Wednesday, August 15, 2018

How I Unwind in the Evenings


This post is a paid for collaboration with Panasonic

Thanks for your encouraging comments on my previous post on taking a break when you need it, and it's so nice to see so many people already doing it... Of course, another merci beaucoup for your congratulatory messages on a new and fresh start, it's something I'm excited and nervous about – but before that, I'm on a (self-acknowledged) well-deserve three weeks off right now! I've already started on a high by watching A LOT of TV last Friday and running errands, keeping busy milling about the house and packing for a two week trip back home next week. It's not unlike a working week, just more slow-paced and even-measured I suppose...

CALM EVENINGS

Ultimately, my favourite time of day is to sit down in the evenings and take a breather after a full day of running around. As it's not scorching hot anymore, I start off lighting a candle to soften the air in the room and find that it helps distracts some worries of the day away. Lately, I like putting on Happy Together 3 (the karaoke segment is gold) - something easy to watch but also hilarious, and is there anything better than being comfortable on the sofa watching TV? Recently Matt and I have thought about upgrading ours and browsing through the HDR TV Panasonic page to see if anything caught our eye, so I'm looking forward to an upgraded viewing experience soon.



FACE MASKING

I know it's a bit drastic but I try and do a face mask everyday, at first it was to destash my collection I've built out over the last few years but now it's something I look forward to every evening. My skin gets red and sensitive easily, so I like keeping chilled sheet masks in the fridge which is easily the laziest way to relax in the evenings while doing chores, and wrapping up after dinner...  I also love using my face roller, which helps my skincare absorb better and is good for lymphatic draining, depuffing your face... 

Recently I've realised how my nose is incredibly sensitive to smells and it can drastically affect my mood depending on how a space is fragranced. I picked up this beautiful Places Des Vosges room spray as a keepsake of our Paris trip last summer, and after some spritzes it reminds me of the daytime dreaming while strolling through the quieter paths of the city, in an effortless slumber. 



READ + REFLECT

I've been on a reading spree, and while I was disappointed when I read Caraval (I am a perfectionist when it comes to plots and character development lol sorry /booksnob much?) but have now added to my list books to kick-start my new job!

I try not to use my phone too much in the evenings, and reading a book is perfect for keeping busy  without getting too caught up in the wilds of the internet.

The evenings are also a great time to reflect over the contents of the day, and look at what you've achieved and want to get more from tomorrow. It's easy to get tunnel vision at work, surrounded by such a specific niche of people or issues that frustration builds up easily. Leaving that environment behind and looking at it objectively while I'm relaxed at home is a way I mentally coach myself for new challenges and deal with tricky situations, and evaluate my emotions.


How do you spend your evenings? I'm trying to get back into being more crafty but have been busy tying up loose ends after my final work week I haven't been able to!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

I Took A Day Off From Work Just Because


Everyone's jetting off somewhere sunny this summer, having the best 2018 summer or summin'... And I'm thumbing through my feed, sweating like no one's business on public transport on my way into work. 

Well guess what? I went ahead and took a day off from work just because. Is there anything more liberating than using up precious annual leave because you can?! While I'm nowhere near going to a fancy Moroccan riad (although I want to) or chilling by the beach, I'd decided I needed some time and space to do things I enjoy because it's not always necessary to travel exotic all the time...


I DID WHAT I WANTED

Okay, so this is a bit sneaky but basically I went shopping... oops. Alone. And it was so fun, walking around the shops when Regent Street isn't rammed with people trying to rob you, and making the rounds through Anthropologie and And Other Stories using hand wash because it felt fun! 

Sometimes photos on your feed can be disillusioning, as I grow envious of everyone's constantly jetsetting life while trying to not overheat on my sofa, despite having the fan blowing straight into my face. Distancing myself from work, and spending time with myself was something I really enjoyed - I even went to charity shops and picked up some vinyl gems! 

I was definitely feeling a societal-fuelled pressure to travel somewhere just because it's summer, and begun to find my daily routine a mindless and numbing experience. Not exactly 100%, that's for sure. A day off gave me some buffer time to do things that aren't housework or life admin, and let me tell you that the magic of everyday life truly helps. 




CREATING A BREATHING ROOM

I had some busy weeks of work and it was starting to get overwhelming (but I am actually leaving for a new job soon, but that will be for another time) and even when I was home, I found it hard to disengage and settle into a good, healthy social routine. 

