The Makeup Addict Tag

Happy New Year, my loves! I hope you had a great end to 2014. May 2015 be a wonderful year for you all!

We had a very quiet Christmas in Sydney with the husband’s mum, partner, and his sister’s family, and we spent New Year’s eve as a family and didn’t get a babysitter. Best decision ever — the bubba loved fireworks and tried to touch them as they exploded in the sky. Too cute.

So where have I been? Why has this blog been so deadly quiet? Sorry, my dear readers, offline life got in the way and I had to prioritize. Sparkle Collagen keeps me on my toes most days so every time lil C goes down for a nap, I would quickly do some work. I try not to do domestic tasks because that’s such a time suck and we would all have a late lunch around 2pm when he is up.

Liz from Beauty Reductionista tagged me in The Makeup Addict Tag (thank you, dear, for giving me inspiration!) and I thought it would be fun to do it.

Just a small preface (after such an rambly intro haha!): I still LOVE makeup although it doesn’t seem to show on the blog. My latest entries seem to focus on skincare and for good reason — I stopped buying makeup and didn’t think of mentioning it. I’m trying to toss expired items and use up more of what I have. But that doesn’t mean I don’t drool from afar or not appreciate what I’m using.

Let’s begin!

Which product do you still buy more of despite having plenty in your collection?

It used to be foundations and BB creams, but of late, I did a big clean out of my collection because liquids just don’t last and separate after a couple of years. The second thing I would hoard would be face powder compacts. I have so many that I hardly use but I keep buying more in search for the perfect one — mattifying, long lasting, in a gorgeous compact, and in my shade. I’ve yet to find my holy grail.

Which is the one product you cannot live without?

My Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua foundation in B30. It’s by far the best liquid foundation that suits my oily combination skin type and it looks so natural while giving a little coverage over redness and freckles. I’ve received countless compliments on my complexion while wearing it. I have thought of trying other similar products from Urban Decay and YSL but I’m on a makeup buy ban so…maybe some time in the future?

Favourite makeup brand?
If I had to name just one, it would be Chanel, but that’s in a hypothetical world! I love Dior, Stila, Tarte, Bobbi Brown, Urban Decay, NARS, and Too Faced. For drugstore, I gravitate to Maybelline and Milani.

How big is your makeup collection?

Barring foundation and other liquid items like mascara, eyeliner, and primers, I would say, I have enough makeup to last me for at least five more years. My collection is large but not “makeup artist large”, if you get what I mean.

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And so how do you store it?

I have makeup I don’t adore in one large cupboard in my bathroom and one small drawer system in my bedroom with current stuff I love putting on, plus a big caddy of quick-and-easy makeup that I stash in the living room in case I have to put on makeup while watching the bub.

Sorry I don’t have a photo of my bathroom cupboard collection since I’m not at home right now.

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How many items of makeup have you got in your handbag at this moment?

Five in all. I usually carry two lip balms with SPF and a couple of lipsticks for when I need to freshen up. If it’s a special occasion, I’ll bring the same lipstick with me. Otherwise, I’ll just use what I have in my handbag. I also included the blotters because they help me remain shine-free!

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If you could raid another blogger’s stash, who would it be?

Mostly Sunny – she has extremely elegant taste and I would definitely go crazy swatching her amazing collection.

Eye Heart It – Larie has bold lipsticks and eyeshadows that I would be curious to try.

How long does your usual makeup routine take and how many products do you use?

My everyday makeup routine takes about 10-15 minutes depending on how made up I want to be. But the average day-to-day face I wear includes: sunscreen, liquid foundation, concealer, eyebrow powder, eye shadow primer, eyeshadow, mascara primer, mascara, liquid eyeliner, blush, face powder, lip balm, lipstick and lip gloss.

For a faster application, I don’t use primer before foundation, and may even skip powdering because the Chanel liquid foundations I have, especially the Vitalumiere Velvet, don’t need much mattifying. To round off this easy look, I just slap on tinted lip balm or lip gloss.

For very special occasions, I would put on the full works, including highlighter and bronzer.

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This looks like a lot of makeup but I have two blushes and two face powders in my everyday makeup pouch. And two foundations — one in a lighter shade and one in a darker one in case I get a tan here in Sydney which is very likely!

Have you ever bought makeup knowing you wouldn’t use it?

I think most makeup fans would refer to gorgeous limited edition palettes or items when it comes to “buying and not using”. For me, I have bought makeup that I kind of knew wasn’t my thing but I still did for the cheap price tag and perhaps their gimmicky factor, e.g. very shimmery and intense blue or green eyeshadow, or very bright red but bad quality lipstick. I might play with these once or twice and then shelve them.

