Things I Love In Sydney

Whoo – spending 7 whole weeks in Sydney was probably the longest stint I’d ever done in Australia. We stayed mostly with my MIL but moved around his siblings’ homes as well plus a short trip to Brisbane over Australia Day weekend. It was a great way to escape the harsh Japanese winter though with our travel schedule this year, it’s quite possible we will only be in Tokyo for the summer months — so lots of “summer time” in 2015!

The husband and I have been together for 12 years so we fly to Sydney twice a year at least and I’ve become very fond of this city…

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♥ We made the effort to drive up to Fresh Water, one of the northern beaches that has some surf but isn’t too choppy for small kids. The white sand is so soft and the laid back vibe is perfect for lounging and building sand castles for hours on end. We usually allow lil C to have some ice-cream and then burn it off on the beach.

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♥ I had the opportunity to have a couple of play dates with Trishie who helms the very lovely Under Lock & Key and her bubbly lil man, Alex. Our two boys played with each other and shared snacks while we chatted over Trishie’s delicious low-carb Vietnamese pork salad with mint leaves (I’m still thinking about her salad!). It’s so nice to hang out with a fellow mummy blogger with toddlers the same age — we were constantly sharing stories and milestones.

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♥ Another fave place in Sydney is Centennial Park where there’s a fun little playground and loads of open lawn to run around in. It was blazing hot the Sunday we went so we sat in the shade to cool off and sip on iced drinks. We used to go running around this park pre-Charles and hope I’ll get to do that again in the future.

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♥ When you have kids, I think most people would think that connecting with family becomes a lot more of a priority, especially if there are cousins in the picture. Lil C is so lucky that all his big cousins were so game to play with him even though he is the littlest and still a baby. They were so gentle and thoughtful — the husband and I could hang out with the adults and have proper conversations because the cousins could take care of our lil bubbie! Bliss!

We are actually going back Down Under in March for a month so I don’t have to wait too long to enjoy all these things again. You might be wondering why we are going there so frequently — basically, we have a wedding and a family holiday to go to and both had been planned a while back so we knew the beginning of 2015 would be very Oz-focused.

I would also probably blog about the Aussie beauty products I’ll be using since I tend to pick up stuff there and it’ll be a long trip so pointless to lug my products from Japan over ;)

Have you been to Sydney? What’re your fave things to do and places to visit?

Sydney Summer Haul

Hi my loves, how are you doing? I’m in the mood to talk about my Sydney summer holiday. I must say it’s a real treat to escape the harsh winter in Tokyo. It’s been snowing quite a bit which I miss but not the brrrrrr icy air of course!

Although I’ve been more prudent about buying beauty products, they always manage to find their way to me somehow…

I’ve been a lucky lass to receive some wonderful gifts during my stay in Sydney and since it was a 7-week stint, I also picked up a few items to tide me over.

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Antipodes is a New Zealand brand that I’ve read about online alot so I asked for a few products as a Christmas present from the husband. He gave me the Apostle Skin-Brightening Serum which I’ve already finished using. It is seriously awesome and suitable for sensitive skin. The texture is watery and sinks right into the skin. I loved the way it made my skin brighter and clearer which is probably due to kiwi fruit enzymes which are exfoliating.

I also used the Vanilla Pod Hydrating Day Cream as my night cream and it smells heavenly which puts me in a relaxing mood. It’s way too rich for day time in the Sydney summer but I can imagine it would be fine during the harsh Tokyo winter. It has manuka honey and is super-charged with grape seed antioxidants. I would credit the combination of these two products used in tandem for smooth, hydrated, and unblemished skin for the two months that I was in Sydney.

I’ve got the Hosanna H2O Intensive Skin-Plumping Serum which I cannot wait to try.

I’m also halfway through the Jubilation Ultra Nourishing Hand & Body Cream which has the unique feijoa scent which is so quintessentially Kiwi. I once tried a feijoa vodka cocktail and this hand cream is a deadringer for it! I don’t quite know how to describe it as it doesn’t fall into your typical fragrance categories — it’s quite herbal and even medicinal but in a good way! As a hand cream, I love it because it’s light but moisturizes really well. I would absolutely love to try the other hand creams in their collection.

The lovely Trishie from Under Lock & Key gifted me a small bottle of Divine Face Oil Organic Avocado Oil & Rosehip and a travel-sized tube of the Vanilla Pod Hydrating Day Cream I love. She knows my tastes too well ;) She also gave me Benefit’s Benetint which I’d tried years ago when I was a magazine writer — I’m happy to have this in my stash again because it’s such good travel makeup product since it’s a cheek and lip stain.

As usual, I picked up the Sukin Sensitive Cleansing Gel and Facial Moisturizer to be included in my morning skincare routine. Sukin is a reliable natural personal care brand that is affordable and available in most drugstores in Australia. They get the job done and smell great.

For Christmas, I received a bottle of L’Occitane’s Shea Butter Body Lotion which is a light milky body moisturizer perfect for summer. I would slather this on after my evening shower and the familiar powdery fragrance always puts me in the mood to wind down and sleep.

When I visited a Mecca store in Paddington with a friend, I couldn’t resist buying the Hourglass Mechanical Gel Eye Liner which comes in a box of three and the SA said it’s because the product runs out so quickly, the brand decided it’s better to present it as a set instead of having single units to be sold. I liked the way it swatched but I must say I’m struggling to make it work for quick application. I find that it breaks easily and it drags on the skin a little. Perhaps I need to play around with it a bit more to get used to it though I’m thinking I’m still a liquid liner girl at heart.

