The end of an era

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Guess what guys, it is the end of another decade. I am not trying to be that suspense-esque and mystery chic and all but it is pretty much the end of the decade, literally and figuratively speaking.

Have you guys have had a great year so far? Ticking off all the resolutions you made in January or have they whittle down sideways in March? Has it been a funtastic year all around or has it been dotted with unexpected disappointments along the way?

Well, as for me, upon reflection of the year, I have to say while there are teeny tiny changes, most things do tend to stay the same, as it does in most years. Sometimes I still surprise myself when the new year rolls around and I don’t grow an unexpected horn on my head or something? As human, we all tend to forget that the switch from 31 December to 1 January is just yet again, another day.

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I made resolutions religiously. If you do not know this about me, I am a huge list maker. I even made list about putting on my bra and brushing my teeth every single day, pfft like as if I will forget (actually wait, hmm might have forgotten once or twice, the bra part that is).

All I am saying is, I love resolutions. I made them so early on in the previous year, it is staring at me in September. Do I ever follow them through? Heck no. Except that last year, being a conscious adult and all, reviewing my goals every 3 months, I was able to stick to my resolutions loosely. The only goal I could hit was the number of books I read, that was passable and absolutely doable because I do love reading, even if it is just my “rom-com/chick flicks” books. Don’t you judge me now, they are my thang.

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I will admit though, the saving money and losing weight resolutions which I have had for the last damn 20 years have never been achieved. I am bad at saving money as I am in watching what I put in my mouth. But, having said that, I manage to emerge through the year still being in a fair good shape. Sure sure, my knee troubles me every damn day like a muthapucker but I, still damn grateful, I have my overall health in check. And guess what guys, that gym membership that I had silently, I have been going for lunch time classes (thanks to my work girls <3). I mean, can I get an A for effort at least? Some weeks are pretty great, I will be awesomely motivated, some weeks are not. But that is fine, we are all humans and that’s my gist for this entry, it is fine to be just fine.

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If you guys need a random reminder, let me be the one telling you this:- Let’s not be too hard on ourselves, we have others already doing that for us. So, let’s be nice and kind to our wee selves. Let’s do away with those unnecessary questions in your head about if you are enough? The answer is fuck yes, you are enough as it is and I know you are doing the best damn job you can for yourself, so you deserve a great pat on your sexy back. If you do not hit the jackpot in any part of your life, that is fine my friends. For if you wake up another day blessed to be able to breathe, you can try again.

You don’t save a million dollars last year, that is fine, at least you still have your job-however crappy it may be. You don’t get to snag that dream girl, that is fine you have amazing friends and lovely families having your back. You don’t manage to lose that 5 or 50 pounds, that is fine, just keep moving and start small, you will get somewhere I promise you. You don’t manage to conceive, that is fine, go hug your partner instead, you still got love. You think your life is boring, hey guess what.. yes damn right that is fine, you got a roof over your head, you are safe and warm and you are healthy and breathing, basic necessities are damn okay too. We are all fine. We can do more and we can do better. Don’t give up!!

I am wishing one and all, a jubilant new year, the ushering of a new decade and may all the brilliance trail you along in each and every way. Stay awesome all you cutie possums!!!!

With this said, HAPPY NEW YEAR YOU SEXY THANG!

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The loss of a dear pet

Few weeks ago, we lost our beloved cat to a sudden mysterious road accident/poison incident. She was a healthy, happy 6 year old little princess of ours. She insisted on leaving the house on a late Monday night which was not unusual as she was an indoor/outdoor but it was uncharacteristic of her, given that it is in the middle of the winter. Bizarrely, she did not return all of the next day Tuesday and by the 3rd day Wednesday, I knew in my guts something bad has happened. When I spoke to my workmates to send out prayers her way, I was recommended to post on a lost and found page in trusty ol’ Facebook, which I did. I was so glad I did.

I never would have thought that with the support of an online community, I could have received so much help in such little time from a group of strangers. I was notified by a member of the public that upon driving near our place, she spotted a black furry animal by the road. She said she was hoping it was not ours but I immediately knew it was our cat. My instinct on her has always been strong from day one. I knew she was gone. I could not bring myself to return home mid-work because I also knew I will shatter. What good will a breakdown be anyway? Immediately, I told my husband and he said he will drive home right that very minute and he will call me back in 15 minutes. He was confidently sure it was not our cat as she was unfailingly a smart and adventurous cat. Well, 15 minutes passed and he did not call me back after 2 hours. All my gut instinct told me that my suspicion is confirmed.

What that kind member of the public and my husband did not tell me was, our cat’s carcass have been left out cold for a day or more and that there were huge birds which have gathered and pecked on her. My poor poor baby. 

Following the days that went by after, there was not a single day I did not wake up crying. There was also never a day I did not cry myself to sleep.

To some, a pet is just an animal but to me she was an integral part of my life. She was not only a cat but she was an amazing companion in her own quiet manners. She was simply the best cat, growing up with many, this is a statement I don’t throw around lightly. 

She was not the friendliest, neither was she a purring lap cat but the long months and years of caring and nurturing for her paid off in her loyalty. She was such a loyal cat. She was never not without by my side when I am home. I even sleep cuddling her much to my husband’s annoyance. She was always always around. She hung by the front door when I am sitting at the front patio, she hung around in the backyard when I am doing my late night laundry, she hung around the garage waiting for us to come home when we take the car out on the weekends. She was the easiest cat to care for. She is polite and never rash. She will wait tirelessly by our pillows for us to wake up or wait by the toilet for me to finish my shower before asking to be fed. And she never ask for more, she was never a greedy cat. She will gently put her paw on me if she wants to be pet but she is never needy, always independent. She was like a guardian angel.

I have lost grandparents, aunties, uncles,  cousins, friends and many cats growing up and I knew what loss was. But I never knew the real meaning of grieving till I lost her. For many days, I could not let her go in peace and it broke me to shambles. Round and round I played in my mind, I question and doubted myself. Was it ever my fault? Could I have done more? Could I have done better? In silence, it broke my very being of existence to even live yet another day. For when she left, it was the biggest hole in my heart she took. I felt extremely extremely empty. 

I could not walked past the path she was last alive on without crying. I could not go to the kitchen without thinking of her feeding area without crying. I could not sit on the couch and look at every small corner where she sat on without crying. Everything reminds me of her. 

And what was even sadder was my husband felt the same way too. For days and weeks, we became the couple who sat by the couch watch tv in silence, wiping away our own tears as the night goes by thinking of her. The house felt so big yet so very empty, every inch of the house was marked by her presence, she was so very much missed. 

I never regretted the few short years I care for her, while it might be short but it was filled with exceptional love to the brim. I smothered her with love and I gave her the best of a life a cat can get. She was utterly pampered like a princess, just the way she deserves.

To cope with my grief, I gathered the blanket she slept on every day, her brush which have the last of her fur (I was hoping it has more because she was quite furry) and I wrote her a farewell note. In that note, I asked her for forgiveness. 6 years was too short of a life, she deserved to enjoy it more. I wrote that I hope she is enjoying kitty heaven and that I really want to see her again. In the meantime, I was really hoping to see her in my dreams. I printed photos of her and pasted it everywhere, by our wedding photo in the living room and in the bedroom. I kept her blanket beside me on my bedside table. I made her face my phone screensavers and I made a book out of all her photos. I wanted to make sure I will never forget her and that by any faintest chance, her spirit will come visit us, I just wanted her to know she is never forgotten. We both really miss her a lot.

Sure, I will always continue to adopt more cats but that special portion of my heart deserved especially for her will never ever ever ever be filled up again. There will be no other pet like her and that’s fine because while she might have left the world, she will never leave my heart.

