Singapore Flavours – Cendol Cupcakes

Cendol is one of the most often eaten local dessert in Singapore. It’s a simple dessert consisting of a lot of shaved ice, coconut milk, red beans, cendol (green, jelly-like thing) and gula melaka (palm sugar). When I decided to make cendol cupcakes, I decided to go with a coconut cupcake with red beans and gula melaka buttercream, topped with cendol and kidney beans (just because kidney beans look visually prettier compared to red beans). In an ideal world, I would have made my own cendol, buuuut, buying a packet was much easier. More

A Sneaky Sephora Purchase

May have bought more make up stuff, which, after my Japan trip, might seem a little excessive, but I did have a 10% Sephora voucher that was expiring soon. That justifies it, doesn’t it?

In any case, I’ve been looking to try out another foundation and there has been a lot of new foundation that has hit the market. I was wavering between the NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation and the Make Up Forever Ultra HD Foundation, but eventually went with the NARS foundation. I got it in the shade Fiji, which has a yellow base. On the bottle, it says to shake well and you really do, because it is incredibly liquid (which makes a bit of a mess when you pump it out). Tried it out for the first time yesterday and couldn’t dot it on my face like I usually do, the best way, I suspect, would be to pump it on the back of your hand, dip your brush in and dab on your face. It is rather dewy, probably a little more dewy that I need, but setting it with powder and blotting when it’s excessively shiny will help. Not too sure how I feel about it yet, but I’ll continue trying it out.

And because I didn’t manage to get another NARS Audacious Lipstick Lipstick while at the airport, because I was at a different terminal, I picked another one up at Sephora. This time, I went for Natalie, which is a very pretty pink with a hit of coral and is very flattering with my fair skin. I still think that it is ultra moisturising and makes my mostly dry lips look luscious.

Lastly (see I didn’t buy much ^_^), I got the Benefit they’re Real! push-up liner in Beyond Purple. I was initially skeptical about these liners because it just seems so gimmicky and I pretty much refused to get the original in black. Then I saw the gorgeous new coloured liners and the purple was screaming my name. It’s dark enough that it can be worn without shocking someone at my workplace but yet just makes it more interesting to me. I’m still on the fence about this. The nib does make drawing a wing a little easier, but I’m having a bit of a difficulty keeping the line thin towards the inner corner of my eye. Plus point? It is certainly long-wearing. Did a swatch and when I went to take a shower, even with some scrubbing, it stayed on till i scrubbed it some more with some Bioderma.

For spending above $100, I got a spin-the-wheel ticket, boasting prizes like hotel stays, travel vouchers, shopping discounts, etc. What did I get? Better luck next time! Yay. I did get a travel-size Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask out of the Sephora vending machine, so I guess that was something. This campaign lasts till 5 August 2015.

My Little Hari Raya Puasa Meal

L-R: Sayur Lodeh, Chicken Rendang, Sambal Telur

L-R: Sayur Lodeh, Chicken Rendang, Sambal Telur

It is the Hari Raya Puasa weekend and I thought, “why not make some Sayur Lodeh, Chicken Rendang and Sambal Telur from scratch?” Here in Singapore, these are some of the dishes you’d find in a Malay home during this time. Off I went grocery shopping and failing to find galangal and fresh turmeric, but I figured I’d just add more ginger…yes, I know ginger’s not a good substitute for galangal, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Not that desperate, but you know what I mean. I did also stand in front of the display for ketuput for quite a while trying to decide if I really needed to go that route, but I decided to make things easy for myself and just stick to rice.

All in all, I slaved away in the kitchen for slightly more than 3 hours, but I’m pretty pleased with the results. Despite the lack of some ingredients, the dishes still tasted pretty authentic and I got a thumbs up from my dad, so that’s always a win.

Sayur Lodeh is a light vegetable curry that is always found in any Malay food stall and when you add ketuput (boiled, cubed rice), you get Longtong, which is an awesome breakfast dish. Rendang typically is made with mutton or beef, but because we try not to eat beef at home, I went for the chicken version. If you can’t really take spicy food, either substitute the bird’s eye chilli with the normal big ones or remove the seeds from the chilli. Sorted Food has a pretty good version of Beef Rendang (pronounced with an “ah”, rather than “a”, btw) that you could check out. Sambal Telur is basically boiled egg in sambal, which is one of my absolute favourites! It’s spicy, it’s savoury, perfect with a plate of rice. Some people like to fry their boiled egg, but I prefer it just boiled.

