Estee Lauder Perfect Duo

I don’t know much about perfection.

What I do know is that the closest thing I’ve felt to perfection in this world is when you’re completely in love with someone, and he, with you. That no matter what happens, you know you’ve got each others’ backs. That is the most reassuring feeling in the world. So a lot of you have probably heard this story before, but for those who don’t know, you’re about to find out how I met my boyfriend, 5 long years ago!

I was 17 years old, lonely and rather aimless in life, searching for things to fill my time with everyday. Thanks to my friends’ influence in school, I picked up a first person shooter game called Left 4 Dead. I was looking for someone to play the game with online, when I came across this person named DaNang. I didn’t think much of him, to me, he was like any other player in the virtual world: just another pixel. We played a couple of games together, and from there on, we started chatting more frequently because I thought he was nice enough and had a good sense of humor.

We were both not particularly good at the game either, so it was fun having someone else to figure out the game by your side. Our conversations in game eventually turned to Skype calls, where I saw him on camera for the first time! We talked online everyday for a few months, before he suddenly surprised me with the suggestion that he would like to make a trip to Singapore to visit me. He’s an Australian (but Vietnamese in ethnicity) and had been living in Melbourne all his life. Both taken aback and terribly excited by this idea, I told him I couldn’t wait to see him in person. For the next few weeks and days, I couldn’t keep these thoughts out of my head: What if I don’t like him in person? What if he’s not as funny or charming in real life? What if he has body odour?? What if he’s a serial killer?!?

So many thoughts raced through my brain. Thoughts of infatuation, excitement, hope, and fear. Fear of getting my heart broken again, but yet I still had hope that this would turn out to be something good. I know mama always told me not to talk to strangers and give them personal information, ESPECIALLY on the internet, but I seem to enjoy breaking those rules. Sometimes, when you step out of your comfort zone, you get rewarded for it.

So after much anticipation and months of endless flirting and chatting, he arrived at Changi Airport, where I greeted him with a nervous smile and a friendly hug. At this point in time, we were obviously not “dating” per se, so I did not want to be too close. I kept my distance for awhile, but after warming up to each other, I realized he’s actually an even better person offline than online. No more overnight Skype calls that lasted for hours and hours on end. No more staring at the screen, wondering what it would be like to hold his hand, or to touch his face, or to hear his laughter in person.

Everything felt so surreal, like he popped out of a fairytale book (in this case, a computer screen) and jumped into my life. We went on many dates throughout the 2 weeks he spent in Singapore and I had an awesome time bringing him to our popular spots like Night Safari and Singapore Flyer! The beginning of our relationship was everything it should’ve been. Butterflies in my stomach, romantic words exchanged too many times a day that it made other people nauseous, pure devotion to each other and most importantly, the willingness to love and make things work, despite the long distance factor. Everything was wonderful, except the fact that we lived oceans, mountains and countries apart. An 8 hour flight journey apart, to be exact. That was no easy feat. If you’ve ever known anyone in a long distance relationship, they’ll tell you it’s one of the most difficult things they’ve done. It breaks your heart. The nights never feel lonelier or longer. It questions your faith and strength after awhile, and it never gets easier, only harder.

Many times, Sam and I contemplated giving up on what we had. We weren’t emotionally ready for that sort of roller coaster ride, I guess… what with me being so young and all. I asked myself if I really wanted that sort of commitment, when I hadn’t even turned 20 years old. What did I think I knew of love, to dive into something so serious and heavy? I don’t know what it is that made us grit our teeth and pull through the crappy times in our relationship, but I’m seriously glad things somehow worked out in the end. I’ve learned so much from being in this relationship and it has completely changed me as a person. Fast forward 5 years later, we raise adorable little bunnies together, we live together, we cook together, we bake together… everything I do, he’s right by my side. We complement each other in ways that makes the universe make sense. We’re completely different in many ways, yet freakishly alike in others.

Like the way my boyfriend gives me strength and support, bringing out the best in me, Estée Lauder has a perfect duo of their own. When used together daily, I have noticed Estée Lauder’s Micro Essence and Advanced Night Repair works brilliantly to help me achieve radiant skin.

Estée Lauder’s Micro Essence is a first of its kind, high performance “essence-in-lotion.” From the very first use, my skin felt more hydrated and radiant, with enhanced clarity. In two weeks, my skin’s texture is more refined.

Used day after day, Micro Essence has aided my skin to become stronger at its foundation and more resistant to signs of aging, which has ultimately resulted in my skin looking and feeling more youthful. My skin appeared healthy and emanated a glow from deep within!

How to use: With your hands: Pour 5 or 6 drops of Micro Essence in hand and rub hands together. Gently press the Micro Essence into skin from the center out. Start at chin and move upwards to cheeks and forehead. Rub hands together to warm, and then gently wrap face using warm hands to complete application.

I love using the Micro Essence because it’s given me noticeably more translucent looking complexion in a matter of weeks, and the texture of this lotion feels awesome on my skin! Not a fan of applying creams or serums that feel too sticky or heavy, this lotion is adequately hydrating and even though I don’t have any noticeable wrinkles yet, I believe that prevention is better than cure, so I’m gonna go ahead and start using anti-aging products while I’m still in my early twenties.

Starring alongside the Micro Essence, my regular usage of Estée Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair reveals a smoother, more radiant, younger look while waking up to more beautiful skin every day. Advanced Night Repair has proven to dramatically reduce my key signs of visible aging.

It maximizes the power of my skin’s natural nighttime renewal with the exclusive ChronoluxCB™ technology (with more than 25 patents and patents pending worldwide). It’s also great for every ethnicity and reduces the appearance of lines and wrinkles, leaving skin feeling smoother, hydrated, and more even toned.

How to use: As a nightly ritual, apply a drop on each fingertip of one hand. Touch fingertips of both hands together, and massage serum over face and neck, starting at the center, then smoothing it outwards.

