Thursday, 31 October 2013

Favourite... Makeup Must Haves. (Skin-y Love part 2)

I've always loved skin care products but I've only developed an appreciation for makeup recently. A few years ago I had the most basic makeup kit (concealer, eyeliner and the odd shadow palette) for days when the straight-out-of-bed look is beyond unacceptable and the au naturelle face has to stay under a paper bag. But makeup was never really part of the shopping list - I only really bought and collected lipstick.

I did try over the years; I bought stuff, testing them at home aided by tutorials off the internet (those girls make it look so easy!) but only using them once or twice (or never) until they are forgotten beyond shelf life. So I never really bothered anymore until last year. I had my wisdom tooth taken out three days before a friend's wedding and no amount of anti inflammatory drug could have toned the growing Mt Vesuvius on my face. My friend C suggested we curl my hair to hide the crazy bump on my cheek and to apply make-up for 'shaping' and 'contouring'. Eh?! This sounds like liposuction!!!!! I was a bit lost but she waved her magic wand brushes and a few minutes later my face looked so normal I couldn't see the bump at all. There can be miracles when you have makeup indeed.

Here are my favourites of the basics.

1. Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream in Light Medium - I like that it's technically a tinted moisturiser so it does more wonders than its cosmetic purposes. It gives light to medium coverage which I like because it doesn't make my face look cakey. The texture is velvety smooth and it sets perfectly giving the skin a really even tone and a super warm glow!  
2. Benefit Hello Flawless Powder Cover Up in What I Crave - I only really use this powder for touch ups. That said, it's does give a pretty good job especially when I'm off somewhere post work. It sets nicely and doesn't really give you that cakey/espasol face.
3. Laura Mercier Moisture Supreme Foundation in Vanilla Beige - This probably gives the most coverage of the three. The texture is thicker so it takes a bit more time to blend. I really love this colour and I love wearing this in the winter as it keeps my skin moisturised without making it oily!

4. Bobbi Brown Concealer Duo in Natural Tan and Pale Yellow - my daytime concealer, which is one of the best concealers I've tried. The setting powder is a good cover up for creases too! 
5. Bobbi Brown Corrector in Medium to Dark Bisque - works as an excellent base for concealers and an excellent cover up for blemishes and lone spots!
6. MAC Pro-Longwear Concealer in NW25 - discovered this when I was running late into a meeting. Grabbed this off the nearest shop and became my other daytime concealer, which I use when I'm rushing. I don't have to use the corrector with this. It's smooth to apply but has a slight thicker feel when it sets. 
7. YSL Touche Eclat in 02 - my night time concealer/highlighter and also my saving grace. I keep this in my bag all the time because it's such a great touch-me-up, make-me-over tool.
8. Benefit Bad Gal Liner - possibly my most dependable pencil liner. This one takes the cake for easiest and quickest application. I love how this can doll up my eyes in seconds!
9. Stila Stay All Day Volumizing Mascara - a friend once messaged me where I got my lashes from and it puzzled me as I don't wear falsies. I realised it was this new mascara I'm using. I like the effects but I wish they have a better brush for it. 
10. MAC Brow Set in Show Off - because my black brows looked strange after having my hair coloured, I had to buy something for the brows. It's my first ever brow colour thingy and it does the job indeed. 

Urban Decay Naked 2
11. Urban Decay Naked 2 - I bought copious amounts of eye shadow pots and sets over the years but I never got around to really using them. This is the first eye shadow palette I got super excited about and I knew I was going to use on a more regular basis.

I love the colours. Admittedly, the palette is a much cooler part of the spectrum than the first Naked palette but it's still absolutely versatile and wearable all year out.

I have no shame in saying this took a few hundred YouTube tutorials to make. Haha!
But I love how natural this looks.

MAC Lipstick
15. MAC Lip Stuff - I'm not quite keen on MAC stuff but I really like their lip gunk. I have a few more sticks lying around, but these are the ones I use during the work week. I'll post all of them one of these days.