For the love of skincare

I, personally, get very hyped and riled up about skincare routine, especially every time the colder months encroach. Hi, my name is Ernie and I will like to think I am a skincare addict. Harlow!!!

My back story is I was born and bred in Singapore and over 30 years of my life has passed before I packed my bags (3 gargantuan luggages in toto) and moved to Australia-the land of the free, where I have to live in both wintry and summery months. Side note: I know most of you would have been familiarised with Singapore as a city with the awe-inspiring layover airport and also from the infamous Crazy Rich Asian movie, however, for those of you who are unenlightened about this city/island, we do not have seasons and we folks live in predominantly a sweltering environment. Think 30 degrees summer all day every day with a 90% humidity and the occasional showers to be expected during the mid day. It is sweat-fest in Singapore (and I who abhor the heat with a passion, absolutely cringe every time I hear a tourist say “Ooohh I love Singapore’s weather. Like WHY?? You sweat and you stink, how is that love?). Anyways, I digress, I am not here to write about Singapore OR the climate change. I am writing about my skincare routine. (silent standing ovation)

From hereon, just a tiny disclaimer that all photos of skincare are mine 🙂

Over 30 years of my good life, all I ever do was to wash my face. In fact, I was using the same Neutrogena cleanser for maybe over 10 years, the same one being repurchased over and over like the wheels of a school bus goes round and round. Lol. (Not this particular cleanser from Neutrogena, but I did use an oil free deep cleansing cleanser for like eons). Honourable mention to the products in the hydro boost range, they are awesome possum.

Other than that, my skincare routine was perpetually non-existent and literally pathetic.

However, as and when I do a winter vacation which in my early 20s onwards, I have done at least once a year, I will chuck in a woeful moisturizer in the mix. BUT THAT WAS ALL.. and THATTTT, which I discovered in later years, is not favourable at all for my sad face which was taking all the toll.

To further aggravate the situation, I am also self-diagnosed with cranial hyperhidrosis which is excessive facial sweating, and I absolutely cannot leave the house with any layers of skincare on my face. It will actually slide right off my face and fall into a puddle of goo at the bus stop. Ooo, whats that? That’s just Ernie’s day serum from last week!

Back in my 20s with absolutely no skincare knowledge, my face had the fair share of angry breakouts, huge open pore marks, acne scarring and all the nasty things you do not want on your face plus I also picked and squeezed on my pimples and I also sleep with makeup on most nights-oh you know what I’m talking about-those FUN nights.

The amusing thing is, back in the days what I lacked in skin health, I compensate it with exorbitant makeup. I was the shiet nitzz in makeup and people back in my life can attest to that. Remember the hype of 88 eyeshadow palettes back in the day, ooo girl I have half a dozen of them. Fake lashes up to the heavens, sister can do it all.  I did not pile on the makeup because I love it for the most part. It was purely because I am inferior of my very infested skin as a result of all the negligent years, so I took a cowardly way out and cover them imperfections up. But also I was in my 20s and we have all been there before, haven’t we?

I remembered moving to Sydney few February-s ago, and my world physically and literally changed. It was for the most part of it still summer and even though I was perpetually very hot and very bothered, my face was shockingly tight and extremely dry which did not make absolute sense to me. I was in a skincare conflict & dilemma! My nose was cluttered with black heads, I have enlarged congested pores, the deep lines around the mouth were starkingly abhorrent and never will I imagine that I have crow feets around my eye. It was a brutally rude awakening.

Now now.. I have never had dry skin ever in my life, mine has always been on the border of  combination/oily but never ever ever ever dry. That was when I literally woke up with a jolt in life, big slap across my face with a chair, hand on heart said, I NEED TO SAVE MY SKIN. Like I need skincare products and I need a routine I can adhere to, I need to undo all the years of neglect because oh boy was it really showing on my face and time is tick-tocking.

So few years ago, the first thing I did was to go to Priceline and grabbed all of the natural, vegan/cruelty free products such as those from Sukin, Ordinary and Trilogy products. I wanted the improvisation process to be simple and dumb-proof and the last thing I want is to spend money and try out new stuff on my face and getting break outs. Ain’t no sister has time for that. Long story short, thankfully my skin loved the simplicity of the products and I could observe that my skin is well ameliorated.

Fast forward to a year ago, I wanted to UP my skincare game and have always wanted to try Korean skincare products and their ridoncolously long 10 step skincare routine, which I have been influenced by Youtube. (thanks Youtube, I am a believer).

So, I sipped on the Kool-Aid and did a giant order on NudieGlow (completely not sponsored, wish I am) an Aussie based website selling Korean skincare products. Photo below~This was a family group photo of all my western skincare products, bundled with the Korean skincare products from my very 1st order from NudieGlow back in June 2018. I was a proud mama and I knew I will be in for a great skincare journey of my life, I am not disappointed.

Side note of a disclaimer, I am not an expert aesthetician, neither am I a licensed dermatologist. My entry is not to be deemed as professional advises, just personal thoughts, opinions and methods. I try to dispense off these information to the best of my knowledge and some guidance from various websites.

Just before I dive into the specific products, the general order of my skincare routine which I have adapted from the 357 step of Korean skincare products, and modified into my own is as follows:

Morning routine:
Step 1: Water based cleanser
Step 2: Toner
Step 3: Essence
Step 4: Vitamin C serum
Step 5: Matrixyl serum
Step 6: Moisturiser
Step 7: Sunscreen
Step 8: Lipbalm

Evening routine:
Step 1: Oil based cleanser
Step 2: Water based cleanser
Step 3: Exfoliator (twice a week)
Step 4: Toner
Step 5: Essence
Step 6: Sheet mask (twice a week)
Step 7: Serum
Step 8: Moisturiser
Step 9: Oil
Step 10: Sleeping mask
Step 11: Lipbalm

Let’s talk the ways:
CLEANSING BALM

Double cleansing is a method made famous by obviously the Koreans which inculcate an oil-based cleanser first followed by a water-based cleanser to ensure the skin to be thoroughly cleansed. The gist behind using an oil-based cleanser first is because oil is beneficially useful in stripping off makeup and even waterproof sunscreen. Oil-based cleanser can either be in a liquid oil form or in a sherbet cleansing balm form. You will take a pump or a scrap of product onto your palm, apply it onto your face dry, work it in circular motions first, after which you will introduce water slowly to the face which will emulsifies the oil cleanser, gently removing all the residues of your day.

If you have oily skin like me, you can safely dispel your own myth of thinking that oil cleansers will make your skin oilier, this cannot be far from the absolute truth and I am a standing testament to that.

My absolute favourite is the Heimish All-Clean cleansing balm (cult favourite for obvious reasons), I personally love the slight mild herbaly scent and it gets the job effectively done in removing the gunk from my face. Other well known cleansing balm are from Banila which comes in several varieties for different skin concerns and my favourite cleansing oil is either from Biore or Klairs (which I have 7 million samples of).

CLEANSER

You will then want to follow up your oil based cleanser with a water based cleanser and that could be any of your old regular cleanser of your choice. Water based cleanser’s function is to generally remove sweat and excessive layers of dirt on the face. So what you cannot catch in the first layer of cleansing, you will want get it all off on this step.

You guys know that for years and years, I have always gravitate towards the Neutrogena cleanser (that still is a handy backup option), however these days, I am a colossal fan of anything green-tea in skincare, not a fan of drinking it but I LOVE putting it on my face. Team green tea all the way!!!

My favourites are either the Neogen green tea cleansing stick which as you can see in the photo, has real green tea leaves in it. Gosh, it smells uhh-maa-zing and the dried leaves does give a gentle exfoliation on the skin (not those crazy exfoliation like some apricot scrub we know off). This is my go to morning cleanser, it invigorates and wakes me up. It is also note worthy to point out that this cleansing stick is considered solid, so if you are ever flying and want to take this with you in your carry on, it will not constitute as a liquid. Winner!!

