Charles’ 2-Year-Old Update

*I meant to post this two weeks ago right after Charles’ second birthday but life got in the way so here it is…

As I’m writing this update, I am in the aftermath of a very trying and tiring Sunday with Charles. Motherhood feels like the hardest job in the world because I’m getting very little sleep due to Charles’ unpredictable sleeping patterns this past week — and with the husband overseas on business, I have to truly dig deep to find reserves of inner strength and mental fortitude to soldier on.

I’m reading mummy blogs to find inspiration to handle tough days and the wisdom I glean from them are:

+ Whatever you are going through — it’s not permanent. It may feel like forever but it will pass.

+ There is no point overeacting, shouting, freaking out over things like making a mess or tantrums or brattiness. I feel so sheepish because today I shouted at Lil C for throwing his play doh containers and tools all over the floor for fun and slamming the dining chairs on the floor — this had me rushing over in a fury and I ended up having a chair crash onto my foot. Very ouch.

+ Get to the root of the problem. Just keep trying because once you can fix the problem, it will be resolved — stress eliminated.

Alright, here’s Charles’ 24-month-old update…

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+ He’s 91cm and weighs 14.2kg. For reference, he fits into 3-year-old clothes well but can wear 4-year-old togs without them looking too big on him. His feet are size 15 and can wear 16 comfortably. We feel that his size 15 shoes are getting snug so he’s sort of in-between, I guess. My friend’s 5-year-old daughter’s feet are size 18, so yeah, he’s big for a 2-year-old.

+ His eating has improved but he certainly has his preferences. He started eating broccoli a few times a week but I need to put some sesame dressing on it. He still eats a kiwi almost daily but would munch on apple once or twice a week.

+ He has become a huge fan of rice, especially onigiri which I make for him almost everyday for lunch. He refuses to drink green smoothies now so it’s the only way to get some roughage into him along with the kiwi. He snacks on raisins and nuts too which help, I think.

+ His naps are really touch-and-go these days so I cannot count on making plans to do work. He usually falls asleep in the stroller and may or may not transfer well into his bed. He might wake up after 10 minutes or snooze for almost three hours. It also depends on how much sleep he has the night before — it can range from eight hours (that’s so freaking bad) to 10 hours (which is the most he would sleep on a good night). But everyday, he would more or less clock in 11 hours in total which I’m not sure is enough for a two-year-old. Any thoughts, anyone?

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+ He is obsessed with Mickey Mouse and going to Disneyland certainly had a lot to do with it.

+ For the last two weeks, it feels like he is going through some kind of transition where he has regressed from sleeping solidly through the night to having random nightmares in the night and he refuses to go to sleep on his own or he would insist on playing or eating at ungodly hours. So I’m working on correcting this — a stricter bed time routine (bath, books, lights out), lots of outside time in the park to burn up any restless energy, aromatherapy, and a night light.

+ We think it could be a number of things — he was already a bit afraid of the dark and then the rides on Disneyland truly scared the bejeezus out of him because they were in the dark with very loud music and flashing lights. The husband left for another business trip so he misses his Dada a lot, he got sick of the cot and we converted it into a big boy bed but he is still getting used to it. And finally, the night light we have is not an LED one but a random gift from friends which gets super hot in the night and warms up his room a bit too much. Anyway, we are trying to fix all these problems because sleepless mummy = mean and grouchy mummy = confused and bratty Charles.

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+ In terms of his speech development, it has gone through the roof. He says many words now and makes simple sentences like, “It’s a black bird!” or “It’s a blue car!”. He recently started noticing things that are the same and would shout, “SAME!” and this one the hubby cannot stand, that is Lil C started referring to himself as “Charlie” – LOL! I think the teachers and kids at school call him “Charlie” and lots of our friends do that as well. I think it’s cute.

+ He loves the act of choosing — whether it’s his T-shirt or park we are going to. I think it’s not unique because I think kids want to assert their individuality and independence.

+ He is learning emotions as well, like sad, happy, angry, being sorry but we still need to work on “love”. I always tell him to say, “I love you, Dada” when we say goodbye to the hubs on Skype but he just says, “I love you Bubba” (he refers to himself as Bubba) because the husband would say, “I love you Bubba” next. It’s the same with “Goodnight” as well. Don’t ask me what the logic is in that but he obviously doesn’t get it yet.

