We’re Growing Up!

Hey lovely people,

The Dollhouse Diaries has been with me for the past 2 years, and it has grown to a stage where I really want to take it further and give it a more stable home. As such, we’re moving! The Dollhouse Diaries (and all the posts you love) is moving in its entirety to www.mrsjoyle.com.

Mrs Joyle just launched last night after many nights of me trying to figure out CSS & HTML, but it’s finally live now! So, please do visit www.mrsjoyle.com and subscribe to it. I promise the same awesome content but with even more dedication. I hope you will grow to think of Mrs Joyle as the kitchen of your favorite gal pal, where you can simply relax over a warm comforting cup of coffee, talk about lifestyle and beauty stuff, and share crazy stories.

Thank you all for your support of The Dollhouse Diaries all these while. I do not say it enough, but it is all truly appreciated.

❤ Joy

 

Try The World

Since IPSY, I have been on a look out for cool subscription boxes that I could try out and review for you guys. I found Try The World, a food subscription box that mails you a selection of about 7 – 8 gourmet snacks and food items from a particular country every 2 months. With my love for travel and learning about various cultures, this seemed right up my alley, so I gave it a go. I got the trial Paris box (you only pay US$5 for shipping), which you can get too, here!

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I was so excited to receive it in the mail, a nice brown package at my doorstep. In it, sat this beautiful Tiffany blue box! Isn’t it pretty? This is one of my favorite colors!

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Once opened, I found this glossy Culture Guide for the Paris Box, designed with France’s colors and looking oh so chic!

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The full color culture guide provided a helpful map of France and where all the items in the box came from, as well as little blurbs on each item. It even indicates with symbols if the item is from a family business, organic etc…

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On the other side of the Culture Guide are 2 Paris Experiences you could try out. They included a list of French movies, a curated French playlist (with a link you can use to access it) and some fun recipes you could experiment with, using ingredients found in the box they just sent you. Basically, all you need to have a mini French night in with your loved ones!

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Cute navy blue packing material aside, here are all the gourmet items I found in my little French box…. I’m sorry my keyboard doesn’t allow me to type in the accents to some words, so the names may not be fully accurate!

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1. Le Saunier De Camargue – Finishing Salt

Finishing salt from France, so you can feel slightly more fancy when cooking with it! 😀

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2. La Mere Poulard – Sables Cookies

Okay, I gave these a try and I love them! They are super crumbly, buttery cookies that melt in your mouth. They remind me of Scottish shortbread, which I also adore. They are very rich and yummy. There was only 4 cookies in the box, which was not nearly enough.

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3. Charles Antona – Clementine Jam

I simply spread this on some bread to try it, and it was pretty delicious. It was not too sweet but very tasty and I think could go with a variety of food items beyond bread.

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4. Domaine des Vignes – Dijon Mustard

I mean, we’ve all had mustard, but this is straight from Dijon (the mustard town), so it’s gotta be better right? 😛

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5. La Maison d’Armorine – Butter Caramels

These are amazingly good and without a doubt, my favorite item from the box. I had to restrain myself and not eat it all in one sitting. It is super rich, like the cookies, but soooo good!!!

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6. Un Brin Sauvage – Herb Blend

This herb blend supposedly works best with fish, but could also work pretty well with meat! I’m going to try it the next time I cook, as an herb rub.

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7. Palais Des Thes – Tea Bags

I can’t wait to take an afternoon with some French Tea and cookies!

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I enjoyed the little surprise in the mail very much, and while the full price tag to continue my subscription was a little too steep for me, the contents are definitely of greater value than the cost!

The full costs are as follows, depending on your subscription length. Clearly, the longer you commit to, the cheaper the boxes will be!

1 time subscription – US$39 for 1 box (billed every 2 months)

Half a year subcription – US$35 for 1 box (billed every 6 months)

1 year subscription – US$33 for 1 box (billed every 12 months)

I am a big lover for travel, and exploring new cultures. I have traveled to about 20 countries by now, and cannot wait to keep expanding that list. Food, really teaches you so much about each culture, their way of life, and that adventurous streak in me just loves trying new things.

When I was living abroad (and am still living abroad right now, technically), receiving care packages of food from friends and family in other countries was an amazing way to connect. I get so excited to see a nice brown package at my doorstep, it’s like Christmas! It was so much fun unboxing this Paris box and trying everything in it. I even made my husband sit with me while I opened the package, and showed him everything in it like a kid at Christmas. Our cats were also curious and sniffed around the box trying to figure out what the buzz was about. Haha!