Earlier this year, I briefly mentioned my health taking a dip and I'm so glad I've been able to re-center and create a space and time where I am able to concentrate on things I enjoy doing, even if this means sitting still and doing nothing. But on my day off, post-shopping, I came home - ran the bath, put on a hair and face mask, poured in my now favourite bath salts (they're the Bloomtown Lavender and Rose Geranium bath salts - vegan, and yes they do smell as good as it sounds) and watched TV.

Now in what I would otherwise call a total cliché, but I felt so lifted and happy because I was able to do that. We spend so much time fussing over tidying the house, making sure our lives are in order, we sometimes forget that we're part of the living too. 

Quieting my inner mind noise was something that helped me immensely the past six months, and has given me a better perspective of what I want in life. It also allowed me to meet new people, get inspiration and go after what I thought was something I couldn't change... 


IT'S OKAY NOT TO TAKE A HOLIDAY
BUT TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

It was frustrating to see all my friends living their best lives driving through quaint Italian towns and eating their way through South of France, so something I want to remind myself is to not get carried away by the necessity of a holiday. 

After our wedding, I had to work on switching my visa which literally cost an arm and leg (insurers will tell you that, ha) and I needed to budget accordingly - aka no holidays immediately after this. This made me a bit sad but I'm trying to look at this favourably, and while I won't be able to wear a Realisation Par dress anytime soon, I no longer have to live in fear of getting kicked out, or getting stuck in a job if I do want to pursue new opportunities. Hurrah! 

What I wanted to remember, however, was that it was still important to make sure I was keeping myself active: going out, eating healthily and enjoying life as best as can be given the circumstances (no thanks to extortionate Home Office fees). We sometimes allow ourselves to indulge for the sake of consumerism, chasing trends and validation through pixels on our screen, which makes it so easy to lose sight of simple things that could very easily be achieved. 

Not documenting our lives doesn't also mean our lives are less worthy, something I try to remember as we easily get carried away under a microcosm of daily social media monitoring. 


Hoping you are finding things are keeping you going - large or small...!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

These Summer Days & Life Lately


This post is in partnership with Thomas Sabo



(For the best reading experience, I'd recommend this summer dream track while you read)

The warmth is unfurling slowly and all at once, isn't it? Hard to keep track of the afternoon haze, when all you want to do is drink cloudy lemonade and be a cool girl. I've pulled a couple of disappearing acts this year but some exciting things are on the horizon, and I'm really excited for a change in my life.... 

I'm popping in to share some life-related activities, because that's what this space is for, right? Plus these sweet photos were taken near our local café (so cute!) which doubles as a bar at night – before heading to Tesco for our weekend groceries. Glam. 



Let's just discuss the new Florence + The Machine album - not something I expected because it's got a lot of choral elements but I am loving it so far! I couldn't help but add the band tee to my collection, something to keep it going until I see them live again in Novemeber, can't wait...




I've added a few plant friends into our space and have fully embraced the plant life! Although I'm quite terrified that I end up killing all of them, eek. I've also been scouring charity shops for vinyls because I have a record player now, and I already have a small and budding collection. Nothing better than putting on some Sunday jazz on!




After our wedding, I've been partial to wearing more jewelry too - plus there's more reasons to accessorise when it's summer than hiding it away under a winter coat! I'm at ~that age~ where I'm investing in some good quality and timeless accessories, and I was so pleased to add to my collection a beautifully designed Thomas Sabo Zodiac pendant charm (I'm a Capricorn FYI) in a gold vermeil from the Generation Charm Club range. I've always thought charms as a great way to pick what you really love in jewelry, and make it something special for yourself or someone you're giving it to :)

My childhood fascination with the stars has always stayed with me, now I finally have some cosmic magic whenever I put it on my zodiac necklace. In all honesty, I love it because it's such an intricate and wonderfully ornate design that goes well with pretty much any summer outfit. Midi-dresses, tees, and even a casual work outfit.

I paired my charm with a gold necklace with the perfect length to wear on its own or with other necklaces. I'm upping my layering game this year you guys! No joke though, I've worn it almost every day since I got it.

I'm already pining after a new charm to add to my existing one, maybe a silver one to get that two-tone style going, you know? I'm also eyeing up their personalised engraving collection, and thinking it'd be a great gifting option when special occasions or when I'm running out of Christmas ideas this year... heh.



I'm finally winding down and excited to get back into the blogging swing of things soon, I promise... all will be revealed soon. Hold on to your horses, y'all.