+ He is starting to remember people and names. He can also chat about his day at school though it’s limited to what he ate for lunch, how fun it was, and whether they went to the park or not.

+ He is transport-obsessed. We can wait for the lights to change and he would be thrilled to spot a police car, or a van, or a truck or a motorbike. He would shout, “TAXI, MAMA!”, “MAMA! TRUCK! A BIG TRUCK!”, “OH WOW! AMBULANCE!”

+ He shouts a lot when he’s excited. I just know he’s going to be very very loud and chatty once he gets his head around speaking properly.

I feel that at 2 years old, Charles’ mental development certainly took centre stage and it’s been an entertaining, hilarious, and heartwarming ride so far. Although we’ve had our challenging moments, I wouldn’t trade them anything in the world and count myself extremely lucky being able stay at home with my toddler while juggling work.

P.S.: By the time this post was published, we sorted out his sleeping and it’s much better now — all thanks to putting a gate at the entrance of his room and a later bedtime which helps him fall asleep faster so his mind won’t over-think and get anxious about the dark.

Mummy Makeup: 3-Minute FOTD

The son has been sick for several days over the Silver Week holidays in Japan. He just has a fever, a snotty nose, and a cough — nothing serious and we confirmed he didn’t have any inflammation in the throat by visiting a doctor. But he’s not well enough to wreak havoc in a park nor would it be socially responsible to go to an indoor play gym, so we have been stuck at home watching loads of Peppa Pig.

While the pigs in Peppa Pig are jumping in muddy puddles, this mummy has a bit of spare time (and energy) to blog about makeup — finally!

That’s the thing about being a Mummy: you don’t have much time to do anything for yourself.

But one routine that always makes me feel better no matter what is putting on makeup. Gone are the days when I could experiment with smokey eye looks or flip through my make up collection to see what catches my fancy.

Now, it’s all about convenience and function. Yes, very boring words but as I have read in many mummy blogs — it is all but a “season” and it shall pass.

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In my daily routine with Lil C, I have literally three minutes for makeup (the reason for strict departure time is the very punctual bus at the train station). I take two minutes to brush my teeth, wash my face, and put on moisturizer.

With my eye firmly on the clock, I quickly spread Shiseido Perfect UV Protector SPF50+ Wet Force (very awesome facial sunscreen by the way) all over my face. The “Wet Force” technology means that when you sweat, the sunscreen actually works even more effectively — apparently, the negative ions in the sunscreen combine with positive ions in water and sweat, to form an even more water-resistant layer to boost sun protection.

While I’m waiting for that to dry, I quickly put another sunscreen, Alba Botanica Very Emollient Sunscreen Sport Spray Broad Spectrum SPF 40 on my arms (and legs if I’m wearing shorts).

Then, I slap on Rimmel’s Stay Matte Liquid Mousse Foundation in 203 True Beige (FYI, I’m usually a MAC NC25 in non-summer months so I’m around NC30 now). I don’t need a powder because it becomes matte on the skin — time saved yay! It’s got medium to heavy coverage so it hides blemishes and scars well while evening out my skin tone. I got really dark during summer and this foundation is the closest shade to what I am now though something a bit darker would match more perfectly as you can tell from the picture.

I do have a powder that matches my skin tone now but the time crunch is very real so I just skip it.

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Next I use NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Custard as a highlighting concealer under my eyes to brighten my face and would layer some on my T-zone.

Since it’s autumn officially, I’ve been gravitating to earthier blush shades like Tarte’s Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Exposed.

And to wrap things up, I put on NYX Butter Gloss in Apple Strudel, a lovely peachy shade and a formula so moisturizing that I don’t need a lip balm as a base — another thing I save time on!

That’s my screaming-out-the-door 3-minute no makeup makeup mummy look (what a mouthful!). Sorry I know this is in no way a “tutorial” but really a “show-and-tell” of how to look decent. This is no party look but I feel put together enough to face Lil C’s pre-school teachers at drop-off/pick-up times plus I’m usually out and about so to not put on ANY makeup would make me feel slobby.

What do you do to make yourself feel more beautiful everyday?

Udon Lunch at Kurosawa

This post is dedicated to my readers who love Japanese food…

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Lunch for me is usually a rushed affair but there was one weekday when I was having a bad headache with no real drive to work for the whole five hours that Charles was at school.

So I took myself out to lunch to a nice restaurant. I’ve always wanted to try Kurosawa Udon (there are awesome pictures here) whose design was inspired by traditional houses and buildings seen in movies by the late Akira Kurosawa.