For a little surprise every other month, and a unique insight into a new culture, the US$33-US$39 is well worth it.

I contacted Try The World and they kindly offered a coupon code for all my dear readers, simply quote TheDollhouseDiaries to received 15% off your first box!! You can also click on the link to view their website for more detailed information.

I hope you enjoy your little surprise soon! Share your thoughts and reviews of Try The World with me too. I will love to hear your experiences.

❤ Joy

Who Eats Fish For Breakfast?

So, at the McDonald’s in Singapore, the filet-o-fish is listed as a breakfast item. I used to get it fairly regularly as breakfast. Here in the US, filet-o-fish is not on the breakfast menu (I just learnt that this weekend). We rolled up to McDonald’s drive-thru last weekend and our conversation went like this:

S: So, what are you having?

Me: Hmm… filet-o-fish.

S: What? I mean, for breakfast.

Me: Yeah, filet-o-fish.

S: That’s lunch.

Me: No, it’s not. It’s also in the breakfast menu. Look, it’s on the menu *points to menu*.

(McDonald’s list ALL food items all day on the drive-thru menu)

S: Yeah, but it’s for lunch.

Me: *sudden realization that the filet-o-fish might actually not be on the breakfast menu here* Why is it not for breakfast?

S: Who eats fish for breakfast?

Me: Me. I like fish. I want fish for breakfast.

S: *can’t stop laughing* Of course you eat fish for breakfast.

Me: Ask them. It has to be breakfast. It is in Singapore.

S: But it’s… okay. *to the drive-thru lady: Hi, urm, is the filet-o-fish on the breakfast menu? No. Okay. Thanks. Give us a minute.*

Me: But it should be.

S: *super patiently* What would you like for breakfast?

Me: Filet-o-fish. *laughs* Fine, Egg white delight.

*Ordering complete*

Me: I don’t understand why you guys don’t have fish for breakfast. Everyone loves fish.

S: *can’t stop laughing*

Me: I mean, it’s fish. I want my filet-o-fish. They already do all day breakfast, make them do all day lunch. Or just filet-o-fish. All day fish.

S: *can’t stop laughing*

Me: One day I’m just gonna insist to them that I want a filet-o-fish for breakfast and maybe they’ll make me a filet-o-fish?

Sometimes, you discover funny little differences like that when you are from different places. We learn new things every day. Life filled with differences like ours really makes it very interesting, and oftentimes funny! What tiny differences have you experienced with your significant other of a different culture?

❤ Joy

 

 

 

My Facial Cleanser Picks

Let’s talk facial cleansers for today! It is the basic building block to a healthy skincare routine, and should be used daily. There are countless facial cleansers out there for every skin type, so find one that works for you, and be consistent. I know it seems like common sense, but wash your face everyday!

The makeup you use, along with dirt, grime and oils build up on your face quickly and over time, so it is essential to get a good cleanser that helps keep your face clean and happy. I have used so many cleansers, but I have a few that I love, and use on rotation right now. I am going to share some recommendations that have worked for me, but sometimes it is good ol’ trial and error to find the product that works best for YOU.

I mostly have dry skin in the New England climate, and look for products that do not dry my skin out. With the climate here being seasonal, my skin care needs change year round too. When I travel to South East Asia or more humid and hot climates, my skin becomes more combination and I want products that prevents breakouts. So don’t just stick to using one cleanser all the time, try different ones that might be more effective in meeting your changing skincare needs!

For basic cleansing that works for most skin types, I use The Face Shop Herb Day Cleansing Foam. It foams up well, soothes irritated skin, leaves skin supple and provides simple hydration. It is a good, reliable every day cleanser.

For exfoliation without microbeads, I use Rohto Hada Labo Mild Peeling Facial Washing Foam. I buy it when I go back to Singapore, but apparently you can get it on Amazon too (link provided above). It uses an AHA and BHA combination to exfoliate and always leaves my skin feeling super soft. The name Tamagohada literally translates to egg-skin and I guess it is a reference to super smooth skin like a boiled egg. Hahaha. A word of caution, right after using this facial foam, your skin will be sensitive to the elements, so it is essential to put on sunscreen before you go out in the sun. I only use this in the evenings, for night time cleansing before I go to bed to avoid having that problem.

