Sunday, April 27, 2014

Growing my own Lavender - DIY Bonsai Kit from Lavender Cottage

As part of my loots from my visit to Taichung's Lavender cottage, I bought this set of lavender seed and DIY growing kit. Who knows - perhaps this bonsai kit will inspire a new hobby in gardening?

Lavender Gardening DIY Kit
And all I need now is more patience and some luck!

The Contents
It contains an instruction booklet on how to use the kit and information on growing requirements of various plants like Lavender Rosemary, dried compressed soil, lavender seeds and a cute paper bookmark.

Lavender seeds

Detailed instructions in Chinese on how to use the kit to grow the plant.

Background info for Growing Lavender
The ideal temperature for lavender to grow is 15-25 degree and they bloom from March to June and Oct to November.

There is a also reminder not to over-water at one time, or allow water to retain at the base of the container, and to keep the soil moist during hot summer.

I really hope it grows well in the Singapore weather! =)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Let's talk Beauty - Iope Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning Essence

This is another of my skincare haul from South Korea last November - and I have waited really long to review this product because initially, I want to finish at least half a bottle before I post a raving review - yes, it's going to be a rave and I'll probably need to update my Favorite Shopping Buys from Korea

Now, after using up two bottles of the Iope Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning essence and having repurchased two more bottles, I am now a huge fan.

Iope Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning Essence

Product Description:  
Ingredients: Bio-redoxTM 93.7% 
- Bio incubating technique that stabilizes bio antioxidant enzyme 
- Sap type boosting essence, absorbs fast 
- Anti irritation, protects the skin, improves the skin condition 
- Helps restores to transparent, clear, and smooth skin 

- Bio essence that restores everyday changing skin condition in 3 days to maintain the skin health 

We chance upon this product on our second last night in Insadong, on recommendation by the Aritaum salesgirl when I tell her that I'm looking for a whitening essence. Honestly, at first glance, I would be more likely to buy this if I'm looking for a toner rather than a whitening essence but the salesgirl strongly recommend this as a multi-functional product that contains the same active ingredient as another product in the market to refine skin texture and have good whitening properties too. In her words, "it's as good as a whitening essence". 

According to the salesgirl, the correct usage of this product is to pour into cotton pad (the bottles are marked at the site to indicate how much to use each time) and apply to your face after cleansing. It is not recommended to apply this product using our hands as the skin on your hand may absorb the active ingredients rather than your facial skin. Personally, I prefer to transfer to a spray bottle for use.

From the web, this product is crowned the best product 2013 by Korean Beauty Editor and recently this product is also available for sale in Taiwan. 

My Review? 
Personally, having used this product diligently for close to 6 months, this product is what I hope SKII  Facial Treatment Essence works for me. I would probably say that if I were to get only one skincare product from Korea this would be the one. In fact, a week after I started using this product and my mum told me that I look fairer and my skin got clearer (and she's generally quite oblivious to most of my skincare or cosmetic routine). Weeks into the product, my skin texture begin to improve significantly (it feels very much smoother) and my skin look more radiant, skin tone was even out and some darker spots fade. I am sensitive to many whitening products but the Iope Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning essence didn't cause any irritation. The texture is water like - and it's clear and odorless

Iope is the sister brand of Laneige (under parent company of Amore Pacific which houses many other brands like Hera, Etude House and Innisfree) and therefore for my purchases of 2 bottles of the Iope Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning Essence, I receive complimentary gift with purchase travel set of deluxe samples (50ml) of 4 Laneige products.

They had a version for Men's too, for the guy in your life who take care of his complexion. 

Iope can be found in Aritaum outlets across Seoul.

That's all lovelies!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Bangkok Trip, Feb 2014 - Day 4, Siam Paragon, Levana Spa & Dinner By The Street Near Central World

How shopping time flies!

With a blink of an eye and possibly some tears, we are at the last full day of our holiday. We head off to Platinum Mall for breakfast and major last minute shopping!

Tom Yum Noodles with Sausage
We ordered the sausage noodles from this stall in Basement 1 beside Mister Donut. There's 3 choices of sausage and noodles but I think we choose the Mama instant noodles. The seasoning for the noodles are mixed by the stall owner. Yummy! 

We took the train to Siam Paragon for beef noodles and mango sticky rice.

