Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Selamat Hari Raya - and I'm off to Bangkok!

After the disappointment of my cancelled Krabi trip and the hassles of re-utilising the Air Asia credit (there’s a real long ranty story there, I can tell you!), I’m going to be hopping to Bangkok for a short break over the Raya holidays. Won’t be doing much there other than shopping, getting my massage and chilling out, so this should be a good time-out to recharge with some pleasant company. :)

Of course, to all my Muslim readers and Malaysians alike – Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, and enjoy the break! I’ll be back soon, promise!

Monday, 29 September 2008

Dr Murad Hydrating Toner…

Refreshing tonic balances and hydrates. Replenishes hydration, soothes sensitivity and restores supple skin. Toner replenishes and preps skin for treatment by rebalancing and rehydrating skin while neutralizing surface impurities. Contains Witch Hazel, Peach Fruit Extract, Algae Extract, Nobilis Flower Extract, Cucumber Extract, Grapeseed Extract. Lecithin helps lock in moisture and restores suppleness, while Chamomile and Cucumber soothe irritation and soften skin.

Every day after cleansing, gently spray over entire face and neck. Allow to dry, or gently wipe with cotton pad. For optimal results, follow with recommended Murad treatment. Dermatologist developed and tested. Murad does not test on animals.

The Verdict:
I first got hooked on this toner when my facialist used it during my treatments. This smells really good once spritzed on my face to give a lovely relaxing feeling. After getting my own bottle, I usually use it before applying my moisturiser as I found that I actually use slightly less than compared to when I’m applying it directly onto dry skin.

The one thing that stands out about this toner, is that it’s great to use as a skin soother. One particular time, after picking up this horrible sunburn on my nose and the apples of my cheeks from squinting in the sun at an outdoor event (bad, I know, and that was WITH sunscreen on!), I resorted to spraying this on cotton pads and applying them on the *ouch* affected areas, which brought almost immediate relief and alleviated the peeling. At that point, all the ‘after sun’ remedies I tried didn’t work, so by far you could say this toner has stood trial by fire… :)

It IS quite pricey though, so I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. The one bottle I have is being used up very sparingly just once a day in desperate hopes that Murad will go on sale (which will probably never happen, but one can hope!). However, if you have the moola to spare, this is an excellent buy.

Dr Murad Hydrating Toner retails at RM115 for a 150ml bottle, and is available in Malaysia at all CN Beauty outlets.

Rating: 4 / 5
Value: $


Genting Palace @ Genting Highlands…

While I was in Genting performing in a musical last year, a bunch of us came by this lovely dim sum place just outside the Genting International Showroom. Since we were stuck there for literally two weeks, we ended up eating there almost every day – thank GOD we had F&B cards, otherwise I would have been so broke…can you imagine having dim sum for two weeks on end (and still not getting sick of it?!?)

Forewarning : Picture-heavy food post! :)

Porridge of the Day – RM5.00. I had century egg porridge with shredded chicken.

Steamed siew mai dumpling – RM9.00. Just check out the size of those dumplings!!

Steamed prawn dumpling – RM9.00. The skin on these were just right – not too thick and not too thin.

Deep-fried Prawn Dumpling – RM9.00. Why is it always the fried stuff that tastes so good? If salad tasted like this, we’d all look like superstars!

Deep-Fried Cheese Roll – RM12.00. This is one of Genting Palace’s specialities…and an absolute must-try if you come here. The melted cheese is a perfect complement to the crispy rolled up skin. I’d suggest you let it sit for a short while, or be very careful when you bite into it as melted cheese can burn! (didn’t stop us from devouring it though!)

Deep-fried crispy shrimp wantan – RM6.00. As you can see, we had rather a lot of fried food! Bad!! (but too yummy to resist!)

Fried carrot cake – RM7.00. You can opt to have just the carrot cake slices on its own, but for the sake of getting some veg into our diet, we had it stirfried with beansprouts, shallots, egg and garlic…mmm…

Chee cheong fun with prawn – RM8.00. There are also BBQ pork and scallop variants available at RM6.00 and RM12.00 respectively, but we liked the prawn one best, especially with the dried chilly and veg!

Of course, no meal would be complete without dessert, so…*evil grin*…

Baked Egg Tarts – RM5.00. I dunno what they put in the pastry, but this seriously melts in your mouth…I’m drooling just thinking about it!

Desserts galore – being in a group, we got to try quite a few desserts. Their menu is a little limited for this since they only make 3-4 desserts daily, but they were still quite good.

Mango pudding – you can really taste the fresh mango cubes in this. By far, this was the unanimous favourite.

