Sure as Autumn Flame

Stop being envious, get cracking start planning!
June 20, 2011, 12:54 am
Filed under: Lifestyle, Two Cents' Worth | Tags: , , , , ,

I get this too often: “Hey you are quite happening huh, always looking like you have a fabulous time every weekend” or “Just how many times do you travel??”

It does get frustrating, especially when people think all you do is to play all day long…as if you do not deserve it. It is amazing how quickly people judge – come into office with a sunkissed look and people immediately think you are a beach bum who spends her days under the sun without doing any work.

I digressed. Instead of sitting back and being envious of all of us who “enjoy life, leh”, it is also time to consider the following:

1. You have reached the age where you cannot party hard on Fridays and Saturdays and expect to bounce outdoors the next morning. Your body will probably want to hide under the covers till 3pm on a brilliant weekend instead.

2. You feel that your weekends should be plans-free and hence decide to plan your day around your mood instead. Being the night owls most of us are, chances are you will probably wake up at 11am earliest and spend the next 4 hours planning brunch/lunch, getting there and sitting through a lovely lazy day. Before you know it, it’s 5 in the evening, time for beers!

3. Weekends in Singapore can get really boring after a while. How much can you eat, drink and shop…and keep this routine up every week?

Weekend getaways include local hotel stays (well you can bounce and frolic on the hotel bed, opt for cocktail lounges and buffet breakfasts to keep yourselves occupied); Batam (hotel stays, beach resorts, seafood and cable-ski park); Malaysia (food trips to Malacca, Penang, city roams in Kuala Lumpur); Phuket (sun, sand, sea, massage); Indonesia’s private islands and more. What’s there NOT TO DO?

4. Barbecues.

There is nothing more satisfying than organising a barbecue. Raid the supermarkets, wash, chop, cut, marinate, skewer the food and do not forget the Wii and beers. Gone are the days of eating sand in between your East Coast sausages and cheap-looking crabsticks. Say hello to home barbecues with wagyu beef, garlic buttered king prawns, home-made beef patties and endless satays. Start playing “99 bottles, standing on the wall” when you think you have accumulated too many Heinekens – have fun.

Long hours are going to be here to stay during the work week anyway, so make full use of the weekends for your dose of fun – planned, of course.



Make-up for students – what for?
March 15, 2010, 6:04 am
Filed under: Beauty & Health, Lifestyle | Tags: , , , , ,

Peeling off a pore-pack has a strangely satisfying effect on one’s psychological self. Seeing the pores glued onto the adhesive and knowing they are no longer embedded in your nose somehow makes the ten-minute wait feel like a skin detox , almost like a facial spa treat minus the soothing music and waterfall sound effects.

And if you are a poor tertiary student cleaning tables at Starbucks or furiously mauling your fingers on the keyboard as part of your temporary data entry job, there is a simple solution of looking good. Six hundred dollars monthly during an internship is not going to allow you to splurge on Mac’s eye-shadow palette, Bobbi Brown’s foundation nor Anna Sui’s catwalk eyeliner, so one has to get creative and resourceful when it comes to battling those skin-care giants.

Because you are a tertiary student, you have the everlasting edge over any other woman you see on the street – youth. With youth comes supple skin, rosy cheeks and perfect highlights…that is, if you do not spend your sleeping hours in clubs and your waking hours in bed. Hovering between 18 to 23 years of age have got to be the best times of your life and possibly, the peak of your youthful looks.

Three paragraphs later, I am telling you young women, you do not need make-up. Why would you want to look like a jaded 28-year old whose skin has not seen the sunlight because she has been working from 7am to 9pm every day? Why would you cake your face with powder and smother your eyelids with eyeliners and shadow when there are neither open pores nor tired eyes to hide? Honey, there is no way you will snag that 35-year old man you have been eyeing by trying to look older. If he wants you, he wants you. If not, behaviour will automatically classify you into tertiary category and not “grown mature working adult” category. Trust me, we can tell a 22-year old university student from a 24-year old working lady even though the former might be dressed in a perfect suit. And unless you want to strut the stage like Lady Gaga, my personal advice would be to steer clear of fake eyelashes that have beads in them or are more than 5-mm long.

Alright, we all love to look beautiful. And like any mother, drill this into your head – start with basic skincare. Reduce those pores with a pore-pack, use a facial cleanser that suits your skin type best, apply your toner, moisturiser and eye-cream if you are really that paranoid. Really have got to hide those flaws from your lecturers in a semi-dimmed lecture room? Fuss-free, budget and reliable products are your best bet.

You need to look sharp and presentable for an interview:

First of all, let us go back to basic, basic, basic. With these in store, they take you from normal lecture days (which in my opinion, do not require make-up at all), to interviews, parties, functions and house visits. A make-up base and concealer ranks top priority, for they erase most imperfections and zits to turn your face into a clean slate for layering on the other shades. Oh, and trim your eyebrows.