For blemishes, when I get breakouts, or if you have oily, acne-prone skin, I strongly recommend Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Scrub, Pink Grapefruit
. I have been using this for years, and bring it with me when I head to hot & humid climates especially, because my skin becomes more acne prone and oily then. It uses Neutrogena’s Microclear technology that breaks through oil to deliver acne medicine to the source of breakouts, apparently even before they appear. It is very effective in clearing breakouts really quickly, and keeps my skin very clean and clear. It does contain gentle microbeads, which helps smooth away roughness, as well as maximum strength Salicylic Acid, which is basically acne medicine. It is very refreshing and gentle enough to use daily.

For the Asian ladies out there who love whitening products, I have been using the Nivea Visage : Extra White Pore Minimiser Mud Foam
, which I bought when I was back in Singapore. I am sure if you looked hard enough, you will find this on Amazon/ebay. Whitening in Asian terms refers mostly to illuminating, or brightening the skin tone to achieve a coveted glowing and dewy complexion. This products does help with that, livens dull skin and minimizes large pores to make them less visible. I don’t use it as much as the above products, honestly, but it might be something you are looking for.

Hope these recommendations will help some of you, and especially if you are thinking of trying new cleansers. Good luck in your search and do share with me the facial cleansers you love/swear by! I am always game to try new products.

❤ Joy

Burt’s Bees Haul

Hey lovely people!

Recently, I had a Burt’s Bees haul. I have been a long time fan of Burt’s Bees. I really respect their purpose, skincare philosophy and company culture. That, coupled with awesome products that are kind and natural for the skin, as well as stunningly good customer service, has made me a loyal customer. Their products, in general, are 99% natural, and almost half of these products are 100% natural. This is so great in a beauty world pumped full of chemicals.

I have to be honest that I have had really good experiences with their customer service, which has greatly influenced my view of them. They just come across as a company that cares for their employees, customers, the community and the environment, a rare thing these days.

I started using their products more than 10 years ago, and it was the Radiance Body Lotion, which made my skin glowy and shimmery with the use of Mica, a light reflecting mineral. It also had royal jelly, sunflower oil and aloe as its ingredients, and kept my skin happily moisturized. These days, I use their classic beeswax lip balm regularly, and recently lost it for some reason, so I had to replace it. While I was at it, I ended up with a mini haul of their new products, so I wanted to share them with you!

1. Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes, Cucumber and Sage

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Simple, clean, soothing green packaging. 
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Wipes are gentle and kind to the skin!

After a long day at work, especially if I come home late, I crave the convenience of a makeup removing wipe. I have tried many brands and types of wipes over the years, because I go through them so fast. I just tried this one by Burt’s Bees, and it’s definitely a winner!

It removes all my makeup easily, with no tugging on the skin. It is super soft, maybe because it is made of FSC certified natural cloth, and somehow larger than the usual wipes I use. It is so gentle on my skin, yet took off all my makeup thoroughly, including my waterproof makeup!

It is infused with Cucumber and Sage extracts, which leave a light lingering scent even after use. The scent is so calming and was one of the first reasons I fell in love with it. It is suitable for my dry skin, and leaves me skin feeling fresh and clean, without drying it out.

Verdict: Big thumbs up! Might be one of my favorite wipes now and I am definitely going to continue using it.

2.Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Day Lotion

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I am always searching for ways to keep my skin moisturized and hydrated because it is so dry, especially in the winter. This day lotion from Burt’s Bees is nice and creamy, as you can see in the picture above, goes on smoothly and gets absorbed quickly. The scent is very light, not overwhelming, and is calming, like with the Cucumber and Sage wipes.

It make a nice moisturizing base for my makeup, before my primer, and I have switched to using it in the mornings. My skin is noticeably happier and healthier after the lotion! It even has properties to help reduce fine lines and wrinkles, which I am starting to worry about drawing close to the big 3-0.

3. Burt’s Bees Almond & Milk Hand Cream, 2 Oz (Pack of 2)

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Adorable little jar of awesomeness

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Very creamy texture with am Almond fragrance

I spotted this little jar of hand cream in the local Target’s Burt’s Bees section. I opened the jar for a sniff and was greeted with a nutty almond scent, which somehow reminds me of desserts back in Singapore. I bought it and tried it on my hands and it blew me away. The texture is super creamy, fantastic for the dry winter months. It made my hands sooo soft I couldn’t stop touching them.

It contains Sweet Almond Oil and Vitamin E which moisturizes amazingly well. It also has Beeswax in it (well, it is Burt’s Bees!) which seals and conditions your hands. It is the perfect pick me up for your hands in the dryer months, or whenever you hardworking hands get put through rough chemicals in washing detergent etc.

While writing this, I couldn’t even resist pausing to apply some to my hands. My hands are SO soft, I can’t get over it!

