cookie madness day

We have a long weekend and so I decided to bake some cookies! My boyfriend has been demanding some ‘famous amos-esque’ cookies for the longest time (and I have also been promising and never delivering for the longest time), because to get the crispy texture of famous amos cookies you need shortening which is pretty difficult to get ahold of here.

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I procured said shortening, and started baking insanely early in the morning. (I was drinking my morning tea while I mixed batter, and the first batch failures served as breakfast) While I followed this recipe from Crazy For Crust, I realised with the first batch that the inclusion of baking soda was a terrible mistake – it made the cookies soft and chewy (because dough rises, etc. etc. smart nat obviously forgot this at 7am) Not sure why the recipe includes this but I will try omitting it the next time I make this to see if it achieves a crispier effect.  Thanks to this fatal error I resorted to making the cookies insanely tiny in hopes that everything would crisp up. The recipe asks for each cookie to use about a tablespoon of batter; instead, I was pinching tiny globs of cookie dough and rolling them into balls.  Seriously any tinier and I think each ball would consist of only a single chocolate chip. The results turned out okay but I wouldn’t say they’re even half as crispy as the real deal.  I think I need to go work at Famous Amos to find out their secret…

I confess that I don’t like these as much as massive, chewy Subway-style cookies, but I have been putting this off for too long. I think they are my Achilles heel. That, and macarons.

I call this day cookie madness, because before I made these cookies, I started mixing up the batter for a different batch.  One of the guys at office requested earl grey cookies, which for a long time I considered to be my specialty and one of my massive baking successes (I came up with this recipe pretty much on my own, because when I first came up with the idea for these recipes on the Internet were scant.) So I mixed the dough for the earl grey cookies, stuck them in the freezer to chill, then made the chocolate chip cookies, THEN returned back to the earl grey ones. I am a multitasking genius. I have learnt the secret of economies of scale. Keep this in mind when I ask you to invest in my cafe in the future.

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Nothing much new here, except that disaster struck when I forgot how much butter in grams = 1 cup…was intensely perplexed by my powdery batter until I realised 1 cup of butter is 227g, not 113. Oops.

I want to post the recipe here because it is my own, even though there are similar ones all over the internet by now, I’m sure.  Let me have my little moment of hubris.

Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies
Makes approximately 30-40 cookies. 

Ingredients
1 cup butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3-4 Earl Grey teabags/2 heaped tsp of Earl Grey tea leaves
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
zest of 1 orange/lemon

Method
1. Cut open the teabags and pour the tea leaves into a mortar.  Using a pestle, grind up the leaves until they are fine dust. Feel free to make an accompanying cup of tea to drink while you make your cookies.
2. Whisk together flour, tea leaves, orange/lemon zest and salt.
3. Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add in the vanilla essence.
4. Slowly mix in the flour/tea mixture until everything is well incorporated.
5. Wrap in cling foil and chill in the freezer for 20 minutes.
6. Take the batter out of the freezer to thaw slightly.  In the meantime, preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and prepare a tray lined with baking parchment.
7. When the dough has thawed, pinch off bits of dough and roll into small balls, roughly 2.5cm in diameter. Place on the tray and flatten with your palm.  Place the cookies about 2-3cm apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes until edges are golden brown.
8. Remove tray from oven and leave to cool for about 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a rack or plate to cool and harden completely before consuming.

By the end of this I was dying of the heat in the house and also exhausted. But at the same time I kept thinking: if I want to even come near the idea of opening my own cafe in the future, I’d better start learning how to multitask and make like a billion things at the same time. I also know that the cafe market is disgustingly oversaturated and probably nobody wants to invest in yet another one and yet – a part of me continues to dream that one day, I can create my own space filled with my three passions: beautiful books, beautiful music and beautiful food. But that’s a post for another day. Hope everyone’s had a great, relaxing weekend (or a great Hari Raya/Eid, if you’re Muslim).

x Nat

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thoughts on ‘hipster’ culture

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Image source: VectorStock

Hi guys, I know that this blog is meant to be for my more ‘frivolous’ thoughts – like what makeup I wear, or what YA book I’m reading this week.  But every so often it plays host to my rants as well, and I hope you can forgive that. I guess in a way you can understand them to be frivolous as well – in that these thoughts have little bearing on the world, neither do they address something particularly earth-shattering; yet sometimes these niggling thoughts refuse to be let go of until I pen them down – so pen them down I shall.