Tag other makeup addicts to do this tag.

I tag Sunny from Mostly Sunny and Larie from Eye Heart It.

I’ve been trying some new skincare so expect that to be on the blog soonish!

Korres Greek Yoghurt Advanced Nourishing Sleeping Facial Review

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Hello my loves, I’ve been really into natural skincare lately and it seems everything that I am using has a “natural” label on it. I’ve tried different brands, and to be honest, there are not many that wow me. They do a good enough job but they can’t really compare with conventional products in terms of effectiveness, though I really prefer to have products with fewer nasties so I compromise on performance.

But the Korres Greek Yoghurt Advanced Nourishing Sleeping Facial is a rarity that makes your skin look and feel smoother the next day after using it. Korres has even done a study that revealed “97% of women saw smoother skin by morning”.

Initially I used it once or twice a week to give my skin a boost but I loved it so much I pretty much used it as my night cream. The description on Sephora says, “[It is] A weightless soufflé powered by super-charged proteins that melts into skin and works overnight for intense, immediate moisturization.”

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As you can see, it’s got a regular cream texture that wouldn’t spill out of the pot when I hold it that way but it is indeed very light but it seriously does a great job of moisturizing your skin so don’t be fooled at all by its featherweight behaviour.

What ticks the boxes for me as well is that it has no parabens, sulphates, and phthalates. There is a slight clean floral fragrance which I don’t mind, so I wouldn’t say this is completely for those with sensitive skin. It does make my skin tingle when I put it on so it feels like the cream is doing something.

Another plus point for me is that it has an affordable price tag and it has a “visible difference” type of efficacy to it which is really uncommon in mid-range masks or moisturizers.

Greek yogurt is known for is amazing moisturizing power so to put it in a beauty product is just genius. I’m also a fan of the Wild Rose version. If you ask me which is better, they are the same to me in terms of how my skin looks and feels afterwards but of course it has a rose scent which is very lovely. I adore both and would definitely re-purchase these products again.

I’ve bought the Greek Yoghurt Moisturizing Face Cream just to try it out but it doesn’t have the same claims except for the fact that it has full-fat Greek yogurt in it as well. The beauty junkie in me couldn’t resist trying something different and I am curious about the rest of the products in the range.

I think natural skincare brands are beginning to try and prove that they are just as good or even better than conventional brands by way of clinical research studies and I’m definitely paying attention to this space.

For my Japan fellow expats, you can get this on Sephora, and yes they ship to Japan! Yay!

What natural skincare brands work for you? Please share!

Mummy Monday: My Baby Turned One!

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I know that life gets so busy and goes non-stop when I forget important things. I had to fill up a form which required lil C’s birth date and I paused. For a long time. Then I had to check my boshi techo (it’s the Japanese mother’s handbook) to confirm the day he was born, 11 Oct 2013.

All I could remember on the 10th was feeling like a stuck whale pushing like crazy and the husband was cheering me on. There was a joke that Charles could have the same birthday as one of his cousins in Sydney who was born on the 10th. For some reason, the husband thought it would be great for them to share the same birthday and how cool does, “10th October, 10-10″ sound? To a woman in labour, that’s no pressure at all. But he arrived on the 11th instead and Oct 11th sounded pretty cool to me ;)

Fast forward to today, my baby is now one and a full-fledged toddler. He is very loud from the moment he wakes up till he goes down for his nap around 10-ish every morning. Then he’s up and he’s go-go-go till his bed time at 8pm. What’s my little snuggly bear like now?

♥ Charles is very active and physical. He has to run around, climb, roll, dance…. But he does have his quiet moments where he likes to fiddle with things and tries to work them out, e.g. how to unscrew a cap from a bottle or jiggle a screw out of its hole.

♥ He loves to hug. When I just sit and watch him play, he would do his own thing but would come back every so often to give me a hug. It’s so sweet.

♥ He’s getting very independent-minded. He doesn’t like it when I hold his sippy cup for him to drink out of – he has to be the one driving.

♥ He’s obsessed with feeding himself but unfortunately he’s not very good at it. Most of his pureed food ends up on his clothes, high chair, and the floor. Yup. I give him an empty bowl and spoon to play with while I feed him his meals.

♥ He loves waving, blinking his eyes with a cheeky grin, vibrating his fingers on his mouth (he makes this “brr brr” sounds which is so cute), and does body twists (I kid you not!) because he saw me doing them during an exercise video I like.