4.Burts Bees Lip Crayon Hawaiian Smolder – Pack of 2 – .11 Oz/each

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I love pretty lip colors and bought this at an Ulta (my Sephora alternative). It is in the color Hawaiian Smoulder, which is a pretty soft pink. It is super lightweight, and does not feel heavy on your lips. They are very moisturizing, as most Burt’s Bees products are, and contains Shea Butter, Kendi Oil and Jojoba Oil.

The color is matte and very flattering. It looks different from what I saw on their website, in person, and is much less purple, but much more pink. The texture is creamy and very easy to apply. I love lip crayons more than I do regular lipstick for its precision when applying, and convenience. I popped this in my handbag and will use it for everyday lip color.

I swatched the color on my hand and you can see it below (together with the other lip care item I bought, which is up next.)

5. Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm, Hibiscus

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This is my replacement to the lip balm I lost! I bought a tinted lip balm instead, for that subtle hint of color while moisturizing my lips. It provides 8 hours of moisturizing, perfect for  your exciting full days at work/school. You can apply this even without a mirror, because the color is not too strong and definitely more forgiving than usual lip colors.

It contains Shea Butter and Botanical Waxes, with is ultra moisturizing, keeping your lips healthy and happy all day long. The sheer color is very flattering, pretty and natural. It is pinky, with a coral tinge to it. This lip balm has a light scent I cannot really put my finger on, but it is floral and pleasant, not overwhelming. The color swatch is below, together with the lip crayon I mentioned above.

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Color swatches: (Above) Burt’s Bees Lip Crayon in Hawaiian Smoulder (Below) Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Hibiscus

I’m so excited about my new Burt’s Bees products and I will be incorporating them into my everyday routines. Most of these products were purchased entirely by me, but some were provided to me as gifts. That does not affect the honestly of the views I have presented here, though. I will never promote something I do not truly care for, and/or enjoy.

I hope your weekend ahead is healthy and happy!! 🙂

❤ Joy

 

Ipsy March Glam Bag

Hi amazing people,

I’m so excited to tell you that I’ve finally jumped on the subscription boxes bandwagon, and given Ipsy a go!

Just in case you have no idea what I am talking about, Ipsy is a brand founded by Youtube Makeup Star Michelle Phan. They produce Glam Bags, monthly bags that they send out to their subscribers, with a curated selection of makeup products catered for your profile. I love pleasant surprises, and this seems like a fun way to get one in the mail every month. It is also one of the most affordable subscription boxes at US$10 a month, and so I decided to try it. I figured I could always unsubscribe if it didn’t feel like it was worth it, after trying it for a couple months.

If you are interested in signing up too, here’s a referral code for all of you. Enjoy!

https://www.ipsy.com/new?refer=uuy6b

They usually bill you on the first week of each month, ship the Glam Bags out in the first or second week, and you get it closer to the third week of the month.

Anyway, back to my little surprise in the mail. I subscribed to Ipsy in time for the March Glam Bag, and so this was my first! I was so excited when I opened my mailbox and found this shiny, pink, bubble wrap package in the mail!

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Let’s take a look at what’s inside, shall we?

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Tah-dah! There were 5 products in total, probably 3 full size products, and 2 samples. They all came in a pretty blue and red (the lighting is changing the true color of it, in the picture) flowery makeup bag that reminds me of colorful roses, so apt for Spring. That’s another fun feature of Ipsy, that every glam bag comes in an actual bag, not just a cardboard box.

Here are my reviews of all the products I received (starting from the left), and links to the product webpages!

1. Make Up For Ever – Step 1 Equalizer-Hydrating Primer

I have been looking around a good primer, and so it was nice to receive this sample in the Glam Bag. The primer is lightweight, gel-like and goes on smooth. It made my foundation (the foundation I used with it is NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation in Gobi) adhere a lot better and gave it a more even texture.

2. Pixi By Petra – Beauty Blush Duo (in Rose Gold)

This is a really adorable blush duo that can be used alone or together. The color gives a slight flush to your cheeks, and the gold doubles up as a highlighter. I swept my brush across both colors and used them together for a flattering rosy glow on my cheeks. It is subtle enough for every day use. I saved myself the step of highlighting with this blush, as the gold really catches the light.

3. Marc Anthony – Nourishing Argan Oil of Morroco 3 Day Smooth Perfect Blow Dry Cream 

I don’t know if I messed up my profile, but I received this even though I do not blow dry my hair. Maybe they sent it to me because I indicated that I liked hair care products. I tried it anyway, without blow drying. It is slightly sticky, but does smooth my frizzy hair and tame the flyaways. If you do blow dry your hair, I do think this could work much better for you.

