The 5 Minute Face

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My daily make-up routine is no longer the 40 minute melodrama of my youth nor the 15 minute slapstick comedy of my undergrad years. Calling it a “daily” routine is probably a half lie. I am barefaced 90% of the month since glamour has no place on university grounds. Good coffee, yes, but going to uni with layers of face paint seems more JAFFY-like than anyone would care to admit.

Diving into my archives is an unearthing of coloured shadow and light; I was all about the eyes when this blog was first conceived: I was 21 when I made my first shit make-up tutorial, photographed numerous smokey eyes I did on myself (God have mercy) and gave my cousin a glitzy makeover. These entries don’t happen much anymore since my free time is boxed up in the lost and found section of my life, tagged “RECLAIM AFTER GRADUATION”. But if I am to be honest with you, it’s mostly because my perspective on beauty has gone all Phoebe Philo.

No, Céline isn’t making cosmetics but like the label, I’ve come to appreciate some minimalism in the make-up department. Is this an indication that I’m finally reaching the frontiers of proper maturity? On issues of vanity, maybe a little. Bobbi Brown and our mothers has schooled us in the necessary fact that true beauty is from within and while I make no arguments against the truth, I have to point out that beauty is, in some ways, artifice. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I enjoy make-up’s inherent trickery; its talent in making me feel certain enough that I can leave the house without scaring grown men away (my dark circles, man. I’ve had ‘em since I was 9).

I’ve had my fill of cray eye colour combos but it’s time to move on to the next level of deception: The Five Minute Face. It’s a step above what women love to call “no make-up make-up”, but this is only because I’m still not over the red lip. My other 47 lipsticks are beginning to feel the neglect since I am a few Pantone universes away from ever using them on my lips. I don’t know, guys. There’s just something wonderful about red lips and the way it works with my milky skin; it gives everyone else the illusion that I’ve got my shit together when I really don’t. Beauty is artifice, save and repeat.

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And this is all you need. Honest. Oh wait, I see my concealer isn’t in this photo. For reference’s sake, I use MAC’s Studio Finish Concealer and I have converted legions of friends to this because it is fantastic. I have strayed away from it a few times out of sheer stupidity and wanting to try something ‘different’, but I always come back to it like a first love story.

The Garnier Oil-Free BB Cream is something new to the blog, I’ve had it for a month now and having hated their original BB cream, this oil-free version is heaven sent. It’s very watery so fingers are the best tool for smoothing this on your face – no need for pesky brushes since 5 minutes is all we have. Coverage is light but buildable and the only thing I hate is that it comes in 2 shades: Light and Medium. I use Light; it’s half a shade lighter than my face which isn’t too bad but Medium is way dark – there are no variations in between. It’s so cheap though, I only paid AUD11 for my tube which makes it the cheapest BB cream I’ve purchased. If you can make either Light or Medium work for you, get it!

L’Oreal gave me a few new products to try the last time I was in Singapore (thank you L’Oreal!) and I am now convinced Maybelline might not have the monopoly on the best mascara after all whoops. Look at my lashes after a coat of their Curl Impact Collagene Mascara omg, it’s so..fluttery. I want to try their Voluminous Million Lashes formula when I’m done with this though – my friend, Simone, has these angelic eyelashes (I’m sorry but there really is no other adjective to describe her eyelashes) and she swears by that mascara. Unfortunately, it’s about AUD$30 here last I checked so imma be cheap and stick with my freebie.

You’re probably familiar with the tea noir heavyweights: my go-to eyebrow gel, MAC’s Brow Set in Girl Boy, and setting powder, the everlasting but forking expensive, MUFE HD Powder. Also, I like a light buffing of Rock and Republic’s Contrived Blush onto the cheeks with a kabuki – it adds some life into the skin and balances out the red on the lips. The blush was a birthday present from Cat and you can see more pictures of its amaze packaging here. It also happens to be her birthday today, HAPPY BIRTHDAY HONEY!!!

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Giant image for further emphasis on how FECKING AMAZING this baby is. The L’Oreal Shine Caresses are dupes for the YSL Glossy Stains, that ridiculously expensive but cool hybrid lipstain/colour/gloss everyone’s been whispering about at cocktail parties. Well, thank you L’Oreal Group (they also own YSL Beaute) for extending the invitation to try these Glossy Stains, in the form of the Shine Caresses, to broke ass students such as myself who can’t drop $40 on a lip product without hyperventilating straight after. I’m wearing Shade 702 in Juliette – it’s a rich coral red that works similarly to having a lover’s bite on the lips i.e. it lasts forever and may be tough to remove ;p

Having never tried the Glossy Stains myself, I can’t make any comparisons between the two but I will trust what others have said: the two products are almost the same, with the exception of a few ingredients and YSL’s luxurious packaging. Texture-wise, the Shine Caresses have a strange polymer-like feel to them – they feel tacky at first and they’ll set into a non-sticky gloss after a few seconds. That description probably didn’t help very much but you’ll have to forgive me, it’s one of those weird beauty innovations you’d have to try and see for yourself.