♥ He grabs everything. When we open a cupboard door or slide open a drawer or swing open the bathroom door, he would be right there trying to squeeze himself past us and stick his pudgy fingers into whatever it is. Some of the child-proof locks were fiddled to death by this lil fella and they are busted. We just leave them as they are because he would just spoil the next one. Resignation is an oft felt emotion with a toddler.

♥ He may have his independent moments but he is still a baby in my eyes. When he gets upset or clingy, he would wrap his little arms round my neck and lay his head on my shoulder. My heart never fails to give a big sigh of love when that happens.

♥ He loves music and used to bop along to tunes but lately he likes being carried while I dance. LOL! If I sit down he would whine very loudly and yell at me to stand up again.

♥ He’s now almost 12 kg and sometimes it gets so tiring toting him around — we have mostly stopped using the baby carrier because he is too big to haul around now but we got a super light stroller, the Maclaren Volo, for travelling and zipping around Tokyo especially when there aren’t elevators in certain train stations.

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For me, Lil C turning one also meant that we’ve been parents for one whole year. Wow. We made it! Conclusion: Nobody knows exactly what to do and you just learn as you go along — and the Internet is your friend (or foe, depending on how you look at it as it could also plunge you into paranoia and fear) if you are ever in doubt of anything at all.

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A week before his actual birthday, we threw a BBQ party at home in Tokyo before jetting off to NYC. Our friends and their kids came to celebrate with us, too, and for the first time, I made a no-bake Oreo cheesecake as lil C’s birthday cake. I was a bit nervous it wouldn’t turn out well but it was very easy to make and pretty foolproof ;) It was a very simple do with blue balloons and blue plates and cutlery so no fantastic themed cakes and favours like some of the photos I’ve seen on Pinterest.

The lil man tried ice-cream and cheesecake for the first time in his short life and he was so underwhelmed. We’ve had lots of folks telling us that a baby’s first taste of ice-cream is priceless and they love it immediately. However, that was not so with Charles. He tasted vanilla ice-cream and looked so indifferent we were so disappointed. I had my camera ready and everything! In the end, he was more interested in feeding the husband instead.

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On his real birthday, we just went to a kid-friendly cafe where he could press all sorts of buttons and rattle fake door handles at The Moxie Spot. It was rainy and cold but we thought it would be very sad to stay at our rented apartment all day. The next day, it was bright and sunny, so we headed to Brooklyn Bridge Park for a picnic. I love that photo of our lil koala sprawled out in a starfish position — he partied too hard lol! Nah, the poor baby was still jet lagged but running around in the sun sure helped push his body clock to New York time a bit more that day.

So that was a huge rambling post about my son turning one years old. Thanks for reading if you’ve reached this far. Will get back to beauty-related posts soon, I promise!

Food Friday: How Being A Mummy Affects Being A Foodie

Hi friends, it’s been a looooong time! I am very sorry for neglecting this space. I truly love my beauty blog and still think of it when I’m busy with offline life. I feel like it’s been almost two months since I’ve blogged so let’s do a quick catch up…

♥ I was in NYC for five weeks working on Sparkle-related stuff (Black Friday sale is happening really soon!) — it was a very productive trip and well worth baby jet lag (to non-baby folks, it means 10 days of hell at your destination and then 10 days of similar hell back home). We stayed in Brooklyn this time because we wanted a bigger place for lil C to run around and to be near parks and it was more affordable than an apartment in Manhattan.

♥ We celebrated lil C turning one! I will dedicate a post to his birthday on Mummy Monday soon.

♥ Managed to catch up with a few friends in New York so it made the trip feel less stressful and filled with work.

♥ I’ve just emerged from a long weekend of gastro. Thank goodness the little man did not get it and still keeping fingers crossed he won’t. I’m so paranoid with cleaning and sanitizing and bleaching my house even after feeling better — apparently the germs hang around for several days and you can catch them during this crucial stage. The other super contagious stage is when someone has got gastro but hasn’t shown symptoms.

On that appetizing note, let’s get into Food Friday haha!

As a mum, eating out in restaurants is almost as rare as a unicorn sighting. As a foodie, that makes me feel very sad. We don’t go out to restaurants in the evening because the lil guy sleeps at 8pm and his bedtime routine starts at 730pm. Before which, he is usually frantic and yells alot because he’s overtired, so it’s just impossible to go out for dinner and it feels ridiculous to eat at 530pm.