Without flash:
MAC Lipstick
The Usual Suspects: Cherish (Satin), Mocha (Satin), Pink Nouveau (Satin), Good to Go (Pro Longwear Lip Creme), Russian Red x 2 (Matte), Ruby Woo (Matte), Lip Pencils in Brick, Hover and Magenta.

16. Clinique Powder Blush in Smouldering Plum - the night blush. It's very pigmented so you only really need a few strokes of this. I love this for contouring purposes. The smouldering effect is really apparent.
17. Nars Blush in Orgasm - this universal blusher is the first makeup product I've ever hunted and is possibly my ultimate favourite thing in my makeup kit. Nothing makes me feel all girly than a few brushes of this on my cheeks. It looks awesome on all skin tones too. 
18. Benefit Cheek Powder Coralista - I ran out of Orgasm once (HAHAHA! no pun intended) and had an event to attend so I ended up buying this. It's not as shimmery but the colour is sweet and lighter. The effect still makes you feel like a day in the tropics.

I blush.

There you have it, my favourite make-up basics. What's in your makeup kit? =)

Friday, 25 October 2013

Flashback Friday in four tunes

Pausing on the favourites because 1) I can't sleep, 2) I'm in the mood for something old, 3) these tunes are just way too apt especially the last track.

The Smiths - Asleep
Something to calm you down a little bit.

Def Leppard - When Love & Hate Collide
Don't hate the cheesy glam rock and no, no judging. You know the lyrics by heart too.

Erasure - A Little Respect
aka what Wheatus came out with after Teenage Dirtbag.
aka what Erasure should've released before Always

Depeche Mode - Somebody
aka the 80's version of John Mayer's Love Song For No One.
I can't find any other decent video for this tune but anyway... BOOM.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Favourite... season: Fall!

I love Fall for a few good reasons:

The Birthdays! I can't believe every single day on my calendar has a reminder for friends' birthdays from September til November. There's a lot of good vibes and celebrations all around the world. My birth month falls in this quarter too ;)

The Food! There's a lot of good stuff in season: parsnips and sweet potatoes you can roast and drizzle with honey; figs and berries you can make good crumble and tarts with; beetroot, pumpkin and squash you can turn into soup; really good lamb you can prep for Sunday roast, served of course with balls of stuffing made of chestnuts and swede. It's a really good season to pack extra insulation for the upcoming winter ;)

The Colours! London is gorgeous during fall. The changing colour of leaves around the parks and in the city makes everything quite atmospheric, setting picturesque scenes for proposals and pre-nup photos. That said, if you step away from the typical oranges, reds and browns there are also heaps of deep plums and mustard yellows, rich emeralds and peacocks, striking cobalts and fuschia (in purple and pink!) all around.

The Weather! It's typical of people to say that UK weather is menopausal and moody but I've actually learned to love Fall weather more than Summer because it's been consistently pleasant for the past seven years. The sun seems to shine most of the time and it breaks the crispness of the air. Walking around town or having meetings al fresco actually becomes more enjoyable than laborious.

The Style! Don't you just hate it when you don't know how to dress up for a day because the weather is unpredictable? I remember putting on a airy dress last summer when it was predicted to be a hot day with clear skies only to buy tights, a blazer and an umbrella in the arvo because it poured. I like that Fall kicks off layering season because you're guaranteed to dress appropriately. There's a huge selection of blazers, trenches, cardis and jumpers floating about that can keep you warm, even if you fancied wearing something less warm underneath.

Fall Favourites by thegirlnextshore

I've posted this set before, but I'm reposting, because I need to inject more colour in my wardrobe yet again. =) 

Jumpers Sept 12 by thegirlnextshore 

What's your favourite season? =)

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Favourite.... boy: Plaid Boy is my one true "X"

Earlier this week, a friend asked me how I deal with the distance. The LDR equation is far more complex than "Love > Distance". I think the world's evolved eons from that. It's fair to enumerate love, trust and communication as the constants but really and truly, you just have to find your "X". This is the X that gives you faith in your ability to work things out. The X that makes everything worth working for. The X that makes everything constantly real. 