This has been one heck of an entry but I hope it’s meaty enough to make up for my absence the last two weeks? My thesis supervisor pushes me hard and expects work to be completed three weeks before its due date, yikes. She sees right through me; there is no room for procrastination when I’m with her but I’m not complaining, I’m already well ahead of my peers in terms of pace and I’m thankful, even if it means having no time for myself or this blog.

And since we are dipping into matters of the personal…

bb

It’s my best friend’s non-birthday today! Aaron’s a Jehovah’s Witness so he doesn’t do birthdays (yes, there are people who don’t celebrate birthdays gasp!) I’ve been trying to keep it cool and pretending it’s just another ~ordinary~ day but obviously that’s not happening. We’ve known each other for so long you’d think I’d be better at this but NO. I CAN’T. 23 years ago today, my best friend was born into this world and through some odd bits of WTF, we, a Jehovah’s Witness and a Muslim, got stuck together. HAPPY EXPULSION DAY BB! I love you more than Hedi Slimane loves his job at Saint Laurent Paris O SNAP.

P.S I take half credit for making you look haute in this photo I took of you.

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Poor Girl’s Vongole

vongolee

Pasta used to be a regular feature on tea noir until I cooked it too often in the first two years of uni that I began to see it as a means to an end. Freshly cooked pasta is a wondrous blend of parmesan, herbs and olive oil but one, two, three day-old pasta becomes goopy threads of its former scrumptious self. Leftover pasta became a symbol for frugality (not that being frugal’s a bad thing) but cooking and eating a week’s worth of pasta to pay off a shopping debt will never make the list of things I’d feel most nostalgic about.

This must be the most pessimistic I’ve been about food so I’m putting an end to this bashing since the problem here isn’t pasta per se, but my incurable health condition where I can’t seem to hold onto any cash for lengthy periods of time. And to finish this poor girl’s tale with a happy ending: after a year of skillful evasion, I am ready to embrace the durum!

What’s different about the way I cook pasta now is that I look for recipes which are more versatile – take my Poor Girl’s Vongole, for instance. I never got sick of it; I had it as a pasta on the first day, as a soup with homemade focaccia on the next, and had a ball picking out the last serving of mussels with a fork. It’s a relatively simple recipe if fresh clams are easy to find for you (i.e. you don’t live in Melbourne). But if you’re in the same sitch as I am, mussels would do just fine. I confess I’m not particularly fond of mussels but this recipe temporarily suspends my hostility towards the poor shellfish – that’s just how good it is!

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Poor Girl’s Vongole
Adapted from The Food I Love by Neil Perry

Ingredients
400g dried spaghetti
1kg live clams or mussels
1/2 cup or 125ml extra virgin olive oil
1/4 bunch of flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 French shallots, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes (I sliced up a real chilli tho, yeahhhh heat!)
1/4 cup or 60ml dry white wine*
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

*I used apple juice instead and I swear it worked out good. Actually, better than good. Apple juice is a Muslim miracle.

1. Clean the clams by giving them a quick rinse in water. If using mussels, you need to debeard them – this is a slightly time-consuming technique which I am no expert in, so give it a quick google and you’ll know what to do.

2. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add the garlic, shallots, chilli flakes and white wine/apple juice and bring to the boil.

3. Add the clams and cover. Steam over high heat for 3-4 minutes, shaking the pan, until the shells open.

4. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente, then drain well.

5. Add spaghetti and chopped parsley to the saucepan and toss through. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve in four deep pasta bowls.

Note: Don’t freak out at the overtly generous amount of olive oil you’d have to use. 1/2 cup wtf, even I had my doubts (isn’t that heart suicide?) but the shellfish juices will be released into the oil, turning it into a beautifully light broth. I like it when my ingredients do all the work for me.

Poor Girl’s Vongole is probably best served with your favourite TV show, unwritten essay tucked out of sight and the same cheap bottle of apple juice/wine you used to cook the vongole with – nothing wasted!

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The Beautiful/Creative Weekend Reconfiguration

elise

It is counterintuitive to be productive on a weekend; I’m too hard-pressed to get out of bed and depending on how ruthless the past week has been, my brain falls into varying stages of incompetence. I’d elaborate but there are just better things to write about today….like my plan to write an entry every week to get this site back on track.