Another new favourite green tea cleanser which I am currently enjoying is the Innisfree green tea cleanser, super gentle non-stripping, pleasant scent -an all around great non-offensive simple cleanser. Comes in a hefty 150ml and with a little-goes-a-long-way policy, this cleanser will last you out for a very long time.

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You generally do not want to cleanse your face to a point where you feel an extreme tightness in your skin as tightness generally means that you have over-stripped the oil in your face, which can cause your face to send a signal to your brain to produce excessive sebum-hence the breakouts. I grew up with horrid over-stripping cleansers which only made me break out even more. Now that is not a win-win situation.

**I use my green tea stick cleanser in the morning and double cleanse in the evening. Without fail, non-negotiable. You can double cleanse both morning and evening, it is purely preferential.

EXFOLIATOR
Exfoliators can be in one of two variations; physical or chemical. Both technically performs the same function and again it is up to your preferences.

Physical exfoliators are usually in the form of mild to grainy scrubs. I am not a huge fan of this as you ought to be uberly gentle as not to micro-tear your skin with over-exfoliation.

Chemical exfoliators are usually immersed with chemical actives like AHA & BHA to encourage and introduce new cell turnover, so just think of it as sloughing away dead cells of your skin-out with the old, in with the new.
Without being too technical and from my amateur knowledge, AHA is alpha hydroxy acid which is a common derivative for lactic acid or glycolic acid-can be found in milk or grapes amongst others. BHA is beta hydroxy acid and a common derivative is salicylic acid, abundantly found in tea tree skincare products for acne clearing purposes.

My tried and true favourite exfoliator is surprise suprise the Neogen green tea bio peel (of course it has to be green tea). These peels also come in the grapes and lemon form. It has 30 pieces of exfoliating pads which you only need to swipe across your face and let the actives do its marvellous job in giving you that glow. These exfoliating pads are a holy holy holy grail for me as it visibly smoothens my skin and my pore seem to have shrunk over time. I exfoliate my gorgeous face twice a week, no more than that.

From someone who has not exfoliated since the ugly apricot scrub saga back in my late teens, now I just cannot go a week without my green tea chemical exfoliating pads.

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**For absolute beginners who have not used actives prior, please start slow, once a week or half a pad in the beginning. Over-exfoliating in any form physical or chemical can exacerbates the skin horridly, causing burns and tears. Be mindful!

TONER
You’ll see how many toners this sister have, because I love me a good toner.

Now, Korean toners are milestones different from the standard western toners. Western toners are usually, mostly laden with alcohol although most are getting better these days. Alcohol while great to be consumed, is not fine and dandy when overly applied on the face as we all know from basic science, that excess alcohol dries out the skin and nobody has time for dry skin. Long gone are those generic toners, and here comes the Korean toners that is packed with a punch.

Generally, you want to apply toner as soon as you cleanse. You will like to think of cleanser as removing the bad and toners replenishing back the good onto your face. Apparently so, you will hear this over and over in Korean skincare videos, toners are use to balance the PH of your skin-when cleansing your skin, you might have slightly disturbed your skin PH, hence toner will come into place to joosh the PH up and put everything back to its good place.

Especially so in the winter months, I have a personal principle of putting toner within 60 seconds from cleansing my face, for fear that my face detects dryness. You can either apply toner with a cotton pad but I go rouge and apply toner from palm to face-cutting out the middle agent altogether.

My absolute holy grail toner is the Whamisa’s organic flower toner. This toner is made up of 97.5% organic ingredients (from a bunch of flowers and good stuffs lol) and derived from the fermentation process (yes fermentation, like kombucha but for the face). I love the slightly thicker consistency of this toner as compared to the watery ones and it 100% hydrates my skin, leaving it supple and ready for my other 3467348 skincare products to be layered on.

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Other favourites are the Huxley Sahara toner-gorgeous gorgeous scent albeit being slightly higher in alcoholic content-this is a summer fave for me.

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A couple other toners in rotation that I am currently using and enjoying is the I’m from rice toner which lives up to Gothamista’s hyped rave. I’m from is a relatively new brand for me but this rice toner is such a calming delight-made from more than 77% rice extract, expect fresh milky goodness of a toner just hydrating your skin. Reminds me of my childhood when I will be in the kitchen with my mum and when we got around to cooking rice, my mum will always tell me that the water residues from premium quality grains are beneficial for good skin. Guess what Mum, should have taken your idea and patent it up. Great recommendation for colder months!

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Last but not least, you all know I got to include a green tea thingy somewhere, yes? Innisfree green tea balancing ex toner is a relishing delight for post gym shower- well balanced, light and refreshing toner. Great for everyday usage!

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ESSENCE
Essence is a completely new ball game for me in terms of skincare. If you are into minimalism and do not particularly find the use of essence, you can completely skip this step.

The rule of the thumb in Korean skincare routine is all about layering, while there is no hard and fuss rule in it, you always want to apply your products from the lightest to the heaviest consistency. Some products can double up as toner/essence or essence/serum, again this is purely preferential. Always access your skin needs and make good judgement from thereon.

How does essence come into your routine? Essence is after cleansing and toning and way before serums and moisturisers, treat it as a lightweight serum if you may. Nothing serious in your routine, just treat essence as casually adding an extra layer of hydration.

My very first essence that I tried was the COSRX snail mucin essence. Grossed out at the word, snails? Don’t be. Cosrx assures you that no snails were harmed in the collation of the product. This essence, made from 96% of snail secretion is super thick and gooey, has zero scent whatsoever, however tacky and sticky it feels, it applies like any normal lightweight essence would. My biggest observation from this product is that- my acne scarring improved and lighten down tremendously and even after using it for both day an night for over 4 months, the product was not even half way used-which is a great thumbs up.

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And I have not even gotten to the best part yet, my favourite essences!!!
I have come full circle to embracing the love of Huxley essences, hands down holy grail.

Huxley is predominantly a range of skincare products made out of pear and cactus-gosh is not that just a delight as it is? I have tried a couple so far, my absolute favourite is the Grab water (OH MY GOD I LOVE THAT BLOODY THING). This beaut is made of 85% cactus extract and is nothing short of stunning, it applies like a dream and I have to literally scrap dry the bottle within a month of using it because my skin adored it so much.

Currently, I am trying out this new Huxley oil-essence and despite being called an oil, it is more of a thicker essence consistency and equally works like a charm, splendid for colder drier months.

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If you are in the market for a light essence of watery consistent, you can try Missha first treatment essence. This product is a supposed dupe for SKII toner, I cannot vouch for this seeing that I have not used SKII toner before. However, a friend who has used both, has opined that they are incomparable. I am not a big fan of this essence per se because it is super duper runny (feels almost like water straight up) because I personally love skincare products with a little weight and texture to it, but if it is warm out there and you just need a dewy, thinned-down toner/essence, this is a good one to go by.

SHEET MASKS

Wow, where do I start with sheet masks? If there are 2 things in the name of skincare that I am head over heels for, it will be sheet mask and sleeping mask (more on that just below), but sheet masks are pure love for me.

I adore sheet masks with a passion. No matter the season or temperature or whatever is going on with the world outside, when I pull out a sheet mask, I can guarantee you my day or night is going to get resplendently better. I am the best person to tell you all about self-care because I am all about unwinding and relaxing at the end of each day, a good Yankee candle burning, a warm bubble bath and definitely a hydrating sheet mask is a highly resounding YES on that self care list.