My mum is a big fan of Estée Lauder, and she got all excited when she saw this bottle on my vanity desk because she’s been swearing by this product! She’s probably the biggest believer of skincare products of any woman I know, so a testimonial from her is one I take seriously.

I would strongly encourage anyone to use both the Micro Essence and Advanced Night Repair together to experience the synergistic repair qualities, which actively transforms your skin from within.

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I’ve entered a Perfect Duo contest on Her World Plus, and I’d absolutely love if you’d take a moment to vote for our video entry as seen below!

Alongside other awesome blogger friends like Yina, Jessica (Tippytapp) and Juli, we’ve come up with short videos about definition of a Perfect Duo, inspired by our recent discovery of Estée Lauder’s Perfect Duo beauty products.

You can stand a chance to win Estée Lauder’s Perfect Duo products by voting for your favorite video at this link! If you enjoyed our little montage, I’d really appreciate if you could give us your vote. Sam voluntarily helped me edit & do up the video entry from scratch from his collection of our photos & videos together, knowing how awful I at doing videos, which I thought was really sweet of him. This would not be possible at all without his help and support.

Thank you my dear for participating in this campaign with me! :*

xoxo,
Jess

Slim Couture Post 4: 10 reasons why I don’t want to be fat anymore or EVER AGAIN

Over the past few years, I’ve gained and lost more than 20kg. Yeah…. that is A LOT of weight.

At my heaviest I was something like 82kg.. and now I’m a few kg below 60kg. My ideal weight according to Slim Couture is 52kg, and even though I don’t dare to say this to their face (in case they laugh at me / in case it doesn’t happen), really, in my heart I’m hoping for 50kg. My height is 168cm. I know of girls around my height who are 45kg-50kg and they look amazing. If I’m going to set a target for myself, might as well put it at the level of “amazing”, right? My next goal is to be as slim as possible, not just to be of a “healthy weight” anymore, because I’ve already achieved that. Now, it’s moving on the next mile stone and honestly, it’s about ideals – not just the basics. I know I already have a lot of blog posts documenting my weight loss… but in this post, I want to dig a little deeper and share with you my innermost thoughts, and some secrets.

Being obese made me extremely upset.

I felt horrible about myself all the time, and I always came up with sad excuses to make up for what I lacked (confidence, a realistic perception of my own body and the determination to do something about it). Friends who hadn’t seen me in a long time always had to mask their surprise / shock / horror when they saw how much weight I’d gained. Even my own mother offered me MONEY if I “could lose at least 5kg”. I can’t remember the exact amount, but I think it was $3000 in cash. She was THAT desperate to see her daughter healthy, beautiful and happy again. Most days, I felt dejected, victimized, and most of all… unaccepted. In my head, a little voice always goes, “Why can’t these people love me for who I am? Why can’t they just be happy for me and accept that I like food, and that I’m okay with being fat?”

I got so so so angry at anyone who called me fat. I KNEW it was the truth, but I hated how everyone used “fat” as a weapon against me. At the end of the day, nobody likes their flaws being pointed out and thrown around for the fun of public humiliation, even if it is the truth. No slut likes to be called a slut even if they are one deemed by society’s standards, no short person wants to be called a midget, no ugly person wants to be labelled as unattractive and the more you call someone out for being less than perfect, the more likely they will recline further into their shell and block themselves out from the world.

I wish I had someone else to blame for my weight gain. I was so selfish that I almost wished I could scream and yell at my boyfriend for taking me to buffets at least once a week. We would (I shit you not) go for a Japanese buffet, then an ice cream dessert cafe straight after that. We were pretty much stuffed silly every single day. I bet Sam never knew I’d get so fat. He probably just wanted to make his girlfriend happy, and since food made her happy, he bought her food. The scariest part about weight gain is how quickly it all happened to me. Fair enough, I was extremely oblivious in my relationship and thought that because I had already found a man who would “love me no matter what”, I could let myself go and it would be okay because someone in this world promised to love me unconditionally… but I never knew I’d fallen so deep, and so far, that I lost not just my self-confidence, but myself entirely. Well yeah, I’m not blind and I always knew I was getting bigger in size with every passing day, but obesity hit me real good. It kicked me so hard in the face, that I was knocked out and in denial for the longest time. I thought that I was “curvy” and “real-sized”, but I didn’t realize I was actually disgustingly unhealthy and the worst part of being super overweight is looking in the mirror, and seeing your reflection scream back at you: “YOU DID THIS TO YOURSELF. This is all because of your laziness, greediness, and your unwillingness to do anything to change this situation.”

Some people don’t gain weight as easily as others. Some people pile on weight like it’s their job to do so. You could put on 5-8kg in just a month if you have horrible eating habits (which I did), and unless you’ve ever worked off more than 5-8kg of fats before… you have NO IDEA how fucking difficult it is. Let me tell you something. As someone who has yoyo-ed 20kg the past few years, I can say that weight is not difficult to lose. 1 or 2kg? No problem. I can lose that in less than a week. The real difficult part is STAYING MOTIVATED AND DETERMINED, and keeping up the weight loss progress. And losing anything more than 5kg, yeah, that’s tough. Fat people are fat for a reason. They love food / they are super lazy / they eat all sorts of bad food / whatever reason. Even if they know that they’ve gained weight and want to do something about it, the core reason for their weight gain in the first place STILL exists. Old habits die hard. I know for the love of god that I still love food to this day, as much as I did when I was 82kg. I could still eat 6 meals a day if I didn’t know any better. I still would be more than happy to have carbs for every meal and a soft drink + dessert to accompany it… don’t forget to order my starter along with the main course, too. My favorite meal is supper. What can I say? I’m a greedy girl. There’s no other way to put it.

But through all the emotional trauma, life changes and self-denial, somewhere along the line, I decided that “enough was enough” and I’ve just about HAD IT with being a fat girl. No more feeling like I’m worth less just because I’ve got flabs hanging out everywhere. No more crying myself to sleep because of something someone had said, or because I hated myself for what I was doing to me. No more wondering how it’d feel like to be comfortable in my own skin again. No more dying while climbing a flight of stairs. I HATED BEING FAT, AND GOD, I NEVER EVER EVER EVER WANT TO BE FAT AGAIN.