4. Essence Cosmetics – Make Me Brow Eyebrow Gel Mascara

This is an interesting product because I have never thought of getting mascara for my brows. To be fair, I barely use mascara for my lashes (only for special occassions), so I might not be the best person to ask. However, I did give it a try and it does darken my eyebrows nicely, making them more defined. It was a rather odd product for me, though, and I don’t think I am running out to buy any eyebrow mascara anytime soon.

5. Me Me Me – Loose Powder Brush

I have never been big on makeup tools and I apply most of my makeup with my fingers because it gives me so much more flexibility. Loose powder though, is one exception. I have been using a kabuki brush for this purpose (not even sure where I got it, or when) and so it wasn’t completely off base for Ipsy to send me this, I guess. The brush is pretty amazingly soft and I love how it feels on my skin. Powder goes on easy, and I will be using this in rotation with my current brush from now on.

I had to try out all of the products (along with my usual day to day make up) and here is the result in a bathroom selfie.

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So, what’s my verdict on the Glam Bag by Ipsy? I think it is too early to say. I will probably give it a few more months to form a proper judgement, as I think one bag doesn’t say much about the service. However, if I had to give a rating simply based on my first Glam Bag, it would be….

painted-heart--symbol-of-love-michal-boubinpainted-heart--symbol-of-love-michal-boubinpainted-heart--symbol-of-love-michal-boubin

3 hearts – Meh. Could be better, but not that terrible either. It was fun to receive a surprise in the mail and try new make up. I was happy to note that some of these products were full sized, but I just wasn’t a big fan of all of the products. Perhaps more months on Ipsy would make their selection for me better? I might change this rating in the future if that happens, and I am happy to do a post every month for the Glam Bag because I think it is fun to share this with you!

*Heart image is taken from Michal Boubin’s painting: Symbol of Love

Let me know if you have tried some of these products yourself, and what you thought of them in the comments below. Also do share your personal experiences with Ipsy, positive or negative!

Hope you had a sweet Tuesday!

❤ Joy

Stardew Valley Update – Top 5 Tips!

Hi guys! Welcome back! I’m sorry I haven’t written in about 9 days since my last post about Stardew Valley. Well, I’ve been playing Stardew Valley and enjoying the virtual country life. I’ve gotten to about year 2 Summer by now and still going strong. The game is so relaxing and comforting to me now, after a long day at work.

You will find scores of tips and information about the game online, heaps of spoilers, and advice on how to maximize profits. I feel like that takes so much away from the game (the max profits thing), especially for the way I play. I don’t want to rush to finish everything by X year… I want to enjoy the journey. BUT, there are some tips that help the game get more relaxing/easy and those, I am thankful for!

Anyway, without going into major spoilers, I have come up with my top 5 tips that help make the game easier/more relaxing after spending a ridiculous amount of hours in the game (Images mostly taken from PCgamer.com and stardewvalley.wikia.com):

1. Fix the bridge!

You know that broken down bridge on the east of the beach? Get it fixed as soon as you can (takes 300 wood), because it is a treasure trove! You can start earning a steady income, albeit not *that* much, each day which is great early in the game.

2. Build the silo before any other animal buildings

Early in the game, you get a quest/mission to build a chicken coop. The animals in-game are adorable and one of my favorite aspects of the game! So, definitely save up for that coop/barn, but don’t do it until you have built a silo! The reason is simple. Once you build a silo, every time you cut down grass in your overgrown farm, they get automatically converted into hay! Having to pay for hay to feed your animals will get really expensive very quickly without the silo.

3. Always show tool hit location

Under options, check the box in the image above. It makes it so that the location you are hitting will be highlighted in a red box. This prevents accidental tool usage (which robs you of energy) and makes sure you don’t accidentally remove crops etc.

4. Check out the twigs/worms 

In the gif above (taken from kotaku.com), you can see the worms/twigs spot in the ground that you might chance upon around time. Hit it with your hoe, and you might find lost books for the library, raw materials or treasure! It is always worth it to check it out, so don’t miss out!

 

5. Get the Easier Fishing Mod (if fishing is getting too frustrating and stressful)

If unlike me, you love the current fishing mini game, then please skip this tip!

I was finding the fishing in-game super frustrating and upsetting. I know you can just practice, and practice more, but it was not working for me, and became an aspect of the game I avoided. That’s sad because fishing is such a big part of life in Stardew Valley that I felt I was missing out. Until I found this fishing mod that helped make the mini-game more manageable. Now, I love fishing and it has become a steady source of income too!