Nuer Koo Beef Noodles & Rice @ Siam Paragon
Nuer Koo specialized in beef and allows you to choose the parts that you like for your dish (Sirloin, Ribeye, Shoulder, Under-rib, Kobe, Wagyu etc) and your choice of noodles (flat noodles or rice vermicelli) or rice. The beef and it's broth was served separately from the carbs. 

Fai Sor Kam's Mango Sticky Rice @ Siam Paragon
We walk around trying to find Mango Tango but we couldn't. So we stop by Fai Sor Kam for our Mango Sticky Rice craving fix. And no doubt it's one of the best . mango . sticky. rice. I. ever ate. Highly recommended! In fact, their other main dishes looks nice too, judging by other diner's orders. 

Levana Spa @ Asok
Being a massage junkie, having a massage is one of my must do activities for the capital city of Smiles. This time round, we went to Levana Spa - which is located via a quick 5 min walk from Asok station after passing by Sheraton Grande Sukumvit Hotel. 

Choose Your Fave Blends 
We were given an option to choose one of the 6 essential oil blend for our massage before we were led to our respective rooms for our massage sessions. I opt for the 2 hour long Aroma Oil Massage and fall asleep under the skillful hands of the skilled masseur who manage to soothe out all the kink and tired muscles and best of all - is very professional and quiet. In fact, I prefer them to other spa in Bangkok!

Levana sells their essential oil blends and other aromatherapy products too.

Dinner by the Street @ Central World
After our massage, we went back near our hotel where we had our dinner by the roadside stalls between Central World and Platinum Mall. To be honest, we are quite prepared for a potential food poisoning but decide to heck it and try the food anyway since it's out last night in Bangkok (and for the record, none of us got food poisoning). It's quite a unique experience to eat by the roadside while some sort of peaceful protest rally are going on mere meters away - and despite their lack of extraordinary presentation - all the dishes are surprisingly good! In fact, I would definitely revisit the place on my next trip back to Bangkok. 

Salt Grilled Fish
And so we tried the salted BBQ fish that we pass by oh-so-many-times. Despite the "stone" looking fish, it taste pretty good. The salted coated skin part of the fish was not meant to be eaten.

BBQ Squid 

Roasted Pork Cheek

Spicy Clams

Fried Vermicelli 
And the Fried Tang Hoon. We wanted to order the Phat Thai originally but was told that there's only Phat Tang Hoon. It's very yummy and the chef's skill in frying (firing) up a storm is quite spectacular! 

Fried Kang Kong

Last but not least the fried kangkong (or morning glory as what the menu states) that we were waiting all night. 

This sums up my lovely Bangkok escapade! Looking forward to the next trip back again! 


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bangkok Trip, Feb 2014 - Day 2 & 3, Food, Shop, Food!

With Bangkok, it's all about Food, Shop, Food.

It's harder to post on shopping and so I shall focus more on food!

Wanton Noodles Stall at Pratunam 
With this paper map, we set off the next morning to find the nice wanton noodles that Rain's friend strongly recommend. It's a short 5 minute walk after we cross the overhead bridge from Platinum Mall.

As it turns out - there's a kway chup and braised pig trotter stall beside the noodle stall.

The Condiments 
The Thai folks loves their spices (green chilli, chilli flakes, and garlic) and like to customize the taste of their dishes to their palate.

Wanton Mee
The servings are considered quite small but just right if you have other side dishes. We ordered the dry noodles and it's very fragrant and the noodles are quite chewy! Many diners ordered the soup version of the dish too.

Braised Pork Trotters
We ordered their pork trotters along with some salted vegetables, egg and pork small intestines. The meats are well marinate and the trotters has a near- melt in your mouth consistency. Highly recommended too!

We went for some shopping around the area before heading to Platinum Mall Fuji Japanese restaurant for lunch.

Fuji Japanese Restaurant
Fuji is a Japanese restaurant chain with outlets across Bangkok. We went to the branch in level 5 of Platinum Mall. The service and environment for the meal is good but most importantly, their sashimi is very fresh - we had 2 portions of their scallop. Here's some of the food pics we managed to snap before we tuck in.