I came up with 10 very simple reasons why I never want to be fat again / why I hated being fat, and searched through my old pictures to bring you the very best of my worst pics for added entertainment value. I’m surprised by my own brazen (or you can say shameless) behavior, publishing photos that equal to social suicide but whatever, man. That person isn’t me anymore, and if photos of myself in the past can teach a lesson or provide some laughs to people, why not? This post revolves entirely around my personal opinions on obesity because I hope it’ll reach out to whoever needs this little push along their way. Everyone already knows the basic reasons why you should lose weight: for health, for self-confidence, blah blah blah. You already know that. I don’t have to tell you. My reasons in this post vary from personal, to superficial and plain legit. If you don’t agree with any of these reasons, let me tell you first that I don’t care. We all have the right to feel what we want about ourselves, but having come so far on my own weight loss journey, I thought it would be a real shame if I didn’t share these sentiments with girls (and guys) who might find them helpful. Even though I have not reached my goal weight yet and I’m still chubby in my opinion.. I’ll get there soon enough. Here’s my own motivation for doing so.

 

10 REASONS WHY I DON’T WANT TO BE FAT ANYMORE (OR EVER AGAIN!):

1) I want to wear cute clothes in normal sizes. I want to wear high heels without being paranoid of them buckling under my immense weight.

You see this photo above? I wore my pajamas shorts out to the beach (during winter) over my leggings. Because I couldn’t find any other shorts that could fit me. My bottom was a size 16. Everything else either didn’t fit, or felt terribly uncomfortable. So I wore my pajamas out. ….Sad? I THINK SO.

I want to be able to walk into any store, and instantly be able to pick out the style or piece that I like, without worrying “do they have XL for this?”. I want to be able to shop freely without shop assistants eyeing me suspiciously because they think I’ll tear their clothes when I try them on. I don’t want the shop assistant to instantly pick out “plus size styles” for me the moment I walk into the store telling me “this is what we have in your size”, giving me special help as if I’m some disabled person who’s not able to choose her own clothes. I want to be able to wear skinny jeans, tight bodycon dresses, crop tops and short shorts. Most clothes were made and designed for skinny people. It’s really difficult to find nice clothes that fit a UK 16 girl well. I’ve been down that road, and shopping trips actually end up being frustrating and demoralizing as opposed to a fun time a normal girl would have. Every mirror you look into wants to fight a war with you. Somehow, everything looks like shit on you. NOTHING FITS.

 

2) When you get fat, your boobs get enormous. Guess what? Enormous boobs are HEAVY.

They gave me severe backache. Even my feet would hurt from lifting so much weight on a daily basis. I couldn’t sleep properly at night because of how much my back ached every day. Don’t know how large my boobs were at my fattest, maybe a very large C or borderline D, but boy.. imagine carrying around watermelons on your chest. That’s what it felt like. They were so big, they literally hurt. Jogging or running was a nightmare because those things wouldn’t stop jiggling and bouncing everywhere. Every bra felt like it didn’t give enough support, and for some reason, bras were extremely uncomfortable to wear. I hated wearing bras back then.

Also, overly large boobs are obscene.. Overly-large-anything is obscene, and breasts are no different. Even when I wore an innocent tank top, I looked like I was trying too hard to be sexy or that I’m trying to flash my cleavage 24/7. Holy shit, look at my boobs in the pic above. Hahahah hilarious. My boobs aren’t even 1/4 that size now I think. I’m very happy about my current modest B cup, by the way. My chest and back thanks me for not heaving around watermelons all day, too.

 

3) I wanna take photos beside my gorgeous, slimmer girlfriends and not feel terribly inferior and horrible about myself.

I don’t want to “hide behind people” in group shots in order for me to appear smaller, and them, larger. I don’t want to only take pictures in a specific angle because that’s the only one I look semi-decent in.

Above: no photoshop.
Below: also no photoshop.

This changing-room-selfie was taken just this week. Not having to photoshop so much saves me plenty of time when I’m posting stuff online, and I am also no longer afraid of my own reflection.

 

4) I wanna feel sexy, happy and comfortable in my own skin – even when I’m naked. That beast above? NOT sexy.

It’s not a nice feeling when your thighs rub together when you walk, or when your armpits get smelly because the fats are blocking ventilation, or when your arse crack never gets to see the light of day because it’s squashed together from the mass that is itself. I guess when I was obese, I could pretend I wasn’t so by covering myself up with long flowy clothes… but you can’t hide from the naked truth. Staring at my own naked body was gut-wrenching.

It’s easy to pretend or forget that you’re actually super overweight when you get used to your own reflection and hide behind loose or “flattering” clothing. Or just tell yourself that you’re curvy, and that you look fine because you can “fill our your clothes”. Well I realized that once I stripped off my clothes and stared back at my own naked reflection, there’s A LOT of flaws that were staring right back at me. All that cellulite that I usually cover up with a long dress…. stretch marks…. lumps and bumps. Even if you hide them with clothing, they don’t go away – they still exist on you. Are you really happy in your own skin? Or are you only happy when you’re covered up as much as possible?

 

5) Even if you’re born with good features or a pretty face, getting fat can fuck that all up.

I’m not going to waste my time trying to think of how to phrase this in a less obnoxious way: I think I was born with pretty good looks. At least, I do not think I am ugly, but that’s not to say I think I’m a 10. I would give myself a 7/10. That’s a healthy dosage of self confidence, right? I’d be worried about anyone who gives themselves a 6 or lower. I’m happy with my facial features. But man, when I started piling on the kilograms… a lot of the original “me” got lost along the way.

I used to think that even though I was getting fatter, “at least my face still looks good”. OH HOW WRONG I WAS. Your body and your face are not two separate entities. They go hand in hand. If your body is weak, healthy, malnourished or obese, IT SHOWS on your face. Why do you think drug addicts’ faces look like hell? Because their body went through hell.