Seems a little far-fetched for someone who disappears for a month only to return with feeble, guilt-ridden hellos and a long ass entry about what went down on, say, Valentine’s Day (nothing but brunch with a girlfriend happened goddamnit). But bear with me. This is my last year of uni, my last year of freedom, so to speak, before I proceed with the slow, painful recipe for corporate success: shackling myself to a desk and what would likely be a computer running on Windows. I need to utilise this time carefully: do more writing for my portfolio, get to know the other Singapore and Melbourne-based bloggers, read and allow myself to dream a little.

Writing doesn’t come easy for me. It’s one of the scariest things I’ve chosen to do since I constantly live in fear of the blank screen. Half a bar of chocolate and 3 cups of extra strong English breakfast tea: that’s what I had to eat/drink to write this and I know the process will never get any easier. But as long as I wait for the right conditions and my writer’s muse to reappear – I’m not going to get anything done. Weekends are best for sleeping in, but also for waking up to do the best creative work of your life.

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Today I’ll be reading issue 27 of Dumbo Feather, an Australian indie magazine that interviews people we ought to know, from chocolatiers, stylists, bakers, to publishers. Next to it, a milky cup of China Jasmine tea. Tea is my favourite therapist and drink but I also like taking the weekend crash therapy session by piling more sweet-scented beauty products on my face.

My friend, Felix, bought me a tube of Aesop’s Rosehip Seed Lip Cream for Christmas with an insinuating note which said “Ilyana, Because I know you like things that squirt or ooze”. The lip cream’s been difficult to live without in this heatwave Melbourne’s been having, it’s very nourishing and I won’t be surprised if I run out when I actually need it the most – winter.

This damned weather has also sucked the moisture out of my face so I’ve been remedying it by massaging Weleda’s Wild Rose Facial Oil capsules into my skin. It smells like a $200 bottle of perfume but every time I use this, I’ll be on automatic house arrest because the oils won’t absorb into the skin until several hours later. This is my plan for a creative Saturday, what will you be doing today? (Someone share brunch stories and make me jeals, please).

Oh I forgot to mention I’m currently freelancing for inSing.com so here are some shameless self-promos/recommended readings for your weekend:

1) 6 Apps to Make Your Instagram Photos Look Better
2) 8 Lipsticks to Brighten Your Look This SS/13
3) How to Shop on Gmarket Like a Pro

Image credit: Elise Crombez, Vogue Netherlands Dec 2012.

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Goodbye, goodbye

gemma

My heart is beating in a different way
Been gone such a long time and I feel the same
Will you miss me?
When there’s nothing to see?

Every time this song plays on my laptop, as sung beautifully by The xx, I’d wish the band would’ve written it a little sooner (Missing was released in 2012, on their album, Coexist). It describes succinctly what 2011 was for me and though that year has disappeared into melancholy, the song’s meanings aren’t all lost to me.

Every year I do these little posts just before I leave the country to whine about my first world Asian problems. This year it will be no different. The good news is it’s my last year of uni so this is the final round of whingeing y’all are gonna get (nah, not really lol). I was reading my old emo posts and aside from being slightly embarrassed by them, I’m happy I wrote ‘em down. Measuring change is, above all, to recount these things of the past and figuring out if you feel the same (another nod to Missing, god I hope this doesn’t betray my infidelity with the other songs in my playlist). These old entries have had time and a shitty internet connection from being pored over by my eyes and I read them now, surprisingly distanced from past insecurities.

My fears of being left behind for being away for too long, of being alone in an unfamiliar place, of change because change sucks – they don’t bother me much anymore. I don’t have any real answers to why this is so; the only legit thing that’s different about my life is that I eat more gelato now. Is gelato or anything full cream the cure for all ills? Then I would recommend one scoop a week for those in a similar predicament, two scoops if you’re feeling especially tragic.

Somewhere in swirls of frozen green tea and white chocolate, I figured no matter how many times Oprah tries to tell us change is good – it’s horrid most of the time. But we can’t help these things you know? Ice cream messes, stickier situations; these catalysts for our formative years. It isn’t pretty but we must learn to accept, live, and grow – we do it in our own ways – because remaining stagnant is worse.

And don’t worry so much if it’s taking too long for things to fall into place. Life will always be a series of wrong turns, bad choices, foolish ideas. It’s going to be okay. We’ll be okay.

Image credit: Gemma Ward in Details Mag.

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A Very Late Realist’s New Year

2012 has been exceptional – 365 turns in the game of life, some of which were experienced in secret and many, with strangers and friends and Kaori, the girl who makes my coffee every other Melbournian afternoon. The dice has rolled many times in my favour, landing me on squares that allowed me to gain new friendships and giving me the cards to strengthen old ones.