Lunch out is difficult but happens once in a while with our toddler and it’s better if the three of us are together so one parent can chase after him while the other eats. If only I am with the baby, I seriously cannot enjoy my food because I have to keep an eye on him and I have to eat in spurts so I don’t actually taste my food.

So when we did eat out in New York, I was over the moon!

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We had a business lunch meeting and I was perhaps a wee bit too excited with the fact that we were going to a “nice” restaurant without lil C. My seafood cobb salad was drizzled with pancetta vinaigrette at The Wayfarer in Quin Hotel was so delicious and savoury. I loved the fact that it not only had prawns, but it had scallop, lobster, and squid (with loads of tentacles which I adore). As you can tell, I am a seafood fan but the husband doesn’t really like fish so I don’t cook it much at home, so I tend to choose this over meat when I eat out.

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One of my fave places to have brunch in the US is Le Pain Quotidien which is an organic bakery restaurant chain. They are very family friendly and provide crayons and paper for kids to draw on. I know it’s a chain but they have such delicious bread, sweet spreads, yummy eggs, big mugs of coffee, and a warm inviting atmosphere.

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And our lil guy preferred to stand on the bench and clink the coffee mug with a spoon.

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Speaking of coffee, we went to a random cafe in Brooklyn around the Boerum Hill area because we had half an hour to kill (we hired a babysitter to take care of lil C when we had meetings and why waste it and go home early???). We ordered coffees and I got a soy decaf latte with the prettiest leaf on it. It was so creamy and satisfying and my decaf sisters will know that it’s not easy encountering a good cuppa decaf.

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So now that we are back in Tokyo, I get to dine solo (yessssssssss!) once a week for lunch when I put lil C in daycare and I just relish it. I don’t have a lot of time and don’t go to fancy places so noodles tend to be the tastiest and quickest option. I love Abura Soba which is a dry ramen joint. What is “dry ramen”? It doesn’t have a broth like regular ramen and flavours the noodles with spicy oil. One of their selling points is that it has fewer calories than soupy ramen which is so full of fat and oil (but oh-so-yummy). The ordering system is a little tricky as the toppings are ala carte so to make things easier, I just choose a toppings set (there are two you can select from) that goes with the smallest serving which is quite filling for me. They have two bigger sizes for those who have heartier appetites and they don’t charge more either.

So how do I reconcile being a mummy and a foodie? I guess it’s a waistline-friendly lifestyle to say the least. I’m not eating stuff like foie gras or anything that has manchego or truffle oil. It makes me appreciate the times I do get out to dine sans kiddo and for the rest of what I eat — it just doesn’t really matter. It’s a “sacrifice” but I’m used to it now ;)

Sibu Beauty Hydrating Serum

Hi my dearies, it’s been so long since I tried new skincare and felt moved enough to write about it. I don’t really stray very much when it comes to products as I easily break out in rashes or acne, so I’m simply thrilled to have found something that works and can be tolerated by my fickle skin.

I have a few brands which I like as daily moisturizers but serums are tricky because they are more concentrated and tend to include more active ingredients that are supposed to do stuff. However, that also means that serums have a potentially higher chance of breaking me out.

No fear though, my sensitive-skin-sisters, this one is all-natural and gentle on the skin.

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I first heard of this product on this YouTube beauty guru’s channel and she said her skin type is acne-prone and on the sensitive side, so I knew it was something I had to try.

Sibu Beauty’s main ingredient is sea buckthorn which is super-charged with antioxidants and the only plant in the world that has essential fatty acids 3, 6, 7 and 9. With such an interesting profile, I was intrigued.

The texture is very watery which I quite like for the hotter months and generally I do prefer lighter serums as I don’t care for layering different skincare and end up feeling weighed down. The scent is light and citrusy which doesn’t linger after application. I have noticed that my skin has looked brighter, plumper, and well-hydrated.

On the product description it says it stimulates collagen production on a cellular level and fights aging without damaging chemicals. It has no parabens and the fragrance comes from lemon and orange essential oils.

I know you are thinking, well, aren’t citrus oils irritating on sensitive skin? That may be true but I think they have put very little in the formula and doesn’t bother my skin at all.

If you looking for a life-changing type of serum, this is not it. I think it adds a good moisture boost to my skin without needing a heavier moisturizer. I do put on a light moisturizing lotion on top of it — either the Cetaphil one or the Korres Greek Yoghurt Advanced Nourishing Sleeping Facial (which is the bomb by the way and will blog about it in another post).

The only downside to this serum is that it makes my foundation pill upon application so I avoid using this when I know I’m going to wear makeup.