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Sheet masks are, as the name suggest a sheet of mask packed with serums in it, ranging from anywhere between a buck to $50 a pop, there are all kinds of sheet masks to suit your fancy. I even tried the 111 skin rose gold sheet mask, that sucker was like $36 a piece, I better be earning millions if I want to upkeep that lavish lifestyle.

I generally apply sheet mask twice a week on exfoliating days, just for an extra oomph of self tender loving. While I love all sheet masks in general, if you were to ask me to choose my favourites, its either a toss up between Innisfree green tea sheet mask and Dr Jart ceramidin sheet mask (picture below). LOVE THEM!!

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Here’s a few fun pointers for sheet masks.
Firstly, sheet mask is an extension of a serum, therefore you are not to wash off a sheet mask off as compared to a regular clay mask that needs rinsing. If you are rinsing your face after a sheet mask, please just take your money and flush it down the toilet-pretty much the same concept.

Secondly, before putting on your sheet mask, make the most out of it, by scrapping out the serum from the package first and applying it on your face. You can also use the remnants of the serum for your neck, chest or hands. Now personally for me, I will generally put my sheet mask on my face for 10-12 mins as you do not need to wait for the sheet mask to dry off on your face which will then defeats the purpose of hydration. I will then roll the sheet mask into 2 and put it on my neck for a couple of minutes before tossing it off.

SERUM
Now where do I start with the almighty serum? Serum is to be fitted into your regime, after cleansing , toning and essence and before moisturising. I think of serums as a product that I use to address my skin issue directly.

I completely understand that identifying the right serum for your skin can leave you utterly perplexed and even more discombobulated than you already are. Fret not, girls.

Way before I did not know any better, I took the smartest approach in using an all-rounder serum. A basic, natural, non offensive simple serum-Sukin super greens serum. This serum has great veggies in it-kale, spinach and spirulina and has none of the bad ingredients that is completely irrelevant for your skin. I enjoyed this serum immensely, I used it for a good year in the beginning. It has a somewhat runny milky consistency which is both light in warmer weather and great for layering before your advanced serums.

However, as I progressed and as I discovered that I need a stronger serum, I have shelved this serum but still till this day, from time to time, I still take this serum out especially in summer when my skin does not feel like it need much.

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Moving on to specific serums.. I use a Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) serum in my morning skincare routine amongst a couple others and in the evening, I tend to use a serum which mainly contains Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) or Retinol (Vitamin A).

My go to Vitamin C serum is the Klairs Vitamin C. If you are unfamiliar with Vitamin C, it is basically an anti-oxidant which brightens your skin complexion and helps with uneven skin tone. I particularly love Klairs’s vitamin C because of its oilier formulation and of how it glides very smoothly onto the skin. It also only contains 5% of ascorbic acid so it is a gorgeous recommendation for beginners. This product is one of many that has been faithfully standard, I keep repurchasing it over and over again.

Now, there will be times when my trusty Klairs vitamin C runs out and there will be a niggly voice in my head that tells me to try a higher dose of vitamin C serum. With that, I have tried both Tiam 20% and Wishtrend 21.5%, both of which thankfully my skin could adhere to and handle and that my skin loves.

Vitamin C is a highly unstable product and goes off when exposed to heat, water or air-hence why you see many ladies putting their Vitamin Cs in a closed drawer or in the fridge. Gentle note that once your vitamin C turns brown, chuck it because it pretty much means that the product has gone bad. Think of an apple-eat it when its nice and juicy, chuck it when it is oxidized and brown.

Remember that like any other products, start from the bottom and work your way up, you simply do not want to start with the higher concentration and burn your skin off. Also do remember to pile on the sunscreen as vitamin C is known to boost the efficacy of sunscreen.

And then, we have The Ordinary
I am an avid Ordinary fan. I love their mix and match policy and that all skin types are different-therefore not one product is going to accurately tailor to your needs. Plus, I just appreciate how affordable all their products are. If someone were to ask me what is Ordinary-I will say, think of its a sandwich. In a sandwich, you have different ingredients, bread, meat, cheese, vege, sauces, etc-yes? What if you are lactose intolerant and do not want the cheese or what if you allergic to pickles? Instead of selling you an entire pre-made sandwich, Ordinary is selling you the individual ingredients that goes into a sandwich (in skincare form of course). Ordinary is a very scientific brand and if you are into these technicalities mumbo jumbo, you will love this brand. Got me? Okay good.

If you google Ordinary, one of the highly recommended products is Buffet. I tried that and it broke me out for no good reason. I will not bore you into details of what you should be using from Ordinary but I will tell you what I have been using.

My skin cannot leave without Matrixyl. By that I meant, when I forgot to pack Matrixyl for a 2 week vacation back to asia, my skin broke out uncontrollably in grittiness. To date I have used about 5 bottles of this and will continue to do so. Matrixyl is a peptide (scientifically speaking are amino acids compound) and matrixyl principally takes care of wrinkle prevention. I started buying Matrixl for the sole purpose of my deep laugh lines and in between my eyebrows and so far, its been working great. I use Matrixyl every morning as my 2nd serum.

I have also started using their Hyaluronic acid (HA) as a separate product to boost my skin’s hydration. Bear in mind that Matrixyl also has a small portion of HA as well.

Another can’t live without for me from Ordinary is Niacinamide (Vit B3). If matrixyl is a morning love for me, niacinamide is an evening love for me. Niacinamide’s function is to help improve the appearance of enlarged pores, uneven skin tone, fine lines, wrinkles and dullness. I use Niacinamide about 4 times per week as an evening serum. So what do I use as an evening serum 3 other times of the week? I use retinol.

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Now, I am no expert in retinol and I do not wish to dabble too deep into the derivatives of Vitamin A and blah blah but just know that retinol and anti ageing is GOLD goals. That’s all I am leaving you with.

I started using Verso’s sample retinol serum couple of times and while I love that product, I realistically cannot afford it at almost $200 a pop and in my opinion, it is not sustainable for replenishing purposes. Alternatively, I moved on to Ordinary’s 0.5% retinol in squalene which is a super low concentration of retinol in squalene form (predominantly derived from olive oil). I was being very mindful to start low and slow especially when dealing with actives. I was halfway through this bottle when I realized that I wanted to up the ante just a bit, kicked the retinol up a notch.

Hence why I moved on to using granactive 2% emulsion which I completely enjoyed and have seen reasonable results with. While the squalene was an oil version, emulsion is a milky serum-y version and I enjoyed this form much better.

Do I need serums? Completely up to you. I will not be too bothered with it if you have generally a good skin care health. However, if you do want to dip your toes into the serum pool, I totally recommend starting with a basic serum without the harsher active ingredients- for eg: Sukin green serum. You can also give Ordinary’s buffet a try and see if that works for you. Otherwise, a serum has just popped into my mind-Missha time revolution ampoule, so this was a supposed dupe for the Estee Lauder Advanced night serum and I actually enjoyed this serum while I was using it a while back. Not that this matters but it comes in a luxurious dark purple glass heavy bottle and it just makes the experience a little more lush. The reason why I did not repurchase this was because I have heaps of other serums which I wanted to try but I will love to reconcile with this serum in the near future.

MOISTURISER
Moisturisers, as we all know it, is pretty standard in any skincare even right down to the super basic of a regime. In finding a good moisturiser, you need to initially determine your skin type (if you have not done so already). The reason why is, the last thing you want is a bad moisturiser which does absolutely nothing for you. If you have oily skin, you will not want to use a heavy cream which just sits on your face and break you out-instead opt for a gel consistency moisturiser which hydrates. If you have mature skin or drier skin by nature, you will want to look out for slightly thicker moisturiser to leave your skin supple and nourished.