I’ve been lucky – the only times I had my heart broken, the deceitful man in question would almost always be an accidental crushed macaron at the bottom of my bag. Other times, it was a dress or skirt gone out of stock on Asos.com. I didn’t fall in love last year but my best friend did and habitually, with someone who doesn’t love him back. This means long afternoons of pep talks, digital chocolate-giving & hugs, but since sadness, like all other loveborne diseases, is contagious, there are moments when I feel powerless.

First, the wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff: he lives in the present and I live three hours into the future, which makes our friendship sound a lot like that Sandra Bullock movie. And there’s the Indian ocean, waiting to swallow anything that begins with ‘long distance’ as it’s done for so many others before me. It is the worst feeling, not being physically there for someone you care about, to talk things over tea and cake paid for by the gentleman. Aaron and I were never your orthodox best friends anyway, we’ve only met 7 times since the start of our friendship so we’re accustomed to being apart. But many instances this year, I find myself asking whether the words floating off my fingers would be enough to recreate my presence and help mend a beaten heart. I still don’t know the answer to that.

Inadvertently, but not surprisingly, Aaron thinks my inability to fall in love the past few years has turned me into a jaded cynic, which is only fair because I think he is a hopeless romantic, a dreamer, while I am every bit of a realist. It’s not that I have a loathing for the opposite sex; I just haven’t found a man worth loving. Observing Aaron’s pattern unrequitedness and the ways people sometimes change for the worse when paired with another, also puts me off the mood for love. But that’s what I admire about dreamers; they try, despite the risks and wounds. In 2013, I’d like to ditch 60% of my cynicism and replace that with some compassion. I’ll loosen the grip on my “I don’t need a man. I just need my closet” philosophy – still don’t need a man though, but clothes really are trivial next to the L word. It’s time to get my head out of my Lanvin fantasies because there is no need to replace love with clothes. I already am loved, by the most courageous and beautiful. I say courageous because it’s not easy to love me so for those who do, I will love you back more fiercely.

These are my favourite moments of my 2012, some of which, as I said earlier, were experienced in secret but many, with people that matter.

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Hiding from the cold in one of the many cafes sprawled across my uni campus, I’ve only been here maybe twice in three years? Need to do something about that.

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Was running late for class and Spring, just as tardy as I was, surprised me with the first blooms of the season. Very romantic, but it wasn’t enough to make me forget the long wintry nights spent hugging a mug of chai for warmth.

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Spending time with Sher Reen, my reader turned friend, who goes to the same university as I do but graduated this year with a Masters in Architecture. Said goodbyes sweetened by Monsieur Truffe‘s expertly made hot chocolate in March and hellos again in December on a fair-weathered Malaysian Saturday. We have lunch and coffee – things we used to do in Melbourne – before she takes my friends and I to her architecture firm for a spur of the moment tour. Some of her colleagues are still working (on a weekend, good god!) so we try our best to be discreet but uh, you can see discretion isn’t one of our strongest points.

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My cousins flew in for a holiday in June and one of them, Fatin (or Fats as we call her), spent a week with me exploring all the museums in the city and eating her way through my favourite brunch spots. After dark, we’d come home and talk for hours about the most banal of things really, but I loved every single minute of it.

amy

My mornings in Melbourne start with a 15 minute walk to Carlton where I meet Amy who waits for me in her blue peacoat (no matter the weather) and we head to uni together, jaywalking, judging people on the length of their shorts, that sort of thing. These are my favourite 15 minutes of the day. We talk food, trade recipes by text, scribble on pages about what to eat for lunch instead of taking notes about how social networking sites were born. She’s the best, thank you for everything Amz!

tempertrap

Got to see Coldplay after finishing the last assignments of the year. Temper Trap was their opening act and oh my god they were fantastic. Coldplay? I want to see them live again before I die SO FORKING GOOD SORRY GAGA, YOU COULD NEVER. Also managed to catch the Metric gig in Melbourne where Amy and I found ourselves in the third row which gave us the best view of Emily’s amazing legs. How am I still straight after that gig?

bffs1

Having weekly meals with my other best friend, LK. He’s very private and plays the part of the reclusive blogger almost too well so it’s rare that I get a photo of him looking at the camera BUT AHA! Got you, bb! ;p I am guilty of not speaking to him as often as I should when I’m away but I don’t know, whenever we spend time together in Singapore, it feels nothing has changed and I love that about us.

yessaaa

I LOST 10 KILOS WHAT UP! Photo on the left was taken in April and the one on the right was taken in December. I suppose it is time to rewrite the old diet entry.