Make-up base:

On a clean face, prep your face with Ettusais Medicated Acne Whitening UV EX (SPF 24/PA++) or opt for Skin Food’s Aloe Sun BB Cream (SPF 20/PA+). These offer decent coverage of open pores and reduced dark spots without caking your face like quick drying mud. For extra coverage, lightly smear eye rings and spots with stick concealer or something like Sephora Lasting & Perfecting Corrector.

Liquid or powder?

While some prefer liquid foundation for longer-lasting effects, others opt for powder foundation to beat the heat and run a lesser risk of an oily look by the end of a long day. Liquid or powder, the decision rests on how disciplined you are on blotting your face at least once a day.

Liquid foundation for the most natural coverage:
– Revlon Beyond Natural Skin Matching Makeup SPF 15
– Ettusais Flat Design Liquid SPF 18

For a natural finish, use a make-up sponge and dab the uneven patches with it. Do not waste the product by dabbing across your entire face, especially when you have got only certain trouble spots which you want to conceal.

Compact foundation with finest finish:

– Lancome Maquicake UV Infinite Everlasting Compact Foundation SPF 20
– Majolica Majorca Skin Remaker Compact Foundation SPF 18

Foundations these days usually have a two-in-one UV protector for daily use and decent skin coverage, so there is no real need to apply another layer of sunscreen and risk clogging up your delicate pores. Foundation is not nude paint, then again neither is make-up an artist palette – you can’t change “ugly” to “pretty” with mere strokes of the sponge. It might be wiser to save up for plastic surgery correction instead, honey. They say you might be able to get a recommendation from the National Skin Centre to enjoy a subsidised rate.

At this point, all you need is a blusher, some clear lip gloss and you’re ready to go (and glow). Save time and dust your cheeks with Clinique’s Quick Blush in In-A-Rush Blush for natural finish.

Trust me, ladies. This is it. Trim your eyebrows and use a pore-pack.

What, nothing for the night?

Darlings, you are young. The clubs are almost pitch black with crazy neon lights. If you look gorgeous, you score. If you look hideous, rely on the lack of lighting and shake your booty instead. Okay, we will allow smoky eyes for the night, so pile on the liner, shadows and finish off with your mascara.

Get it right:

In summary, there is a time and place for different types of make-up. Everyday wear may consist of the above recommendation, perhaps with an eyeliner and mascara to spruce it up a notch higher. Having a night out? Okay, more eyeshadow. A dinner function? Coverage is important. Going to the beach? Fall back on a good sunscreen lotion instead, not the damn eyeliner.

Be bold this summer – snip ’em off
March 6, 2010, 1:04 am
Filed under: Beauty & Health, Fashion, Lifestyle | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Plucked off polkadotmonsters, a site where I contribute:

Singapore recorded its lowest rainfall this February, complete with one too many scorching “summer” days in a row. The weather, plus its humidity, makes it impossible to even layer the thinnest camisoles, wear your bangs straight without having your hair plastered to your forehead, much less walk around with a lovely long-sleeve shirt to work.

It is not like the weather is going to change itself. We only have hot and wet, no drastic changes, which allows the perfect hairstyle to wear out this summer season. Asymmetrical cuts have been the rage since Victoria Beckham appeared with her asymmetrical bob, and we Asians must realise that we are able to pull them off too.

The trick to these hairstyles simply lies in wax, wax, wax. Be religious – search for a long-lasting wax that holds your hair in place the entire day. I personally like Gatsby clay or Zoaa Vibrance Styling Clay. Forget Lucidol L that claims to transform your hair magically, just use clay! Of course, the essence of a good hairstyle lies in a good cut, so pick your stylist carefully. Show him/her photos of what you want and don’t look back after that.

Clay is an amazing product. Pinch a small blob off (about a finger dab) and smear it all over your ten fingers. Stick your fingers straight under the top layer of your hair and start scrunching, from sides to the back and deftly at the top – you wouldn’t want too much clay on each strand since it will weigh it down. Don’t forget the ends, scrunch them with a little twist so they wave out nicely.

Think you look better in long hair, or decided to chicken out? Fear not, Summer 2010’s styles feature more texture, more layers and wavy locks for the busy lady. It’s all about letting your hair characterise you – less products, better cut, more volume. Pin it up, braid it, or simply wind toss it. And don’t forget the wax!

My Affair with Mr Scissors-Hands
July 10, 2009, 12:54 am
Filed under: Beauty & Health, Lifestyle, Woven Tales | Tags: , , , ,

I love my new hair.

Each time I look in the mirror, each time my fingers grazed the styling clay, I thought of his teasing fingers shaping my bangs, and the image freezes there.