Kwai Lin Gao – I’ve been told that this takes an acquired taste since it’s traditionally bitter and has to be eaten with honey. However, with a bunch of singers in the group (and it’s supposed to be good for the throat!), this was quickly devoured. Personally, I used to hate kwai lin gao, but this was surprisingly pleasant on the palate.

Honeydew sago – another group favourite. This has got to be one of the easiest desserts to make, but here it’s a little different, as they actually add melted ice cream to the mixture, which gives it a sweeter flavour.

There’s a whole lot of other dishes to try such as the baked char siew puff (RM6.00), deep-fried puff (Wu Kok) (RM6.00), deep-fried sesame ball (RM5.00), steamed beancurd skin roll (RM7.00), chicken & prawn dumpling with spicy sauce (RM8.00), steamed loh mai kai (RM7.00) and chicken feet (also known as Phoenix Claw) (RM5.00). Just a gentle note as well that all the prices above are not inclusive of the “+10%+5%” government and service tax.

Now, who wants to make a trip up to Genting with me? :)

Genting Palace (outside Genting International Showroom)
Genting Highlands Resort
Genting Highlands
69000 Pahang

Rating: 4.5 / 5
Value: $$


Friday, 26 September 2008

Bloom Aromatherapy Lip Balm…

Thanks to the shopaholic angel that sent me THIS, I got a chance to try out Bloom’s Aromatherapy Lip Balm…yay!

Bloom Aromatherapy Lip Balm soothes, softens and conditions dry lips. Seals in moisture and protects your lips for hours. Formulated with natural ingredients including Beeswax, Jojoba Oil and Vitamin E. Lightly scented with essential oils.

The Verdict:
Bloom’s Aromatherapy Lip Balms are beautifully packaged with a pastel-coloured box, and a sleek solid jar inside. I got the Spearmint flavour which isn’t available on the website, but has a glossy finish with essential oils. The first thing that hit me when I opened it was that this smells EXACTLY like Wrigleys Spearmint chewing gum! (such a childhood moment!)

The aromatherapy bit really comes across well – my lips were tingly and smooth after applying this. I had to use my finger to apply it since it doesn’t come with a brush (this doesn’t bother me, but it might be a pain point for others) but it does go on very smoothly. Bad part about this is that I love nibbling my lips with this lip balm on…whoops!

I found that the texture of the balm is actually a little waxy compared to my other balms. This could be a plus or minus depending on how you look at it – on the plus side, it’s great for applying under your lipliner to moisturise your lips since it won’t cause your liner to slide off. But on the minus side, the texture can feel a bit odd to some. Another thing is, it also doesn’t come with SPF so I’d advise layering it with a lipstick that does if you’re going to be outdoors.

Moisturising factor-wise, the lip balm is brilliant…I literally have to stop myself from reapplying it constantly because I don’t need to, but instead WANT to because it smells so darn good! :p

Bloom Aromatherapy Lip Balm comes in a variety of flavours which are also available from Sephora – I haven’t tried any of the others, but the Spearmint one definitely scores in my book. For the price, it’s expensive for a lip balm but seriously, this pot will last me simply ages.

Bloom Aromatherapy Lip Balm is available at all Bloom counters and retails at approximately AUD9.95 or its local equivalent currency for a 15g pot.

Rating: 4.5 / 5
Value: $$


Thursday, 25 September 2008

Progeli Hand Cream…

While travelling in Barcelona a few months back, I wrote about inadvertently leaving my hand cream at home. Despite getting the Sephora Express Hand Doctor cream to chuck in my tote, I needed something a little stronger for regular application (and the small tube of Hand Doctor was just too precious to use up all at once!). After trawling through some drug stores, I came across Progeli’s Hand Cream.

Suitable for all skin types, in summer or winter. Its high content of essential oils and natural active ingredients make the Progeli Hand Cream highly moisturising, nourishing and dermoprotective. Contains propolis, geranium, lemon and invigorating linseed oil and Q10.

The Verdict:
The first thing that stood out about this hand cream was its delicious lemon-citrus scent – I was smelling my hands for ages after applying it! I only needed a small dollop of the cream to cover my hands since the texture was super-thick. Yes, I know what the next question is going to be – since it’s so thick, is it greasy?

The answer is…no! The cream is rapidly absorbed into skin, and you’ll know that it’s been properly rubbed in since it will completely disappear after less than half a minute (good time to do a mini hand massage too!) I would have been a bit more critical of this if it was touted as a travel cream since I usually need my hands back almost immediately, but since I only applied this in my hotel room before heading out, it’s a pretty good buy. My hands were adequately moisturised for most of the day, and I only needed to top up the moisture after I’d washed my hands for the SECOND time – not bad for a ‘spur of the moment buy’ hand cream!