This is a recent selfie of me, which you can compare to the above:

Yeah, so my eyebrows are completely different and the new make up / angle helps a bit, but the main point is my face and features seemed to have changed completely. My face no longer seems as “stretched” or as wide. Oh my god, suddenly I have a nose bridge again! And no, I’ve never done fillers or anything. Also, not sure why, but my skin wasn’t as good when I was obese. Think it was all the unhealthy, artery (and pore?) clogging food I was stuffing my face with.

So yes, if you’re quite overweight, losing weight WILL make your face look better.

 

 

6) I don’t want people to look at me and think, “what the fuck is that fat person doing?”

Because we’re all judgemental people. If it was a normal girl riding that pony, it would be fine. But because I am SO FAT in this picture, I automatically look ridiculous, and even though the pony ain’t a living pony, suddenly we’re concerned for the pony’s health. Hey, machine pony, you ok? You sure you’re not breaking under that pressure? Well, okay, if you say so…

When I was obese, I couldn’t eat in complete peace because I always felt like people were judging me when I ordered or ate my food. They’re probably thinking in their heads, “Are you sure you want a whole pizza AND a pasta by yourself?”. Honestly, can you blame them? If you see a drug addict sniffing more drugs, wouldn’t you feel bad for them and perhaps even give a disapproving look or reach out a concerned hand? Or if an alcoholic starts downing shots like there’s no tomorrow.. surely there’s a cause for concern around here?

Yeah, people should mind their own business. If they know what’s good for them, they won’t say much in fear of offending you. But you can betcha ass they’re definitely thinking, “perhaps you should probably order a salad instead.” when you’re dining with them. Hell, they may even get uncomfortable around you because you eat so much. You may even look on in disgust as someone orders two desserts when the only thing they should be ordering is a personal trainer. I know I’ve done it to overweight people before (judge them), AND I’ve also been the one to gross people out by my habits (being judged).

 

7) For years, I dreamt of wearing a bikini out with confidence some day.

Swimwear is every fat person’s worst nightmare. Because on the beach, it makes no sense to cover up yourself completely… we have no choice but to bear our skin. Unless you wear a wetsuit, like I did, of course. Wearing that wetsuit and looking that thick… sheesh, I was lucky no great white shark came along and mistook me for a seal or a baby pilot whale.

I’m so happy to announce that in my recent trip to Bali, I actually wore a bikini set and went snorkeling in it!!!! YES I was embarrassed, yes I still had flabs jiggling in the wind as the speed boat whizzed through the ocean, but boy, was it liberating to jump into the ocean in nothing but my bikini. It felt AMAZING. I felt so free. Didn’t matter in that moment that I don’t look like a Victoria’s Secret angel, it mattered that I was proud enough of my own body to have a nice day out at sea without fretting over how fat and awful I may look.

 

8) I wanted the people who loved me to not be embarrassed of my physique. I wanted them to be proud of who I was.

I don’t know how my boyfriend still loved me even though I looked like that…. he even tried to cover my tummy for me. Aw.

Life is TOO SHORT to live a good part of it hating your own body. Stop that shit right now. Even though your partner may love you truly for who you are, nobody in their right mind wouldn’t prefer a fit partner. Fit partners live better and longer. When you’re really fat, it does not ONLY affect you. It definitely affects the people around you. It affects their thoughts of you and how they behave around you. It may not necessarily make your friends or loved ones think of you any worse, but being fat has ONLY ever brought about inconvenience – never convenience. Unless it’s keeping warm, then your skinny friends can snuggle up to you, I guess. I know a lot of my friends and family were getting extremely concerned about my well-being – “What’s wrong with Jessica? Why is she letting herself get so fat? Does she have an eating disorder? Is she depressed? What’s wrong?!” Because, let’s face it – being really fat is NOT normal. It’s unhealthy, both physically and mentally. If I had continued being greedy and lazy and getting fatter, I would not only be doing myself a disfavor, but I would be letting down the people who care about me as well. They, and I, deserve better than that.

 

 

9) I’m sick and tired of having to suck in my fat gut ALL THE TIME!

If you always eat huge amounts of food, eventually the fat will start depositing in areas like your thighs, arms, face, etc… But most immediately, it goes to your stomach. Look how huge and bulbous my tummy used to be!!! I had no waistline whatsoever. People probably couldn’t decide if I was just really overweight, or 4 months pregnant. Oh, I was pregnant alright, with a food baby that I carried around for YEARS! If I didn’t suck in my stomach it would hang loose and bulge incessantly. Yuck. With a lot of dieting and hard work, I finally have a nice waist line now!!! Never going to give it up. EVER.

 

 

10) Last, but definitely not least…. I don’t want to let myself give people reasons to insult me, or make me feel like I’m worth any less a person, just because I’m fat. Enough of the fat jokes, fat insults, fat comments.

Thank god I’m not fat anymore, because every Chinese New Year, my loud relatives no longer exclaim with widened eyes, “WAH!!! JESSIE!! SOOOO00O0O0OO0 FAT AH!!!!!!!!!!!! *pinch cheeks*”

….There is truly nothing more embarrassing than taunting relatives during Chinese New Year. Every flaw you ever had, they won’t hesitate to put it out in the open for discussion material. Nearing 30 but not married? Get hounded. Failing at school? Get hounded. Getting fatter and fatter? Get hounded. In front of all your cousins and other relatives…. where to hide your face?

The harsh truth and reality of the world is, if you’re fat, you WILL be judged, and you will be teased. But you can put an end to all of it.

…So there, are my 10 personal reasons as to why I don’t want to EVER be fat again. If you can’t relate to any of my points, congratulations, you’ve never been fat. Lucky you. If you CAN relate to what I’ve said, I beg you, do yourself a favor and start shedding those pounds. I’ve been where you are now, and it’s possible to emerge from that pile of confidence-sucking crap.