Word of advice, as clumsy as it gets, wearing gloves is good because it prevents chilli burns and turmeric stains on your nails. There is a lot of chilli chopping involved in these dishes. I’m going to end this and try and get the stains out of my fingers!

Japan Beauty Haul

If you love beauty products, Japan is one of those shopping havens and Matsumoto Kiyoshi is one of the best places to shop at. It is a drugstore that can be found in many places in Japan and stocks major Japanese brands like DHC, Kanebo, Kose and so on. Tip – shop at the outlet in Shibuya, just opposite of the station at the Hachiko exit, they provide a tax-free service. Just remember to bring your passport with you.

Japan is lash haven, and you’ll be able to find all kinds of lashes and all kinds of price points, their skincare is really good too and more affordable than buying out of Japan. However, I was really good this time round and mostly only bought stuff that I needed to replenish.

IMG_0499My main aim was to stock up on the K-Palette 24-Hour Tattoo liquid eyeliners in Super Black. I love this stuff and it’s one of the best liquid liners I’ve ever used. It stays on my oily eyelids without priming and doesn’t smudge nor wear off, even through exercise sessions. I can find it in Singapore, but it’s definitely cheaper in Japan, so I bought 3.

IMG_0511The last time I was in Japan, I bought the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil (way cheaper than in Singapore) and liked it. While I don’t feel like it does anything really fantastic, it does remove my makeup pretty well and it doesn’t break me out, but I refuse to pay the price for it in Singapore. So when I saw this limited edition Disney princess version with 2 of my favourite princesses, Ariel and Belle, I couldn’t resist. So freaking cute!

Also for replenishing was the Kanebo Suisai Beauty Clear Powder, which is a really good cleanser, my skin feels really clean but without that tight feeling. But mainly, I like it for travelling, because it means that I can dump a couple of pods into my bag and not bother about leakages and bulky cleansers.

IMG_0504What was new to me were the K-Palette 1-Day Tattoo Essence in Shadowliner (I know, what a name right?). It’s a eyeliner on 1 end and a shadow on the other. I figured if I hated the shadow, I can at least use the liner, since I already know I love the tattoo liners. But it turns out that the shadow, which I got in brown, is really pretty. It’s a medium brown with multi-coloured flecks and swatches really nice and buttery. Edit: I tried this on today and I lurve it! It’s easy to blend and it stays on my eyelids without turning into a blotchy mess at the end of the day. Something that happens with a lot of eyeshadows even with primer on.

I got the Rimmel Speedy Finish nail polishes because I needed them and we can’t get Rimmel in Singapore anymore. Loved the dark blue in 905, hate hate the baby blue in 906. It frustrates me when 2 nail polishes in the same line can perform so drastically differently. The dark blue went on smoothly but the baby blue was streaky and it was still visibly streaky after 3 coats. Removed it after a day because I couldn’t stand it anymore.

So that was my beauty shopping in Tokyo this time round, not a lot at all and all things which I’ll actually use (with the exception of that dratted Rimmel polish) *pat myself on the back*

Travelling Japan – Hotel Francs (Makuhari, Chiba)

I really have no idea how useful this will be, considering tourists hardly go to the Makuhari area unless they’re going to the convention centre or on a business trip, but I really did like Hotel Francs, so I have to talk about it. It is about a 5-10 minute walk from Makuhari Messe, which is a exhibition, convention centre where they also hold concerts, which was what I was in the area for. Seems that they’re holding the Tokyo leg of Summer Sonic 2015 at Makuhari Messe too, so consider Hotel Francs if you need to be in the area.

I got the Executive Room purely because it was the only option left, there are cheaper options, but I really don’t regret the money spent on the room at all. It is a very charming place, not the newest, but charming nonetheless. The room was amazing, totally for ladies, because it has wall paper with floral prints, the curtains have flower petals sewn on to it and everything was in shades of dusky pink (I think there are rooms with other decor as well, because I recall reading about a blue room, so no worries for the men). Yes, it’s totally sexist, but the room’s so pretty, I don’t really care.

IMG_7461For their welcome gesture, there was a rose placed on the bed and fruits on the table, how sweet is that? For a room in Japan, the Executive Room was really spacious, a queen-sized bed, a table with 2 chairs, 2 bedside tables, a fridge area, a wardrobe, and a bathroom with a full-sized tub. I even had space to chill in front of the bed with my luggage open. That’s big.

View from Hotel Francs, Makuhari, TokyoThe view from the room is amazing, it overlooks the ocean and even though the first couple of days were a little cloudy, it was still nice to look out and see the ocean. The staff were really friendly and even though they may not speak the best English, they really did try to help me the best they could.