It’s also on the affordable side for a serum as I got it from for USD31.96 for 30ml, which is way cheaper than conventional counter cosmetics brands.

I have bought the Nourishing Facial Cream that is the most popular product in their skincare range, according to the Sibu Beauty website, so I cannot wait to bust it out.

Have you heard of Sibu Beauty? Are you one to try different types of antioxidants in skincare or food?

Things I Love 2.0

Hi friends, I felt rather nostalgic when I looked back on my old Things I Love… column. Long-time followers of this blog will remember I would list all my favourites of Tokyo and all the places I visited while tagging along with the mister on his business trips.

I’ll like to revive this beloved series of mine because it’s so fun to recap the lovely things that have been happening. So here’s to Things I Love 2.0 — hope you enjoy it as much as I do…

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♥ Taking solo lunches. I am always amazed at how adding one tiny baby to the mix can be so life-altering and time-consuming. I realized that I need to appreciate the short moments of solitude, if not, I will go crazy without much-needed time to reflect and think. It may just be 20-30 minutes but it’s enough mental rest to throw myself back into running our busy household and Sparkle.

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♥ Waiting patiently for Saturdays to come as it’s my cheat day from dieting. I’m not going to lie — as much as I love my salads and smoothies, I need a break from having self-control and working out. I literally have no rules for this day of indulgence, except for my 5pm swim — that’s my “balance”.

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♥ Leaving our cozy bubble for an afternoon to watch the husband take part in a local matsuri (festival) where they carry a heavy alter to give blessings to all the different shops and businesses around the neighbourhood. I didn’t wear a yukata like the husband but I followed around with our bub to soak in the chanting and smiles. Although we’ve been in Japan close to nine years, we just go about our own way since we both work from home now, and tend to live in our tiny bubble so to break out of that was an eye-opening experience and we felt incredibly welcomed by our local community.

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♥ Chasing after our little bundle of chaos. I keep scolding him for doing things like ripping up the husband’s documents, throwing the iPad on the floor, biting into a tube of toothpaste, drawing pen marks all over his feet, sucking on a mysterious metal ring he unscrewed from our picnic bench (?!?!?!?!) — and the list goes on. It’s infuriating but the husband and I laugh over our bubba’s antics.

What have you been loving lately, my dear readers?

Food Friday: My Go-To Meal For Entertaining

Hi my loves, how’s your Friday going? I know I’m ready to wrap up the week and I’m so excited for Charles’ first birthday party tomorrow — I’ll definitely want to blog about it so stay tuned for that!

For today’s Food Friday post, I thought I would show you my go-to meal for entertaining friends. This is something I whip up when I have 2-3 folks coming for lunch or dinner and I am just too busy to conjure up something magical-tasting, but this is very close and I don’t have to rummage around Pinterest for ideas.

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I chop up a bunch of colourful veggies — purple cabbage and grated carrot transforms a basic salad-tomato-cucumber assemble, plus I sprinkle raisins and/or pine nuts and drizzle with a very simple vinegar, brown rice syrup, and extra virgin olive oil dressing, and round it off with a few firm twists of black pepper. This salad is simply mouth-watering and refreshing.

For a tummy-filler, I boil up some ribbon or fusilli pasta and mix it up with two tablespoons of good quality bottled pesto sauce. I always get the ones that feature olive oil and parmesan cheese. I don’t really like those with just vegetable oil because I think olive oil is healthier and it tastes better.

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For the show-stopper of the meal, I roast up Jamie Oliver’s fennel-flavoured pork belly recipe. I’ve put on my spin on it where I just roast the pork belly at 350 degrees C for 10 minutes and then turn it down to 200 degrees C for 50 minutes. I also just pour in half a bottle of white wine from the beginning because I found that the pork belly could get dry easily with the original recipe. I don’t blame Jamie Oliver but my super-strong gas oven — I always have to choose a lower temperature setting and shorten the cooking time. The result? Tender roast pork belly slices that are juicy and savoury.

That’s it — I always get positive comments about this meal and the husband loves it.

Do you have a fail-proof dish that you always keep going back to? Please share!

New Beauty Storage

Hello my lovelies, thanks so much for the birthday wishes. I feel a little embarrassed as my birthday was in August and it’s almost October but a foodie’s gotta share her special meals, y’know?

I’m bashful but not enough to hide this because it’s my new prized possession that was gifted to me by the husband for my birthday. It’s called a “cosme wagon”, or コスメワゴン, which is a chest of drawers specially designed for storing makeup.