“Man, I regret losing all that weight, being healthier, looking better and feeling greater!” - SAID NO ONE EVER. I wanna thank Slim Couture for inspiring me to write this blog post. They did not ask me to write this post, by the way, it’s completely by my own accord and 100% my idea. If you’re new around here, Slim Couture is a TCM-method and Singapore based company, passionate in helping women achieve their target weight and physique. I’ve been visiting Slim Couture on and off since a couple of months ago, and they’ve aided me greatly in achieving my weight loss. I have so much to thank Slim Couture for! I know I say this every time, but I really do. Without the constant support from the ladies at Slim Couture, I would have definitely not be well on my way to achieving my target weight at this instance. I honestly SUCK at dieting, that’s why my progress is considered very slow compared to their other clients. Thanks to their Divine Slim treatment, I’ve gotten rid of 8kg, and an unbelievable amount of inches off my waist, arms, ass and thighs!

Check out my posts for more Slim Couture information here: Post 1 (beginning of my journey with them), Post 2 (weight loss progress), Post 3 (sam’s progress and our first event). For this post, I didn’t feel the need to hard sell because you all should already know by now how much I believe in Slim Couture’s treatment, and the gist of how their TCM methods work.. What you may not have known, though, is how much happier you’ll be as a fit, healthy or slim person instead of being miserably overweight.

Life-changing in every aspect, and without a doubt the best thing / most difficult I’ve done for myself in recent times. If you need help with getting started on your journey… I know of someone you can call.

SLIM COUTURE

Official website: http://slim-couture.com
Facebook page: http://facebook.com/SlimCouturePteLtd

18 Cross Street, #02-06
China Square Central
Singapore 048423
Tel: (+65) 6536 8586

190 Clemenceau Ave 2,
Singapore Shopping Centre, #05-29
Singapore 239924
Tel: (+65) 6336 8665

xoxo,
Jess

The Open House, Bali

For my 22nd birthday last month, we escaped to Bali where we spent a few blissful days basking in the sun, chasing after dolphins and watching sunsets on the beach – a much needed respite amid the madness that is known as the 3/4 year end rush.

I’ve been to Bali once before, 2 years ago with my family, however, I felt that the trip didn’t do any justice to what it could have been. I left Bali thinking it was overrated, with too many caucasians and too little things to do. Seemed like all they have is overly crowded beaches and cheap booze. How wrong I was! My family was not interested in doing much except visiting the typical tourist places and eating a lot, so the itinerary was not terribly interesting. I’m really glad I decided to give it a second shot and explore further on my own, because I fell in love with what I discovered. Bali is such an amazing destination! It has everything I love – beautiful beaches and sunsets, good cheap food, scenic sights to photograph, adrenaline-filled activities, and a ridiculous amount of varied accommodation with different budgets to take your pick from.

This time around, we chose The Open House to be our home in Bali for 3 nights, and it was an absolutely awesome decision!

Upon arrival, we were greeted by an ice cream truck at the entrance, two delicious welcome drinks and we were immediately won over by the rustic charm the whole place exudes. I love the wooden furniture and fixtures that are found everywhere in hotel – that’s how I know I’m in Bali! Checking in was a breeze with the efficient and friendly staff, and we couldn’t wait to check out our room!

The Open House offers 17 suites distributed in two floors, and while it’s not a large establishment, I believe that’s the beauty of it! I’m not a fan of staying in large hotels with too many people and squeezing with the crowds, waiting an hour just to check in and facing a sea of people during breakfast buffets in the morning. Not my idea of relaxation.

Our room was adequately spacious with a large balcony where you can enjoy your quiet cup of morning coffee with a view of palm trees and their swimming pool! The wooden fixtures are typical of Bali, and the colonial tiles on the floor are a cute little touch. If I could use one word to describe The Open House, it would be “zen”. Whatever worries you have, you’ll realize you’d left it at their doorstep. We had a hard time getting out of the marshmallowy king sized bed every morning. An iPod dock, LCD TV, beach bag (which proved to be extremely handy for us) and complimentary wi-fi are other thoughtful perks you can enjoy. It’s not glitzy or glamorous, but it succeeds tremendously in what it aims to be, which is comfortable and intimate – being the perfect opportunity to catch up with your thoughts and life itself. We felt right at home straight away.

I could spend all day bumming around with my favorite book and a fresh mango juice in hand in perfect contentment. I’m a fan of their minimalist decor. Sometimes, less is more.

Breakfasts at The Open House are peaceful affairs. The guests here are mindful and considerate, and I’m glad to report there wasn’t any shrieking kids to disrupt my peace during my stay. While they do cater to families, I’d recommend this down to earth accommodation more for couples and friends who want somewhere nice to stay in Bali without forking out too much, and if you don’t mind that there isn’t additional facilities such as a gym, etc. Instead of a breakfast buffet, The Open House offers an ala carte menu which is cooked to your request, and there’s a decent selection to provide you a heart breakfast when you wake up.

Next to the pool, there is a lounge area for you to read, do your work, sit and chat or even enjoy a full body massage on the beds provided! An outsourced masseuse will come directly to your room or to the massage area when you make an appointment, so you don’t have to leave the hotel to experience massage bliss. We were so tempted to try the massage next to the pool because the rates were so competitive, but we couldn’t squeeze any more time out of our schedule, which was spent exploring different parts of Bali!

If you’re feeling lazy and don’t want to leave your gorgeous hotel to eat (who could blame you?), the in house restaurant is worth a try! I especially enjoyed the burger, mango juice and home made coconut ice cream (not pictured here). There’s a good selection of local, international and western fare to cater to different tastes.

Or else, you could take a short walk to Jimbaran beach, a gorgeous white sand swimming beach, which is essentially your backyard because it’s just one minute away – and indulge in one of their many seafood restaurants scattered across the beach and have a romantic candlelit dinner! Jimbaran is a great location because it’s rather serene, close to the local life and touristy enough without feeling over commercialized.

