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

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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

 

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

We Speak A Different Reality

On the topic of Intercultural communication and cross-cultural relationships, I love hearing about the quirky differences that people experience on a daily basis. If you know anyone who is in a cross-cultural relationship (and that includes friendship!), you are bound to hear fun stories about times when they stare at each other, all tickled pink, when they discover a difference in the words they were taught to use growing up. This happens even when both partners speak the same language. I call it simply, speaking a different reality. I have lived in 3 different countries over the years, and picked up plenty of vocabulary and pronunciations from various places and made them my own. This makes it even funnier for some people I encounter, because they never really know what I am going to say.

Now, I could talk for days on the topic of speaking a different reality, but to start off, keeping it light, I decided to make a list of all the English words I have used that S, or his family & friends, have remarked “I have never heard anyone say that before” or something along those lines. To be honest, S and his family are the most supportive in terms of our differences, and they fully embrace me for who I am. The fact that I’m not born here, grew up halfway across the world, or that I’m of a different race does not bother them one bit. They just get amused sometimes (and so do I) when they hear something new or different from me (happens regularly). S says he loves my quirks and even the way I pronounce words different. Sometimes he will try to correct me, being the school teacher he is, but I would mostly defiantly repeat the word the way I said it hahahaha.

1. Maccas

“Maccas” is simply the Australian way of saying Mcdonald’s. S thinks this is hilarious for some reason.

2. Keen

This mostly occurs in writing form. It basically is used to convey enthusiasm or interest in a matter. You’ll see this in prevalence in Singaporean business emails. Examples of usage in a sentence are “I have a keen interest in art”, “I am not keen on that decision”, or “I am keen to pursue a career in Marketing”. I first came across this while working on my resume. Apparently this is not used commonly here in the United States, and comes across slightly odd. I have since stopped using it in my US resume, or US emails, though I find it comfortingly familiar to see it in an email from Singapore.

3. Peckish

I say this usually in the middle of the night when I get hungry. It seems to fascinate people, because they rarely hear this word being used here. But a little hungry just seems like too many words when “peckish” exists.

4. Lift

Instead of “elevator”. We “catch the lift” in Singapore, which just means running after a closing elevator to make sure you get in. I’ve been pretty good about this and say “elevator” half the time now.

5. Pram

Americans use “stroller”. Strangely enough, the two words evoke different images in my mind and “pram” just seems so much more proper. We’ll probably see how this difference plays out more when we have kids. I think I still prefer the word “pram” and might just keep using it, just because.

6. Schedule (Pronunciation)

The many times I have said “SHED-ule” and people just stare at me blankly. The teachers always want to correct me (not S, though, oddly enough). Apparently they said “SKED-ule” here. I cannot seem to change it, and still slip up and say “SHED-ule” all the time.

7. Boot

This refers to the trunk of the car. In Singapore, we would say “open the boot” or “pop the boot” to get the driver to open the car trunk when we need to get something out/put something in.

8. Dodgy

This is used mostly in Australia, or at least I picked it up while living there. I think the British use it as well? It means something is bad, or weird, or just wonky. I say this about lots of things. I sprained my ankle yesterday and now I keep telling people “My ankle is still kinda dodgy”. I also say that of shady places, like, “that place looks dodgy, let’s not go there.”

9. Dustbin

When I first moved to America, I kept asking people where the dustbin was, and realized nobody knew what I was asking. They call it “trash can” here. Huh. In Singapore, we are trained to hang on to trash till we find a dustbin to dispose it in, so this is still pretty innate. I forget all the time and still say “Where’s the dustbin?” or “Throw this in the dustbin for me, please”.

10. British Spelling 

This means an extra ‘u’ in words like colour or favourite. It means “program” will always looks wrong and abbreviated to me, because we spell in “programme”. It also means spelling “center” as “centre” and using -ize in words like “realize”. It’s always the small things that add up.

Intercultural communication is just so fascinating and interesting to me! What words do you say differently from your partner/friends? Share them with me in the comments! I know there are even variations between people from the North or South of USA!

❤ Joy

Elizavecca Bubbly!

