen!

20-Something, 20-Everything: A Quarter-life Woman's Guide to Balance and Direction by Christine Hassler
This book was written from personal experience, and inspires positivity and hopefulness in your 20s. It's great to have someone telling you that feeling lost even as an adult is okay.

Currently reading...
My bestie lent me her copy of "On Chesil Beach" recently, one of her recommendations from her favorite author Ian McEwan. So far so good, I like how this is a very dreamy and descriptive novel. I'm also finishing up "50 Shades Freed" (the last book of the oh-so-famous 50 Shades of Grey trilogy).

Please let me know if you have any good book recommendations :)



*****
P.S. Thank you for all your sweet comments and suggestions on my giveaway blog post, I've compiled all the GFC, Twitter and Blogger entries into Excel, and the winner generated by randomizer.org is:






Congratulations Gen from Onyx and Mick!
I will be e-mailing you to get your mailing address.

Thank you everyone for joining the giveaway, more to come in the near future :)



February 18, 2013

Organic Monday: Melvita Rose Floral Water


A few months ago I was given this generous sample size of the Melvita Rose Floral Water when I was in the store picking up my favorite Orange Blossom Extraordinary Water (reviewed here). 

The Rose Floral Water is one of Melvita's best selling products. The full size comes in a gorgeous old school glass bottle with a spray nozzle, which might be a bit of a hazard if you're a clutz like me actually. Not to be confused with a toner (toners restore the pH level of your skin), this floral water is an extra add-on to a skincare routine as a soother, refresher and astringent. This rose water is distilled from rosa damescena petals, making it an effective way to quickly hydrate thirsty skin. It's also suitable for sensitive skin, so I've been spraying this on without worry, even on days where my skin has been tempermental.

This floral water is not substantially doing much for my skin, but I find myself reaching for it a lot simply because it's so refreshing and so multi-purpose. I use this in the mornings before applying makeup, after makeup as a setting spray, mid-day as a refresher, and in the evening after I cleanse my face. I'm glad that I got this travel-friendly size, because this would also be great for the few long haul plane rides that I'll be taking soon.

If you're looking for a nice face mist, definitely consider Melvita's floral waters. They have a couple options in their range for different skin types (I really want to try the lavender one for combination skin too). These make a great treat for the skin - lovely light floral scent, refreshing cool sensation, and packed full of natural, organic ingredients. Plus for organic products, these are priced reasonably at USD$22 for 200ml.

And speaking of Organic Monday, I find this is a great mood lifter to beat the Monday blues. Spray spray spray, refreshed!



On an organic skincare kick like I am? Read about more of the products I've tried out here.

February 16, 2013

Cookie Dough Truffles and a Surprise


A big belated Happy Valentines Day! I hope you had a lovely day indulging yourself in chocolate and sugar like I did. The past few days have been a whirlwind of birthday celebrations, cupcake baking, and chocolate making for me. For Valentines, I transformed my boyfriend's favorite Chips Ahoy into truffles. They were easy to make (no baking required) and came out like cookie dough truffles. Yum!

My recipe-
Ingredients:
24 Chips Ahoy cookies
4 ounces of softened cream cheese (that's 1 stick)
plain milk chocolate or cocoa powder (to coat the truffles)

1. Place cookies in a sandwich bag and crush them till you get fine crumbs 
2. Add cookie crumbs and cream cheese into a large bowl. Using your fingertips, mix the crumbs and cream cheese together till you get a dough like consistency
3. Roll mixture into small balls, and chill for at least 1 hour
4. Roll in cocoa powder or dip in melted chocolate to coat

You can pretty much coat your truffles with anything - powdered sugar, chocolate sprinkles or cookie crumbs would work too. I added tiny hearts for Valentines Day but also tried sprinkling chopped peanuts on some, which turned out really yummy. These would be great to bring along to any lunch or dinner party as desserts - they will definitely impress your friends but yet are so simple to make. Just remember to keep them refrigerated till time to serve.




To finish off my Valentines chocolate gift box, I decorated a plain cardboard gift box using pink and red foam stickers. Easy, quick and cute :)




The tiny cupcakes were made with some extra cake batter I had from another baking project, which I will write about soon this week. I also ordered an engraved tie clip from this Etsy store for him, which arrived looking perfect. But I was not the only one who had surprises up my sleeve for Valentines' Day...

An iPad mini!!!!!!

My boyfriend got me this as a part Valentines, part promotion present. I've never owned an iPad before so I felt super excited as I tore open the wrapping paper at dinner. I love that he engraved it with a secret message on the back too... so sweet of him! I have big plans coming up that I can't wait to share with you all, so very soon this iPad mini will really come in handy.


Hello! :)

P.S. 1 more day to enter my giveaway, I can't wait to send these beautiful Asian beauty goodies to one of you!

February 13, 2013

Strawberries and Cream

A few nights ago at dinner my mom and I got into a heated discussion about our favorite desserts. What is a dessert that you'll never say "no" to? Not even if you were full, or sleepy, or grumpy. I had a hard time naming one particular dessert (lots of options don't make the cut when I'm too stuffed), until this baking endeavour reminded me of a long forgotten favorite that I really can never say "no" to. Nothing can replace my love for baking cupcakes, but I think these might come really, really close to being my favorite thing that I've ever baked... that's not a cupcake.

They're meringues. Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside meringue cookies.

Inspired by this adorable blog post, I decided to give meringues a go. I love meringues but never thought of making them myself. The recipe I went with is very simple - egg whites, sugar, and a pinch of salt. The hardest thing about the recipe? Waiting impatiently for the cookies to cool overnight in the oven.

After they're completely cooled, top with your favorite syrup, fruit and/or cream right before serving (or crush them up to make this beautiful mess). I went with strawberries and whipped cream, which turned out to not only be awfully cute, but also so, so good. The whipped cream balances out the sweetness of the meringue, and the strawberries add just the right amount of flavor and tartness. I'm so in love with this!






If you're planning to cook Valentines dinner for your sweetheart, this would be perfect as dessert. Or how about getting creative with these as an alternative to the usual Valentines' chocolate, or an alternative to the usual birthday cake? Also, how about throwing a fancy tea party with your girlfriends, serving these? Suddenly I'm feeling the urge to incorporate these cookies into just about everything.

I think it's time to throw a tea party.

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