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Nad and I have been spending so much time together this year, it still surprises me that we haven’t killed each other. She’s a proud feminist and naturally has strong views on how women should be treated; I like the flow of our conversations – we’ll be discussing marital rape one minute and somehow ease into talking about mascara the next. We disagree on so many things and drive each other crazy but she’s always honest with me and that’s why she’s special. I shot this photo on our last morning in Gold Coast, the sun was hurting our eyes so she takes out her sunnies from her bag. I ask if it was the $10 pair we both bought the day before and she snorts, puts these Ray-Bans on and looks away. SO BAD ASS.

weddings

Two of my readers turned friends (what a mouthful) got married and invited me to be part of their special day omg! Thank you so much, Ana and Diana – both of you looked so beautiful and I’m very blessed to count you both as my friends now.

shafah

What I really love about tea noir is meeting all sorts of people, no matter their ethnicity or beliefs, that are equally as fascinated by beautiful things, good conversations and CAKE as I am. Shafah is one of them and here, she’s taking me out for brunch and a tour around Tiong Bahru. Isn’t she stunning? These Arab chicks should just run the world. ’twas my first time to Tiong Bahru Bakery too and I can see why many like it so much, their kouign amann is glorious.

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Aaron and his friend were in Singapore for a short trip in December and we had the most beautiful afternoon eating itty bitty cakes and coffee. Somewhere in between debates on love and stealing bites of each other’s cakes, he got his sketchbook out and drew me ;__; I don’t think I’m that skinny but thanks bb, your work has always been magnificent.

soundwaves

How did we get so lucky?

xx

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Spring Break: A Photo Diary Part II

The most striking thing about Gold Coast is its abnormal devotion to theme parks. There is, perhaps, no other place on earth that has that many theme parks squeezed into the same city. I used to think there existed only the Theme Park Trinity: Movie World, Dream World, and Sea World; but a drab tourism site tells me my vision of the coastal city is more retrospective than reality since Gold Coast is now home to more than 10 theme parks, most of which are lined next to each other along the Pacific Motorway, like bottles to be hit at the county fair. With my tiny savings and womanly priorities (i.e. all money must be spent on shopping, good food, and virgin mojitos), the only metaphorical theme park bottle I manage to hit is Movie World, the Warner Bros-themed attraction the studio’s board of directors hurriedly built in 1989 as an ‘up yours’ type solution to the burgeoning empires of Disney and Universal.

The gates are flanked by a T-Rex that comes to life every 10 minutes, much to the delight of 6-year-old kids in superhero capes made from glitter and polyester, and to the displeasure of new parents coaxing their toddlers back to sleep. Crossing these gates into Movie World didn’t bring me to the unfamiliar worlds a theme park ticket would promise; Main Street looks far less majestic than I remember and even the street’s Roxy Theatre is not enough to hint at its former grandeur. The DC Comics Superhero Hub is nothing more but a haphazard collection of blockbuster-themed rides stuffed into an area near the park’s entrance with no overarching elements to glue them together. Still, what Movie World lacks in its creation of immersive other-worldly experiences, it makes up for in its rides.

The Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster and the Green Lantern ride are easily my favourites. The flashiest ride in the park, Superman Escape, however, did not make the cut. It’s a fantastic ride actually but in the most horrific way. Superman Escape is a coaster with a launch track so high my camera lens can’t capture it properly (iPhone pic here). Walking towards it, my travel partner, Nad, asks if I can handle its extremity. Girl, please. I tell her that having ridden Universal Studio’s dueling coasters, The Battlestar Galactica, I have all the mental and physical training I will ever need to survive any coaster. Nad treats me to some incredible eye-rolling. We spend some 1.5 hours in the queue, keeping busy with girl talk and sporadic whispering about the hot people waiting in line with us (2 broke girls in a foreign land, you can’t expect anything more or less).

The ride begins by taking us around a subway tunnel that experiences an earthquake you can’t feel but you know it’s happening because everything turns batshit cray: billows of smoke lightens the tunnels, the walls are collapsing and the sirens, deafening. It is the finest tremor-free earthquake of my life and I am about to tell Nad when I notice there is light at the end of the tunnel. There is no pause and shooting up into the skies at 100km/h (this is no exaggeration), my initial excitement turns into dread; my overconfidence into humbling prayers to God. My turban is ready to slip away and fall into someone’s lunch down below so I grasp the sides with shaking fingers. I can’t remember anything past the initial drop but after we stumbled out of our coaster vehicles, we decide 1) it is time to eat 2) we are getting too old for this shit.