Statistically speaking finding this X was almost impossible - he was enjoying his last year in New York with his Columbia crew, I was happily dating in London. During those rare times we 'hung out' since university, I thought he was one of those people whose purpose in my life was to fill the space in the space you fill a void with: a mere acquaintance and nothing more than a friend's friend. 

A random drunken night led to a semi-conscious quasi-cry for help which, albeit subdued and emotionally cheesy, he heard. Ten words started everything. "Let me know if I can do anything for you."

I didn't think much of it until one day I went off sick with the worst kind of flu one can imagine. Few days later, I received a box of pot noodles. "It's for your fever," he said. I don't actually eat pot noodles, but I thanked him anyway. Another couple of days later, I received a box of fresh orange juice. I still didn't think much of it, but I felt heaps better despite feeling rubbish and ill.

He became a constant variable in my life. He was there and then he wasn't and then he was there again. We sent each other stuff, kept each other company albeit in distance. Something was starting to look probable. But then one night in Puerto Rico he told me he loved me. He sounded drunk. I was pissed off. Then he came to London to make ligaw. We were clearly doing things by trial and error.

So how exactly did I know he was the "X"? 

After almost six weeks in London, we've agreed to work on this together. We were in Heathrow and he was about to go past security. We said our goodbyes and I advanced toward the queues for cabs with a brave face. I've always been good at the love you then leave you part anyway: no unnecessary looking back nonsense nor heartbreaking last waves. But then I had the strangest urge to see him again and it took all strength to not turn around in the first few yards. I walked further and farther but doing so felt like walking into an infinite loop. I felt stupidly like a newly rehabilitated addict searching for the easiest way to score. I said a quick prayer and caved. There he was, queuing for security checks, smiling at me. My heart skipped ten million beats then (the same way it does now in the first instance I see him, in person or online) and that's when I knew. 

He is my X. He'll always be my X.

26000+ messages (believe it!), thousands of air miles, over a hundred Skype dates, a handful of letters and.
Love. Trust. Communication. Faith.
None of that would've worked if you were not part of the equation. (Thank You Lord!)
Happy 29th, Plaid Boy.
Cheers to the best of years to come. I love you.

Enjoy your day. =)

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Favourite... sweet treat: the macaron

You can never beat French desserts and pastries. I have a slight repugnance to cream, but when it comes to French desserts my inner Marie Antoinette takes over. Sweep me off to Paris/Lausanne and you'd see me outside my favourite patisserie/boulangerie sipping strong black coffee and chowing a trio of desserts, a carry out bag of custard cream-filled sugar-coated bread by my side. It may be impossible, but I reckon I can live off hazelnut dacquoise, millefeuille, chocolate soufflés and eclairs.

But don't forget the macarons. No, no, not the macarons. I can never tire of these lush sweets.

Last summer, a friend introduced me to Petit Sarap, a macaron business started by Filipinas Jerica and Sherry in London. I got intrigued and excited. Maybe I get to have a croquembouche in this lifetime after all!

Petit Sarap is a business which stemmed out of a hobby. When long-time baker Jerica ventured on to making macarons she enjoyed them so much she got her friend Sherry into the hobby as well. Their friends thought the macarons were fantastic, and that's when the light bulb switched on. J&S thought this was an opportunity to introduce some Filipino flavours into the British dessert scene. They started the business early this year. The girls do most things together but as with all partnerships they each have a role to play; J focuses on the creative side, ie quality control and packaging whilst S focuses more on the marketing and business side.

Jerica & Sherry (photo from Sherry)
The name 'Petit Sarap' is exactly what the business is all about: it's the perfect marriage between Filo and French delicacies enveloped in those tiny bites of delectable munchies. (J's husband came up with the name: 'Sarap', which translates to 'delicious' in Tagalog, was one of the few Filo words he knew.) They have really a mix of good Filo and classic flavours, including yema (my favourite), ube, salted caramel, berries and their favourite to make, pistachio. The girls meticulously experiment with different flavours, trying and testing which ones would go well with their market. Of course, their husbands have been more than happy to head the taste testing panel!