I hope you are enjoying Stardew Valley as much as I have!! Happy farming!

❤ Joyce

Stardew Valley

Alright, gather round my lovely readers…. I have a secret to tell you.

I am a closet video game nerd. Yes, you heard it, I enjoy video games. I mostly play simulation games like The Sims series and really, any game that lets me live an alter ego life, design a character, and/or my dream house/world… I’m probably in. I am also a fan of good point and click adventure games. I recently played The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav & Memoria series, and it was a great example of a good ol’ point and click Adventure game. Before that, I was on The Whispered World, also by Daedalic, a German game studio.

The reason when I am sharing this side of me with you, is because I wanted to talk about this new awesome game S bought for me a few days back. It was said to be something along the lines of Harvest Moon & Animal Crossing, and while I had probably played those games very briefly when I was younger, I never got into them.So, I was slightly skeptical when S told me he already bought it for me, hoping I would like it.

So it began… I started playing Stardew Valley, an indie RPG by ConcernedApe. Yes, 1 man developed this entire game, how impressive is that?? Here’s the official trailer:

The game begins with your grandfather leaving you a letter, and you only open it years and years later when you find yourself stuck in a dead end cubicle job at Joja Corp. Joja Corp is essentially a soul-sucking Walmart-like corporation, that later on features in Stardew Valley as well. So, anyway, you game character opens the letter grandpa left, and lo and behold, it is a deed to a farm in Stardew Valley, some obscure countryside place. You leave your un-fulfilling corporate life behind, catch the next bus to Stardew Valley and embark on a new adventure.

I think the first thing that appeals to me was the adorable background music. It puts you in a happy mood, as you truck off to the countryside and start a new life. There’s nature, sunshine, cute townies… and cheery music. So, I looked this up and the game contains about 2 hours of original music that this one guy ConcernedApe made. I was thoroughly impressed as I played along, trying to imagine one guy being responsible for all the aspects of this game (and there are SO MANY aspects). It must take some serious dedication (over 2 years from what I’ve read) to make this your full-time project.

Anyway, the game graphics are done up in 2D old school pixels, which makes it super nostalgic, like when you were playing Pokemon on your old gameboy (or in my case, my younger brother’s gameboy). While there are no fancy 3D hyper realism graphics, it’s a colorful, vibrant and happy game world you get brought into. I can’t stop highlighting this fact, because this game actually makes you happy. I mean, I pretty much ditched my big city skyscraper corporate life for life in small town New England in reality, so yeah, this is very similar to that concept.

The game is very open-ended, making you feel like the possibilities are endless. You can take your time to do what you like in your days at Stardew Valley. There are quests, but all of them are optional. If you choose not to fulfill any of them, it’s perfectly fine. I guess in this way, it is like The Sims. I love the freedom and creativity such games allow for. There are plenty of guides online with tips and tricks, but I find that I feel so much more invested in my little farmer’s life when I explore the town and all its quirks, by myself. So, what do you do in Stardew Valley, you ask? Here’s a day in the life of my little farmer character Jasia:

Journal of Jasia

Hi everyone! I’m Jasia and I have recently moved to Stardew Valley to inherit my grandfather’s farm. Stardew Valley is a pretty fantastic little town on the Southern Coast. My farm is in the center of the valley, a rather convenient location. To the east of my farm is adorable Pelican Town, filled with interesting characters that I can interact with. We help each other out a lot, and people post notices on the Bulletin Board outside Pierre’s General Store to ask for help. One time, the local carpenter Robin lost her precious and favorite ax. She posted it on the bulletin, and I found it for her when I was picking up wild spring onions south of the valley! It really is a close knit community, and there are regular seasonal festivals each year. It is a lot of fun living here, and everyone is so nice!

I am supposed to share a day in typical day in my life with you, so let’s dive right in. At 6am every morning, it is rise and shine for me. I basically jump out of bed each day so excited about the day to come. I put on the television to hear the weather forecast and watch some morning TV while I have my breakfast. I feed my cat Olaf who loves getting cuddled and snuggling up by the fireplace. After breakfast, I start work in my farm. I plow the fields, fertilize them, plant my seeds, water the plants and harvest when it is time. Sometimes Olaf follows me around the farm, but other times he would wander off to do his own thing. My grandfather’s farm is a huge place, so I am sure it is very exciting for an adventurous cat like Olaf. As I have just moved here not long ago, most of the farm is still wildly overgrown, I have cleared out a small patch of land in front of my cottage, but I am sure I will keep clearing as I go.