So last week, I saw some youtube videos of people trying out this Elizavecca Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask. It looked so silly and fun, I just to had to buy one to try. I was very excited when I saw it at my doorstep in a happy Amazon package. Here it is, right out of the box. The packaging is so cute!

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Inside the jar is basically a mass of grey goop. I know it doesn’t look like much, but it’s magic! First, I had to google instructions on the mask and I got varied results. Some people say to smear it on an uncleansed face while some people say to put it on after you properly clean your face with makeup remove/cleanser. I decided to go with the latter, just because I was paranoid about makeup clogging up pores… though I guess the whole point of this mask was to unclog pores and do a deep clean of your face. Maybe it didn’t matter either way.

Anyway… here’s what I did:

Step 1: Wash face with makeup remover/cleanser (I use a 2-in-1), and dry well.

Step 2: Open the jar and quickly use the spatula to scoop some product out. Many of the instructions online say to replace the lid as soon as possible, as well as in between scoops, as the product fizzes once in contact with air or natural oils on your skin etc. So I did that, and did not see any fizzing in the jar.

Step 3: Smear the product on your face, and spread evenly just as you would any other mask. Again, the trick is to work fast, before the product activates too much. I think during my first try I did not put enough product on my face and it was spread so thinly. It still worked fine, but I think next time I use it, I will be putting on more product to see the difference.

Step 4: Set a timer/play it by ear. Some instructions online suggest leaving it on for 5 mins, some say to wait till it stops fizzing (mine never did stop fizzing even until the end), while others say to leave it on for 20mins for maximum effect. I did the 20mins, and found it a little too long. The product had almost dried up on my face by the end and that affected how much I can rub the bubbles in. Next time, I will try it for 5mins.

Step 5: Your face will turn into a giant rain cloud, you will resemble an emoji, and it will be super ticklish while the product activates. You can hear the fizzing on your face, which is rather fun. It is definitely a novel product, and was more entertaining than anything.

Step 6: For maximum effect, rub the bubbles in and massage the product on your face a little. This supposedly helps with the pore cleansing.

Step 7: Wash your face clean. Now, this takes some serious washing, as the product does not come off easily without residue. I used both washing and wiping to get everything off.

Step 8: My skin became super soft and smooth after taking the product off. It does not seem to minimize my pores, but my pores look cleaner and my face just felt squeaky clean! It was a great feeling and I almost wanted to start using this everyday until I learnt the recommended regularity of usage is twice a week.

I’m already looking forward to the next time I can use it, and I want to try the different options I didn’t try the first time round to see if it makes any significant difference. It’s such a fun product and entertained me to no end. Our cats, though, were not as thrilled as they could not stop staring at me and this bubble mask all over my face. Hahahaha….

So, yes, I would recommend this product if you want to deeply cleanse your face. It does not dry your skin out, but its purpose is not hydration. If your skin is very dry, perhaps limit usage to once a week. My skin became so soft and smooth after one use that I’m sold! I am not paid by Elizavecca in any way, and I paid full price for the product because I thought it looked interesting and just wanted to give it a try. So these are my honest opinions about the Elizavecca Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask! Two thumbs up! 🙂

❤ Joy

 

 

 

Yamato Japan

It’s the weekend and while running errands in Leominster this morning, S and I decided to pop by Yamato Japan for lunch. We’ve eaten here many times and their Saturday lunch is usually what we do because the prices are affordable and I never pass up a chance to get Asian food. I have tried so many Asian restaurants around the area and there simply aren’t many good ones, as there isn’t as big an Asian population around here like the big cities do. Yamato Japan, while not quite rivaling the Asian restaurants I am used to back home and in Japan by any means, does a good version of their Japanese dishes that gets me coming back time and again. I decided, thus, to do a full review of our dining experience there today. If any of you are in the area and craving something other than your usual American Japanese cuisine, or just looking for a nice place for a good meal with friends and family, I do recommend this place.

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It’s a nice little place tucked in the corner, in the plaza right opposite Hannaford Supermarket. The interior is simple but elegant, with soft music playing in the background (usually piano renditions of classic Asian pop songs I grew up with!).