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There’s a big mirror, shallow drawers for small items, a tissue box section, and a secret side compartment which could be good for storing skincare or anything that is short and squat. I haven’t decided which products I would put in there yet. I might start placing my older makeup items here which I don’t use often but would still like to keep.

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So guys, this is my makeup in the cosme wagon! And it’s only half my collection. I still have a set of Muji containers in my bathroom that hold cosmetics which I’m not using at the moment. The new storage can’t fit all my lipsticks, lip glosses, blushes, and face powders so I figured it would only hold what I would like to use for the moment — and then swap items out to spread the love around my collection.

I haven’t bought any cosmetics in the past few months and what floors me is that I still can’t put a real dent in my makeup stash. I slowed down on my skincare and bodycare purchases because I went on a buying blitz last winter — I have goodies to last me till end of this year and possibly beyond.

Maybe it could be a goal to fit everything into this one unit as it’s probably time to do another spring cleaning. I look back at some of my really old blog posts and I think to myself, “Damn, you mean this item is 4/5/6 years old?! Ew…” Uh-huh….

I like the idea of tucking away my makeup because I don’t really like other people (including my husband) looking at my stash. It feels like I only know how deep this rabbit hole goes ;) For sure it’s no big secret I love to blog about beauty but there are some things that a girl would like to keep under wraps…

How about you? Do you like having your makeup collection out in the open or squirreled away in drawers?

Mummy Monday: A Day In The Life With A Toddler

Hi my dears, I thought I would do an updated “Day In The Life…” since my last one was when Charles was six months old. I chuckled as I read through it again — how things have changed! Life revolved around breastfeeding and expressing breast milk. Gosh I don’t miss it much although I do feel nostalgic when I cradle Charles in my arms and think back on the hours we spent together bound in a symbiotic bond.

Everyday is quite different but we have a pretty solid weekly routine. I was wondering which day I would pick to talk about but I think I will just choose a typical Thursday as we are at home together, not at day care, or with the babysitter. It’s a snapshot of a WAHM type day when I am actually at home, if you will.

7-8am Charles wakes up and plays with his teddy bears in his cot while the husband and I try to sleep a bit more. We hear him but wait with eyes closed and ears open till he gets sick of being by himself and wails for us. One of us will get up, say good morning to him and is always greeted by a big grin as he bounces up and down while holding onto the rail of the cot. After changing his diaper, we’ll bring him to our futon to have a family hug but he’s not interested in that for long and makes a beeline for our TV remote.

We just lie in bed till he asks for milk (he has a very specific whine) and one of us will take him upstairs and feed him a bottle of formula. After he’s fed, I’ll make his breakfast which is always rice and oatmeal cereal with pureed fruit and/or yogurt. I’ll also give him a tiny quiche or half a muffin or Vegemite toast to chew on. He doesn’t really eat real solid food yet — he just bites, sucks, and spits it out. I’ll round up his breakfast with just a tiny bit of cow’s milk, then I’ll brush his teeth and give him his sippy cup which is filled with water.

830am I’ll have scoffed down my breakfast by now — either a bowl of granola and Weetbix or a big green smoothie and I’ll proceed to make coffee and oats for the husband. I dole out supplements for both of us

9am Breakfast duty is over and I’ll wash my face, brush my teeth, and get ready for the day. I put on makeup if I’m going out, but today I stay barefaced because it’s an “at-home” day.

930am I play with Charles while I check Sparkle emails, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. Yes, I’m a social media fiend. Then I might make some of Charles’ pureed meals as I often run out of food for him. There’s only so much freezer space we have and containers to hold the food, so I tend to make batches of his food on Sunday or Monday and then again on Thursday.

10-1030am Charles would usually ask for another bottle feed and I watch him to see if he’s sleepy. By now he usually has had a few tantrums and meltdowns (it can be caused by us not paying attention to him or he just wants to be carried or he’s had a tumble) and if he rubs his eyes, I pop him straight into his sleeping bag and say, “It’s time to sleep, Charles.” And close his room door.

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He’s loves putting his arm on Bazzer, his favourite teddy bear, while he snoozes.

1030am-12noon This is when I get into action and shoot recipes for Sparkle’s 30-Day Challenge which would take me about an hour. It involves ironing tea towels, blending up drinks, or whipping up a salad. I also heat up Charles’ pureed food so it can cool down before he wakes up. I chop up fruit and veggies for babyled weaning — and spread out a large plastic sheet under his high chair.