Next, I tend to my farm animals, giving them hugs and hay. I have 2 cows and 4 chickens in my modest little farm, and I collect eggs and milk from them, that I turn into jars of mayonnaise and small batch cheeses. I also have some preservers that I use to turn crops into jams and pickles, as well as a nice little bee hive where I get honey from. Finally, there are my maple trees that I am tapping for golden maple syrup. I sell my local produce, as well as create quite a good number of small batch handcrafted artisan goods for sale in limited quantities exclusively at Pierre’s General Store. I want to support the local small businesses, especially after Joja Corp moved into town and took away so much business from poor Pierre!

I spend a nice part of my days interacting with my new neighbors in Pelican Town. I am becoming fast friends with the nice granny Evelyn, the local doctor Harvey and Sam the musician. Sometimes I make them (and other townies) some nice cooked meals as a gift and they seem to love it! I spend a few hours fishing each day too. I was so terrible at it when I first started, but have since gotten better. I sell some fish each day, as well as whatever cool corals and sea creatures I can find on the beach, to the local fisherman Willy. He always appreciates a fresh catch and I get to earn some income with my new found skill. On rainy days, I head into the mines to crack some rocks. Sometimes I find valuable items to either donate to the museum, or smelt into metal bars to be sold to Clint, the local Blacksmith. He is such a funny guy, and his eyes light up when he talks about mining, metals, and rocks.

I love watching the kids run around in the town square or near the playground, and always start up conversations with anyone I meet in town. It is a small community, so literally everyone knows everyone here, you can’t even avoid it! Sometimes I work harder on my farm, and clear the land for resources that I can use to craft items such as an oak chest, a scarecrow, fences and machines for my artisan products. As I mentioned previously, there are also town festivals all the time, and on those days we have fun activities all day and everyone gathers to socialize and party.

Life is so different here in Stardew Valley. I am no longer trapped in a cubicle doing mind-numbing data entry work! My days are now filled with nature, people and a whole lot of love. I have taken up new hobbies like fishing, cooking, mining, crafting and of course, farming! Life is carefree, relaxing and just filled with happiness. But it is not boring, not at all, and I often wish there were more hours in a day for me to enjoy all these activities. The air here in Stardew Valley is definitely fresher, and I swear the grass is greener too.


Some screenshots (take from the Stardew Valley Steam page)

I cannot recommend this game enough. If you enjoyed Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing, or any farming RPG, this is definitely for you! Here are some features of the game that I am in love with:

+High level customization of your game character

+Design your own farm and cottage with easy crafting tools (all the furniture in your house can be moved easily), and you can easily get new decorations/furniture, including wallpaper and flooring in town!

+Plenty of content: Planting crops, rearing farm animals, fishing, mining, crafting (like Minecraft), cooking, relationship development with townies, fulfilling quests/missions, making cheese, honey, jams, pickled items…. the list is endless!

+A very layered game, with hoards of secrets, quirks for discovery. It is never boring, and endlessly entertaining. It makes me so happy to discover new things and surprises along the way.

+NPC (Non-playable characters) have incredibly interesting personalities, their own back story, likes & dislikes… making you feel invested in them and their lives.

+Play at your own pace! Do only the quests/missions you choose, and feel free to ignore the rest. The only time crunch is when you accept missions, then there is usually a time limit to complete certain tasks. But beyond that, enjoy the relaxing pace of the countryside. If I am not mistaken, the main story arc has some sort of conclusion after 2-3 game years, but the game itself is endless and you can keep playing infinitely (farming, crafting, collecting and building relationships…)!

+Play in your own way. Whether your focus is on farming, decorating, creating produce, fishing, mining… you can earn a living in so many ways. There are also plenty of mystery in the town to spend your days trying to uncover the secrets. This game is never boring. The only problem is that I cannot stop playing.

+Affordable. The game is $14.99 at FULL PRICE and has so much content built into it it’s crazy. The developer also provides very regular and amazing updates. He listens to the community and pays attention to what is being said about his game, then improves it FOR FREE. I mean, it is totally worth it just donating $15 to such a talented & nice developer!