Scallop Sashimi

Salmon Sashimi

Garlic baked Mussels

Beef Sukiyaki

Chinatown T&K Seafood
For our dinner, we took a taxi to Chinatown for pork floss snacks, T&K Seafood and bird nest.

Fresh Oysters
According to the girls, the oysters are really fresh.

Oyster Omelette

BBQ Big Head Prawn

Spicy Clams 

Crab Paste Vermicelli

Singha Beer
According to Rain, a trip to Bangkok is not complete without Singha beer!

Bird Nest Soup from Nam Sing

Waffle Sandwich with Thai Iced Tea @ B1 Platinum Mall 
We ordered the waffles sandwich from a stall beside Black Canon Coffee. The waffle is quite soft and yummy and it's super filling.

Our Combined Shopping Loots!

That's all folks!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Bangkok Trip, Feb 2014 - Day 1, Here we come!

Yes, we make it and we are back safe and sound!~

Despite all the uncertainties, despite the state of emergency declared on the Bangkok city, we decided to go ahead with our Bangkok trip in February.  It's not easy to firm up the schedule for everyone (especially when we planned this trip more than 6 months ago) and we were sooooooo looking forward to it. So after reviewing the map of the protest sites, registering ourselves with MFA, tracking Bangkok Post by the hour during the week of our travel and many deep breathes later - off we go!

Couldn't resist a selfie with Rain especially with her super awesome camera (Casio TR150)! Love the effect! All the girls brought their cameras for the trip so some of the pretty pictures in my post are taken by them.

Another selfie on board the plane just before the plane took off - and I think we both fall asleep during the take off for close to an hour! Did they put any sleeping bug in the cabin air? I couldn't even finish one drama episode of 'My Love from the Star' and we reach Bangkok.

Taxi Stand at Bangkok Airport
Snap a shot from the taxi stand. Pratunam has a cross on it.

Taxi for 6?

And we managed to squeeze 6 adults with luggages into a maxi cab. Yes, and to & fro. On our return, one of the luggage need to be placed on the roof of the car. Haha.. luckily Y's luggage did survive the ride.

Novotel Bangkok Platinum Mall
We stayed in Novotel Bangkok Platinum Mall this time round, which is situated directly on top of the new wing of Platinum Mall and we simply love it. The fact that the hotel is situated right on top of a giant shopping mall is self explanatory!

Lounge & Lobby at Level 6
The hotel reception and lounge are located at Level 6 of the building. There's a concierge (and Starbucks) at Level 1 of the building.

Gravity defying Stunt 
We spot this by the lift lobby ~

Twin Room
The room is comfortable, clean and new. I am quite particular with bed but I find their bed very comfortable - the mattress are firm and quiet and smooth velvety blankets. The rest got the double rooms and there's a chaise lounge by the window instead of single sofa.

Their bathrooms are fitted with both the rain shower system and the traditional shower head. There's a button to draw the blinds down if you are taking a shower.

Window View
Central World (with Isetan) shopping center is just a 5 minute walk away and Big C and one of the subway station is just opposite Central World. We can see clearly the protest site and the stretch of temporary street stalls along it from our window.


Temporary Stalls near one of the protest sites
I couldn't remember which though.

The Gigantic Platinum Mall
We have proven once again that 5 days is not enough to finish exploring Platinum Mall.

Dinner Time @ Taling Ping @ Central World
We meet up with Kelz friends for dinner at a Thai restaurant in Central World. Their dishes are very nice except a warning though - their yellow curry is VERY spicy. I can take spicy food quite well but it's stomach churning level of spiciness.

So basically, our itinerary went something like:

- Day 1 -- Reach BKK, Central World
- Day 2 -- Pratunam Market, Platinum Mall, Spa
- Day 3 -- Pratunam Market, Platinum Mall, Chinatown
- Day 4 -- Platinum Mall, Siam Paragon, Spa
- Day 5 -- Depart BKK

We didn't even cover all of Platinum mall even though we went there daily except to venture out for food and spa occasionally. Novotel Platinum is an easy choice for shopaholics - the full air-conditioned Platinum Mall is right below our hotel and just a bridge across to Pratunam market, which is a local market selling many items at mostly lower prices than Platinum Mall.

So when the weather gets too warm, off to Platinum we go =)

Bangkok = Food. Shop. Eat.

Life is Good!