The fact that The Open House is literally next to this gorgeous beach is probably my utmost favorite factor about it. The sunsets here are to die for, and the array of BBQed seafood is value for money. Nothing beats dining with a sunset view, listening to the waves gently wash onto shore, sand in your feet, beer in your hand.. The moment the sun descends from the sky, it’s painted in all sorts of orange and red hues which make for perfect Bali silhouette pics! I have never seen sunsets more gorgeous than this. Sunset watching is probably one of my favoritest things to do in the world – there is no simpler pleasure. You can also sit back and watch planes landing nearby from the beach because it’s only 20 minutes from the airport. I love how this beach attracts both locals and tourists to its beauty. When the sun starts to set, you’ll see local families running from the shore into the shallow waters helping their fishermen hubbies and daddies pull in their colorful fishing boats with fresh catches of the day, which I found heartwarming.

Bali must have magical healing powers – just one night there and I already felt anew. The island has this effect on you – once you’ve been there before, you’ll want to go back again. I can finally understand why this Indonesian island is loved by people worldwide – its raw, cultural beauty that’s so welcoming towards foreigners, is easy to get used to. With so many hotels to choose from in Bali, I hope my review on The Open House gives you better insight on whether it’s suitable for your travelings needs!

• The Open House •
Website: http://theopenhousebali.com
Address: Jalan Pemelisan Agung No. 25, Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia 80361
Email: info@theopenhousebali.com
Phone: +62 (361) 709 160

I’d like to give special thanks to the kind people at The Open House for making my stay with them so wonderful! Overall, I could not fault the place at all. Warm and sincere service, nice food, fantastic location, comfortable spacious rooms, great ambience – you’ll definitely want to be back after staying here once. Exclusively for readers of this blog, you can quote “Shiberty” when making a booking with them for a special welcome gift that will be prepared just for you!

Would I recommend staying at The Open House in Bali? Most definitely.

xoxo,
Jess

Seoul Highlights, Part 1

In continuation from my previous Busan Highlights post done in collaboration with Korea Tourism Organization, here’s the second installation: highlights from my trip to Seoul, South Korea’s capital, pride and joy!

My dream is to travel the world (don’t we all wish the same thing?), and I’m glad I could check Seoul off my bucket list in 2014. Spontaneous and impromptu trips are the best in the sense that you never saw it coming, so every experience is an adventure. Seoul is the world’s third largest metropolitan area with over 25.6 million people. My impression of Seoul is a modern city with a traditional charm, fast-paced and bustling. Around every corner, something exciting is happening. The girls all have amazing hair. The place is so massive, a mere short few days here did not even allow me to scratch the surface of the abundance it has to offer, however I did get some unique activities done and also made it a point to check out some of the most famous landmarks!

Here are some of the awesome places I managed to visit while I was in Seoul, hopefully you guys will find this itinerary useful when you plan a trip there, too!

 

• Dongdaemun Design Plaza (동대문디자인플라자) •

Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) is the newest and most iconic landmark of the Korean design industry. Located at the center of the Dongdaemun area, the DDP will serve as a key venue for design-related shows and conferences, exhibitions, and other events and gatherings.

We were there to check out the exhibition of a super popular K-Drama series that will have some of you going crazy over!

“You Who Came from the Stars” / “My Lover From The Star” is about an alien who landed on Earth in the Joseon Dynasty and, 400 years later, falls in love with a top actress in the modern era. To those who don’t know about this show prior to this paragraph, you must be thinking… what the heck?

That was my first thought too! I can’t say I am a fan of the series because, to be honest I’ve not even watched a single episode of it yet, but I plan to give it a go once I can spare some free time! It must be so insanely popular for a good reason, right? Despite not having seen the show before, it was still fun walking around, looking at sets from the show! Cheon Song Yi’s bedroom is gorgeous. You’ll definitely wanna check this place out if you like this TV series, and be transported right into a pretty fantasy world where aliens come from the stars to romance you!

Directions to Dongdaemun Design Plaza: Get off at Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 1. Upon exiting, walk straight for about 5 min.

 

• Klive (K-Pop Hologram Performance Hall) •

Klive is a new place visitors can watch the biggest stars of K-Pop in hologram performances anytime – it’s one of Seoul’s newer attractions, having just opened on the 9th floor of Lotte FITIN in Eulgi-ro on January 17, 2014. You don’t actually get to see any of the stars in person of course, it’s all basically very fancy hologram effects, which was actually highly entertaining and more interesting than it sounds! Knowing not a single verse to any K-Pop song, I still enjoyed myself as the hologram performance was interactive and funny. When in Korea, do as the Koreans do!

What they lack in physical presence, they make up for with actual talented dancers to complement the crazy cool hologram effects during the show and a whole bunch of exclusive merchandise you can’t find anywhere else! I think a hologram concert is a good idea – just saying that if Taylor Swift ever had one in some part of the world I could visit some day, I’d undoubtedly pay money to see it too. The next best thing to seeing her in the flesh! It’s conveniently located in a huge shopping mall, so when your legs need a rest from all that intense retail therapy, you could stop by here for an hour.

Directions to Klive: Get off at Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station (Seoul Subway Line 2, 4, 5), Exit 11 or 12)

 

 

• Namsangol Hanok Village (남산골 한옥마을) •

If you get off at Chungmuro Subway Station, you’ll find yourself in front of Namsangol Hanok Village (traditional Korean village) where we get a glimpse into what life in the olden days in South Korea might’ve been like. This cultural heritage site is unexpectedly situated in the middle of the city’s tall buildings.

This village has five restored traditional Korean houses and a pavilion, a pond and a time capsule, which make it a perfect spot to take a walk. It was high summer season when I was in Korea so it was extremely warm, but during autumn, what a joy taking a stroll around here would be! A great place for photo opportunities.

These houses were rebuilt after the traditional houses of Joseon Dynasty and belong to those of various social classes, ranking from peasants to the king. The furniture in the house is situated to help guests understand the daily life of the past.

Directions to Namsangol Hanok Village: Chungmuro Station (Seoul Subway Line 3 & 4), Exit 4. Walk along Hanongmaeul-gil street for 5 minutes.