Today’s post/rant is inspired by a comment my friend made when I was in Melbourne. I had just visited the renowned ‘hipster central’ of Melbourne and was telling her about the magazine I had bought.  This was the ensuing conversation:

Me: Oh, I bought Frankie yesterday. The design is so cute! It looks like a fun read.
Friend: Ugh, it’s so hipster.
Me: What’s wrong with being hipster?
Friend: It grates on my teeth.

Now throughout the planning of my trip and while I was there, she had made it explicitly clear that in no way did she want to visit Hipster Central, and she did her best to dissuade me from going.  But there’s a pretty large part of me that adores the hipster aesthetic (so sue me, I wear large black-framed glasses and I like being environmentally-conscious even if it serves only to soothe my conscience) and yes, I did enjoy my sojourn in Brunswick that afternoon (alone).

But my friend’s unabashed criticism of ‘hipster’ stunned me. Perhaps it was my own affection for the non-mainstream, perhaps because my friend struck me as possessing some hipster characteristics too (an affinity for crafting, pretty stationery, lush cosmetics, to name a few), but her remarks annoyed me. Just what the hell is the problem with being a hipster?

Note: I do not claim to be an expert on hipster culture, neither that of mainstream culture.  This is simply what I observe. It may be inaccurate; in fact, very likely so. For the purposes of illustration I have employed the use of several common stereotypes which characterise both camps – I know that there is much more to both but I have simplified heavily because well, I don’t know that much and I don’t intend to write a dissertation on hipster/mainstream pop culture here.

Urban Dictionary defines hipsters as “a subculture of men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.”

First off: that doesn’t sound so bad to me?? I like creativity, intelligence and witty banter?

Well, perhaps they come off as snobbish.  They eschew the mainstream, saying that something is so much better’ simply because it is not embraced by the masses; that they ‘liked it before it became cool’.  There is a certain arrogance, a ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude just because you use an all-natural vegan deodorant. Or that being part of the mainstream is to be like a sheep, blindly following the crowd without truly knowing what is good for you.  We feel insulted by these hipsters, with their apparently superior lifestyle choices. Our ego has been bruised, our taste called into question, just because we listen to Taylor Swift.

(incidentally, I am beginning to see increasingly how a large proportion of our negativity stems from injury to our ego and our sense of security in our self-identity? Question anything to do with my identity, from my music preferences to my religious beliefs and suddenly we are up in arms.  Why is everything connected to the ego? Obviously I don’t think this applies to everything but definitely a large part of the hostility I encounter in my day-to-day life has to do with the injuring of someone’s ego, whether mine or another’s. God, we’re so egotistical, aren’t we? And our egos so fragile.)

But perhaps another reason why the ‘hipster’ is commonly criticised is much more annoying to me – that the hipster has now become more prominent in mainstream culture, and we are being incredibly hypocritical in our reception of it.  In recent years, so-called ‘popular sentiment’ has embraced elements of the hipster culture, ranging from veganism and gluten-free diets to those oversized glasses. Yet this increased prominence has also led to lots of negative backlash: case in point, my friend’s opinions.  But for a more comprehensive survey of the masses, Mashable had an article a few days ago on the rise of the ‘yuccies’ – the new hipsters – whom you “might not like”. The tone reflects a presumption that readers already possess a dismissive, negative attitude towards hipsters. By then criticising the hipster and saying they ‘grate on my teeth’, or that they are ‘too hipster’ for me – are we not also, ironically, adopting the same superior attitude so much resented as I described above? The hipster, look at them with their holier-than-thou attitude, their almond milk lattes and their non-appreciation for Miley Cyrus.  They think they’re so much better than us – well, we know better. We’re not all uppity like they are.