As mentioned earlier, I enjoy the range of products in Neutrogena’s hydro boost collection; mainly this gel moisturizer and their sheet masks. This gel moisturiser is a no-brainer and fool-proof product, slapped it on and dries within seconds, giving your skin the basic hydration you need. Above and beyond that, what I really love about this gel moisturiser is, it is packed with Hyaluronic Acid (HA). And what does hyaluronic acid does to your skin? It supples, makes it bouncier like a baby’s butt. You better not tell me you don’t want them cheeks to be as bouncy as a baby’s bottom.

Do you need a separate moisturisers for day and night? Generally no, however as someone who just loves skincare, I do use 2 different moisturisers purely because during the day, I generally need a lighter moisturiser and during the evening, I prefer a thicker moisturiser that has more sealing properties.

My night moisturiser of choice is the Dr Jart ceramidin cream. I have spoken about this product endlessly and why I am completely besotted with it. You can read it in my winter essentials recommendations but just trust me when I say, putting this on is like putting on a layer of silky, smooth lard on your face.

You all will think I can rest easy without showing you my green tea moisturizing goodies? I am also currently using the Innisfree green tea moisturiser in my post gym shower routine, as a compliment to its toner and I cannot emphasize how genuinely refreshing this combination is.

SUNSCREEN
Sunscreen is a touchy subject for me, knowing that I have missed 30 good years of my life NOT putting any sunscreen on my face. What I lacked in knowledge then, I made it up with abundance application of sunscreen now. How much sunscreen do we need? General rule of thumb is 1 to 2 teaspoons of sunscreen on face and neck, and of course, topping it up after few hours, if you are particularly sweaty or you are generally outdoors doing water activities.

The biggest myth about sunscreen is not wearing it during non-summer seasons and the most popular misconception is not wearing sunscreen because “I am not going outside”. Why not? The sun will always be there every morning irregardless even in the snows and the sun rays will still penetrate through the window when you are indoors and you will still catch UV rays from lamps or lights, so why should we not stay sun protected at all times?

If you are asking which SPF is better, always remember that any SPF is better than none-SPF 30 is better than no sunscreen at all. Kindly be mindful of being sun safe and sun smart. Wear a hat and not bake in the sun incessantly.

My go to sunscreen is both from Neutrogena-both of which are in the ultra sheer forms. I absolutely abhor and detest any kind of thick gooey, ceramic clay-ey scunscreen-why people sell these is a question on its own? Because I am naturally a sweaty person myself, I find that the ultra sheer versions are so easy to apply and does not leave a white cast on my face. It also does not break me out.

I did use a Japanese sunscreen from Shiseido Anessa for a good 8 months last year and I love it to death. Sadly, I cannot get it here (got that in Singapore) so I moved on swiftly to Korean sunscreen and a particular favourite of mine is the COSRX aloe soothing cream-smells awesome and feels great on the skin.

OIL
Oil is a crucial step in my skincare, chiefly in the winter. I do not know about you, but during the colder months, my nose peels despite of all the amazing hydrating products which I piled on my face. There are many varieties of facial oil out there but my favourite has always been the rosehip oil from Trilogy which came a very long way with me (Remember my story about my dry skin when I first moved to Australia, this rosehip oil single-handedly combated the dryness).

Despite it being an oil, it absorbs beautifully on my skin without leaving any oil residue whatsoever. While facial oil can be used both day and night, I find that just by incorporating it in my routine has assisted my skin in being oil-balanced-which means I am no longer excessively oily during the day for no reason. Putting an oil in my evening routine also gives a nice feeling of “sealing” all the products together.

When choosing a facial oil, choose one that is organic and cold pressed to ensure that you are not just buying and slapping a random oil which can irritate your skin. Kindly also bear in mind that a facial oil is completely different to an essential oil-essential oil is not to be placed anywhere near your face.

SLEEPING MASK
Now, for my 2nd favourite kind of mask-sleeping mask. Just a quick recap that I also mentioned about sleeping mask in my top winter skincare essentials previously. If you miss that, you can read it here.

What are korean sleeping mask, you may ask? I will briefly answer it by saying it is just a fancy name for a thicker consistency of a night moisturiser with potent ingredients-just like a night cream on steroids.

In the winter, we all know that the ghastly horrid cold nights are the worst. From the time I did my evening skincare to the time I hit the sack, due to the cold air circulation despite the heater blowing all night long, my face will be tight like the sahara dessert. Hence why, I am such an ardent fan of the sleeping mask in winter. I will apply it like how I will apply a moisturizer, but instead of working it into my skin, I will sloppily slap it on my face like a thick gunk of goo. Leaving a sleeping mask thick on your skin helps your skin to have an extra layer of protection against the harsh cold air. You need not worry as a good sleeping mask will do its job in absorbing nicely into your skin without making it feel dry or taut while you snooze.

You can also use sleeping mask in a couple of other situations:- Firstly, if you sleep in an air conditioned room and always wake up to dry skin, you can try applying sleeping mask too to combat dryness and secondly, you can also whip out your sleeping mask in a long haul flight, similar concept to protecting your skin from the undesirable air circulation in the plane.

My favourite sleeping mask is the Laneige water sleeping mask-this is a godsend of a product, lightweight gel consistency, tranquil scent and just a dream to apply. I always find waking up in the morning a pleasure, noticing that my cheeks are always supple and just visibly nourished from the previous night’s sleep.

Now sleeping masks unlike a night cream is only to be applied 2-3 times a week due to the potency of the ingredients, apply it as a final step and leave it overnight. Let it work its wonders and fret not friends, sleeping mask will not mess up your pillow any more than your usual skincare products.†

Another honorable mention for a sleeping mask is the Klairs Vitamin E mask which has the most unique consistency I have ever seen in any skincare product. It is in layman term described as a mask in a jelly form. It does emit a strong scent and it is slightly tackier than the Laneige seeping mask but is a good alternative.

LIPBALM
Last but not least, please do not forget your gorgeous lips.

I have an un-confessed lipbalm addiction and like most things, it always have to be Nivea lipbalm. Just like my body lotion, I have one in my handbag, in the car, by my bedside, on my office desk, you get the picture. Recently I got to try Carmex lipbalm too-got it in an Asos advent calendar (speaking of which, will totes go down the advent calendar rabbit hole, come December this year) and I also love the Carmex libalm, but I am so loyal to Nivea, I keep repurchasing over and over. You need a good lipbalm post-haste, whatever you choose, just keep those puckers supple and not dry.

And please for the love of bamboozle, do not lick your lips as licking your lips does nothing except to further aggravate the drying. So please lipbalm the heck up.

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That’s it, guys. My long, exhaustive and completely ranty skincare entry has come to an end. I hope if you have have read thus far, have enjoyed my 2 cents insights and appreciate the grueling effort that I put in. I have spend many many months buying products, testing them out and taking pictures so I can do a good write up for you guys. There are MANY MANY other skincare products which I am currently using which did not make it into this entry because this is already too lengthy or the products are not making the cut.

I will always be interested in experimenting with skincare products because the importance of having great skin trumps above and beyond a fully made up face anytime. If you have any pointers yourself, let me know and always help a sister (or brother) out. Toodles!!

A fat girl’s opinion

Few days ago, I read an article outlining events around a Nike store in London which brazenly put out a plus size mannequin on display. While there were jubilant cheers all around, there were also a speck of outroars from those haters that quipped about how Nike is promoting obesity.

See, I have been nonchalant all my life about how fluffy I am but now ya’ll nasty people got to ruffle my feathers, so I have a word or two to say.

I was born as a big baby to an unexceptionally teeny tiny mother and I have been overweight ever since I was a little child. Obesity has never been a colossal issue for me. If you were to ask me though, obesity for me is like asking if a blind-since-birth person will be better off with sight. I do not and have yet to know any difference between being fat or thin in my life, simply because I have been fat from day dot.