 
• Dongdaemun Market (동대문시장) •

Ever since its opening in 1905, Dongdaemun Market has been one of the major markets in Korea. Specializing in wholesale clothing, the market has grown large, having more than 20 shopping malls. A full range of fashion items that cover head to toe, are found in Dongdaemun Market at inexpensive prices.

Just name it and you shall find it! While we were there, we were surprised to come across peaceful (but loud) protestors roaming the streets in an orderly manner. Anyone knows what they’re protesting about?

We spent a few hours browsing through the endless amount of retail shops and I snagged some good deals for myself! We gave the wholesaler’s section of Dongdaemun a miss since we were tourists. They have so many things for you to look at and buy in the area, I could’ve spent a whole day and night shopping to my heart’s content if I didn’t have other things on my itinerary!

While some people may compare the pricing to Bangkok (another place famed for cheap shopping) saying it’s not as affordable, I would also like to add that the quality of some items in Dongdaemun are better than what you’d find in Bangkok, the price you pay just depends on what and where you buy, and whether you’re good at bargaining. I also happen to LOVE Korean fashion, and this place was sheer paradise!

Directions to Dongdaemun Market: Hop onboard Seoul Subway Line 2 Dongdaemun Stadium Station, or Line 1 or 4 Dongdaemun Station.

 

 

• Samsung Innovation Musem (삼성이노베이션뮤지엄) •

Samsung Electronics marked its 45th anniversary by opening the Samsung Innovation Museum in Suwon, South Korea. “The Samsung Innovation Museum brings together some of the true historical masterpieces of electronics innovation,” said CEO Kwon Oh-hyun at the opening event.

These inventions laid the technological foundation that allowed us to develop and refine products that enhance lives today. The museum gives visitors an opportunity to see where we’ve come from and also see where Samsung draws inspiration from to continue to create category defining products.

The museum features 150 inventions and products from Samsung as well as individuals and companies that have no ties with the Korean company –– an acknowledgement of its competitors.

I wasn’t hopping excited when I heard a museum was going to be on our to-do list, they generally aren’t my thing, but I was beyond blown away by how stunning the Samsung Innovation Museum was. It was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip as it was awe-inspiring and unlike any place I’ve been to before in my life.

The displays are engaging, the information provided useful and thought-provoking – I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked touring this place. I walked around with a smile on my face the whole time, struck with child-like wonder. Tech geeks, curious children and people who have a thirst for knowledge or respect for innovation would have the best time here. It’s still so new and clean, felt like we were the first guests to ever enter! The whole time, all I could think of is how much Sam would have loved to be there with me.

Credit for source of information extracted here.

Directions to Samsung Innovation Museum: Please visit their website for detailed instructions.

This South Korea trip has brought about many “firsts” for me, and it’s been nothing short of an eye-opening experience. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the first and second posts about it. I can’t wait to share the rest of my itinerary and pictures with you guys! The third installation and final post of my Busan + Seoul experience with Korea Tourism Organization will be coming your way soon, so stay tuned, and stay gold!

xoxo,
Jess

Philips Airfryer review and recipes

I believe anyone who has a moderate interest in cooking should invest in a Philips Airfryer. Just look at that incredible ratatouille dish I made in it! I’ve almost never been more proud of a dish I’ve cooked. Looking at this picture makes me beam with so much pride. Ah, how far I’ve come from not even being able to cook my own instant noodles barely a few years ago.

The Philips Airfryer is one piece of equipment that has completely changed the way I operate in the kitchen. In my opinion, it’s more than worth every single cent it costs because there’s nothing else quite like it in the world. It roasts, grills, fries, bakes, cooks and packs a real punch for its size. It’s ridiculously easy to use, such that even your 10 year old child can learn how to cook their own food under guidance, and the mess created is usually little to none. I’ve been raving about this appliance non-stop to anyone who steps foot in my kitchen and asks “What is this?” . I believe in sharing good things with the world. As an avid cook, I can tell you that the Philips Airfryer is pretty much a necessity if you want to save a helluva lot of time and trouble when preparing your meals.

Here’s why.

✓ Rapid Air Technology for healthier frying
Philips Airfryer’s unique Rapid Air technology enables you to fry, bake, roast and grill, the tastiest snacks and meals with less fat than a conventional fryer, by using little or no oil! Philips Airfryer with Rapid Air technology also creates less smell than conventional fryers, it is easy to clean, safe and economical for your daily use!

✓ Digital screen for easy control of time and temperature
With the digital touch screen you can control the time and temperature of your cooking in an easier and more precise way. Enjoy your favorite food, prepared at the right temperature and time for the best result!

✓ Smart preset button
Save the settings of your favourite dish so that next time, your meal is ready at the touch of a button!

✓ Versatile cooking
Not just great for frying, the innovative Philips Airfryer with Rapid Air technology also lets you grill, bake and even roast your favorite dishes for a one stop solution for all of your meals.

✓ International recipe booklet
This recipe book created by culinary experts gives inspiration for a variety of low-fat fried food that you can cook in the Philips Airfryer.

✓ Increased in power for faster cooking results
To indulge in your healthy dinners in lesser time!

In a nutshell.. Philips Airfryer’s unique design combines fast circulating superheated air, starfish design and optimal heating profile allows you to fry a variety of delicious meals in a fast, easy and healthier way without necessarily adding oil. The removable nonstick coated drawer and the food basket are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. I’ve found that it does exactly what my oven does, but in a much shorter time span and way more effectively. For example, roasting vegetables to a nice crisp would take 35-45 minutes in my oven, but in the Philips Airfryer, it only takes 20 minutes! That’s practically half the time saved. We all know how slow the minutes go by when you’re starving and waiting for your food to be done, so this is a huge deal. I almost never deep fry food in a pan full of oil because I can’t stand the mess and having hot drops of oil splatter on me while cooking. I also do not like having to waste so much oil just to get one crispy dish. I can achieve perfectly crispy food without a single drop of oil used – that, is brilliant innovation right there. Cooking with the Philips Airfryer is a matter of putting your food into the machine, insert your temperature and cooking time, then wait for your food to be done. No fussing about.