What's your most treasured piece of accessory? How's your summer going?

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Why Are We So Unhappy in Our Twenties?

rouje green wrap dress

I'm a hot mess right now: sweating out my in my feverish state, my sickness probably culminated from an unfortunate change in weather and the stress from a deadline yesterday. Last week I posted on Instagram that I was reading a fantastic long read about the psychology of happiness and it made me realise that so many of us in our twenties (or beyond), while probably more successful than we think, are so vastly unhappy with our lives. 

Of course, it doesn't help that the curated online lives are so often a jarring fantasy in reprimanding us that what we've achieved is never enough. The fact that we're so hard-pressed on anchoring (another fantastic concept but a great book called Nudge) our happiness to another person makes us lose sense of intrinsic joy – money plays a huge factor sure, but apparently "once our basic needs are met, the relationship between money and happiness becomes purely theoretical". 

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Time versus money

I found this quite hard to digest, because who doesn't want the access associated with greater purchasing power?

Then it occured to me that my daily anxiety of never being a good enough person largely stems from the fact that I "never have enough time" to do what I want.

Scenarios:

"If I had more time, I could paint, relax, unwind"
"If I wasn't so busy with dealing with work all the time, I would be out on the rooftop having a drink"
"If I was rich, I wouldn't have to do all these chores myself"

And so it feels like many of my problems with feeling joy depended on how valuable I considered my time to be. Clearly we all hate wasting time doing things that are unnecessarily bureaucratic:  paperwork, admin, waiting for buses that never come...

We feel like we could be doing so much more whilst enduring the initial useless act that needs to be done first. Everything and all of it seems like a big waste of time.

rouje green wrap dress

rouje green wrap dress

The problem with Time and being busy all the time

We're so obsessed with Time. 

Or at least I am. I used to set a timer for individual tasks I had to do and get weirdly panicky when I didn't get as far as I wanted to and it would end up in a vicious cycle of bitterly regretting not doing enough... 

Then there's the cultural perceptions of what being busy means. I work with a lot of US colleagues, and they equate time to being busy and productive. Any time spent not doing work means missed opportunities and dare I say, laziness?! And it doesn't stop, because being young also means you're not supposed to not be busy, and always be creative and on the ball all the damn time.

I was listening to a podcast where they interviewed a hugely successful 28-year-old CEO; I'm 27 and I like flowers.... How would you feel? To which I then spent about 20 minutes feeling inadequate and thinking I was wasting my youth not being some sort of magical feminist woman-boss in my twenties. 


rouje green wrap dress

Creating a form of Happiness 

Was it my own fault I was feeling inadequate and not making my first million? Probably. 

Looking back, I was probably focusing on what I couldn't have that I became so unhappy most of my early twenties, and not on what I did have. Sure I'm not a genius entrepreneur (though that does make me sad), but I am great at being creative, being weird and fortunate enough to be where I am right now. 

I used to wallow in guilt a lot, and when that started to affect my health greatly, I realised it wasn't going to work out. Everyone tells me 'think of the positive!' and I refused - because I refused to believe that ~positive juju~ could change anything. 

I laugh at how naïve I was then, because it works. It didn't change my entire life, but creating a form of happiness that doesn't rely on anger or bitterness made me realise how light and freeing it could be, without the terrible burden that feels incredibly tiring.  

I'd never realise it was actually a simple act of realising that making a version of your own happiness doesn't mean erasing your worries, or anxieties, it just meant (for me) picturing them in ways I could face them without feeling terrified. 

rouje green wrap dress

(Dress - Vero Moda 
Necklaces - Pandora Shine and Missoma)

rouje green wrap dress

Do you think we're unhappy? And why?

Monday, May 28, 2018

A Spring Catch Up


Wow, hello! I'd never thought I would be easing back into blogging and writing anything down here in a while, yet here I am.... It's been a good two months, many things have happened, including a trip to the hospital which wasn't fun at all. I was also in a bad health phase, losing a terrible amount of weight for my size, so I've been lying low with social media, taking time to relax and do more things I enjoy.

But our big, happy news was something I wanted to share, even though we kept it under wraps until I decided to talk about it on Instagram (and the same day after the Malaysian elections), so here it is - Matt and I got married!

Might as well come out with it eh?