And then you have the ‘true hipsters’ – the people who insist that they were ‘hipster before it became cool’, and that other people who are now starting to adopt hipster culture, as it enters mainstream, are simply following a trend in the same way that they follow other mainstream culture.  Now the ‘hipsters’ are the sheep; except we are the ‘true hipsters’ who know what all this truly means.  One good example of this I think, is the Jimmy Fallon segment where he asks people on a gluten-free diet what gluten actually is, only to find that none of them know.

Regardless of whether it is the ‘mainstream’ mocking the ‘hipster’ for following ridiculous trends, or the ‘hipster’ mocking the ‘pseudo-hipster’ for not understanding what they are following, either way this annoys me because of this whole promotion of one’s preferences over another’s.  At the end of the day, this just goes back to ego. Let’s face it, whether you listen to Taylor Swift or some alternative indie-label whose band name I can’t pronounce, whether you eat gluten-free or not, whether you wear glasses or not – all these are lifestyle choices. That we are sufficiently privileged to make these choices is already remarkable in itself.  Why start turf wars over glasses, for god’s sake? Everyone has unique choices and preferences, because we are all different people. I like dark chocolate, you like white chocolate, but you don’t see me saying ‘oh she’s too white for me, she eats too much white chocolate’ no that’s just dumb. We are too quick to categorise, to polarise.  I like pop music but I eat quinoa and wear some pretty large glasses. So am I mainstream or hipster or pseudo-hipster or what?

At the end of the day, perhaps all I want to say is, let’s not diss each other’s preferences.  It’s so difficult to be passionate about something these days.  We are inundated with so much stimulation, so much entertainment, so many different choices today, that it’s very easy to just act unfazed by it all. We’re not allowed to get excited over something – the same reason why geeks at ComicCon are looked down upon, or girls who write makeup blogs are seen as shallow. I mean, why do I feel the need to specify that what I write in this blog is ‘frivolous’? That’s ridiculous. We are privileged to have these alternatives. Privileged to say what we like and don’t like. And every time we insult something someone else likes, or is excited about, a little spark that was that excitement is extinguished.

I don’t mean constructive criticism like “I felt the characterisation in that novel was weak” or “The coffee tastes weird” – I mean really hurtful, judgmental comments like “Ugh, why did you buy that?!” or “Let’s not go into that shop, I don’t want to stand around with all those geeks”. Phrasing and tone goes a long way, people. Also dismissing something before you’ve tried it – especially generalised dismissal. Like saying you don’t want to read John Green’s books because “he looks creepy”. That annoys me a lot. Don’t use ad hominem attacks to justify your opinions of someone’s work/products/music/fashion etc.

But yeah, having spent life as a geek, then an otaku, then now a girl who writes about makeup and watches Youtube videos, and also one who likes hipster stuff – throughout my life, I have been very fortunate to have been given the space to embrace my passions, and to be fairly unaware of the criticism that comes alongside these labels. I know they exist, but I have rarely been attacked because of them.  But the knowledge of these labels and the criticism that comes along with them makes me hesitate to embrace my passions.  As I grow older I rein in my enthusiasm, adopting instead the jaded mild interest affected by politicians at sporting events.  And that is something I regret. I wish I could express my passions more fervently, or that I could speak more freely about them without feeling the need to qualify them with words like ‘frivolous’.

But the damage is done, the barrier wrought. It can be undone, but it will be difficult to do so.  And that’s why I believe wholeheartedly, that there can come no good of putting down others and their preferences. Especially when most of the time, it is solely for the purpose of boosting our own ego and self-identity at the expense of others’.

x Nat

book review: we were liars by e. lockhart (with some spoilers)

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Summary from Goodreads:

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

My thoughts: I downloaded this book into my iPad when I went to Australia, and I read it in two sittings: while killing time at the airport, and a couple of days after I got back.  For me not to devour an entire book in one sitting, especially so many days apart, means that the book didn’t capture me from the beginning – in fact I forgot entirely about the book until I picked it up again more than a week later. Nothing really struck a chord with me, and I didn’t really care for any of the characters.  But the second time I picked it up, I became incredibly absorbed and invested in the story. Usually I commit myself to the world of a story because I find myself becoming invested in the characters and their growth, will XX and XX get together, please don’t let my favourite character die, etc. But for We Were Liars, my sympathy for the characters was much more muted.  Instead, I was increasingly drawn, not into the characters’ world, but into the web of lies surrounding the Sinclair family.  I wanted to know what happened next, what was the truth – not really caring for what happened to Cady, or Gat, or any of the other characters.

