Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gramercy Weekend

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

Firstly, thank you so much for the lovely comments on the last post. You would think after nearly 9 years together we'd be nonchalant about taking steps to formalise our union. Au contraire

Our engagement weekend was a blast. I've never been on a staycation thisclose to home so my overnight bag only contained PJs, clean undies and this fabulous sweatercoat.

Morning Birds Sweatercoat, Uniqlo heattech tank, AG Stevie polka dot denim (sim), Ferragamo My Joy ballerinas, Tiffany & Co. pendant necklace, NARS Funny Face lipstick

Gramercy Park Hotel is a grand place. Here are a few more pictures from the weekend:
Cereal bar at breakfast - note the PB milk!

S and I are visiting our families in Australia and Malaysia respectively, celebrating and giving thanks for all the love in our lives. Here's wishing y'all have the same - best wishes for a safe and happy holiday!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Proposal in the Park

I am trying not to become one of those people - you know, the ones that won't stop talking about their engagement at the slightest prompting. But seriously, ours was so wonderful, so special and so us. Just like you will not see his face on this website anytime soon, the moment was decidedly private; but very meaningful, and it took place within a beautiful New York City landmark. I promised to write it all down for y'all so here goes! 
Previously written about here and hereGramercy Park is a beautiful 2-acre park which can only be accessed by a select few key-holders who are either: 
  • a resident of the apartments surrounding the park; or 
  • a guest of the adjacent Gramercy Park Hotel.
Bloody selfish I tell you..

Anyhoo, last Saturday after going our separate ways in the morning to run errands, I was given strict instructions to meet my love in the vicinity of the Gramercy Park Hotel. I presumed the surprise involved some form of dining at Maialino so I was pretty darn excited (that carbonara is insane).

When I arrived in front of the hotel, instead of taking me right into the restaurant, he leads me across the street to the park, together with the hotel doorman who proceeds to unlock the park gates to let us in. All I could think of was: HOW DID HE HOOK THIS UP?!! It took a lot to refrain from squealing until the doorman was well out of earshot! 

Anyway, S explains that he got wind of an awesome deal for a room at the hotel via his new fancy pants credit card, which he booked for a fellow Australian co-worker who was visiting with his girlfriend. Since the couple weren't scheduled to arrive till later in the evening, S told me he checked in on behalf of them so that we could take advantage of the park for a short while. 
J Crew sequin jacket, AG Stevie Polka Dot denim (sim and sim), COS cashmere, Kenneth Jay Lane necklace (sim), Target booties
I was THRILLED! Having only peered through the gates on previous visits, I can't deny how cool I felt being on the right side of the park. We walked around, (it's so small it took all but a few minutes to do so) gawked at the fattest squirrels I have ever seen and took these requisite outfit photos. 

We then picked a quiet bench to sit and hold hands. It was by coincidence I chose to sit in front of this one:

We are pretty lovey-dovey with each other on the regular so this moment, while sweet, was not unlike any other we've had in the past. Getting into the park was awesome enough so never once did I suspect anything else was on the cards. It was at this point that S took my hand and placed in it, a pendant necklace.

I opened the key pendant to reveal those choice four words (i.e. the ones with the initials WYMM?) and in shock and/or adrenaline rush, burst out laughing! I took a second to calm down, answered "YES", then flung my arms around him and cried the happiest of tears!

We promptly woke up our families on the other side of the world before texting and calling our nearest and dearest to tell them the wonderful news. It was then that S decides to tell me that there was no such "co-worker from Australia" and that we were spending the weekend at the hotel! Sucker much? 

The icing on the cake - we didn't skip out on Maialino and celebrated our engagement over champagne and carbonara. Plus we didn't have to pretend to be guests of the hotel on our many subsequent visits to the park that weekend. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Deepavali Greetings!

Happy Deepavali/Diwali to you and yours! 

It's that time of year again - where new frocks are don, kesari is whipped up and oil lamps are lit around the house. This year, the Festival of Lights brings extra joy - on the weekend, my partner-in-crime and always (un)willing photographer S, asked me to marry him! 

We have since been overwhelmed with well wishes near and far and we are still basking in the fantastic news. I look forward to providing plenty of details in posts to come. 

Back to topic, it is tradition to wear new clothes today - a small challenge for the (somewhat) frugal! Fortunately shopping my closet produced this unworn Zara dress purchased during their not-so-recent sale - happy days! 
In any case, please pardon the poor quality photos - Deepavali falling on a week day meant we had no opportunity to venture outdoors for daytime photographs.

The engagement necklace hooray!
J Crew Collection Cashmere cardigan, Zara dress, Karl Lagerfeld belt (sim), Tiffany and Co necklace and pendant, Plush fleece tights,  Calvin Klein Isabella boots. (sim)

May you all have mouths full of sweets, houses full of lamps and hearts full of love this day and for days to come.  

தீபாவளி நல்வாழ்த்துகள்!!! 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

French Pharmacy Favourites

Shopping at local grocery stores and pharmacies are huge to-dos whenever I am abroad. In Paris, I went totally nutso at the latter.

Some say that French beauty products are superior than what we get state-side. Whateverrr - I think it's absolutely romantic to slather on beauty potions that have names you can't pronounce. 

Having said that, I am very much impressed with the efficacy of the following products. While some of these are rather difficult to obtain outside of France, I am impressed at how readily found a lot of them are in the USA, albeit at a premium. Where available, I have included links to (currently on F&F 20% off) and (perpetually on 20% off). 