It seems the Kurosawa chain of soba and udon restaurants sell bowls of refined noodles but are perhaps viewed as a little mainstream. Well, I wasn’t looking for some epiphany related to Seven Samurai, I just wanted to eat delicious udon.

And that, I certainly got. If you are in the Roppongi/Azabu Juban area, this charming traditional-looking udon restaurant is a great lunch place. For 1250JPY, I got the cold udon set with organic cucumber and spicy sesame sauce. There was a special lunch set for an extra 500JPY so I thought I would just get it.

It didn’t state what was the special of the day and I was surprised to see a small rice bowl topped with shabu-shabu style pork and salty seaweed. Well, next time I’ll ask what exactly the special would be as it had too much carbs for me. I didn’t eat much of the rice as I was too full from the udon.

The simple but refreshing udon dish hit all the right spots for me — slightly spicy with a generous helping of crunchy and juicy cucumber on top of al dente udon noodles — it was the perfect summer indulgence.

This noodle joint is actually famous for its curry noodles which I would try next time. It’ll probably be more enticing in winter when it’s cold. The whole restaurant actually smells of curry sauce because every other person there was eating curry noodles!

I had 40 minutes of leisurely eating which was just what the doctor ordered on this “off-day” I had.

What’s your go-to lunch when you are not 100%?

A Day In The Life With An Almost 2-Year Old

It’s been almost a year since I did A Day In The Life type post (I have one when Charles was six months’ old and one here when he was 11 months’ old). I am obsessed with reading posts that describe other mummies’ lives — they not only reflect your child’s progress but also your own culture and traditions.

I’m not sure if we follow a specific “culture” or “tradition” because the hubs is Aussie, I’m Singaporean, and we live in Tokyo. To be honest, after being away from my home country for nine years, I simply do what works for us — e.g. we put Charles to bed earlier than the norm in Asia (which can be quite late, i.e. 9-11pm) at 8pm but it’s considered late in Australia where small children go to sleep at 6-7pm.

Anyway, I’ll show you a snap shot of a typical weekday when Charles has pre-school.

630am Alarm goes off and I hit the snooze button. I usually drag myself out of bed 15 minutes later.

645am I make Charles’ lunch which usually consists of a boiled egg, fried rice or onigiri made with brown rice, cheese cubes, grilled chicken or fish, raisins, a sliver of vegetable (broccoli, pumpkin, peas, or a cherry tomato). This is the first thing I do so there’s ample time for the food to cool down before I pack it into containers. I also prep Charles’ breakfast which is very simple — peanut butter on multi-grain toast with a cup of milk.

7am Charles usually wakes up around this time and the husband will change his diaper and change him out of his pajamas and into his clothes for the day. Our cheeky monster is now very insistent on picking what he wears.

715am I rush to prep breakfast for the husband and I which is usually cold cereal on busy mornings — cheerios, granola, almond milk, and blueberries. I also whizz up a green smoothie for all of us. Yes, my picky-eater loves green smoothies!

730am I start filling up Charles’ water bottle, a sippy cup with mugi-cha, and pop a tiny juice pack into a cooler bag along with his lunch. I slip snacks and water into my work bag as well.

745am I desperately throw on clothes and wash up. If I have time, I’ll slap on some light makeup (sunscreen, foundation, blush and lip gloss) while the husband gets Charles ready — gets his teeth brushed, put on his shoes, put on sunscreen, and strap him into the stroller.

8am We are off to the train station! I’m pretty strict about this especially on rainy days because we actually have to make a beeline for a bus that leaves the station we are heading to on the dot at 830am. I feed Charles the rest of his breakfast if he doesn’t finish it which is almost always the case.

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840am We arrive at Charles’ pre-school and he says goodbye to me very cheerfully. He loves school and accepts it as part of his routine. He gets to play with his classmates and do all sorts of fun things.

9am I arrive at a Starbucks near his school and get to work. I always kick off with my to-do list and then tackle it head-on.

12 noon I might snack on something and hold out till 145pm to get lunch at a restaurant or noodle shop, or I would just wander out and grab a quick lunch and return to Starbucks to work for another hour and a half. If I’m feeling like Super Mum, I might make myself a bento to eat in a park under the trees.

230pm I pick up Charles who is always smiley and happy after a day at school. He would babble excitedly and tell me all about it while we walk to the station.