However, in this day and age, what’s with social media and the general perception of the public masses that skinny is the way to go and skinny is beautiful, I will not lie and say every now and then YES, I do want to know what it feels like to be of a normal size 6-12 and not go shopping and be stared by the awkward sales girl. Yes, it will be nice to enter these shops and not have the same awkward sales girl tell you that most of their items comes in bigger sizes. Yes it will be nice to follow your friends to go shopping and not have to pretend to ruffle through accessories and shoes, because we all know a plus size girl cannot fit into the standard size of the clothes being sold. Yes it will be nice to go to a doctor for a check up and hear your weight is of an acceptable BMI index and not in the morbidly obese range. Yes it will be nice to know that you finally not have high blood pressure and that you need not be put on medications in early 30s. Yes, it will be nice to be more assured that the reason why we have yet to conceive is simply because God has not gifted us yet and not because of my weight issue. Yes, it will be nice to not sweat for once in a summer’s day and be consciously aware that everyone you talk to is looking at you dripping from your forehead. Yes it will be nice to go for a walk and not be completely out of breath in 3 minutes. Yes it will be nice to join others for a run or be in nature all sporty and fun. Yes it will be nice to not just be complimented as “she is so pretty but she is big”.

Being plus size, fuller figured or chubby is not any greater or lesser than anyone of any sizes out there. A person is a person despite of anything and everything else. We are made up of all kinds of components in life, race, culture, skin colour, language spoken, education, family background and quite clearly different shapes and sizes. So who the hell gives anyone the right to demean someone just because they are 50 pounds heavier than your average Jane? Why are we in this day and age, come so far in other advancements in life but still can be reeling in shallowness in our thinking she/he is big so that’s that. That is just sad.

When I was dating my husband, a friend’s mother told my husband that the girl he was with (me) is a nice girl but she is big. And what’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with being a big girl? Are big girls not smart? Are big girls ugly? Are big girls disgusting? Are big girls embarrassing?

Being fat does not make me a person with a bad heart, if anything, fat people like me usually have a more personable, awesome personality just because we have to bloody make up for our weight shortcomings. Have you ever think about that? Fat people like me can’t just stand by the street and have the world accept me as gorgeousness (if you do, well thank you), I have to stand by the street and crack a joke, and be all nice and coy, bend over backwards and juggle 25 plates over my head just to prove that I am worthy of something, well guess what, fuck that shit, I never cared anyway.

I have no idea what Nike was trying to do but if I can coin a guess, Nike was absolutely not promoting obesity, Nike is promoting diversity and attempting to be inclusive, just like how we are in this day and age trying so hard to be diverse with our acceptance of non whites and gay people. It is probably with much perhaps, that they are trying to break the stereotypes that our figure cannot be realistically depicted to one standard mannequin. They are also most probably trying to reach out to masses because in truth fact, not just skinny people in size 6 in cropped tops do work out, other people does to. So what are the haters not so happy about-bigger size people cannot wear active wear? bigger size people cannot work out? bigger size people have to cower in our houses and be ashamed of ourselves? Ya’ll just plain nasty.

I am a woman who wears size 18 or 20 in clothes and I am not ashamed of that. I get my active wear from either Asos, Target or Decathlon. Do I wish for more shops sell a broader range of sizes? YES I DO!! and why are stores not doing this already, is beyond my disbelief. Despite of my size and weight, I am unabashed to say that I have a more kick-ass flexibility and balance than most people out there can in a yoga class. When I go for a workout class, I pushed hard because I have 50 kilos to lose and not 5 pounds of water weight from a “rough weekend”. When I hang out with people, I genuinely am vested in a deep relationship with people because I know I don’t make new friends in a club every weekend. I might die of a weight related disease in 5 years or I might live up till 100. That’s all up for debate. Who are we to say?

My point is, instead of segregating the population as blacks v whites or gay v straight or asians v non asians or degree holders or high school leavers or office workers v non office workers or more aptly, fat v thin, do not segregate at all. Like as if you have not learned that We.are.all.unique.individuals.

To all my fun sized people of the world, if you want to take 1 thing away, it will be to never allow the bullshit of the world bring you down. If someone says fat people die earlier of weight related disease, slap their face-they are not God. If someone like my husband who till this day makes fat-shaming jokes every time I take my cheese or butter from the fridge, slap their face. If anyone is giving you the side eye just because you might have overdone it with Maccas anywhere in the bus stop, on the train, in school or at work, also slap their face. Let them judge all they want but no one and I mean absolutely no one can let you feel like shit.

If you have an opinion about fat people, then do not be a fat person. You can do you and you can be all fine and dandy in your non fat life, wearing your non fat clothes doing your non fat activities with your non fat friends. Do whatever you want, just leave us fat people alone :)

How I survive my 6302 km long distance relationship

This has been something that is close and dear to my heart. I will like to use this space to share personal experience and hopefully, dispense some insights and helpful advises for anyone who is going through a similar journey.

Trust me when I say this, I have been there and I know how it all feels. And it was not an entire bed of roses.

I was in a long distance relationship (LDR) with my then-boyfriend-now-husband for few years, as I was living in Singapore and he, in Sydney. It was a gruelling back and forth of travelling 8 hours SG-SYD and SYD-SG. If I can calculate and do the maths on all of our flights and travel expenses, it could have easily been a deposit for a house but I digress. And if you think that was not sucky enough, we were also living apart for 4 months after our wedding purely because I did not want to move to Australia, just yet.

I know first hand, all the worries, all the fears and all the gut heart-wrenching moments of being in a LDR. I understand how lonely it is all the freaking time. Birthdays, valentines, anniversaries, Christmases might all be spend and celebrated alone. And do not get me started about nights, nights are the worst because all you can wish for is to probably have a warm body close but all you really have are negativities in your head and sometimes even tears on your face. Here we go again, another night of loneliness. LOL.

Truth is, you will always be constantly pining and hoping that the distance was not in the equation and that you get to meet each other ever so often like most couples do, but alas. You might also be secretly jealous of all the canoodling couples and you just feel like shouting to no one in particular “Hey, I have a boyfriend!!!!!!!! He just doesn’t live here. It’s a long distance, guyssssss!!!!!!!!!!

I was the first amongst my group of friends and family and still is, the only person to be involved in a LDR. I can be traditional for most things in my life but there are many other things that I am not very conventional, being in a LDR is one of them. Marrying a foreigner is next.

No one could understand how distressing it is at times and some even question as to whether the relationship is real, because out of sight is out of mind?. Most were ambivalent and were being bah-humbug about my LDR and queried me whether I should be bothered with all the troubles, hassles and if it is really worth it? Some others wittily challenged me into thinking that it is so easy to be susceptible to cheating because of the distance and to which I always always said, “Cheating is cheating, it knows no distance because even people staying under one roof can cheat”. True story: I even have a friend who asked me if I should be fearful because there might be a suspicion that my partner is an ISIS member, because he comes from Middle East and he grows a beard sometimes? Tsk tsk tsk, your master degree ought to be thrown into the rubbish bin, you shallow person you.

So here is a fantastic pointer for LDR, do not listen to the naysayers. There will be heaps of random people who will come and go with their half-baked advices and 2-cents-opinions but ultimately, you have to be strong and you have to know deep down that if they have nothing concrete and useful to bring to the table, treat them all like white noise.

My continuum relationship has *fingers crossed* hopefully been a huge answer to all those questions and doubts. It is not easy BUT it is doable. LDR can be a monumental blessing in disguise and in my case, is a happy ending.