If the word “affair” is loosely termed, my affair with Mr Scissors-Hands begun last year. Like every relationship, I bolted away crying from my previous hairstylist, convinced that the love of my life has ruined the future ahead for me. Till I met Mr Scissors-Hands when I wandered through the corridors of dodgy Katong Shopping Centre – I entered haltingly, he beckoned gently. I stiffened a sigh, and plonked myself to an experience I could only hope for the best.

The first encounter. Like a first date, we did not know what to make of each other. I wondered how good his fingers were, while he wondered what baggage and scars I carried with me. Like a dance of lovers, we begun slowly, hesitant, a brief touch, his hand guiding the way. I tip-toed along those pages of flowing curls, I made my decision, and closed my eyes for his magic…

Why did I choose to leave the man who had toyed with my hair for the past six years? I confided in him, I wanted him to make me the prettiest girl in school, I begged for him to try new things on me. He was the dominant one in the relationship, he held the reins. He gave me what he liked, and I loved it because he liked it too. Eager to please, I modelled his dreams and he painted his desires on me. I cried my sorrows and life’s worries while he smoothed my hair, and somehow his words – though not many – managed to make me feel better. It might not have been his words but the magical tough he had on my hair, because I remember leaving his salon happy and feeling more beautiful than an hour earlier. Like a relationship facing the inevitable stagnant phase, where nothing exciting happens anymore, he was harsh with his words. “No matter what you want me to do with your hair, face it – you’ll still look the same blah girl.”

I did not need a man who saw no hope in making magic with me anymore.

Mr Scissors-Hands was a renewed hope, a refreshed vigour and a whiff of adventure. I felt assured and safe with him as we explored textures and colours, sharing an anticipation as the hair-dryer reveals the final product bit by bit. I was always stunned to awe by his skill with the scissors while he took pride in my adventurous nature. Curls, bob, the asymmetrical cut…it was like having snapshots of our memories, with stories woven behind them. The curls allowed us to discover our mutual friends, and each other’s likes and dislikes. The bob revealed a more intimate side of him – he had a daughter, but he is alone now. I hummed along a similar tune – single child, single mum – and we silently understood each other, the pain, the loneliness…and our courage to march through life. The asymmetrical was a fun excursion, him teasing, I was laughing. I am hooked to him, like another lover in my life.


In reality, chosing a hairstylist is almost like chosing a boyfriend. Women flock to men who seem to exist for the sole purpose of making them beautiful, and it is in our nature to find the perfect match who understands our hair, our roots, and our nature. I belong to the statistics – they do not call the hair a crowning glory without a reason. Hair changes our complex, our impression on others, and at times releases our alter-ego within us.

Three hours with a hairstylist is almost like going out on a date. Such close proximity, do we simply sit in silence? Conversations, laughter, the need to find similar interests to generate topics to chat…hairstylists have moved from a mere hair-transforming agent into a professional friend. Women seek that professional friend for a quick confidential outburst, for a confidence booster, and at times, a convenient coffee date when she is around the area.

In cases where some will take this friendship level to the next one that of lovers, a relationship that blossomed out from such stylist-customer origins are few and scattered wide. My told-story of “My Affair with Mr Scissors-Hands” will stay a purely fictional one, because the professional friendship is worth the next few good years (or more, I hope) of lovely hair.

A peek into the path less travelled
May 10, 2009, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Lifestyle, Two Cents' Worth

Let’s face it. I am not a banker, neither am I a trader, a risk manager nor do I linger in the finance industry.

I get a mixture of reactions when I tell people where I work at, and what I work as. Some frown and go, “What do you do exactly – you give tours in the museums?” Some pretend to know what I do, and muster a lame “Ah, I see. That sounds interesting.” There are the blatant ones that automatically shut me off, knowing that I’ll never be of use to their network of high-networth individuals whom they are trying to tie up deals with and sponge off abit of returns from them. And there are one or two, who go “Serious! Awesome! I haven’t met anybody who does that – hey tell me more leh!”

I used to harbour angst against some people who have embedded themselves deep into their finance-related work and measure their success by the amount they earn, the profits they made and the connections they have established with rich people and such. This transcends into the need to justify their self-worth, transposing into posh-lookin’ cars, prime apartments and chalking up a huge tab every Friday night on alcohol, and more alcohol. Designer bags, blinking cuff links and a fifty dollar note are but mere spare change to them, Tung Lok becomes the daily lunch and Starbucks the new breakfast-in-a-paperbag.

The very same kinds who yearn that sort of success think that I do not know my priorities, and that I am still idling around, not knowing what to do for my career advancement. I measure my success by the people I know, the people who bother to listen to me, the people I’ve touched and managed to make a difference to. My drive stems from addressing a challenge that society faces everyday, the challenge to change mindsets and alter perceptions, to offer a new perception to the cynical society. I smile when I see their eyes light up and they finally get what we’ve been trying to do…and I rejoice when the word goes out, from one to ten, ten to many, many to all.