330pm I might swing by the shops to pick up some miscellaneous grocery items so it takes about an hour to reach home though his school is not that far.

330-5pm Charles has a nap, but if he fights it, we would just hang out in the living room and play. If he naps, I would do a bit more work and start prepping his dinner at 430pm. He can’t tolerate hot food so I make it ahead of time for it to cool down.

5-530pm He takes a while to wake up and might be grumpy. I have to wake him up so he won’t oversleep and affect his bedtime. We usually just cuddle which is something I know will not last forever so I always treasure these moments. He’s only going to be a “baby” only for so long.

530pm We might go to a park or I would work out in the living room while he tries to copy me. I leave his plate on the table and let him eat at his own pace. He eats shredded cheese, noodles boiled in soup (but he doesn’t drink the soup), tofu, grilled salmon or chicken, boiled sausage, or steak cut into tiny pieces, broccoli, baked fries, quinoa, and almost always eats a kiwi after dinner.

630pm I prep dinner for the adults while Charles watches some TV (usually Qiao Hu, or Peppa Pig, or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse).

7pm The husband, Charles, and I sit down for dinner. He might be interested in what we are eating (especially if it’s roasted pork belly!) even though he has his own plate of food and we’ll give him bits of our meal. He’s a bit of a grazer though I think most toddlers are as their stomachs are small so they need to eat frequently. If dinner really does not go well at all, I would offer him a baby food pouch which he may or may not take. I think toddlers often prefer to eat more during the day and actually have little or no desire to eat before bed.

730pm We might watch a YouTube video on any animal Charles might fancy. He has animal figurines so we ask him which animal he would like to watch and he would fish out a giraffe, or a lion, or an elephant, or a horse.

745pm The husband has a bath with Charles and he plays with his squirty bath toys.

8pm I dry him with a towel, put lotion on him, pull on his overnight diaper, and let him choose his pajamas for the night. Right now outfits with planes or cars are favourites. He then chooses books to read — sometimes we read Mandarin books or English books. He loves anything with trains, animals, and numbers and adores Hairy Maclary and Edwina The Emu.

820-825pm I tuck him into bed with kisses and “I love yous”. Charles would always throw his teddy bear, Bazza, on the floor with a cheeky grin. I then pick the bear up and ask him, “Why did you throw Bazza out of the cot?” And he hugs his bear and lies down. It’s a funny ritual and we do it every night before I turn off the light.

830pm I take a shower and then unwind for the night. I may catch up on blogs or the news or watch some TV. I’ve been getting into the habit of using a pillow spray and I think it really helps me to truly relax as I’m a very scent-oriented person.

11pm I brush my teeth and crawl into bed. These days it doesn’t take me long to fall asleep as our days feel full of activity and walking.

That’s it! Hope you enjoyed reading about our day and I might do one to reflect a typical weekend day in Tokyo.

Glam Glow Youthmud™ Tinglexfoliate Treatment Review

Hi my lovelies, I’ve been using the Glam Glow Youthmud™ Tinglexfoliate Treatment for more than six months now and thought I would do a proper review.

I know, I’m so late to the party and does the Internet need another Glam Glow rave? Let’s find out…

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Surprisingly, I bought this pricey mask, USD69 for just 1.7 oz, at Sephora knowing that clay is a very cheap ingredient. But I was very curious about this brand and I was debating with myself which Glam Glow mask to try first. They have a blue one and a white one — and between the two at the time, the blue one (hydrating mask) just started to get some attention but it wasn’t something I was looking for to add in my regimen.

So I went with the “black one” — the first Glam Glow mask that had skincare junkies swarming over. Many people raved that they could see and feel a visible difference to their skin just after one use.

I would definitely have to agree with that. After using it for the first time, my skin felt super silky smooth, brighter, and clearer which carried over to the next day when I washed my face in the morning. Now that is a sign of a great treatment mask.

Taken from the Sephora site, here is a run down of the key star ingredients:

-French Sea Clay: Absorbs impurities and toxic substances, while leaving essential natural oils and minimizing pore size.
– Volcanic Pumice Rock: Multi-level surface exfoliation that you control to clear dead skin cells, smoothing out fine lines and softening skin texture.
– Green Tea Leaf Pieces: GLAMGLOW® groundbreaking patent pending TEAOXI™ technology delivers fresh Super-Squalene, EGCG super antioxidants, and Polypenols directly into the mud from the real pieces of tea leaf.