It's kind of odd being here, being almost 27 and living the big 'M' word. But quite the contrary, while it's been odd, it's also been full of love and we're back in full force, being the childish 20-something year olds we are. My 20 year old self would hardly believe that this is where I would end up, but then again, my 20 year old self was severely unhappy and had bad friends...

I'm sharing a few snaps of our wedding day, which was beautiful, brought together by our closest family and friends, with the incredibly lucky weather (it was low 10C the weekend before) and delicious food.


My beautiful flower crown was from Grace and Thorn - I'd wanted something colourful but nothing too obnoxious and their Ready to Wear collection had the perfect selection. I didn't have to bulk order anything, and they delivered it promptly on Friday evening all tied up.

This was the kid's size (lol) because I have a tiny head. It fitted perfectly and everyone (including me, duh) loved it. I didn't want to take it off!


My bouquet was also from the same themed collection, I fell in love with The Future is Bright arrangement: beautiful with a pink rose, greenbells, eucalyptus and craspedia. It was really the most delicate (ha) coming together of florals :) 




Our post-ceremony lunch was at the laidback Peckham Bazaar, which was a feasting menu with sumptuous Mediterranean highlights like grilled Octopus, slow-braised leg of lamb and a to-die-for baklava and coconut ice cream. We chose it because it was an upgrade from a pub lunch, but nothing too formal or strict. I also loved the verandah and glass windows, with the open kitchen with the food being cooked. 

(My feet ached from wearing heels so I changed into my loafers after lunch, hahaha)


Us being us, we didn't have a photographer so a big shout-out to friends and family to took some delightful photos of the day! 

I'm hoping to get back into blogging with a few skincare posts, so stay tuned! Please say hi below, it's been a long time friends...

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Creating A Skincare Routine That Works For You


I'm currently perched up on the sofa, after watching a really intense Liam Neeson movie (The Commuter, if you were wondering). Now a bit of down time while Can't Pay Take It Away plays in the background....

But it also gives me time to share a topic that I've been meaning to write for quite some time, ever since I penned my Winter Skincare post and landing back in London with pretty irritated and post-holiday breakout skin. I shared my 'transformation' (if you can even call it that) on Instagram and about three people messaged me to asked me what kind of products I've been using.

So three people was all it took for me to share with you you my true, unphotoshopped and unfiltered skin in these progress photos:


As a veteran in acne and combination skin, I've gone through an endless search for the One True Product that will save my skin, after a year stint of Roaccutane (my lips are now perennially dry) and stripping back to the basics – I've come to terms of how my skin behaves, particularly during hormonal changes and when I experience stress.

After years of reading trendy articles on Refinery29 and other blog posts claiming products that seemed to change someone else's lives except my own, so I sat down and decided to think about creating a skincare routine that works for me.

You'll see that Week 0 I started with very sore bumps, inflamed skin and the like. Not what I would call amazing. So I tried to incorporate a routine over the next three weeks to calm down the redness, and the final photo was taken last Friday where my scars are still obvious but much better compared to when I started in February.


DEFINE WHAT YOUR SKINCARE ROUTINE MEANS TO YOU


There is no miracle for achieving flawless skin. I think I've learnt that the hard way. Even though it's hard to accept because your skin is screaming and your self-worth is plummeting, there's no magic in the world if you're not willing to work and understand your own body.

I swear by making my twice daily skincare routine as a ritual, in which I completely focus on nourishing my skin with the intention of healing it. Setting aside time in the mornings and evenings to create a space undistracted by time, or idle thoughts can be a form of self-care, quiet contemplation and enjoyment.

If you're the sort of person that gives less thought into skincare because you're okay with it or that you're blessed with amazing skin, so be it. But no matter the definition you have created, stick with that mindset.

I found that concentrating on what I put on my face everyday is something I continue to look forward to, and understanding how my skin reacts to emotions (I'm horrible at dealing with anxiety and stress), external aggressors (pollutions) and temperature.

Being conscious and dedicating time to skincare meant I knew I was in control of what was going into my skin, and mindful of the ingredients that work (or not) for me personally.



DECIDE ON YOUR MAIN SKINCARE CONCERN 

Incoming cheesy quote - like most things in life, you can't have it all.

For so long, I was overwhelmed with the claims for each product I owned and hoping for a perfect solution. Now I start with one thing I want to work on, before moving on to the next.

For me, my main concerns are dehydration, acne and scarring. My immediate concern is dehydrated skin as that's usually what affects my skin, leading to a compromised skin barrier, and more acne-prone skin. You see the loop?