One thing which I particularly appreciate about We Were Liars is that none of the characters are purely good. When everyone is set up against each other, you can see the selfishness of Cady, the idealism of Gat, the flippancy of Mirren, the destructiveness of the aunts, the manipulative nature of the family patriarch.  I spent much of the book going, “down with the rich! Robin Hood! Let the idyllic private island self-destruct!”

Without realising that was what exactly had happened already. 

And, when you hit the end of the book and you realise, with Cady, what happened two years ago – everything makes sense, and suddenly everyone’s actions are tinged with tragedy, and you look upon them now not with hatred or animosity, viewing them as rich, indulgent, spoilt brats – but with pity and remorse.  One of my key problems at the beginning was that I couldn’t connect with the main characters (especially Mirren, Johnny and Gat) because they seemed so unchanging, so boring.  But their flatness made sense ultimately – because they are, throughout the entire book, nothing more than caricatures, imprints of tinted memories in Cady’s mind.  The revelation at the end is, while sudden, one of those that instinctively makes sense and calls to mind little hints of the truth revealed by characters from the first chapter.  Why her mother won’t stop watching her. Why they keep calling her away from the house to spend time with the little ones and her grandfather. Why her grandfather gets upset when she asks about the old house and the things that have disappeared. And it also caused me to revisit the characters, and revise my assessment of each one.

E. Lockhart, you are brilliant.

Another thing which impressed me about We Were Liars is that the young people are not free from moral scrutiny.  Typically in YA the young adults protagonists are the untouchable, the morally upright seeking to uproot the dystopia perpetuated by hostile adults (see Hunger Games, Harry Potter, The Mortal Instruments, etc.) Youth is portrayed often as a shining beacon of innocence and moral purity, as yet not befouled by the adult world of corruption and greed.  And that’s what you think at first in We Were Liars. This is particularly exemplified when (SPOILER):

Cady first remembers that they set the house on fire.  She believes that they were heroes, destroying the symbol of corruption and opulence within the family so that they can start anew.

But the truth, as revealed, is much more horrible, much more morally questionable. The book leaves off on a morally ambiguous note – is Cady at fault? Is she forgiven because of her youth or her ‘noble’ intentions? Would setting the house on fire in the first place have been the right solution to her family’s problems? Is the wealth of her family to blame? We don’t know. Lockhart does not provide a correct answer, and I think, neither should there be.  (end spoiler)

So in conclusion, having read a few of e. lockhart’s books in the past, I must admit that this was my favourite so far.  Brilliantly written and brilliantly thought out, cognizant of YA tropes and choosing to eschew them, We Were Liars is outstanding.  It takes a little warming up to, but the final one third of the book is thrilling and I could not put it down. Would recommend to anybody who enjoys YA, especially those looking for something different from the typical franchises.

Rating: 4.5/5

x Nat

melbourne haul! (part 1)

I’m back from my Melbourne trip! It was gorgeous although it rained quite a bit and got very chilly, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself but I won’t lie, one part I enjoyed a lot was the shopping and lots of damage was done.

I was very excited about going to Australia and before my trip I researched a bunch of Australian beauty brands I would like to try out.  Australia also has a much wider range of Rimmel London products than Singapore, which meant I could finally get my hands on some Rimmel Kate Moss lipsticks that every blogger raves about. Half of this haul may or may not be devoted to lip products…

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I’ll start with these, which I bought on my first day in Chadstone, a MASSIVE shopping centre which everyone had told me to check out.  It had two huge department stores (Myers and David Jones), not to mention a Target and a Kmart.  It was ridiculous. Starting from left to right, these are:

Lucas’ Papaw Ointment
A lot of people raved online about this as some kind of miracle product.  The label says its used to treat burns, rashes, open wounds, etc, but apparently it’s a really good, thick lip balm as well. You can find this practically everywhere in pharmacies and drugstores, plus it’s really cheap. This cost me AUD$7.90 but I saw it later elsewhere selling for AUD$5.50.