I thrive on events, on functions and gatherings that bring like-minded people together. Relationships to me are like the binding forces that piece my life together. Family, friends, colleagues, clients, partners…they interweave and create opportunities for me to be who I am, and who I see myself to be in future. I place emphasis on fostering and maintaining relationships in my life because I knew the pain and emptiness of having lost people dear to me, and watched for myself how a very strong individual survived the harsh realities faced by a single mother when she rejoined the society as a working woman.

Such angst I feel no more, now that I know how I prosper. I cannot live with my earnings coming from another individual’s loss in his/her funds, neither can I survive the dog-eat-dog world of the finance industry. My love for writing tells my story and others to those who listen, and it hopefully opens a side they have never thought about, or experienced. My work with Singapore’s museums and the country’s heritage as a whole, will hopefully continue to touch a raw nerve in our society, and remind us that we have a history to reminiscise and learn of. And through music and sports, I sing my joy unto those unahppy, and remind myself that life is worth living and shouting about, every day I wake up breathing.

I recall you saying, “Don’t you feel stupid, that all the work you do is just a small part of the larger workings of the organization/scheme of things?”

And my reply, “Don’t you feel small, that all the money you earn is just equivalent to someone else’s spare change that is worth just a blink of his eye?”

Disclaimer: I do not seek to reproach anybody’s choice in their career, but rather to make parallel the non-finance jobs and the hard-core finance-related positions. We’re after all running the same rat race, just at our own pace and looking out for our own cheese.

Mojito, extra mint please.
April 26, 2009, 12:24 am
Filed under: Food, Lifestyle | Tags: , , , , ,

Esplanade’s rooftop garden finally served its true alternate purpose when Orgo succesfully bidded a 2 year’s stay atop the Esplanade. Formerly conceptualized as a mobile pub when they were humbly at the banks of Singapore River just below the Central, Orgo revealed its quiet magnificence when I paid them a visit after a musical feast on Friday night.

Well known for their real fruit martinis, kick ass mojitos and cute Japanese bartenders, I cannot imagine why would anybody NOT sit at the bar. I shall refrain from discussing the bartenders’ appeal, but you know how it is when guys do their “thing”. Ultimately sexy. Disclaimer: That’s my opinion though, you may not discuss this further.

Orgo makes a tidy little niche Lego construction, with deep chocolate brown rattan-weaved chairs lining the brightly-lit bar, arranged in squares and transparent air-conditioned boxes with lounge chairs within. Pick your choice – lounge in comfort or brave the current sweltering heat in Singapore, although I would go with the latter to enjoy the cityscape and in future, Marina Bay Sands completed.

Music matters not here – one sits to peaceful silence and constant murmurs from conversations all around, or listen to the wind blow in his/her ears. I loved the peace that came along with Orgo, drowned in the whirring of blended cocktails and shaken (not stirred) martini art.

Just remember to order their kick-ass mojitos too. That’s one more to add to the list of chill pill pads.

Osim’s alternative marketing strategy
October 26, 2008, 12:44 am
Filed under: Beauty & Health, Entertainment, Lifestyle

Sitting through coffee sessions or a simple phone conversation with two pairs of great friends had me laughing about Osim’s knack of producing products that serve alternative purposes.

I was out on a rampage for the Rabbit (not the one that eats carrots) for a potential birthday present, when good girl-friend A suggested Osim’s uVibe. (see picture below) This new vibrator massager from Osim had me wondering what kind of a marketing team they have – with the tagline, Think vibrating massage. Think Osim’s uVibe. Oh yeah, I definitely will – considering how uVibe bears a startling resemblance to dildos in general.

Good couple-friends girl B and guy B had me howling when they proudly announced their best purchase in recent times, having grabbed an iGallop (also an Osim product) at an amazingly low price during one of those private amongst-friends garage sale.

Besides their enthusiasm in geting some exercise and abs workout going amidst their busy schedules in front of the television, these two obviously had other plans in mind when they went garage-shopping for iGallop. I listened with one eyebrow raised and an amused look when girl B ranted about how it took them too many tumbles onto the floor when they introduced this gadget into their bedroom schedule. My abs had a workout by themselves when I laughed to guy B’s exclamation of “Hey, there’s a handle for me to hold on to lahhhh! I should have known better than to try to balance our both selves with my own core strength alone.

A quick read on iGallop’s functions summarized into – The Trot, The Gallop and The Circuit. It is left to my imagination to how well those two dear friends of mine have adjusted to the different exercise modes, but Osim certainly had it going for them – at least they appeal to both the unfit and lazy group of people who don’t like to run but want to lose weight, as well as to the saucier group like my darling friends.

I’ll sure be on a lookout for the next garage sale – who knows when I may need one of this yeah?