 

Korean Spicy (Fire) Noodle Challenge

The internet is a gloriously crazy place. Recently, countless of youtube videos have been posted about a “Spicy Noodle Challenge” aka Fire Noodles, and many online articles have been written about it. Koreans, other Asians, Americans and basically people from all around the world have jumped on this bandwagon. Just for some reference, you can read/watch some of them here:

http://iamkoream.com/korean-fire-noodle-challenge-spreads-online/

http://oogeewoogee.com/americans-try-the-super-spicy-korean-ramen-challenge/

So, being the crazy adventurous soul I am, I decided I had to give it a go to see what the fuss is about. I grew up in South East Asia, and our cuisine is largely spicy. Having moved to the United States, nothing is ever really spicy to me. I try to get restaurants to up their spice level by saying “please make it as spicy as you can” but never really get a satisfactory spice level.

My frustration has led to… well, this. I went on Amazon (gotta love the 2-day free shipping for Prime members) and in 2 days, this happy package arrived at our doorstep. I couldn’t wait to break into it, explaining disjointedly to S about the Spicy Noodle Challenging and getting a pot boiling at the same time. Here it is:

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Our curious kitten came to check out the commotion. Here is the famous Samyang Ramen. It is chicken flavored, and comes with a liquid sauce pack.

Cooking instructions are simple:

1) Boil 600ml of water

2) cook the noodles in boiling water for 5 mins,

3) Drain the excess water such that only about 8 tablespoons of water remain.

4) Add the super spicy sauce pack & garnish pack (sesame seeds & seaweed) to the noodles, and toss in pan till most of the liquid is gone.

5) Serve! (Prepare tissues for tears, sweat, and snot that follows)

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Ta-dah!! Here is the final product. I could not wait! The first bite told me that yes, this is definitely spicy. After half the bowl is gone, I start to feel the heat building. I tried sharing it with S, but he gave his unfinished portion back to me.

I finished the entire bowl of noodles in 1 sitting, and this is very important, because I did not dare to stop eating (the spice will build), drink anything (in fear that the spice will spread) or talk while eating (choking on this will not be fun). I only dared to start doing those things when I am well and done with the noodles, while I sip some water quietly with a flushed face.

The whole experience was pretty awesome. I got my spicy fix, and was so excited by it. The noodles were also pretty tasty and flavor packed, even without the jazz of the spice. I have since finished the entire packet of 5, and will be getting more soon. I have started eating it for a late night snack, or when I am too lazy to cook/get take out or just crave something really spicy (which happens very regularly).

This is NOT for anyone who finds the average spicy American food spicy. It is for spice junkies who cannot get enough of tongue numbing spiciness, and especially anyone like me who craves wayyyyy spicier food from places that really do spicy food well. S loves spicy food and he can handle a good heat from his dishes, for sure, but this was slightly too much for him still. It might be fun to get a couple bites here and there, but he was not interested in finishing even half of it. So, if you do not enjoy the (slightly painful) feeling that spicy foods give you, stay well away from the Samyang Ramen. If not, grab a pack from Amazon and try it for yourself!

Let me know in the comments if you have tried the Spicy Noodle Challenge too, and what you thought of it!

❤ Joy

The Spice Chambers – Keene, NH

Indian food is one of my all time favorite cuisines, and being able to find a good Indian restaurant was such a nice surprise around these parts. We have been frequenting this cute little place called The Spice Chambers in Keene, NH. It is right off the Main Street and super easy to find. There is parking on the street, so it’s fairly convenient too. Here’s are the contact details, for your information:

Address: 8 Winter St, Keene, NH 03431

We usually go for dinner there, but I heard that they have a good buffet lunch too (though I have not tried that). Here are some pictures from our time there

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The cute little restaurant, tucked in a corner. Great location, right downtown in Keene.

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The interior: classy, simple and chic. They have a mix of customers: college kids, couples, young professionals…

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The waiters are friendly! They have a bar in the restaurant too, though I have not ordered anything from there yet.

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I completely forgot to take photos till we were halfway through the meal! It was so yummy!

S has ordered various menu items like the Mango Chicken, and Chicken Marsala which were both pretty good. I always go for the Chicken Tikka Marsala and it is buttery, creamy and oh so yummy! We always get our curries done super spicy, but you can request for any level of spice based on your preferences.

We get Naans to go with our curries, and both the Garlic Cilantro and Garlic Chive Naans are our favorites. For appetizers, I enjoyed the Chicken Pakoras, Samosa and Pappadums. If you enjoy spicy food, ask for their Chef’s spicy sauce. It goes great with everything!

The curries also come with plenty of fragrant Basmati Rice. I always get a refill because I can’t get enough of it.

So, if you are ever around the Keene area, do try out this cute Indian place if you are a fan of spice and ethnic foods!

*Again, I am not sponsored in any way by the restaurant, and it is a place we eat out at very regularly, so I thought they deserved a review*

❤ Joy