I will soon be sharing two absolutely mouthwatering recipes done with the Philips Airfryer that will have you amazed at the things it can do. Although you CAN achieve these recipes with a standard oven (you will need to adjust the cooking duration, however), it’s a lot quicker with the Philips Airfryer.

The first up is a recipe inspired by one of my favorite Pixar films, Ratatouille – an adorable story about a little rat who had big dreams and a serious love for food! Ratatouille is a traditional French Provençal stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice. Ever since seeing the film 7 years ago, I’ve been deeply intrigued by this dish. I have never seen this being served at any restaurant in Singapore before, only once when I was overseas, so I decided to re-create the dish myself! I’m obsessed with the color palette of this unique dish and I think it would be big hit for any potluck or dinner parties simply because it looks so stunning.

Recipe: Ratatouille

Ingredients: (4 servings)

  • 1 white onion minced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 green zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 japanese eggplant, thinly sliced
  • half yellow capsicum, de-seeded
  • half red capsicum, de-seeded
  • 4 small roma tomatoes
  • 400g diced canned tomatoes
  • olive oil and balsamic vinegar for drizzling
  • mixed herbs (basil, bay leaf, thyme and parsley)

Directions:

  1. Roast capcisums cut side down in Philips Airfryer at 200 degrees for 10 minutes until nicely browned and tender. Let cool in a bowl with cling wrap over it. Once cool to the touch, remove the skin of capcisums, then dice them
  2. Add canned tomatoes, onion, garlic and capsicums to a 7″ round baking dish and roast for 8 minutes at 200 degrees, to reduce liquid content from tomatoes and meld the flavors together
  3. While that’s baking, toss your remaining sliced vegetables in olive oil, mixed herbs, garlic / onion powder (if you have it), salt and pepper to coat evenly, then start arranging zucchinis, tomatoes and eggplant in a circular even fashion around the tray
  4. Bake at 100 degrees for 30 minutes until vegetables are completely tender. If not soft enough, cook for a further 5-10 minutes at the same temperature
  5. Once vegetables are cooked to the desired soft consistency, finish off with 5 minutes at 200 degrees for a nice charring around the edges
  6. Serve warm with a good drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar for extra flavor, add salt and pepper to taste

Voila! You have made ratatouille – just like the movie!!!

Delicate, subtle and earthy – three words I would use to describe this dish. It’s perfect as a side accompaniment to meat main courses or great just on its own if you want something light and healthy for dinner. Since I don’t have many (or any?) vegetarian recipes on my blog, I thought I’d do this one for our herbivore friends. If you’d like to take this dish to the next level, I’d suggest including sliced pieces of salami to give it a nice burst of smokiness & protein! The vegetables are tender and flavorful due to a varied mix. Perhaps it’s just my little obsession… but I find that drizzling truffle oil over any dish is always a good idea. If you don’t have truffle oil on hand, olive oil and some balsamic vinegar will do the trick to lift the flavors as well.

 

…Now I know, not everyone has the patience to thinly slice vegetables then arrange them in a pan and bake them until they’re tender. To most people, vegetables are not the main star on their plate. I get that. Ratatouille is definitely not an everyday recipe, nor will it suit the taste buds of everyone. You can save that for the special occasions. Next up, however, is something I can’t imagine anyone not liking!

Unleash your inner Martha Stewart with these Blueberry Lemon Muffins!

Now this is something I would not mind waking up to in the morning at all. I bought several punnets of blueberries because they were on sale, then realized…. I didn’t know what to do with them. I ate them with my cereal and fruit bowls slowly, but they were getting softer sooner than I was consuming them. So I decided to turn them into delicious breakfast / tea break muffins! I suppose you could use any other berry in replacement of blueberries, and it’s a great way to use up berries in the fridge that can turn overripe and moldy all too quickly.

Recipe: Blueberry Lemon Muffins

Ingredients: 12 muffins

  • 2 and a half cups of self-raising flour
  • half cup white sugar
  • half cup full cream milk
  • quarter cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • one and a half cup blueberries
  • finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • juice of one lemon
  • half teaspoon vanilla & lemon extract
  • brown sugar for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Measure out flour and white sugar into a bowl. Whisk together.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine milk, oil, lemon juice, eggs, and flavored extracts.
  3. Quickly combine the dry and wet ingredients from the two separate bowls, then gently stir in whole blueberries and lemon zest.
  4. Spoon batter into muffin / cupcake molds, then sprinkle the top generously with brown sugar
  5. Bake at 180 degrees for 12 minutes or until golden brown

Give your boyfriend, girlfriend, mom, dad, best friend, brother, sister, child, husband or wife something like this to wake up to in the morning, and I’m sure they’ll love you even more than they already do. It’s warm… it’s moist… it’s leaking delicious juices and it’s definitely calling your name. This blueberry lemon muffin is indeed a seductress.

The sprinkled brown sugar caramelizes at the top, and the lemon juice & zest lends a fragrant, aromatic kick without being acidic or sour. It’s the taste of the start of a good day.

..Did I also mention your entire house will smell amazing?

I was curious to see how well the Philips Airfryer could bake as compared to a standard oven – to my surprise, there was no difference in texture at all, and nobody I fed these muffins to even attempted to guess otherwise! Evenly baked, moist and fluffy with a crisp top. Everything a good muffin should be. I’m not just impressed – I’m positively head over heels in complete love with the Philips Airfryer, and I’ve been cooking very regular meals with it at home. You NEED to try it out to experience for yourself this revolution of a product.

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking through the recipes I’ve shared today, for more ideas on how to use the Philips Airfryer in your home, check out my first post with 2 more recipes, or their official website! The direct link to the product page for the Philips Airfryer XL is here. If you’re an Instagram addict like me, there’s also delicious photos and recipes to discover at the #PhilipsAirfryer hashtag.

xoxo,
Jess
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