Lipstick Queen in Jean Queen
Lipstick Queen is a brand started by Melbournian Poppy King.  Her lipsticks are well-known for being pigmented but also moisturising. They’re a bit pricey but I really wanted to try this one out.  Jean Queen was created to be worn with jeans; a low-maintenance, universally flattering shade that looks good without trying.

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isn’t the packaging gorgeous ugh that blue

The lipstick itself is a nice dark pink, not too bright; it’s warm enough for my complexion, and its quite a sheer formulation, making this the perfect lipstick for the natural look I favour – and yes, perfect with a tshirt and jeans. This set me back $26, which all things considered isn’t too bad for a high end lipstick – it’s still cheaper than MAC!

Rimmel Lasting Finish Matte by Kate Moss in 110 and Lasting Finish in 32
Rimmel by Kate Moss has been top of my wishlist for ages, and I was lucky enough to pick up these two in the bargain bin at Chemist’s Warehouse for $5 each. FIVE BUCKS. If you’re ever in Australia please do check out this chain, it’s got some amazing deals.

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110 is a matte lipstick, in a bright pinkish-red that is very much statement and not at all what I usually wear, but I am trying to be more adventurous with my makeup and this colour is very flattering.

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In contrast, 32 has a glossy finish and is a lovely peachy nude, juuuust warm enough so I don’t look like I’m wearing foundation on my lips.  I wore this the other day and I was so terrified of how it would turn out but instead I found myself falling in love with the colour (and subsequently spent the entire day peacocking in front of reflective surfaces to admire my lipstick).  I found that it did tend to cling to dry patches though, so exfoliating and putting lip balm on before using this is a must.

Aesop Primrose Facial Cleansing Masque 
I stopped at the Aesop counter in Myers intending to check out the Parsley Seed Masque that everyone raves about, but the staff advised me to try out the Primrose one instead for my normal/slightly oily skin type.  To be honest I was very torn between the two, but the smell of the Primrose one (combined with the staff’s recommendation) won me over.  I tried this out the other night and I was pretty impressed by it (better be given the equally impressive price tag). I was suffering from congested pores and it was annoying me; this did clear it up and I wished I had left it on for the full 20 minutes instead of being impatient and washing it off after only about 5. I only need to slap on a thin layer, meaning that this mask will probably last me a long time! This cost me $35 for a 60ml jar, by far the priciest mask I’ve ever bought, but I do think I got my money’s worth.

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Maybelline Super Stay 7 Day Gel Nail Color in 130 Rose Poudre
Amelia Liana swears by these and I’ve always wanted to check them out because I hate maintaining my nails and I get so annoyed when my polish chips off after only one or two days. So of course I couldn’t resist when I saw this lovely muted nude rose shade going for $3 at the same Chemist’s Warehouse (seriously guys, if there’s one place you go to in Australia for makeup it has to be here). I’m wearing this now on my nails (you can see them in the lipstick swatch pictures) and so far there has been no trouble with chipping, and I’m on day 3. If they truly can last for 7 days I will be very happy.

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Anatomicals The Buff Stuff Citrus Body Scrub and Shower to the People Grapefruit and Lemongrass Body Cleanser 
I picked this up out of curiosity because it was going for half price at Target, and I’m a massive sucker for cute packaging with sassy remarks and bad puns.  Both of these smell glorious to the citrus junkie that I am, and I’m looking forward to using them in the shower.

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Perfect Potion Aromatherapy Pulse Point in Buzz
Perfect Potion is an Australian brand specialising in essential oils and natural products. I wandered in looking for some eucalyptus essential oil and wandered out with this instead.  This is a roll-on fragrance made out of essential oils, which means the smell lasts longer and is much more concentrated. Buzz contains oils from jojoba, lime peel, grapefruit, rosemary, grapefruit and black pepper, making this a super zesty fragrance perfect for the morning. As mentioned above I’m a massive sucker for citrus fragrances, so this was right up my street and the moment I smelt this I knew if I didn’t walk out with it I would regret it massively. This cost $24.95.