Bioderma Crealine H2O Micellar Solution: This was the BEST buy of the trip. As someone who NEVER leaves the house without long-wearing liquid eyeliner, I have struggled to find a cleanser that is effective at removing makeup yet gentle on my eyes. This soap-free cleansing water is a wonder product - while it looks and feels just like water, it takes off every bit of gunk I put on my eyes. While not necessary, I prefer to rinse my face off with water after use.

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse: I first came across the shimmer version on an previous trip to Paris. I love using this multi-purpose oil on my body before a night out or after a long soak in the bath. It gives my limbs a nice sheen. I also sometimes use it on the ends of my hair. I know it can also be used on the face so I bought a non-shimmer version on this past trip for that reason. (Side note: I had high hopes of piling the shimmer version on my face to finish off my Snooki look for Halloween. Alas, I looked more golden goddess, less oompa-loompa. Good result overall, not so much for Halloween). It is a bit pricey but a little bit goes a long way. In NYC, you can also pick this up at Duane Reade.

Nuxe 3 roses exfoliator and gel cleanser: These were again items I discovered on my previous trip which I loved. I had a mild freak out when I initially couldn't locate them but then realised Nuxe updated its packaging. They smell of roses so lovely but not overpoweringly so. I use both of them interchangeably in the shower with my ClarisonicThe old variation of this range can be found here

Biafine ACT: This hydrating cream is a first time buy. While it is meant to sooth and treat burns and skin irritations, I've used it as a deep moisturising mask, leaving it on for an hour before rinsing off or when I've needed a stronger boost, I leave it on overnight, especially on days following prescription retinol use. I have shocking skin in the winter (even my skin knows it is a summer baby!), Biafine as well as Avibon (below) are proving to be lifesavers this season.  

Cica Biafine Hand Cream: This hand cream version has been a lifesaver to my 80-year-old-looking hands! (The only other cream I have found effective and long-lasting is Jack Black Industrial Strength Hand Healer). The small packaging makes it handbag-friendly.

Avibon: A milder alternative to prescription Retinol with a vaseline-like texture. The first time, I slathered the jelly all over my face and went to bed really shiny and sticky. My bedfellow stayed on the far end of the bed all night but at least I woke up with amazing baby-smooth skin! Subsequently I learnt that the trick is to rub a dime-sized dollop between my hands to warm it until it becomes like a more spreadable face oil. Your face will be less sticky but alas still shiny. Trust me - it's worth it. In any case I hear it also works as a blemish fighter - a claim I have yet to prove. 

La Roche-Posay: this brand is really as amazing as is lauded. I love the immense range of products that caters for every skin type and every skin ailment - you name it, they've got it. The choice buys this trip were moisturisers with SPF. I found the Hydraphase Intensive UV a great day cream under makeup as it easily absorbed and didn't leave an ash-y appearance. Even the boy liked this for it's non-shiny result. I also purchased the Anthelios SPF 60 Light Sunscreen which I hope to use all over when I am back in sunny Asia later this month. The main draw of this one - ultra-light texture with high SPF.

Embryollisse Lait Creme Concentre - It's not called 24-hour miracle cream without reason. A mainstay amongst beauty editors and makeup artists, I like that it's not as heavy as Biafine - making it appropriate for warmer days or for those with less dry skin. I use this as a under-makeup night moisturiser. 

Other great buys: Nuxe Rive de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm (rich honey-based lip balm), Avène Eau Thermale Water Spray (soothing face spray that helps set makeup), Anything Caudalie, but especially the Merlot Friction Scrub (a yummy body scrub that tickles the oenophile in me!). On that note, Sephora is also offering 20% off to VIBs for the next few days (use CELEBRATE at checkout).
Paris tip: While local pharmacies carry most, if not all of these products, visit City Pharma (26 Rue du Four, 75006) for best selection and prices.
Have you tried any of these? Do you have any other French beauty products you love?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Now On - The Outnet Clearance!

#1 - Please help victims of Sandy before you shop

#2 - Please VOTE before you shop

#3- Go forth and SHOP!!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Friday Favourite

Due to recent events, I have spent an inordinate amount of time indoors and on the computer this week. A long-standing item on my to-do list was to fix up the Pages at the top of this website. I am particularly proud of the Food page where I have listed my favourite restaurants and bars in New York by neighbourhood. it's still a work in progress but I urge you to come take a look whether you are visitor to the city or just a resident looking for a solid suggestion.  

I have otherwise also trawled through the many pretty things currently on sale at Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. I have colourful prints and texture on my mind - which is reflected in the following closely-edited list of items I would love to get my hands on. 

Have a great Friday. We are having a low-key weekend in light of the past week. With power only scheduled to be restored to friends downtown late Saturday, we will stay close to home in case our apartment is needed for people to recharge and recoup. I would take this opportunity to urge you to support Sandy recovery efforts in any way you can. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

The devastation Sandy left behind is staggering but we were so fortunate to be spared. While downtown New York and a great part of the Eastern Seaboard is without power or water, we have both. From our window in a highrise midtown apartment building, the rain passed through like a whisper in the night. If not for social media and the news on tv, we would not have known otherwise.

It is by absolute chance that we were not adversely affected. In return for our good fortune, we have opened our home to loved ones to recharge devices, have showers and spend the night. 

If you can help, please visit the Red Cross, call 800-red-cross, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a donation. Blood donations are also in severe shortage - please visit Red Cross Blood to find out where the nearest donation centre. 

p.s. - how New Yorker's really reacted to Hurricane Sandy