It sounds very formidable and high tech which may or may not tickle your fancy — I actually wonder if the third ingredient even contributes anything to your skin and how do they squeeze in squalene, a type of fish oil, into green tea leaf pieces as they don’t feel like they are a big feature of the product?

Let me explain:

The green tea leaf pieces look like black flakes in the mud mask and they actually bother me quite a bit, well a lot really. They obviously don’t spread well on the skin and feel extremely rough during the removal process. Thankfully, I usually only get one or two pieces on my face when I use this mask.

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It does have a “tingly” sensation that is mentioned in its name. If you have sensitive skin, you might feel uncomfortable but it was fine on mine. I only use this product once a week or fortnight and I have no problems with it whatsoever.

It has a very pleasant citrusy floral scent which makes it feel more high-end than your run-of-the-mill clay mask. Speaking of which, I had been using Queen Helene’s Mint Julep Mask for years but my huge tube unfortunately went off after 1.5 years (it takes forever to finish it!!!!) and actually caused a major pimple out break on my forehead which only thankfully hung around for three days. So ladies, do throw away old products hanging around in your collection! *rant over*

So this mask is a very harsh exfoliator when it is dry and you need to use water to massage it off your face. Therefore I tend to use this when I feel my skin is very clogged up and assaulted by days of using loads of sunscreen and being exposed to pollution.

If I feel like I just need a spot of pampering, I would put this mask on and let it dry while I soak in a hot bath, and then spray my face with a warm shower to remove it — in this scenario, I wouldn’t experience the harsh exfoliating process but my skin still feels nicely unclogged.

Would I buy this again? Unfortunately, no. It’s too expensive for what it is even though it would last me for a long time but there are other treatment masks that perform just as well and less expensively. And those damn tea leaves — what a deal breaker.

The size of this mask is great for travelling though as the small tub fits into my skincare kit snugly — there aren’t too many clay travel sized masks I can think of that has that perk.

Have you tried this product? Do you have another great clearing mask to recommend me?

June Faves

Hey my loves, I’m so happy to get back into the groove of things to write about my favourites for the month of June — gosh the last one I did was in August 2014! *Gasp* Almost a year ago!

I would also say that this list of beloved beauty items are surprising to me. If you asked me a year ago if I would like any of these, I would not believe it.

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MAC Cross Wires Lipstick
I actually got this free by doing a “Back To MAC” swap due to a sudden desire to depot my single MAC eyeshadows (you can read about it here). I rummaged through Essie Button’s blog because she is such a lipstick lover and has quite a collection of MAC lippies so from her video of her top five MAC lipstick faves, I settled on Crosswires and I love the deep coral shade. I think it’s a great summer colour to wear and the way I like it is to prime my lips with my Ettusias liquid lip balm and then slick on Crosswires which makes it look creamy and glossy so effortlessly. It’s been such a long time since I’ve delved into MAC lip products so it feels like a long return to a staple brand.

Hourglass 1.5MM Mechanical Gel Liner
It took me a while to figure out how to use this product because it broke easily. The key to this baby is to just roll it up by just a teeny tiny bit — and I mean extremely little product should be sticking out — just enough to line your eyes and you will get the most beautiful, blackest gel liner that feels easier to apply than a liquid liner (which as you know needs very steady hands and accurate strokes). The product comes in a pack of three which is great so you won’t need to run out and buy another one when you’re done with it but it also means it doesn’t last very long. It’s pricey but if you favour very black eye liner and effortless application, this one is for you. Why is this a surprising choice? I tend to buy only Japanese drugstore liquid eyeliners and it’s not a category I would splurge on but I went shopping with a friend and her glowing recommendation just made me put my moolah down at the cashier.

Kiehl’s Crème de Corps Grapefruit Whipped Body Butter
I don’t usually gravitate to grapefruit-scented beauty products and I suppose they are not as common as lemon or orange fragrances. Kiehl’s does a super sharp grapefruit rendition here and the hydrating but whipped texture just feels like pure luxury on my skin after a shower. It’s seems that it’s a limited edition product but I generally like their body butters regardless of the scent. I got this when we were in NYC last year on the premise of “research” as we are looking at changing the packaging for our product.