One downside to this cream is that the scent IS rather strong, so unless you’re wearing a citrus-based fragrance, it will clash with whatever perfume you put on. On days that I use this cream, I actually did away with my fragrance altogether since the citrus smell was strong enough on its own. Of course, if you’re looking on the bright side, you could say that this cream doubles up as a fragrance too – all depends on how you look at it, I guess.

It’s also not widely available, which is a bit of a problem. Natura House, the company that manufactures Progeli, originates from Italy, but I haven’t been able to find much information on the company (that’s in English, that is!). Can anyone help me out here? :)

Progeli Hand Cream comes in a 75ml tube and retails for approximately €3.60.

Rating: 3.5 / 5
Value: $$


Wednesday, 24 September 2008

My Rootote love...

I tell you, I’m in love…with my Rootote, that is!

Thanks to my shopaholic cousin Tine raving about her Roototes, I just HAD to go and get myself one. I was originally going to grab one from the Rootote website in Australia (and split the shipping cost by combining with others), but credit has to go to Paris, who tipped me off to the fact that Tiny Tapir in Malaysia carried Roototes in Medium and Tall sizes. The range is rather limited, but still, it’s better than nothing right?

Anyway, to make a long story short…tadaaahh!!

Hehe…ok lah, maybe not the most pretty photo with it all in plastic (anticlimactic right?) Don’t smack me!!

I got the same one as Paris – the Medium in Corners design. Out of all the designs available at Tiny Tapir, this was the least ‘cartooney’ or ‘cutesy’ that I could imagine myself carrying on a daily basis (pretty rose or cartoon patterns may be fine for some people, but not me)

The inside of the bag has plenty of pockets to store a mobile, cards, keys and whatever else you might fancy chucking inside – and there’s an added insert that sits at the bottom of the bag to keep its base shape. The outside’s also very sturdy, which I also like as it won’t be tipping over when I stand it on my desk during work hours.

You might wonder why it’s called a Rootote to begin with – basically, it’s because of the kangaroo-style zipper pocket at the side of the bag. The little ‘pouch’ inside is perfect for storing the things you need on hand, ie. your house/ car keys and phone. This is perfect for me since I have this tendency to carry literally EVERYTHING in my bag, and then end up missing phone calls because I’m frantically rummaging in my bag hunting for the phone (and of course, I’ll find it immediately AFTER it stops ringing!)

This particular Rootote is made from polyester, which means that it’s waterproof, relatively light AND durable. I’ve even used it to lug my laptop home in a pinch on a day that I just didn’t feel like bringing my bulky laptop bag home – just slipped it in its sleeve, chucked it in my Rootote and voila!

The absolutest best part about this? The price tag – this baby only cost me RM38!! (by comparison, the Australian Rootote site sells them at AUD22.73, and that’s not inclusive of shipping!) Me love!

I’ve currently got my eye on the Rootote Plain Medium in Denim, but unfortunately it’s an old design and already out of stock, so I suppose I’ll have to hunt for another design I like…eeps!! If you want one of your own, just get in touch with the lovely people at Tiny Tapir – it’s not up on their site yet but just contact them and they’ll hook you up with your very own Rootote!


Sunday, 21 September 2008

Sushi Zanmai @ Gardens Midvalley…

Working at Midvalley, finding a nice but not too expensive place to eat lunch is not always as easy as it sounds. However, when we’re in the mood for Japanese food we know where to head to – Sushi Zanmai. The place is located on the top floor of Gardens just next to Borders, and serves up some gorgeous dishes that are not only satisfying, but great eye candy as well.

Ocha (refillable house green tea) – RM1.00 per person

Soft Shell Crab Maki – RM6.00.

Soft Shell Crab Temaki – RM4.80

The soft-shell crab dishes at Sushi Zanmai are definite must-haves when I come here. This place serves up some of the best soft shell crab around…crispy on the outside, but succulent on the inside with plenty of flavor.

Chicken Karaage – RM6.80

Shishamo (grilled pregnant smelt) – RM4.80

Kani Avocado Salad – RM12.80. This is my boss’ favourite salad…the sauce (a mix of mayonnaise, fish roe and other yummy stuff) is particularly good at setting off the different flavours.

Chuka Chinmi (seasoned scallop wings) – RM6.00

Chawanmushi (steamed egg custard) – RM4.80. If you like really smooth steamed egg custard, this is the one for you…I love this! Of course, for those that want something more exotic (and also more expensive!), you can try the one below…

Ikura Chawanmushi (steamed egg custard topped with salmon roe) – RM9.80. I don’t like this because the salmon roe is rather salty, but others seem to love it. For the record, even though it’s common practice to add soy sauce to Chawanmushi before eating it, I never add it to mine. I prefer the natural taste of the egg custard.