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There is a cute sushi bar/reception area right at the front of the store. The Hibachi grill is round the back, but you could see the chef at work if you wanted to.

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We were there for the lunch special on Saturday (yay for weekend specials!), as can be seen in the photo of the menu. The lunch specials are 11am – 3pm, and are fairly affordable. The bento boxes are of good value, though I always end up getting the sushi/sashimi platters because I crave that all the time.

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We started with the appetizers. Most lunch specials come with soup or salad. I always go for the soup because they do yummy miso soup here! Plenty of kelp and tofu to keep me happy, and they don’t skimp on the miso paste either.

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We also love the gyoza here. It makes me sad when restaurants murder this awesome dish. Yamato does it well so far. The skin of the gyoza is gorgeously thin, the base of each dumpling gloriously pan-fried to be slightly crisp (not burnt) while the top of it still remains tender.

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Our main courses. This is what S usually gets, Hibachi chicken and steak (with a nice side of Hibachi rice). The meats are tender, never overcooked and the Hibachi rice is by far, my favorite.

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My main course – Sashimi Platter. Definitely instagram worthy. 😛 I also got a side of Hibachi rice (not part of the lunch special) because it is so delicious I could not resist. The sashimi is not cut super thin, which is a slight flaw, but for $11.95, I cannot really complain. It was also pretty fresh and yummy, and I was a happy camper.

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Finally, we got to the dessert! We really like the fried ice cream, which was novel to S, but also yummy in its own right. The warm fried exterior contrasts well with the deliciously cold vanilla ice cream on the inside, and it’s all topped with chocolate syrup and whipped cream. Not made for diets, but oh so good.

I hope you enjoyed this review of Yamato Japan. It is not a sponsored post or anything, but I just thought to share this place that we go to pretty regularly. I love dragging S with me to all the different restaurants in the area, and many times if we are in someplace new, we would Yelp recommendations and try out new places. I will try to do more reviews so you can also give the various places a try if you are in the area.

Hope your week ahead is awesome!

❤ Joy

Lunar New Year 2016

I think this is my 3rd or 4th Lunar New Year (LNY) that I could not be home in Singapore. It is a big deal back in Singapore, and is even bigger than Christmas/Thanksgiving here I think. It is an opportunity to gather with all my extended relatives, catch up and visit everyone. The whole country buzzes with excitement, happy LNY music, and is decked out in red, gold and other “prosperous” colors. We get to put on brand new clothes on the first few days of New Year, and get all dressed up for the visitations around the country. There are red packets (of money) that are given to children and singletons, and lots of delicious Lunar New Year goodies to snack on. Ample pineapple tarts, love letters and what have you, at every single house we visit. I miss it all, and even though it does get tiring running around the place seeing everyone, it’s always fun to hang out with my cousins whom I grew up with, and hear updates from my other relatives.

Since last year, we started a new tradition to chat on Skype with my closest relatives during their reunion dinner at Lunar New Year Eve. S and I get up early (night time over there) and chat with the family.We update everyone on our life here and they tell us about theirs too. It is a precious time together, us being so far away most of the time and essentially leading parallel lives with them. Going forward, we probably will not get many opportunities to go back during LNY because it is usually in the middle of the school year/work year for us. So this Skype tradition might continue over the years!

Here are some photos from our time together. I guess technology does have its perks some days!

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Saying hi from 10,000 miles away.

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Hanging out via Skype

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A modern family photo!

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The spread at reunion dinner that we are missing out on.

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The family doing ‘lou hei’ – a Lunar New Year tradition

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I’m a profile picture in the obligatory cousins (in order of age) photo on the first day of Lunar New Year LOL.

On the U.S side, S and I had our own reunion dinner at a local restaurant in town. While the food is drastically different, as you can see, the idea was the same. Here is our spread: IMG_2982We had a huge cajun chicken pizza and a massive platter of seafood pasta.

It will be interesting to see how we create our own LNY traditions over the next few years, and find our own ways to celebrate. It is still LNY now, so here’s wishing everyone a very happy Lunar New Year!! May you have blessings abound in the year to come. 🙂

❤ Joy