DIY Eucalyptus Mint Foot Scrub
I never ever thought I would enjoy doing DIY projects, but the past year has taught me to be more creative around the house and buy less “ready-made” things — both out of a desire to be more mindful and to enjoy more personalized items put together by myself. Out of the various DIY projects I’ve embarked on, this minty foot scrub is my favourite so far. I walk around a lot and my legs and feet sometimes feel tired and achy at the end of the day — so when I apply this on my sore feet, the tingly sensation feels like magic. The refreshing combination of eucalyptus and mint clears my mind and invigorates my evenings — kinda like giving my spirit a second wind.

YSL Youth Liberator Serum Foundation in Beige 40
I ran out of my beloved Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Foundation, but instead of replacing it, I was itching to try something new. I don’t buy very much from YSL as a brand as their aesthetic doesn’t quite appeal to me but this liquid foundation glides on like a dream and best applied with a Beauty Blender. It’s a light-to-medium coverage foundation that is very light weight with a lovely glowy effect, plus it is fairly long-lasting and I feel that my makeup can stay intact for as long as 10-12 hours. It’s pricey but worth it because of the quality and the amount you get. I’m sure this bottle would last me for at least a year even with frequent usage.

What are your faves in the month of June?

Food Friday: Creature Of Habit

Welcome to a revival of Food Friday! As mentioned in my last FF post, I don’t really go out for dinner, and so if I do happen to eat out, it’s always a casual affair since having lunch solo tends to be very quick too.

When lil C started pre-school recently, I found my lunch groove at Afuri, a ramen shop that specializes in fish and chicken stock, flavoured with yuzu. I have blogged about Afuri ramen before here but that was the spicy soup version.

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In the summer, I love tucking into tsukemen, or dipping noodles. You can choose to have your noodles warm or cold but the sauce is cold — I always pick the warm noodles. What I love about Afuri is that it offers watercress as a vegetable and the preserved bamboo shoots lack their signature pungent odour common in other typical ramen shops.

Afuri clearly caters to those who prefer lighter flavours and are more health conscious. There is less oil in their ramen, though the roasted pork slices are as decadent as any other place. In fact, they grill the pork behind the counter over charcoal and the result is a heavenly smokiness imparted to the char siu.

The texture of the ramen is too-die-for as well. The noodles are silky but slightly al dente, plus for the soup versions, they are very skinny straight noodles which I absolutely love. The tsukemen noodles are thicker and wavy, as should be the case, but they are not as thick as what most places serve.

The tsukemen feels like a heavier portion than the soup version which takes me through the whole afternoon but it’s not too filling that it makes me feel sick like a lot of other ramen eateries where the portions can be quite staggering.

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At the end, I will pour soba-yu (hot water that was used to boil the noodles) into my remaining dipping sauce and sip on it like soup. They even provide you with a large ladle-like spoon which is also unusual because in soba shops, you do the same when you order cold soba noodles and you just sip the “soup” out of your dipping cup.

Right now, lil C goes to school twice a week so I had this four times in the last two weeks. It feels so indulgent! I think I should try other places in the area but Afuri is so delicious I haven’t gotten sick of it just yet.

Are you also a creature of habit when it comes to food?

Mega Update

Hi my loves, sorry for the prolonged MIA and believe you me, there were moments I did sit down, click on the “New Post” button in my WordPress backend, and wanted to write a new blog post, but just couldn’t. I have been so caught up with work and taking care of lil C that I didn’t have the mental space to blog here.

That’s not to say I don’t miss blogging. I do. I miss talking to my readers in the comments section and heading over to your blogs to read your posts.

So let’s have a personal update on what has been going on at Beauty Box HQ…

On the work front:

We were in the US, namely Florida and New York, for seven weeks — out of which two weeks were spent driving a lot in a rental car zipping from meeting to meeting up and down to Floridian coastline and beyond. It was an excellent move business-wise but I felt our health was impacted by stress, bad food, and a slightly cranky baby. Bless his soul, lil C did extraordinarily well for a 1.5 year old on the road but there were nights he didn’t sleep well due to hotel hopping, was ultra picky about food, and who likes being strapped down by seat belts hours on end?

The upside to being on business in Florida were the beautiful beaches. And for the first time ever, I don’t have pictures except for these…

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We invented the “Pillow Game” where we would make a house out of pillows in hotel rooms and we play hide and seek, or rather lil C “hides” and we “find him” — he can play this a million times over. And he wants to play this even when we are at home and our pillows are way smaller than the big fluffy hotel ones.