Petit Sarap pistachio macaron + Bubbleology boba tea
With their bigger and more famous competitors lurking in the macaron market, J&S are simply enjoying the time they have now for baking these sweet little treats. Humble as they are, they try not to get their heads too far into the future even as their customer base expands through word of mouth and the social networks. They do however have dreams for Petit Sarap: the girls are looking into bringing out other baked goods such as cupcakes and customised cakes. A little corner patisserie in London is a dream too!

Can you imagine how awesome it would it be, to be able to walk into a Filipino-inspired bakery in Londontown? It's an exciting prospect as it means having an outlet to educate people about Filo flavours and putting our cuisine into the culinary map. I do hope this dream materialises sooner for the girls.
Love the yema macaron!
These treats are really delicious - the biscuit has a light crunch and chew and the filling is always spot on the flavour. *salivates*

If you want to learn more about Petit Sarap and how to order, you can visit their Facebook page here.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Shacktober Fest at Shake Shack Covent Garden!

There's another reason to love this month, and you don't have to be in Munich for it.

Shake Shack Covent Garden celebrates Oktoberfest with its 10-day "Shacktoberfest" menu featuring brats, biers, and other Bavarian-inspired munchies!

I really, really wanted a burger but also fancied a classic currywurst. Luckily, the Brat Burger (£8) comes with both burger patty and bratwurst.

It doesn't look like the usual Shake Shack cheeseburger; the patty doesn't come topped with melted cheese and the holy trinity of burger toppings (onion, lettuce and tomato) unless you ask for it. BUT! Carnivores would have a hoot with the Emmental stuffed bratwurst, crispy battered shallot rings and ShackSauce.

The Emmental bratwurst adds a really nice flavour to the burger and I'm sure you'd enjoy watching the cheese oozing out of the sausage (no puns here). I almost do not miss the cheese topped patty because it was that good. The crispy shallots add a nice texture dimension too and I swear for a second I thought I was eating bacon bits!

Of course if you really miss the cheese, you can always opt for the cheese fries (£3.50)

And make sure to bring your buddies. Oktoberfest, like everything at the Shack, is best enjoyed with mates.

The Shacktoberfest menu lasts til Sunday, 14th October. Go head down the market and grab yourself some nice wursts and bier! =)

Shake Shack on Urbanspoon
Shake Shack London
24 Market Place, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8RD
Follow them on Instagram! Like them on Facebook!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Favourite... People who inspire: The Lovely Laurels

Have you ever met a couple who just makes you believe in all sorts of happy endings?

I met The Lovely Laurels in UP. They're a few years younger but G/Man, I think, has the makings of a really good leader and G/Lady is full of wisdom beyond her years. Both of them shine brightly in their own individual light but together they're just really spectacular. The integrity of their relationship is admirable - they've been together 12 years - married for almost two - and they're honestly one of my Top 3 favourite inspirational couples of all time.

Last year, they went to the UK for a holiday and we met up for a quick pint and bubbly to celebrate their visit. We swapped a few stories about what's gone in our lives since the last time I saw them (Gab's surprise birthday in 2006 - we all cramped in a toilet in his house to hide). It was a short and sweet pint, but their parting words were quite instrumental to the year that rolled by. They told me to "take a leap of faith" and though I've heard the phrase a million times before, I never really believed in the possibilities that came with until I heard it from them.