So that wraps up the beauty stuff that I bought in Melbourne! I’ll be posting in the next few days about the clothes and other miscellaneous stuff I bought (including some amazing teas from Dandenong).

x Nat

my 15 favourite feelings

Just a quick one because I saw the videos by essiebutton and Hank Green and felt that I really wanted to do this! This might get a little TMI, so I’m sorry. But here are my 15 favourite feelings to feel, ever.

1. That feeling of relief after i poop and i know i’ve completely cleared my system (starting right off with the most TMI of them all lol but DON’T LIE all of you know this feeling is the best)

2. Touching smooth skin after i’ve just shaved/touching smooth skin after i’ve done a face mask – seriously I get obsessive I can’t stop touching its like whoaaa so smooothhh and I feel clean and hygienic and all the gross hair and dirt is gone from my body also i love my new face mask priciest crap i’ve ever bought but it works wonders.

3. Finishing a good book I’ve been engrossed in for the past few hours.  I like to call this ’emerging’ – I feel like I’ve just broken out of the chrysalis, or emerged from underwater – moving from one world to another, breaking the spell of fantasy for the dawning comprehension of reality.  I feel all dazed and confused and there’s that moment between worlds where I’m not too sure what’s going on or what time it is, but the realisation that I’ve just been immersed in a beautiful book so captivating you never even noticed time slipping away is irreplaceable.  And of course, the knowledge that I’ve found yet another amazing book, a new friend to reread over and over again and recommend to everyone I meet.

4. Lying down/sitting down after walking around all day and your back aches and your feet ache and just feeling all that pain recede, even if only temporarily.  Bonus if there’s someone there to massage away the pain.

5. CRACKING ALL THE JOINTS. So bad for you, but so, so satisfying.

6. Getting a compliment after I’ve put in effort into looking good/taken a fashion risk. I wore these over the knee boots to Melbourne and when I bought them my family thought they were ridiculous but then when I actually wore them I thought they looked great, and a random stranger on the tram complimented me on them and asked me where they were from. I’m slowly growing less insecure about my appearance and the way I dress myself, and when someone compliments me I remember it and keep it, like a glowing ember in my heart, a little nugget of positivity.

7. Baking for people and seeing them enjoy the food.  No compliment is needed, just people going back for seconds or asking me for the recipe or making food orgasm faces while they eat.  It’s so satisfying to watch people enjoy what I’ve made, and makes all the effort seem worthwhile.

8. That first cup of tea in the morning.  I’ve been drinking matcha green tea with lemon, and I’m so addicted to it.

9. Feeling sleepy and snuggling up under my blanket. Not so fun is getting up to switch off the light after that ):

10. Discovering a new musician/some new music and listening to it over and over again until I’m completely sick of it all. (I once listened to a song on repeat nonstop the entire bus journey there and back)

11. Breathing in the smell of rain (petrichor). Someone needs to make that into a room scent/candle…

12. Commuting alone, with no pressure to make awkward small-talk conversation. Just me and the outside scenery, rushing by.

13. Buying a hot canned drink from the vending machine during winter, and the feeling of heat spreading through my hands.

14. The feeling of exhaustion combined with triumph and ache after exercising.  Showering afterwards, and feeling cool water wash away the sweat and grime.

15. Spending time together with my SO, even when we’re just sitting next to each other playing stupid games on our phones.

These aren’t part of the traditional “happy/sad/angry” categories, but they are experiences that make me feel happy to be alive. I can think of quite a few more: I regret not putting “the feeling when the food I’ve been craving for ages is set in front of me and I CAN EAT IT“. Hard to believe I created a whole list of my favourite feelings and barely mentioned food at all…

What favourite feelings/experiences do you have?

x Nat

melbourne trip prep pt 2: the rest of my carry-on bag

It’s the day before I fly now and I feel incredibly jittery and just can’t wait to get started. You know how you’re anticipating something like mad and you can’t concentrate on the present because your mind is so firmly placed in the future? Your mind is in the future but your body isn’t. It makes me feel like I’m trapped in limbo, floating in a timeless bubble as the time between now and the anticipated moment gets ever slower and slower.

Probably why I’m trying to distract myself by blogging.