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Here are some of the food and drinks I whizzed up for the Sparkle 30-Day Challenge

12-1230pm Charles cries for someone to get him so I head to the nursery and scoop him up from the cot. I strip him down to his nappy and bring him upstairs for lunch. Mealtimes are such messy affairs that it’s better to do without clothes as food stains are hard to remove, e.g. avocado, blueberries, and tomatoes. I usually let him go with babyled weaning for maximum half an hour or till he whines and sweeps everything off his high chair table. I feed him the pureed food and get him to drink a bit of cow’s milk.

1230-130pm I shower him off because there is food stuck to his chest, nappy, and limbs. After changing him into his outfit for the day, I attack the high chair with the Babyganics Toy & High Chair Cleaner and wipe up food smears on the floor.

130pm-2pm I quickly make a lunch of pita bread, salad, and pan-fried steak strips with yakiniku sauce for the husband and I as I’m starving by now. Charles just wanders around and puts his fingers into things while throwing stuff on the floor (like newly folded laundry). He likes hanging around the dining table while we eat and babbles with us.

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Charles’ toy box — this is only 30% of his stuff in the living room…

2pm-5pm There’s not a lot of structure here as I’m juggling shooting more things for Sparkle, surfing social media, shopping online for groceries, reading blogs or watching YouTube beauty videos, while keeping an eye on Charles. Now and again, I have to pick him up or play a bit with him because he doesn’t like being on his own too much. I might change his nappy, give him some water in his sippy cup, or watch a kiddy show on YouTube with him, like Peppa Pig, Sesame Street, or The Wiggles. I’ll also put on his favourite Music Together tunes if he gets too whiny and we’ll dance and bop to the music. He likes to wander around the balcony and we let him touch the plants but if he starts ripping up the flowers, we’ll forcibly remove him and bring him back inside. I like to read to him and try to go through at least two children’s books a day.

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Our favourites (or rather mine) are Hairy Maclary, Dr Seuss, and Aussie-themed animal books

5pm I heat up his pureed food and prep his plate of solids. I might snack on something myself and just chat with Charles as he goes, “Bah bah bah, nah nah nah, tat tat tat, mmmmmmm…!”

530pm I strip him again and put him in his high chair and supervise him as he prods, nibbles, and throws food around. I might have an eye on my phone as I check my various social media accounts (I feel like I’m on my phone alot as I type this out!!)

6pm I feed him his pureed food. Sometimes he not hungry so I shower him off again and dress him, and then clean up the high chair and floor AGAIN. It’s really the bane of my existence but I’d looked at some mummy blogs online and I think we need to soldier on with the babyled weaning so Charles can just practice eating three times a day. He’s certainly not a quick learner when it comes to food and I think patience and time will see him progress to eventually feeding himself.

630pm I try to feed him again — he usually takes some food in and always loves to have about two ounces (60ml) of cow’s milk.

645pm-720pm I throw something together for the husband and I. We used to eat after Charles’ bath and bedtime routine but it just took up too much of the evening — when Charles goes to sleep, it is precious me-time for both of us! So I decided to have dinner in the window period after Charles has eaten and before his bath. He really just plays during this time so I prefer to make a quick dinner now. I have a weekly meal plan that I stick to religiously because I don’t feel energetic nor very sane by this time to conjure up something different or exciting for our evening meal. I make tacos, cottage pie, green Thai curry, lamb curry, lamb chops, steak with veggie sides, big salads with grilled meat, Chinese stir-fries and mapo tofu — several examples of my fail-proof dishes

720pm-745pm The husband and I sit down to eat while trying to entertain our little monster as he tends to get clingy and tired by now.

745-8pm Bath time! It’s a really lovely slice of family togetherness as we play with Charles in the tub. He has these vehicle rubber toys that fill up with water and they turn into water guns. We’ll play peek-a-boo with the wash basin after we soap him, brush his teeth, and wipe his face.

8-815pm The husband lounges in the bath while I rub Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm on his limbs (it’s just an oily balm good for moisturizing skin, calming mosquito bites, or minor cuts and rashes; it smells so amazing and I think it helps to signal to Charles this is an aroma associated with bed time), change the bub into his PJs, and feed him his last bottle of the day. I zip him up in his sleeping sack, kiss him on the cheek, put him in his cot and say good night. He’ll usually play with his teddy bears for a while and even talks to himself until he drifts off to sleep. By the time I check the baby monitor at 830pm, he is fast asleep in child’s pose.

815-830pm I take a much-needed shower and may soak in the bath for a few minutes. I love this part of my day as I feel like I’m washing away the day’s troubles (and sweat) down the drain. I feel relaxed and de-stressed.