The lovely Laurels are back in the UK, this time for a whole year as G/Man's doing his MBA in Cambridge. I met up with the couple for a catch up dinner and as usual, I’ve learned more than I could chew (and at Shoryu, there's a lot of ramen to chew!)
  • It's okay to have bad moments... because you get to laugh about them in the end.
    Like any normal couple, the lovely Laurels actually have, er, moments. I can't imagine them fighting because"you guys make it seem soooo easy, you're always laughing and seemingly loving towards each other!" That's because they choose their battles and when the going gets tough they try to make each other laugh. It's okay to bicker and to have fights. It's okay to have space - but never give your partner too much space they'll forget you're there. Lay off pride and never let it chip your love.
  • Compliment and, more importantly, complement.
    Shower your partner with praises but also bathe your partner in support. In an ideal world both of you are superstars sharing equal space under the spotlight. In a real marriage, this isn't always the case. Sometimes, you have to give way when the other person's star has to shine. Letting your partner flourish doesn't mean you're compromising your own success nor letting your shine dull. You're simply supporting your partner in the most selfless way (which is probably the best compliment ever).
  • Work on the basic foundation of your marriage.
    When you marry someone there's a lot to figure out and work on ie financial investments, residential settlement, how to raise your children etc. But for these things to fall into place nicely, you have to work on the basic foundation of your marriage first: you and your partner. A marriage isn't something you can wing. You have to learn how to communicate and to compromise because you should never compensate. Remember that when you commit yourself into marriage, you also commit into becoming the best version of you so you can be the best husband/wife to your partner.
  • Flowers can be expensive, like most things you don't really need.
    It's inevitable. Yikes. But I'm not even into flowers!
    The lesson to learn here though, is that if you can find joy and contentment in being married to the love of your life, then you probably have what you need right there. Scrape through the superficial and keep things simple. Expensive pressies do not make a happy marriage. ;)  
I could go on about the stuff I learned from this young couple but I'd probably run out of space. These two are indeed brilliant gems of their generation. I hope we all get to catch a bit of their shine.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Favourite... Lunch Spot: Palm Court Brasserie

Working in Covent Garden is quite a treat as it's my little spot of Europe in this city. It's definitely one of London's prettiest areas with its offering of high street and designer stores, independent boutiques and market stalls, artsyfartsy buildings and eclectic shops. The piazza is a spectacular space with cobblestone steps and eclectic street performers; the backyard at St Paul's church (aka Actors Church) is a peaceful place to have a takeaway lunch al fresco especially during the summer; and the surrounding options for musicals, plays, opera and ballet are definitely worthy of all five stars. 

There are also pretty decent places to eat if you're feeling peckish.

One of my favourite go-to places for lunch, when I actually have time, is a restaurant called Palm Court Brasserie. They serve classic French food (my favourite) of very, very, very reasonable value.

I almost always order the same thing here: the grilled sea bass (14.95). The fish is always cooked to perfection - flaky and very light, seasoned correctly. The pesto dressing is delicious and you get just enough of this to make the side of French beans, olives and cherry tomatoes sing. This is such a healthy lunch and if I weren't spoilt for choice, I'd gladly eat this everyday. =)

If I have more time (not always) and belly space (always) to spare I'd also get my favourite side. PCB's petit pois ala Francaise (£3.5) is possibly, and surprisingly, one of the yummiest sides I've had. This humble side of peas is not to be dismissed because it's so hearty. The sweetness of the peas and sharpness of those baby onions marry well in that deliciously silky butter sauce. I'd gladly have a serving of this on its own on a Meatless Monday.

I sometimes get a hearty serving of seafood linguine (£14.95) when I need comfort food and can't be bothered to walk all the way to Regent Street for ramen. The bowl is always generous with nicely cooked fruits de mer and the sauce is garlicky with the slightest hint of spice. I've had better versions of this in Italian restaurants, but I really can't complain much about PCB's as it's decent enough and it's close to work.

Sure, there are better French restaurants. Sure, there are cheaper restaurants. But this place is my reliable little spot of Paris in my little spot of Europe in town. It always reminds me why I love both cities - from the French cinema posters donning the walls to quality French bistro food that's right on the money; from the polite and friendly British service to its stunning London location. I love Paris, I love London. They're not home, home. But the warm fuzzy feeling I get here takes me close.

Definitely my favourite lunch spot. Definitely better than a desk sandwich lunch.