I actually bought a couple of empty MAC eyeshadow palettes (not pictured) because I have a bunch of MAC single eyeshadows which I love but don’t use due to the fact that they are always tucked away in a drawer so I’m looking forward to depotting my shadows while the bub sleeps.

And of course, I couldn’t resist nabbing MAC’s Lady Danger lipstick. I’d been thinking about it for a long time and decided to buy it since the colour is so awesome as a vivid bright coral shade and it’s long lasting and doesn’t stain your teeth.

All in all, it’s quite a modest haul considering my past makeup-obsessed spendy habits. I’m trying very hard not to shop at Sephora in Singapore and I suppose having a wriggly impatient toddler helps me to steer clear of shops!

What have you hauled recently, my fellow beauty junkies?

Mummy Monday: Dealing With Tongue Tie

Hello my friends, I’m so happy to be able to find a pocket of time to blog here in my beloved space. The husband has taken the bub to a nearby Coffee Bean to grab a coffee so I’m going to blog as much as possible while they are gone.

We are currently in Singapore for Chinese New Year. It makes my parents happy to be able to show off their cute grandson and I do want lil C to get to know his Singaporean family. It’s been great catching up with old friends too and see where they are at.

Anyway, let’s get on with today’s Mummy Monday post. I’ve been wanting to talk about tongue tie for a while now, especially after our little man had a procedure to snip his frenulum.

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If you don’t know what tongue tie is, it’s basically when the frenulum, i.e. the flesh that connects the base of your tongue to the bottom of your mouth, is too short so you can’t stick your tongue out. More importantly, lisping and not being able to pick food out from your teeth are associated problems which cause confidence issues and cavities.

We actually knew that Charles had a tongue tie problem as young as two weeks’ old when I engaged a lactation consultant to figure out why breastfeeding was so difficult. He would be hungry and suck eagerly for a few minutes but then he would promptly fall asleep. After which, he would wake up 20 minutes later and scream for food again. I was literally tied to Charles and he wasn’t getting enough milk. I kept blaming the C-section which delayed my milk supply much longer than was normal and the stress did not help my supply either.

The lactation consultant said I should take Charles to a doctor and get his frenulum snipped. Unfortunately, during his one-month checkup, the doctor said that in Japan they take a wait-and-see approach, which upon more research is a universal stance that most doctors would take. They would not cut the frenulum unless obvious problems developed because babies at such a young age could very well outgrow this condition.

I rummaged the internet for more information and it seemed that breastfeeding mothers with tongue tie babies would experience excruciating pain which I did not feel. I had the occasional sore nipples but no bleeding or chafing that I had read about. I had been following a mummy blog even before I got pregnant and read about tongue tie but her experience sounded so different from mine so I just thought I had low milk supply.

However after 10 months of battling with breastfeeding and the fact that he still couldn’t stick out his tongue, we took him to a pediatric surgeon when he was 15 months old and he declared it was indeed a clear-cut case of tongue tie and his tongue wasn’t going to develop differently much further.

The pediatrician advised us that it’s better to do the procedure when he’s a year old so he won’t be traumatized and have no memory of it. The worst part of the whole operation would be the general anesthesia that would make him drowsy and dehydrated. He had to go in at 7am but the operation was delayed till 8am so keeping a very desperately hungry baby occupied was seriously challenging. He kept tearing into the nappy bag and tugging at me to give him milk and food — it was heartbreaking but we made it through.

We were told to give him very limited food (mostly soft food like white bread, pureed veggies, jelly, diluted milk etc.) — particularly no small pasta or rice just in case the grains would get caught in the wound. The nurse warned us he would experience a stinging sensation occasionally which baby panadol could not dull so he might scream in pain — thankfully he did not. We also had to be careful while brushing his teeth for the next couple of days.

He bounced back in 48 hours like nothing happened and he experimented with sticking his tongue out and curling it. It was very cute to watch!

Do I wish I could’ve done things differently? Of course! I wish I had seen a doctor in Singapore because they do perform tongue tie procedures on babies as young as six months old without anesthesia (I was actually in Singapore when Charles was seven months old). But the timing is so crucial and dependent on the complexity of the tongue tie that even if I could turn back time and do it again, I’m not sure if I could’ve caught it in time and done something about it.

I’d wanted to breastfeed full-time very badly but in the end, I was only able to breastfeed 50-60% of the time and relied on formula. I drank nursing tea (which didn’t taste great and made me reek of fenugreek which reminds me of curry smells!!!) several times a day and ate oatmeal daily faithfully. I kept a hawk-like watch over my supply and pumped at least twice a day. It was all I could think of. I guess what I took away from this whole experience is that I learned that I can be extremely disciplined if I really set my mind to it.

If I have another baby and faced the same situation, I think I would be more willing to rely on formula. I remember crying when I had to give Charles formula because he was losing more than 10% of his body weight in his first week. Well, he’s my first baby so everything was new and overwhelming, plus I had exceptionally high ideals on how I wanted to feed my baby. I must say, I’m much more moderate in my thinking though I’m still stressing over Charles’ fussy eating habits! That’s probably something I would think back and tell myself not to stress over too much in a few years’ time – lol!

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 iHerb.com 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!