830-1030pm I get back onto my computer and work on Sparkle-related stuff. I’m editing the pictures I’d taken in the morning, planning the next day’s schedule, catching up on emails etc. The husband and I might have a work-related discussion. I might also use a bit of this time to make apple sauce or pureed meals for Charles. This is one of the most time-consuming aspects of being a stay-at-home mum — the sheer amount of cooking I have to do really surprises me.

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Freezer drawer full of Charles’ pureed meals

1030pm I go back upstairs to make Charles’ morning milk feed and take food out of the freezer for the next day. I might have a warm cup of tea and read blogs or watch YouTube while I wait for the husband to finish up on his work.

11pm We try to watch a TV show around this time, but more often than not, we crawl into bed at 1130pm or later and I end up falling asleep while watching TV.

1230am I wake up wondering what I missed – these days I’m not fussed about not knowing the plot as I just relish the action of vegging out before declaring it’s bed time. I brush my teeth and call it a night.

And then it starts all over again… You might wonder if I do much housework as a WAHM — not much to be honest, as we have a cleaner who comes in every Sunday who does the bulk of bedsheet changing, laundry, vacuuming, mopping, and cleaning hard-to-reach corners. The husband takes care of the laundry once or twice during the week, does the dishes, and takes out the garbage. I might take in the laundry on Monday or Tuesday from Sunday’s load, and wash an occasional lot of dirty dishes but that’s about it. The house usually gets trashed by Tuesday and the floor gets grimy and gross by Friday, to which I just ignore till Sunday.

I’m responsible for all the food shopping, meal prep, child care (the husband of course helps but I am in charge of day care, babysitting, doctor’s appointments, health, nutrition, research, and shopping), and running of the household. I buy almost everything online because I simply can’t spare the time nor have the iron will for dragging around a squirmy toddler through cramped aisles in shops.

Sometimes, I feel fed up and run down with the drudgery of doing domestic tasks repeatedly but I also find a lot of comfort in our routine — it works for us now. If there’s no discipline in our household, I think it would be chaotic and three very hungry people.

What’s life like with your baby or toddler? Or what do you think of our routine?

Food Friday: Birthday Dinner

Hi my lovelies, it’s been a while since I blogged – sorry… I’ve been seriously swamped with Sparkle. By the way, our “30 Days to Sparkle” Challenge is going on right now so do join in — there are lots of recipes, nutrition tips, and wellness advice for the next three weeks, so come say “hello” :)

I’m a little sheepish to post this but better late than never. The husband took me to an amazing modern Chinese restaurant for my birthday a month ago. Introducing Kurumi-chaya

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I was a bit non-plussed turning 36 this year — it’s not quite a milestone (except I’m officially in my late-30s), work was piling up, and I must admit that the daily discipline of child-rearing and juggling a business leaves me feeling like an empty tank by 10pm everyday.

But, I’m glad that we hired a babysitter and went out for four hours just the two of us.

I felt touched that the husband found a fancy Chinese restaurant to take me to — a Chinese girl loves her noodles and roast duck. ;)

The appetizer was impressive (second from left in top row) with 15 bite-sized pieces of seafood, meat, and veggies. The shark’s fin soup was so savoury that we slurped it all up, albeit with some guilt since it’s so politically incorrect to eat it these days. But in our defense, it was a course dinner that the husband had no idea what was going to be served and asked for omakase (which means chef’s choice).

The Peking duck was crispy and tender (first from left in top row) with a sweet dark sauce drizzled all over — it was such a great indulgence because duck is so fattening!

The prawn and lotus stir-fry was certainly unique and very Chinese-tasting as it must have had oyster sauce in there.

The only dish that I was a little disappointed with was the sesame noodles which reminded me of Japanese salad dressing instead of sesame oil based noodles. The husband chose the basil and tomato version which was frankly way better and tastier. Imagine Chinese egg noodles tossed in a pesto sauce — it actually works! It seriously looked like angel-hair pasta but the texture was springier than al-dente pasta.

And dessert was such an artistic presentation of a turtle and a bird with two types of pudding — almond and earl grey — and a spoonful of vanilla ice-cream, paired with warm rooibos tea.

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We had about an hour to kill before we had to head home so we popped into a tapas bar near to our home and I had a strawberry rose sangria which was really delicious. We chatted about everything but we couldn’t help refer to Charles now and again. We’re so besotted with our little boy that we really don’t mind talking about him all the time.

When it’s your birthday, what do you like to eat?