Palm Court Brasserie
39 King St, London WC2E 8JS | 020 7240 2939
Ave spend pp: £25 

Square Meal

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Favourite... Six (+1) tracks for October 2013

I may have promised to write about my favourite tracks of all time but never really got around to it. So, as I'm supposed to be blogging about favourites, this playlist is composed of the six tracks I can't live without! =)
Dave Matthews Band - Crash Into Me
Seriously and genuinely my favourite song of all time.
I don't think there's any other song that makes me feel the way I do each time I hear this track.

U2 - With or Without You
from Jens E. on Vimeo
I was rummaging through my cousin's cassette tape collection, in search of serious old love songs, when I chanced on U2's The Joshua Tree. The album is one of the band's finest but this was the only track that clung to me with such profundity. I've imagined this in the soundtrack of my life and I once wrote:
The Right One will sing this to me, making me feel a million times luckier than the girl Bono handpicked and sang to because even if he can’t sing like a million quid I know that he will mean every word, and that out of the six billion people in the world he will always, always choose me.
How apt. I found the right one, and he can't sing.

Radiohead - High and Dry
from gustavo gonzalez on Vimeo.
If there was a song that precisely defined a wee chunk of my teenage years, this would be it. Long before manliner streaked and emopunk bands came to scene, this song painted the mood. It spoke volumes on how I used to see life which was "Always, almost. Almost always." It also kind of saved me though. It was pretty instrumental in making that huge decision of coming to the UK.

Third Eye Blind - Semi-Charmed Life
This song reminds me of high school where my friends and I witnessed and lived through the first few punches of life. It never fails to elevate my mood, reminding me how easy it is to build dreams when you grasp optimism and embrace your potential. "I believe in the faith that grows." Oh yes. And those four right chords can still make me cry. In a very good way.

Nitin Sawhney - Immigrant
Best stress-release song in the world. I deal with stress and anger intimately because confrontation is not my cup of tea. So I have an imaginary record player in my head with this track on, waiting to be played when the need calls for it. Takes me back to all the calming spots I know: down the beach, my parents' home, in the arms of the ones I love.

Van Morrison - Sweet Thing
from S E Hall on Vimeo
My dad used to play old songs during road trips and I remember hoarding batteries so I can listen to my own walkman and not be exposed to his preferred tunes. One time, I ran out of batteries and had to sit eight hours on the road without a choice. I remember hearing this song, not understanding Van Morrison's growl and only really hearing the words "I will never grow so old again."

And because this almost, almost, almost made Top 6... I'm adding it too.

  Madonna - What It Feels Like For A Girl
Those spoken words, taken from that film adaptation of Ian McEwan's The Cement Garden (one of the few novels that really made me cringe), resonate to me. Every now and again friends and colleagues would tell me "You're such a boy!" because I have low EQ. What they don't know is that I'm really a girl! Haha. I have feelings too albeit abnormal. No seriously. If you boys only knew what it really feels like to be a girl, I reckon it would definitely be a better world.

What are your favourites? =)

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Favourite... Instagram Videos!

Hello October, I've missed you so much! As you're my favourite month (coincidentally my birthday month), I am going to blog about a few favourite things starting today.

What's your favourite social media platform? Mine's got to be Instagram - I like how it can be a bit more intimate than Facebook but I also like how hashtag overkill can send you off to discover new creative, artsyfartsy, and sometimes inspirational minds. I like how people play with their photos beyond #foodporn and #ootd shots, #selfies, and filters. When they launched the 15-second video functionality I was a bit reluctant but as I my friends started posting supercool, funny and heart-warming videos I was quite pleased to have it the option.

I mean, how could I have shared with yous how ridiculously amusing the thoughtful Plaid Boy is?

Or how cute my little sister is?

Check out some of my favourite videos from friends and people I follow.
(This would've been a longer post, but I can't post videos from private profiles!)

This supercute panda jam donut on its last breath and this stop-motion peso movement.

These parents teaching their kids eating with utensils and dating 101.

Sketches from illustrators I like.

Front row views and snippets from fashion week

Trippy jellyfish and my favourite animal of all time.

Drunken confessionals (poor Loubs) and oysters!

Do you have Instagram? What are your favourite videos? =)