So how you may ask, did I overcome the entire kerfuffle of long distance hardship and above and beyond everything else, how to sustain the relationship? Read on:

No. 1 – JUST FREAKING DO IT
Yes you read it right, just do it.
Take the plunge, go for gold because the time is now.
What are you really waiting for? For a sign from the high above?
Or for that prince charming in your local neighbourhood to come sweep you up? If that’s what you really want, you do you boo. But if you really hand on heart, do want to pursue love in a LDR, just start now.

If you feel it in the depth of your guts that something awesome is going to come out of this whole ordeal at the end of it, I say stick to your guns and ride it out. After all honey, it is not going to storm forever, the sun will eventually arise.

You will thank yourself years later for listening and heeding your gut feeling, and hey if all fails, you get to pat yourself and you tell your brave soul, you have done everything that you possibly can in your might and you have given your best. Leave it all up to fate to do its job.  But before that, you have to try and you have to try hard.

No: 2 – SHARE EVERYTHING
I take it that once you have decided to be committed in a LDR with your partner, that you are 101% head over heels with that lucky someone.
Good on ya.
While I understand that in a relationship, there should be some degree of privacy, in a LDR, you cannot afford to be personal and private. What do I mean by this? Normal couples can meet up at the end of the day or over the weekends and catch up on lost times, but in a LDR, you simply cannot. What you can do though, is share everything from the moment you wake up to the time you sleep.

I know I know this is hard work (nobody say it is going to be easy, friends) and most men like my husband are not too crazy about the idea of taking and sharing selfies daily and giving an update of date/time/venue but you know what, I did it and he did it. We shared a lot.

Sharing is extremely crucial in a LDR because you want to avoid thoughts of doubts, you want no negativity to creep up on you because this can easily happen with distance.
Where is my bf tonight, who is he hanging out with, he said he will be home and he is not picking up my calls? –You do not need this rubbish.

Also, sharing is an amazing way to make your partner feel included. I don’t know about you but I love to be included even by means of details. My husband is a pretty friendly guy, that plus the combination of his social culture, is always spending time outside with friends. One of the many things I loved and truly appreciated in our LDR was that he face-timed me almost every single night and sometimes couple of times a day, and especially so when he is out and about, all his friends will expect no less that a face-time call is going to happen whenever he hangs out with them. In this way, I know what he is up, I get to chat with his friends and then I can go to sleep with a smile on my face, satiated with the fact that he did not forget me today.

I am more of a wordy person so our days in an LDR is a bunch of my texts to him on just about anything. Sometimes, I will tell him about my plans on the weekend, what I dreamed yesterday, what I did with my family and friends, what I shopped for and the list goes on and on. I can text him non stop.

You just have to make time and put in the effort even when the going gets tough, even when the day is effed up busy or even if you are annoyed at someone in your life, you just have to invest some time to share and update your partner.

Also, I totally understand about time difference, while ours back then was a mere 2-3 hours difference, I completely sympathise some of you who has that 12 hours time difference. Just make it work and all the power to you!!

From time to time, me and my husband will send letters and care packages as a sweet gesture to each other. If you are students in a LDR and budget is tight, stick to the traditional snail mail and postcards or send a lengthy lovey-dovey email. Like I say, its all about efforts and the sky is the limit on this.

You have no idea how many text messages, video calls and funny memes I shared with my husband over the years. On hindsight, when I was applying for spouse partner visa here in Australia, I have bundles and bundles of communication proof, it is beyond ridiculous.

On an extra point of sharing everything on communication, I urge everyone in a LDR to be very careful of how you communicate over text as most of the times, the point of the message in written communication can easily be misconstrued.

True story: There was a time long long time ago, I replied to my husband “whatever” in a text message, and I have completely meant that to be a bimbo-flip-my-hair kind of “whatever”, but he who is not a particularly over sensitive fella, took it to be the rude version of a “whatever”, and long story short, it did not go down very well.

So when in doubt or if you have a problem brewing, withhold the discussion and find a suitable time to call your partner up to have a proper face to face video call. Seeing each other’s faces is better at times like that.

No: 3 – KEEP YOURSELF BUSY
And by busy, I do not mean “busy”.
Girls and guys, there is no better way to see the days go by other than having your own activities. Don’t sit at home all day long and moan about not being with each other, it will not solve the situation and it will make you go crazy, so don’t do that.
What you can do is to go out and have a freaking life, you are not dying so why not enjoy yourself? Responsibly of course.
If you have a hobby or a recreational activity, don’t drop it and keep at it.

My husband has always been and will forever be a busy bumble bee, his days and nights are pretty much about work-so that really keep him busy round the clock. Most of my Singapore peeps knew I did a lot of yoga back in the days and I really appreciated having something I could do after work, which could take my mind off. For me also, I hung out a lot with my mother and friends over the weekends. I now, appreciated those weekends of hanging out and catching up because now that I have moved far far away, I can no longer do that.

Another tip will be to pick up a part time job on the weekends (I didn’t do this because I am clearly lazy) but having a little extra income on the side is very beneficial when you are making plans to meet or to eventually bridge the gap.

No: 4 – PLAN SMALL GOALS TOGETHER
Being in a LDR with no end in sight can be a little taxing and the future might seem so so bleak, that I understand. After all, you do not want to just be dating someone who is not there.. forever.

So, do plan short term goals to just to keep the excitement up.

If you are like me and my husband who are both working adults, plan to fly and visit each other. We are also lucky that we are only 8 hours flights away, as compared to other couples who can be pretty much at two different ends of the world.

Every time we get to see each other, it is top-of-the-world liberating. It reminds me of how solid our relationship is, it gives a fresh meaning to holding on to this LDR and it also gives a solid determination to why I am trying hard in this LDR. And pssst girls, though I know this is not much of a consolation, the “sparks” (code name for: s*x) when you rekindled in a long distance relationship.. is phenomenal. Just putting it out there. *winks*

Whatever it is, there must be at least a small goal to meet up for the both of you to look forward to it. Keep it exciting!

And finally guys, no: 5 – Bridge the bloody gap.
Decide early on to bridge the gap as an end goal.
I know it may not be an accessible decision for all, some of you might be away for long studies or military or work commitments but the decision has to be made. That crucial conversation of “what is going to happen to us?” have to be pondered on, it is not to be thrown in the air kind of situation. You do not want to be dating someone “invisible” forever till you turn gray, so know early on exactly where you guys are standing in the relationship. Will it be a LDR for 3 years and you come home situation or will it be a LDR for 5 years till I get my PHD and then we move to a new city to start a new life together kind of situation? Be ballsy, be brave and have that talk way early on before the get-go and in doing so, protect yourself and your heart from getting hurt down the line.

For me personally, the decision has always been to do a LDR for as long as we can stretch till we get married and then eventually I will move to Sydney to join him, predominantly because my office desk job was more mobile. My husband has moved abroad, created his life and his business for over 15 years and it will only be selfish and inconsiderate of me to make him have to fold it all up and move to me. Compromise, guys and try to be nice when making life decisions.

And now, I am going to sound like your grandmother saying this but here are a few salient points to take home:
Trust the entire process and trust your partner of course. LDR will not work if there is no faith, trust and efforts. At every juncture of the way, do not resort to negativity and remember to go back to the essence of why you are doing what you are doing. If it is for love, then be entirely in love with the process. Have faith and do it with sincerity and entirety of your heart. If you are 100% sincere and positive, the outlook of your whole relationship is going to be more at ease.

I know this is lame and it is also downright cliche, but just do it for love. Believe in it and believe in yourself. You got this!

On the next entry, I will continue with part II and write on some helpful tips and pointers of what one should do AFTER the decision has been made to take that prodigious leap of faith in finally bridging the gap. (ie: what you should do when moving countries to join your love one)

Will write more. Hang on to your grandma panties, everyone!!!

Letter to my mother..