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My one and only scenic photo of Florida when we spotted a double rainbow at dinner time so I had to snap this! I think we have a few videos of lil C on the beach but on the hub’s iPhone. I don’t like whipping out my phone to take pictures when my hands are wet or full of sand. All I can say that whenever I see a beach in Florida, I would always remember the sweet moments that we had in the late afternoons after a day of meetings, with our little boy tearing up and down white sandy beaches and just having a ball chasing waves and building sand castles.

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Lil C took waaaay more photos on my phone than me, that’s for sure. He’s discovered how to play with the camera function on our phones even without needing the password. I have hundreds of photos of the floor, his foot, or just black screens and videos of him staring and breathing onto my phone (as long as 5-10 minutes!!!).

On the beauty junkie front:

Although I still like to keep up with new releases for skincare and makeup, I have cut down a lot on spending — when you are trying to get a business off the ground, one needs to shift one’s priorities very drastically. I either buy stuff at the drugstore or on where I lean towards more natural brands.

If I do talk about products outside of this sphere, I have probably received it as a gift or bought it last year. I’m really grateful to friends and family who know I’m a beauty junkie and would somehow always give me something beauty-related so even though I have reduced my hoarding by ALOT, I still look like I have tonnes of stuff in my beauty cupboards.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about DIY skincare and over the past year, due to a mix of curiosity and an itchiness for challenges, I have become very drawn to making my own beauty solutions and am more mindful of what I put on my body (though for a long time I was interested in eating healthy, I never really thought about the chemical load that I put on my skin).

What does this mean for the blog? Frankly, I don’t know yet. I will still basically blog about what interests me which translates into what I have bought for myself to use. Perhaps, this space has truly turned into a personal blog that sometimes talks about beauty? 😉

On the home front:

Part of what makes our return so sweet is that our front yard has now been renovated into a small garden that has a deck for picnic tables and our BBQ grill. The hubs made a swing out of an old broken wooden bench using the tiny saw on his Swiss Army knife! And a bunch of rope from the local hardware store. WOW! I am always so amazed at what my Aussie hubby can do with his hands.

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Lil C loves that he can pretty much seat himself on this low hanging swing and swing himself and he can stop anytime by placing his feet on the ground — he can’t do that at regular parks where the swings are too high up for him. We only need to push him a little when he slows down.

We envision plenty of lazy weekends firing up the BBQ and having friends over to hang out in our garden.

On the mummy front:
It’s been pretty full on and I think it would only get harder and busier as lil C gets older. I’m thankful he still needs a sleep in the afternoon but now instead of napping at 11am, he usually naps after 1pm and can be as late as 230-3pm. That means, he has to be occupied doing something (i.e. not destroying our living room, aka his play area) from 7am till he naps. Believe you me, it’s exhausting.

We are always out at a park or at a play gym or I’ll plan an outing to a kid-friendly place, like the Shinagawa Aquarium (another story in itself — I don’t see us doing that regularly as it’s too much of a hike from our home and our first visit had me leaving traumatized by hordes of screaming primary school kids on a rainy weekday morning BUT lil C LOOOOOVED it).

Thankfully, lil C has started pre-school so that gives me time to work and have a break from taking care of a hyperactive toddler. He’s not even hit the Terrible Twos yet and I feel so tired taking care of him on days that he doesn’t have school. We are thinking of increasing the number of days he goes and that’s definitely on the cards.

There’s lots more to say on lil C’s development so will reserve that for another Mummy Monday post.

On the health front:

I actually had a small procedure done in late Jan and I think that last surgery brought home the fact that my immune system has been compromised by frequent and heavy doses of antibiotics (I had three operations in the space of 1.5 years). During our seven week trip, I was sick every other week. I also suffered from strep throat which required 10 days of antibiotics.

During this time, we read this book on the importance of probiotics by Dr David Perlmutter and how the health of our gut affects one’s overall health and particularly our brain. So we have been taking a multi-strain blend of probiotics which contain the five primary strains he recommends — and I’ve not been sick since!

Whoo – what a long post. Thanks for reading if you made it this far. I’m looking forward to blogging here more regularly again. :)

Lancome Spring 2015 My French Palette

Hello my lovelies, I’m back in Tokyo for a short period of time before we have to fly to the US for an extended business trip. Unfortunately the weather here is gloomy and rainy — lil C and I are just recovering from a cough and cold so we are just hanging out at home and if we do head out, we just run quick errands.