Once I decided that hydration was something I wanted to tackle, I based my routine around products that my skin likes and know will work well to more targeted concerns like soothing, firming or brightening.

For frequent spritzing, my favourites right now are the Caudalie Grape Water and the 107 Rose Vinegar Water Toner. The Caudalie comes in a giant cannister, handy for days at the home desk, it's 100% grape water and fragrance free as well. The 107 toner has rose water and vinegar, both to moisturise acts as a anti-bacterial ingredient.

Some of my thicker toners include the Missha FTE Intensive and Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Lotion which I use in the first step of my skincare routine. It achieves what I want, which is to hydrate and no more. I don't want to irritate my skin at the beginning of the routine, so something simple and effective works best for me.

The Yadah Anti-T Toner is a newbie to my routine but is already well-loved during my hormonal acne period; it boasts a 7-free system with Black Raspberry extract mainly as an inflammatory ingredient.

Five may seem a large number, but knowing when and where to fit these products around my routine helped me improved my skin slowly.



BE CONSISTENT WITH THE ROUTINE 

It's easy to get distracted by new products and flashy ingredient lists which may or may not work with your skin (we've all been there) but being consistency is key and being strict with your routine once you've got it set out.

Products only started to show results after 4-6 weeks (in my experience), as a full skin cycle takes about 6 weeks anyway. Which is why I always get slightly skeptical when a brand / influencer claims immediate results after one week or so.

My experience took me about 5 weeks to see any sort of results and I'm living proof that products do work, they just take time. It's disheartening to wake up to see that giant cyst still there (trust me, I know) but it will get better.

To supercharge my hydration, I look out for skin nourishing ingredients: bee propolis (also anti-inflammatory), ceramides, omega 3 and 6s and anything that will help boost my skin moisture. Three products that I trust in my routine are the Skin Food Royal Honey Propolis Enrich serum, my beloved Alkimi Cinco oil and when needed, the ever-great Blossom Jeju Pink Camellia booster serum (mini version).

I've since run out of my Cinco oil and switched to a different oil for now, but the remainder of my routine remains the same.

It's embarrassing to say, but it feels liberating to be in control of what goes into my system everyday, knowing that I've looked into the products I'm using and being okay with new products that don't because it's all part of the process.



FIND INGREDIENTS THAT YOUR SKIN LOVE

Although it took me a long time to find and note the ingredients that work for me personally, it might be easier for you. The skincare industry has come a long way, and there's a lot of resource out there to read up on and learn which might be the right ingredients for you. 

I was very frustrated because nothing seemed to work for me for so long - hyaluronic acid which everyone adore just didn't give me the results I wanted, it didn't make my skin worst but it didn't improve it either. The same with Niacinamide and Alpha Arbutin, both of which was to soothe and brighten acne scarring. 

I was at my wits' ends... until I found Centella Asiatica. I began to notice a difference when I used sheet masks with centella as its main ingredient and my skin always looked less red and even healed faster in some cases. It's anti-oxidant properties are meant to calm irritated skin, which is frequent in my case.

So I decided to try out Innisfree's Bija Cica balm, packed with other bioative compounds of centella: madecassoside and asiatic acid, meant for sensitive skin. And wow I was amazed at how my skin reacted so positively to it, it didn't flare up more, and I was able to keep working on hydrating my skin to prevent acne breakouts. 

I also know that essential oils don't react greatly to my skin so finding a good moisturiser which ticked those boxes took me a while. But I've found a new love, in the form of the cult favourite Belif True Cream Aqua Bomb.

Although it has 'cream' in its name, it's actually a gel-like formula and glides onto my post-serum and oil skin amazingly. It's a bit of an understatement to say I'm addicted to this. I started this in mid-February and am already two-thirds into it! 


BE PATIENT

If anything, the biggest lesson to making your routine work is patience.

I won't lie, being persistent while your skin hurts like hell isn't easy but there will be light at the end of the tunnel. I actually surprised myself to see that my skin had actually improved, because you tend to be your own critic, especially when you look at your skin every damn day.

I can't say to have completely healed my skin 100%, but I'm happy I have found a routine that works for me and am always looking for ways to keep improving. I'm trying to include more de-stressing activities in my life which I know contributes to my skin health - making sure I drink enough water, sleep, taking time out to be present.

I hope this has been somewhat helpful - I certainly was lost when I started on my skincare journey, so it's comforting to know that someone out there might feel the same way.


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