Anyway, as promised yesterday, I’m going to be posting about the rest of my carry-on bag.  I’m carrying an extremely ratty, old tote bag which has seen much better days – honestly, it’s just a big bag which I can then roll up and stuff into my luggage without taking up any space.  I can also take it along with me in my smaller purse to carry my shopping.

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Here it is, next to my check-in luggage.  I got it free from Cotton On…like maybe five or six years ago?

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So here’s what’s inside. I’ve already talked about my ziploc bag of liquids, so I didn’t include it in this picture, but obviously it’ll also be going in this bag.

1. Lucky Peach magazine
A magazine I’ve been reading but haven’t had time to finish.  This issue’s main topic is food, which is pretty much why I picked it up.

2. Pouch with tissues, wet wipes, deodorant, mints and lip balm
More personal hygiene stuff. I also suck on the mints during takeoff and landing to help with the change in pressure and ears popping and all that stuff. Incidentally, these Curiously Strong Mints from M&S are literally the best.  Much stronger than eclipse or tic-tacs, and none of that plasticky feel. And it’s a massive tin for only $3.80, what??

3. cheero Power Plus DANBOARD 10400mAh portable charger
Ahh this portable charger is so cute! It’s also the most powerful powerbank I’ve ever had, I’m so delighted with its performance and its adorable design.  All things should be like this. Functional and adorable. Functionally adorable.

4. Klipsch in-ear headphones + ipod nano
Music is always great to drown out wailing babies etc. on a plane, especially when I plan to be sleeping.  While ideally I would like some noise-cancelling ones, these are still fairly good (although they don’t cancel out all the noise).

5. Ray-ban sunglasses
It gets quite sunny in Melbourne, so I hear. Either way I am in love with these sunglasses (I have them in the clubmaster design) and I don’t go anywhere without them, even if they do sit in my bag and I forget they exist.

6. Wallet/Wristlet thing
Using this as my travel wallet. It’s got a pouch for cash, and some card slots for my myki card, ez-link card, credit card etc.

7. Spectacles case
I will take off my glasses once I go to sleep, so I like to put them in this case to make sure they don’t get crushed.

8. Inflatable neck pillow
I bought this at the Narita airport before flying back to Singapore, and I had no clue how to deflate it once I landed on the other side.  Now I know better.  I like that it’s inflatable so it doesn’t take up too much space in my bag, plus it comes with a nice pouch to stash it in.

(Not in the picture, because oops)

9. iPad mini
I have a lot of ebooks on this iPad. I bring it anywhere I have to be sitting for long periods of time – the other day I was at the hairdressers for FOUR HOURS and this totally saved my life. I’m also going to be adding my travel itinerary + list of restaurants/shops/stuff to check out to this iPad so I can refer to it during the trip.

10. Passport!
Needs no explanation. No passport, no fly, I die.

11. Notebook + pen
I folded up all my paper documents (e-ticket, tour booking confirmations etc.) and stashed them in here to keep them from getting crumpled.  Also its always useful to have some paper around to jot stuff down.  Also pen, for filling in that immigration card.

So that’s all I’m bringing on my carry-on.  Probably won’t end up using like 50% of this stuff, but I am a super mega overthinker/overpacker. But that’s what I think I’ll be needing for my eight-hour overnight flight.

Tomorrow I’ll be on a plane! I can’t wait.

x Nat

melbourne trip prep pt 1: my carry-on liquids

In a couple of days I’ll be heading to Melbourne to hang out with my good friend/indulge in a solo gradtrip for a week.  It’s something I’ve been planning for a while now and I’m super excited…so excited, in fact, that I started packing more than a week in advance. I don’t mean just my luggage either.  My carry-on is completely packed as well.

So that being said, I thought I’d write a bit about what I’ve decided to bring on my flight to Melbourne.  I’m flying overnight, meaning that I’ll be sleeping on the plane – and since I’m travelling alone, I won’t have anybody to talk to or borrow stuff from etc. – I have to bring everything I need.  Today’s post is on my carry-on liquids: everything I put in that ziploc bag which comes under 100ml.

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1. Toothbrush + toothpaste
Since this is an overnight flight, I think this is self-explanatory. Please brush your teeth before you sleep and after you wake up, even when you are flying. I can’t imagine not doing that, it goes against my personal beliefs on hygiene.