But something in my makeup stash has been cheering me up and it’s the Lancome My French Palette, a limited edition eyeshadow palette release in Jan 2015 that was kindly gifted to me by a friend.

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This light-weight nude eyeshadow palette is perfect for travelling as it has gorgeous nude shades in both shimmery and matte finishes, plus some blue shades if you want to jazz things up. If I want to do “colour” for my eyes, I tend to reach for blue, instead of purple as I seemed to have fallen out of love with all things purple for eyes. I’m sure it’s just a phase 😉

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I love the fact that there’s a little flap over the blue segments, which by the way, are liner shades but I’m sure they can double up as eyeshadows. The black shade would be useful for a smoky eye since the nudes are quite light and it’ll help add definition if required.

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As you can see from the swatches on my arm, the colours are not super pigmented but I do enjoy medium pigmentation because who wants a smoky eye everyday? And it’s harder to correct dark eyeshadow mistakes and I would rather layer or build up shades.

So one thing to note is that, this palette is not for makeup aficionados as it’s essentially an everyday type palette that enables you to do simple fuss-free looks for work and play. However, it’s certainly not a palette that is highly inspired nor does it have unusual complexities.

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I used all the shimmery shades for this nude EOTD and I could definitely see myself using this on a daily basis. While it is very pretty-looking, it works as an everyday workhorse — especially since it has a brush included which makes application a no-brainer. The brush is not bad actually but for those who do not intend to use the darker shades as eyeliner, the eyeliner brush end is of no use so I wish they made it a blending one — if they did, this palette would be perfect for travelling!

Do you have this palette? If so, what do you think? Do you buy limited edition eyeshadow palettes?

Update: After using this palette for about a month on the road, I’m afraid the longevity of these shadows are quite limited. In less than six hours, the shadows faded on my lids. I thought it was my eyeshadow primer but I’ve used it for months with other brands of eyeshadows and never had a problem. I’m not sure if the quality of this palette is similar to other permanent Lancome eyeshadows. Can anyone enlighten me if they use Lancome eyeshadows?

Show & Tell: Maquillage Dramatic Mood Veil Blush

Hi my lovelies, this is not an in-depth review with swatches but I would like to show you my latest “gleeful” purchase which of course involved lots of enabling from one of my favourite makeup artists on YouTube, Lisa Eldridge.

She recently filmed a video called Radiant Spring Makeup Look Tutorial that was simply lovely and the look had a lot to do with the Maquillage Dramatic Mood Veil Blush PK200 she hauled while in Tokyo.

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The gold reflective textured palette looks quite bold and glamorous for Maquillage that tends to be rather quiet and conservative most times. Their eyeshadows are also rather pale and have shimmery pigmentation which aren’t my cup of tea but this blush truly grabbed my (blush addict) attention.

Although most of my blushes tend to be one uniform shade, I love the fact that this blush is made of five shades of pink and orange. It’s quite small so I don’t think it’s possible to just use one shade unless you have a tiny blush brush which doesn’t make sense in itself — they tend to be big and fluffy. So I swirl my brush all over the palette and the results are just stunning.

The fresh pink shade is seriously beautiful and refreshing. It instantly wakes up any dull complexion!

What is also unusual is the super soft quality brush that comes with the compact. I usually shy away from using brushes provided in palettes because they are not very good but this one does a great job. Lisa Eldridge demonstrates how she brushes on the blush on the apples of her cheeks and then uses the sponge end to blend it further.

I have tried using just the brush and the brush plus the sponge but I’m not sure if I can tell the difference and feel the brush is good enough on its own to give a natural effect. It’s one of those blushes that don’t need a lot of blending and it still looks fantastic.

For more tips on how to use this blush with the brush and sponge, this blog post gives detailed instructions.

My only gripe is that the compact is quite thick and it’s not a practical choice for travelling but then you can do without a full-sized blush brush so it depends how you see it. I’ll see if I can put up with travelling with such a bulky item for my next trip. 😉

I must say this purchase surprised even myself because I’d been very bored and jaded by Japanese cosmetics for a long time now. This certainly has me coming back to paying attention to what’s new in the beauty scene in Japan.

That wraps up my show-and-tell. Have you tried this blush? Or have you bought makeup recommended by Lisa Eldridge? Or just tell me what’s your latest blush buy!