One more thing: Movie World has a halal buffet restaurant on Main Street which is a great convenience for my fellow Muslims. The food’s okay and they have a soft serve machine which I enjoyed exploiting but I don’t believe it’s very economical to eat there since it’s probably unwise to have a heavy meal before being strapped into steel and flung around like marionettes.

Completely unrelated but still relevant: The Food Store, a cafe hidden in The Hilton‘s nondescript lobby, serves some great Toby’s Estate coffee at non-hotel prices. The last place I thought I’d find good, cheap coffee in Gold Coast tbh, I live for these surprises.

If you haven’t read the first part of my Spring Break entries, you can find it here. And if you love reading about theme parks, please check out my best friend’s website – he is one heck of a theme park junkie lol. I know you guys are probably used to my occasional updates, I always feel terrible about it but I also don’t believe in shortchanging my readers. Super short entries aren’t my style and it’s probably not what you’re used to seeing in this space either. My entries are stories on their own, they take longer to craft because I kill myself making them enjoyable to read so thank you for your patience and please follow the blog on FaceBook, my Twitter or Instagram for future updates!

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My Favourite Reds

I love red lipstick but I suppose wearing it is not without consequences: sometimes you run the risk of being branded a harlot by mothers in their 40s when dining in a family restaurant. It is a colour that requires boldness, a necessary shift in attitude, and hinges on a precise application with a good lip brush if it is to be worn at all. The basic principle? If you think you can pull it off, you can, and if you think you can’t, you can’t. Confidence is as important as disregarding the fear of what everyone might think of the scarlet on your lips.

My favourite red is Burberry’s Ruby Lipstick: it’s a bright, cool-toned red with a satin finish that’s moisturising and comfortable to wear. With its exorbitant price tag, it should be just sayin’. In my FOTD, I layered Ruby with a bit of clear gloss mixed with MAC’s Melon pigment just to see what it looked like – red and gold is always a beautiful combo whether you celebrate Christmas or not, oui? ;D In my Spring Break Beauty Essentials post, I listed Covergirl’s Liquiline Blast as the best tool for a minimalist’s smokey eye. My FOTD is proof of that lol – my eye make-up only consists of two eyeliners, Liquiline Blast in Brown Blaze and SAVVY’s Soft Glide eyeliner in Glitzy Gold, all smudged out with the brush end of the Liquiline Blast. Brown eyeliner is often overlooked but I think it’s dreamier and beautiful against our Asian eyes. With strong, carefully filled-in lips, it’s always nice to keep the eyes soft, imperfect and almost romantic maybe? It’s an entirely different mood from my Summertime Sadness FOTD, for example, with my dramatic black eyeliner and dark lips. That look also features another Burberry Lipstick, Brick Red, a deeper red with brown undertones so check out that FOTD if you want a comparison against Ruby!

I haven’t found a drugstore alternative to Burberry’s Ruby yet but I do love Kate Moss x Rimmel’s lipstick in 001, seen above in the first photo. That photo used to be my twitter profile picture and I always, always get asked what lipstick I have on in it! 001 is a similar blue-toned red that’s about 2 shades darker than Ruby. It’s the perfect crimson actually and at a fantastic price point (AUD$9 on ASOS), it’s a lipstick every red lipstick fiend should get.

And if you’re new to red lipstick and want a sorta stepping stone before investing in a full blown red-red, might I suggest Revlon’s Lip Butter in Candy Apple? I’m wearing it in the second photo and it’s a non-threatening coral red that works well as an everyday lipstick. Unfortunately, it’s not available in Singapore but you can easily get it off Drugstore.com. There’s also Cherry Red, another Revlon Lip Butter shade you can find in Singapore. It’s a more muted, shimmery red but if I am to be really honest with you, I don’t like it as much – the shimmery Lip Butter shades are more drying and feel very gritty on the lips after 1-2 hours of wear so I’d stay away and stick with the non-shimmer ones.

I’m always looking out for new reds to try so please let me know in the comments what your favourite red lipstick is! ;)

p.s: the last two images were stolen off my Instagram (@ilyana) account, I usually post my FOTDs there if I don’t have time to take a snapshot with my camera – come say hi! x

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Scarlet Interlude

Photography by Monsieur Dejiki.

Navy Cotton Piqué Skater Dress – ASOS, Gold necklace – F21, Navy Bag – Chanel Timeless CC, Red flats – Vincci

I’m back home in Singapore after a 2 month absence! I have nothing to offer you except the seminal excuse of university constantly getting in the way of my social life. I should probably have published the second half of my Gold Coast entry now but after having experienced several emotional roller coasters of my own, the last thing I want to write about is more coasters so imma declare a fashion interlude right now. I have the advantage of being in the same country as my pro photographer bff, Dejiki, which makes it a lot easier to show you some of the key pieces in my wardrobe.