Kakiage Don (small) – RM8.80. Even for a small portion, this is more than sufficient for your average person. It also comes with a generous portion of meat and sauce to complement the rice.

Of course, no meal is complete without dessert. Ice cream is a particular focus here, and there are some great variants to suit any palate. If you want something easy to eat, try the first two below – they’re about as easy to come as the pieces come packaged between crisp wafers, making it as simple as popping it into your mouth. :)

Itachoco Monaka (vanilla wafer ice cream with thick chocolate) – RM6.80

The chocolate on this ice cream is nice and thick – it even has some ‘puff chocolate balls’ inside that adds more bite to the ice cream.

Kuromitsu-iri Macha Monaka (green tea wafer ice cream with brown sugar) – RM6.80

Green tea ice cream is usually a hit or miss since it can end up being too sweet or too bitter from balancing out the addition of green tea powder to vanilla ice cream. However, this particular ice cream here has got just the right mixture of ice cream and green tea for a refreshing close to a meal.

Goma Ice (black sesame ice cream) – RM6.00. I love the texture of this! The sesame flavor really comes out – newbies may be a little put off by the odd grey colour of the ice cream, but once you taste it you’ll be hooked, guaranteed.

Will I continue going back there? You bet I will…as long as the food standard stays what it is. :)

Sushi Zanmai @ Gardens Midvalley
T-217 3rd Floor, The Gardens
Mid Valley City, Lingkaran Syed Putra,
59200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2282 1160

Rating: 4.5 / 5
Value: $$


Friday, 19 September 2008

Estee Lauder Pure Pops Brush-On Colour…

While going through my makeup drawers recently, I came across my Estee Lauder Pure Pops Brush-On Colour gloss that I’d been meaning to blog about but never quite got around to taking the pictures – oh well…better late than never, right? The shade I have is #1010 – Sugar Pie.

Brush with brilliance – these sweet pops of jelly-sheer gloss will give you gleaming lips with one quick brushstroke. Fresh, fruit-scented shades give you no-mess shine anytime. A unique brush applicator turns the tube into a lip styling tool for precise application wherever you go.

The Verdict:
Pure Pops are seriously easy to use – just remove the cap and twist the brush base to unlock colour. Squeeze gently to get the desired amount of gloss, and twist back to lock. The built-in brush is also great for application – I’ve always been a fan of the actual BRUSH-tipped glosses rather than the slanted tip ones, but that’s a personal preference.

The safety twist-lock mechanism is a great feature though. There’s no worry of having this leak in my handbag, and the clear flexible tube lets me know how much is remaining (not to mention I can squeeze out literally every drop from this!)

For a ‘Sugar Pie’ colour, this looks more like sunburnt sugar – it’s orangey in colour with dark brown glitter flecks, but goes on nicely. EL wasn’t kidding when they said ‘jelly-sheer’, because this is really a little jelly-like in texture! As far as the scent goes, it’s pleasant enough although not overpowering.

I’m not too sure how much this costs though since it was a gift, but I’ve seen it priced anywhere from RM40-RM80. Can anyone help me out here? If it is closer to RM80, I’d say save your $$ for something else because that’s just way too much for me to spend on a lipgloss, but if it’s around RM40, I suppose it could be considered as a luxury once-in-a-while purchase. What do you think? :)

Rating: 4 / 5
Value: $

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Sephora Express Hands’ Doctor…

While wandering around in Barcelona, I realized I had been a real ninny in leaving my hand cream back home. In the rush of last-minute packing the night before leaving, it got inadvertently forgotten – until it hit me just how dry my hands were getting.

After the initial shock and picking my jaw off the floor when I actually came across a Sephora in Barcelona, I saw this cute Hand & Nail care cream tube…just what I needed to chuck in my bag.

Sephora Express Hands’ Doctor is a nourishing and protective, non-oily formula that provides immediate comfort to dry skin. Apply several times a day while gently massaging skin, paying particular attention to the nail contour to ensure good nail moisturising of the upper skin layers.

The Verdict:
This was a lifesaver while I was in Barcelona – after applying it I was seriously enjoying the relief feeling the moisture soak back into my hands and having my cuticles actually LOOKING like cuticles. It also has a pleasantly mild scent. More importantly, there’s no greasy residue after application which is great.

However, that aside, nothing stood out in particular about this hand cream. It’s effective enough, but requires constant reapplication as the moisturising factor dissipates quite fast. All things considered though, it’s a decent travel companion for its compact size. I only wish I had gotten a couple more tubes!

Sephora Express Hands’ Doctor comes in 30ml tubes, and is available at Sephora (I got mine for approximately €3 in Barcelona)

Rating: 3.5 / 5
Value: $$