Over the years of my existence on the face of this planet, I have never once sat down and utter a proper thank you to the person who laboured and birthed me.

A million thank-yous are never sufficient in this lifetime for her. What I certainly lacked in my verbal appreciation, I have and will forever made it up with filial piety and adoration. I know in the hearts of hearts that I am a good daughter to her and she will no doubt, affirm the same. Gee, confident much.

To my mother in reading far far away from me physically but never far from the dear dear heart.. thank you for letting me go.

I know it was not an easy decision for you to see your only daughter move countries and continue her life in leaps and bounds as someone’s wife. Moving away at 31 for love, while it is clearly my cheeky choice, was not at all an easy feat at the slightest. Hand on heart, we both certainly know that we never saw that day coming. I know since I have moved away, you have as much as I have too, lost a big chunk of your heart. I know you will never stop worrying for me and the uncertain future, as most mothers do but trust me you need not fret, I am in great hands.

I want you to know that I am well-loved and I am taken great care of abundantly. Your son in law is an amazing guy and most times I ponder what have I done to ever deserve him or his purest heart. He is quite the angel, as it turns out to be. Same cannot be said about the daughter you raised LOL. I give you my words, as I have always done, that I will not nag at your precious son in law too much till his ears bleed. It is challenging indeed as he often annoys me with his “where is your neck?” jokes but I will try to be patient with him. Operative word being.. try.

Thank you for showing me what honesty is. Brutal honesty is not glamorous and we both know that living in this world which can sometimes be filled with fabrication of lies and “sweet-talking” is difficult, but you never backed down from saying the truth and the truth sucks and it stings. Most of your family or friends do not always like to hear what you have to say and have always misinterpreted your outspoken personality as being “difficult” or “she is always angry”. But I know you and I know your truth. And nothing else matters. Everyone else can roll in mud with their shit-stirrings.

Out of a room full of people with their mouths shut close, you have always been the brazen one to stand up and say what’s right. You are an undeniable courageous force of nature to be reckoned with.

Unfortunately, that particular genes of yours have not been kindly passed on to me. My honesty complexity that I have, tend to make me cotton wool people’s feelings too much. But you of all people know the reason why I cannot be too comfortable and too open too soon.. if I get crudely honest, I am also very rudely honest and there are not many people who can handle the truth. Thankfully enough, while I may not always be frank with my spoken words, I am reassuringly true on my written ones.

Thank you for teaching me how to cook. That is one heck of a transferable trait you can ever upskilled on me as a kid. I have since not starved and also have the ability to make others not famished too.

I remembered when I was 8 or 9 years old, you left me alone in the house with only a pot full of cooked rice. I got hungry soon after you left (as usual, hungry always) and on that very momentous day, that pot of white rice became my first wok of fried rice and the rest is indisputably history. You were so proud of what I did, you told that story to everyone for years.

Gosh, I despised it when I was so so little and you will yell for me to come in the kitchen every single time you are cooking. I was swearing under my breath so much because as a kid, I just wanted to watch cartoons or read my book or hang out with my handphone in my teens and not go to war with the hot oil in the kitchen!!! You always tell me that I should not only be great academically, I have to be great all freaking around. But THANK YOU for pulling me in the kitchen every single time, NOT because you believe only girls belong to the kitchen but you were teaching me one of the best life survival skill there is. I cannot say there are many young girls who can disembowel fishes, dissect a whole chicken and cook that damn 8 parters of a chicken, collate 13 spices and 7 vegetables, make 5 dishes under 2 hours and serve a house full of guests as a kid, but through all those years of me crying in sympathetic pain when I cut my hand with the sharp knife and all those hot oil splattering on my face and body, you have taught me to buck the fuck up and make bloody good food, at that.

You and Dad are awesome awesome cooks and there is hardly a day in my entire life that I go without home cooked food. I now,sadly miss home cooked food beyond any words I can possibly say. Nobody’s food is ever the same as yours because it was simply not made with your love.

Thank you for being both a fierce mother and yet still have a heart full of love, warmth and compassion. At that, I have to thank you for whacking the shiet out of me when I was growing up. The way you raised me in your non-bullshit ways taught me a world of discipline. You were never shy to put me straight in my place if I ever get a slight tad sassy and I could never lie to your face without you smelling my dead pack rat secret out. While many others might frown upon putting a hand on your child as a way of teaching them the right manners, on hindsight I believed that has made me a better person growing up with manners and respect. Me and my brother have never gone visiting to anyone’s house and run into any of their rooms without permission, neither have we acted like starving kids in someone’s house (well fed before going out anywhere) or we never threw tantrums in public. When my mother says No, it is a resounding No.

You can have my word that if I were to ever be given the life opportunity to be a parent, I will raise them the exact same way as you did for me and my brother; ie the clothes hanger and the belt will definitely come out very so often to play- after all, no shame or shade in saying this but we turned out fine and that’s the best of a raising any mother can do. You are and will forever be, my role model.

Thank you for being my no. 1 life supporter. You have always given me the utmost trust and freedom for me to run my life while always keeping me in line whenever I go astray. I love that while you tell me to go out and enjoy and wear that short skirt and put makeup on and not be grubby, you will always check on me and call me every single night I am out-that to me is a balance parenting skill.

If I ever ask you for an opinion, you will always ask me what does my heart desires and what I think is right. You will always always tell me to choose happiness above all else. Your trust in me is impeccable and I really appreciate that.

Even way before feminism even exist, you have always told me to do well as a woman first before settling myself down in a cliche way. You never believe that females should hang out at home unemployed waiting on hands and feet. After all, back in the 80s when most women are stay at home mums, you were out working hard since I was a baby and only stopping when me and my brother are way into our adulthood and could give you and Dad a little breather. You have showed me what it was like to work a full day outside and come home and be a mom and wife too, staying up late through the night cooking away and doing all the chores and making sure we get our homeworks done while checking in on your family and friends. You are unrelentless, you have done everything and more without asking for anything in return and yet, you never say you are ever tired. How you do it all, is still beyond unfathomable to me.

You have always been that cool mum every girl wants and it took me years to realise why my friends love hanging out with you and are secretly texting you instead of me. (No hard feelings, Momster). You are cool and you are fun and you are care-free with your thoughts and you are always the life of the party. You are always a friend when I need one and a mother at all times. I remembered when I got my heart broken for the first time and you just came home from work and immediately knew what was wrong, you just hugged me and let me cry without asking inquisitively.

Thank you for being an astounding and supportive spouse to Dad and teaching me that marriage is a damn bloody job in itself, and oh boy are you stellar as a wife. You teach me by example for over 30 years of my life to just never give up. You are strong, you are fierce, you are painstakingly patient and you are fiercely loyal to your loved ones. You will not take no for an answer or exit the easy way out every time you stumble in life.

Thank you for teaching me to not settle for second or third best and thank you for always connoting to me that when choosing a life partner, try to pass the strikingly good looking ones or those blokes who are not meek in their potrayal of lavish lifestyle or elite existence. You have always strongly opined that looks do not last perpetually forever, everyone will eventually become old, most men might go bald and money if managed poorly will dry up inevitably. Instead, you always tell me to choose a man who is not only a well rounded respectful person, but also find someone who is hardworking and mild tempered.

Momster, I am who I am today because of you and if I were to re-do my entire life all over again, I will not have it any other way in a heartbeat.

You have stood up for me when no one cared, you have hold my hands through all my life joys and life obstacles, you have spurred me on with energy and calm my nerves down through turmoils, you are a tolerant listener and an endearing advice dispenser, you are a selfless soul and you are a giver, you are a confidante and a cheery shopping buddy, you are simply just the best and I will never finish saying thanks to you in this entire lifetime and more.

Remember and know this as you already have, I will always and forever love you.

Your bombster