Skater dresses must have exploded into the Singapore fashion sphere in the middle of last year and the trend hasn’t dwindled one bit. No one complains because these dresses are cut to flatter any body shape and provides a temporary reprieve from the hip deadlock of the pencil or the fat-divulging bodycon. Still, not all skater dresses are made equal: many of them are manufactured using fabric that belies their true nature. A skater dress has to be well-constructed for it to work as it should; the perfect skater should be made of a material stiff enough to hold the pleats in its skirt without the help of any netting. Just as no one should have to eat a fallen souffle, no girl should have to wear a flouncy skirt being passed off as a skater dress either.

Asos has been a real genius for using cotton piqué (fabric pic here), a woven cotton fabric with the right stiffness and weight, for the skater dress I have on. My other best friend, Aaron, thinks it’s an insult to call it a skater “because it’s obviously too haute to be called a skater dress” but it is what it is lol. To him, a skater dress may be a fashion fad that’s been dragged out long enough but I think if you find one that’s beautifully-made, you would’ve scored yourself a trend-defying classic.

Also introducing the latest bag in the family: my mom’s navy blue Chanel Timeless CC flap bag she received as an apology/mother’s day gift from my father after they had a 15 minute fight in the heart of Orchard over CUTLERY (wtf). I don’t know how she does it but I’m pretty sure part of the secret is to find a man who cannot bear to be treated with angry silence. But my mother has a way with words too: the night I arrived back in Singapore, she handed me a Louis Vuitton wallet she just bought but strangely didn’t want anymore.

“Why don’t you want this?? You haven’t used it at all!”
“It’s got too little credit card slots for me and you have none.”

My mother knows the best way to verbally drive a stake through my heart LOL. Anyway, I didn’t accept the Louis Vuitton wallet in the end, which may seem like a dumb move but if it’s concerning small leather goods, my loyalty will forever lie with Mama Miuccia.

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Spring Break: A Photo Diary Part I

“NOTHING COMES CLOSE TO THE GOLDEN COAST” – the smarmy line from that Katy Perry song Aaron texted me when I arrived in Gold Coast. I don’t know how Gold Coast would compare with California but that said, the first thing I noticed about the city was how freakishly similar it was to the other coastal areas I’ve been to. It reminded me of Malacca, Marine Parade, and Sentosa all at once and perhaps we’re looking at a trait inherent to most coastal cities: they gravitate towards nearly identical architectural styles and have a relaxing vibe that comes naturally with beachfront living.

My spring break didn’t start out so great. I had to sit next to the most insufferable people on the plane: two other girls, one of whom started complaining when asked to put her bag below the seat in front of her – “I can’t put my LONGCHAMP on the floorrrrr.” Girl, it’s hard to believe you don’t know it’s standard protocol to have all bags on the floor before take-off so stop playing the victim and let the stewardess do her damn job. A long string of expletives played out in my head every time she looked in my direction and finally, an hour into the flight, bitch went to sleep. I tried to look at the positive side of things; I may not be able to push this chick off the plane but at least I’d have one terrific flight story to tell Nad when I’d arrived.

Many things have changed since my last trip there (I was 8!) but to all intents and purposes, Gold Coast remains much the same as it was then. The beaches are as spectacular as I remember, just cleaner and more modernized. The coastline is still cramped with apartment hotels either fathered by the nondescript global hotel chain or the ones that are too indie to be clustered with the mainstreamers. I devised a little game to see if we could spot the most ridiculously named hotel but it was forgotten shortly after a seafood dinner of the grandest scale. Freshly shucked oysters, delightful baby octopus dressed in a light oil and vinegar dressing, lobsters, battered fish and shrimp on a terrifying bed of fries – it was carb hell but we were in heaven.

Unlike Melbourne, Gold Coast isn’t really the place for great coffee. Let’s be frank: nobody goes to Gold Coast for coffee. They’re there for the beaches, hot surfer boys, girls in bikinis overdoing the tanning oil, overpriced buffets, and amusement parks. But I am a coffee fiend who likes the occasional challenge. After some google-sleuthing, I scoped out two chic cafes with decent beans: Bumbles and Elk Espresso.

Bumbles is conveniently tucked away at the back of our hotel and after a 7-hour flight, Nad, understandably needed some caffeine and nosh in her system. I wasn’t in the mood for coffee after that plane episode so we split some prawn sandwiches, truffle fries, and a mocha between us. The prawn sandwiches weren’t just dressed in grandma’s old mayo but had some paprika and lemon juice mixed in as far as I could tell. It was blistering hot and those sandwiches were a cool food refuge from the sun, yum. The truffle fries were great too and came topped with parmesan shavings but honestly, they were expensive for the little amount we got. Still, money needs to be spent during a holiday and spend it all we did LOL.