Food-wise, the hotel does have a restaurant and a bar, but I never did get the opportunity to try it out, although they were running an offer for free-flow alcohol for 1000 yen for hotel guests, bargain. Otherwise, food can be found 5 minutes away behind the hotel or at AION, which is about a 10-15-minute walk away, next to Makuhari Messe. If shopping is what you want to do, there’s an outlet mall just behind the hotel.

The Kaihinmakuhari Station is less than 10 minutes from the hotel so it’s very convenient. If you’re coming from Narita Airport, take the Keisei Limousine Bus and it’ll drop you at Hotel Francs. Tickets for the bus can be bought at the Keisei counter at the arrival hall. Just let the staff know that you’re going to Hotel Francs and they’ll make sure you are dropped off at the correct place.

I really did enjoy my 3-night stay there and the only cons I can think of is that the water can be hotter, by the time I filled the tub, the water was only warm. Also, more English channels! Even BBC world had long portions where it was dubbed over.  They also have a very strict late check-out policy and I had to pay an extra 3000 yen for a 2-hour extension. Other than that, I really couldn’t ask for a better hotel stay.

Hotel Francs
2-10-2 Hibino, Mihama-ku, Chiba-shi, Chiba 261-0021
Tel: 043-296-2111, Fax: 043-296-2120

Travelling Japan – Mobile Wifi aka Mifi

IMG_0358_editI don’t have to be constantly connected, but well, it does make things way easier, so when I travel, I like to rent a mobile wifi unit rather than have to depend on public wifi or Starbucks. Mifi are mobile routers that you connect your devices to via wifi, so you pop the unit in your bag and you’re good to go anywhere.When it comes to Japan, there are several companies from which to rent mobile wifi from, but I’ve personally used Japan Wireless twice and I’m very happy with the service and price. I did my homework the last time I was in Japan and decided to go with Japan Wireless and I didn’t even have to consider anything else this time round.

Japan Wireless offers 3 Mifi options, with different download/upload speeds, most would just need the basic package, but I like unlimited access with no restrictions, so I go for the slightly pricier option, but I still think it’s pretty affordable for the convenience. They also have a prepaid SIM option, but anyone with an iPhone will know, getting the SIM card out of the phone is a bitch and I refuse to go through the pain (I love my iPhone, I really do). Besides, changing out my SIM card means that I won’t be able to receive any calls from home.

The Feels – Lunatic Fest Day 1

IMG_7519[1]Lunatic Fest Day 1 at Makuhari Messe, Tokyo, was an unexpectedly emotional day for me. It wasn’t my first Luna Sea live and so I wasn’t expecting to burst into tears. But when X Japan started their performance, my tears kept falling and didn’t stop till the end of Luna Sea’s act.

I was introduced to Japanese Rock (J Rock) through X Japan, and even though Luna Sea was the band that cemented my love for J Rock, X Japan will always have a special place in my heart. Listening to their music on loud helped drown the pain that I was in during a particularly trying time of my life and I sought refuge in the music of Luna Sea and X Japan.

I never did imagine that I’d have the opportunity to watch X Japan live, since by the time I got into them, HIDE (lead guitar) had passed away and X Japan was no more. So, to stand there in the live hall , listening to Yoshiki on the drums and piano, and seeing him in tears as he talked, I broke and man, all the feels. When they showed the tribute messages for HIDE and Taiji (ex-bassist) during We’re X, I cried even more.

IMG_7515[1]I suppose Day 1 of Lunatic Fest was not only emotional for me, but for many of the performing bands as well. Many were Luna Sea’s senpai (seniors), like X Japan, Tokyo Yankees, and Ladies Room and this seemed to be some sort of reunion for them to perform on the same stage. It was really reminiscent of the Extasy Summits that X Japan used to organise back when Luna Sea was just starting out.

There were also tributes to HIDE (of course, as no HIDE, no Luna Sea); Luna Sea did a rendition of Pink Spider, the tribute message and HIDE’s voice during We’re X, and Yoshiki brought HIDE’s heart guitar and played it when all the bands were on stage to perform Luna Sea’s Precious together. Yoshiki added that this way, it’s like HIDE’s with them today :~( That performance of Precious was awesome and like a blast from the past to Extasy Summits. It was also pretty funny seeing Luna Sea being all subservient in front of all their senpai.

There are so many things that I can say about Lunatic Fest Day 1, but I think I want to keep it personal here. All I shall say is that Luna Sea throws an awesome party. I shall end here as I sit soaking my aching feet which stood for almost 12 hours today and with tears in my ears as I think back on tonight.

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