2. The Face Shop Herb Day Cleansing Foam in Acerola + Innisfree Apple Juicy Liquid Foaming Cleanser (sample sizes)
Same as above. Not washing my face before and after I sleep feels like sacrilege. Who likes to be dirty on a plane already filled with dirty germs where you are placed in close proximity with others? Who likes to be in close proximity with dirty people? No one. Personal hygiene, people. I’m pretty filthy when it comes to personal hygiene but this is the absolute bare minimum.

3. Innisfree Green Tea Balancing Skin, decanted into a small tube
Because I love this too much. Also the air inside planes is really dry and messes up my skin.  The last thing I want on my holiday is to be obsessing about the zits on my face (which I will, any hint of redness and I will be picking constantly and staring at my face and making everything worse). This has really worked for my skin and has helped calm it down/balance it out.

4. Too Cool For School Pumpkin Sleeping Mask, decanted into small container
This sleeping pack will serve as my face moisturiser for the flight.  It’s more intense than your usual moisturiser, so it’s good for the plane with its dry air.  In addition, I figure since I’m going to be sitting around for a good 8 hours with nowhere to go and nothing to do, I might as well take the chance to put all the chemicals on my face.

5. Innisfree Tea Tree it’s real squeeze mask
Sheet mask.  In case I get bored/want to put all the stuff on my face. Preferably when everyone is sleeping so I don’t get weird stares.

6. Contact lens + case
I wear contacts, but I won’t be wearing them on the flight – have you ever fallen asleep with your contacts on omg I did it once and regret was intense it took me forever to unglue my contacts from my eyeballs. I will be wearing my specs to the airport, but tbh this ziploc is also a toiletries bag so um in you go contacts.

7. Molton Brown ultrasmooth coco de mer body lotion + The Body Shop Solid Argan Oil
Moisturiser for places other than my face. I’m going to be sitting on my butt for a long time, guys.

8. The Body Shop Aloe Lipcare
Lip balm omg aka the most important thing in this bag I could throw away everything else in this bag except the toothbrush and I would survive the flight but if I’m stuck on the plane without lip balm I will cry.  My lips get super dry and cracked already in humid humid Singapore let alone in a plane with its constant aircon and dry circulated air as it hurtles through the dry dry atmosphere.  This is like a die die need thing.

9. Bath and Body Works Mediterranean Lemon hand sanitiser
Planes are filthy. I’m not touching my food/face with my dirty hands. (OK I might but I’m trying to cultivate good habits here.) Hand sanitiser means I don’t need to waddle awkwardly out of my seat to the toilet every time I need to touch something.

10. Marc by Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau so Fresh perfume rollerball
I want to smell nice. Don’t you want to smell nice? Rollerballs are great for travel no accidentally spraying your neighbour in the face or spilling the entire bottle on the floor during turbulence.  This fragrance also isn’t strong or cloying, so I don’t kill anybody sitting around me.

(On that note, another important thing to bring is DEODORANT. omg. I am bringing it but since it’s a solid deodorant it doesn’t need to go in this ziploc bag. Please please bring and use deodorant when you are going to be sitting around other people also don’t go sticking your hand up your armpits NEXT TO OTHER PEOPLE it’s strange and awkward do it before you go in or like go to the toilet or something)

All these items are under 100ml, and miraculously fit nicely into a 20x20cm ziploc bag, which closes securely and easily (as per airport regulations on both sides, which I checked).

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This does look like a lot of stuff but I won’t just be using this during the flight, this ziploc bag is also a toiletries bag for my trip, so all this stuff will be used throughout the week I’m in Melbourne as well.  Since it’s winter there all the chemicals will be well suited for the climate as well.  It seems that I’m a bit obsessed with my face and not breaking out but really, I don’t want spots on my face irritating me during my trip – hence all the chemicals.

Personal hygiene is so important guys. Especially when you are stuck in a metal container hurtling through the air with three hundred people for over eight hours.  Be considerate for your fellow travellers. Bring all the chemicals.

Am I bringing too much stuff? What would you consider the die-die essentials for flying?

x Nat