My favourite between the two has to be Elk Espresso, this – dare I say it – Melbournesque cafe located in Broadbeach. Admittedly, it’s very hipster-y with a mural of an elk on its specked green walls and wood trimmings but god, it’s so pretty I didn’t mind being identified as a hipster for an hour. Nad ordered a beautiful lemon tart with a side of cream and a coffee. As for me, I had read reviews prior to my visit and everyone was saying the same thing: do not leave Elk’s without trying their crème brûlee milkshake. And it gets better. While they did have regular milkshakes on the menu, the crème brûlee flavour exists only as a colossal food monument you often see on Man V. Food: THE THICKSHAKE. It’s scoops of smooth vanilla-caramel ice cream, milk and white chocolate shavings blended into the thickest, most decadent milkshake in the entire gold/east/west coast. I don’t know how many calories went into one thickshake but nothing succeeds like excess. Kelis, it’s time to update your song girl – this thickshake is going to bring more than boys to the yard.

Stay tuned for part II!

Bumbles
19 River Drive
Surfers Paradise, QLD 4217

Elk Espresso
16 Chelsea Ave
Broadbeach QLD 4218

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Spring Break Essentials

It’s spring break guys!! I’m heading to the Gold Coast tomorrow with my friend, Nad, who’s going to be flying in from Singapore! I haven’t seen her since my last trip home so I suspect there will be plenty of bitchery over coffee and late night gelato. My travel beauty kit is always the first to be packed and I realised some of the products I’ve chosen to bring with me haven’t been formally introduced on the blog yet so here it is: my spring break beauty essentials.

Tortoiseshell Sunglasses: These are from Peony Lim but they’re currently sold out. I think you can find a similar pair from Karen Walker, bit pricey though.

Revlon PhotoReady Foundation in 004 Nude
: I had no interest in the PhotoReady foundation but when I spotted bottles going for SGD$15 at the Changi Airport, HELLO INTEREST KINDLED. There have been a lot of mixed reviews regarding this line: some think it’s great, others argue that it’s too much of a glitter puff. I think it’s perfect. It’s light, has medium coverage and the shimmer blends right into the skin for me.

Maybelline 24-hour Color Tattoo in Bold Gold: Haven’t tried this out yet but I’m going to be using this as an eyeshadow on days when I need to have my sunnies on 24/7 (stalking surfer boys MEHEHE) or as an eyeshadow base on days when the Gold Coast sun isn’t out to blind me.

Bobbi Brown Day to Night Warm Eye Palette: Previously seen here. I was just gifted Urban Decay’s Naked Palette for my birthday this year but this Bobbi Brown one gets to travel with me because it’s a lot smaller and has a good mix of neutral and dark shades.

Topshop Cream Blush in Pinch: Also artfully reviewed here. It’s always handy to have an item that’s versatile enough for your cheeks and lips when on holiday!

Revlon Lip Butters in Candy Apple and Peach Parfait: These lipsticks certainly live up to their hype, they apply so smoothly and have a great assortment of shades. Candy Apple is my favourite because it’s the first red lippie (albeit a little on the coral side) I have that doesn’t need to be applied with a lip brush. Amen.

Biore UV Perfect Milk SPF 50+ PA+++: After my little skin cancer scare last year, I’ve become such a sunscreen hoarder omg – I buy two bottles at a time whenever my current bottle feels considerably lighter. My biggest beauty fear is running out of sunscreen and having to stay indoors until I get the bottles shipped over to me from Asia since this particular sunscreen isn’t available here. I’ve tried many brands from Neutrogena (gross) to Kose (too expensive) but Biore’s is definitely the best because it’s cheap, doesn’t smell like sunscreen and has a matte finish.

Covergirl Liquiline Blast in Brown Blaze: Easily the best beauty purchase I’ve made in a while. The eyeliner is great but I think the amazing thing about the Liquiline Blast is the smudge brush that comes with it. Line your eyes a little thicker than usual, blur out the edges with the smudge brush, and you’ll have an effortless 2 minute smokey eye. Great stuff.

Maybelline One by One Volum’Express Mascara: It’s similar to my former HG mascara from Majolica Majorca but is a lot easier to remove.

MAC Brow Gel in Beguile: I switch between this shade and Girl Boy depending on my mood and it’s been my favourite for 4-5 years now? I’ve tried eyebrow pencils but I always go back to brow gels – it’s so much easier!

I should probably get back to packing before I forget other important things like my plane tickets, or my passport .__. Thanks for reading and I’ll catch you guys after my holiday!

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