You should try mie Hing Hua at Sunter


Faddish eateries come and go, but the mainstay of the local F&B industry are those long-established restaurants that still brought in the big crowds today.


One of the many old school establishments is Laris Manis, a small hideaway that’s been around for at least 8 years now. Its favorite menu item, mie Hing Hua, is a classic noodle dish prepared in the smooth, light, yet tasty way that the Hing Hua people enjoy it.

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While in America: Sites, snapshots, and multiple foodgasms.


Okay, this is one super duper late post *guilty*. But I’ve been wanting to share this before the month comes to an end, so here  goes.

20140612_093357To put it all into as little words as possible, which is impossible because you know I’m quite the wordy type, I had multiple foodgasms while I was in the States with my mom during mid-June. It was only a short trip to PDX and SFO (it was for my brother’s graduation), so you won’t expect much from this post, especially due to the fact that I’ve resided in downtown Frisco before and have visited most cities along the West Coast (including Portland).

However, the 12-day trip left me longing for more food in the States (although more importantly, you have to factor in the friendly people, the beautiful surroundings, and fresh air). It reminded me how I gained 10kg while I was studying there ;) Fortunately, I went down to the weight I was at before.

I’ve completely forgotten how much of a pleasure it was to dine out while living in the States, partly because during the last couple of years I was there, I cooked at home a lot, and Whole Foods was my haven. Mostly, it’s because for the last year or so that I’ve came back to Jakarta for good, I haven’t been as enamored by edibles on a day-to-day basis as much as I was during this trip.

Most of the time, I have compromised to some degree with the eateries that are quite “happening” in Jakarta, so that I can agree and relate with most people, although this doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy them as much as I claim to. It’s just that the overall feeling and dining experience is different (like I said, try to consider seemingly unrelated factors like people, surroundings, and quality of air). Not only are the portions served at such sizable amounts (that you’re often left feeling bloated but happy), the foodstuffs in the U.S. are always served with, at least, some fixed caliber of quality. As far as I can remember, rarely are there times when I have to think twice about how much I like my meals and/or tolerate with the things I’m particularly nit-picky about. When I’m sitting in my chair and feel that boost of energy after I just chewed something phenomenal, I just feel it and savor the moment to the fullest, like you do when you’ve literally reached your climax. Every bite is like a foreplay that builds you up. So I don’t stop to try to find what’s good about the food item/restaurant just to counterbalance all the things I am dissatisfied about the meal, and I think that’s the most joyful part in about any dining experience.

It’s easy to see why, even with all the stuff I’ve already posted on Instagram, that I can’t help but share everything I’ve encountered during the trip that either are worth revisiting about, or just totally blew my mind …

I should warn you that I go off-topic on many occasions below, so read on at your own time.

Otherwise, let’s begin with our first stop at Corvallis, Oregon, otherwise known as the home of Oregon State University.


Aomatsu bowl: Baked salmon, salmon roe, smelt egg, quail egg with sesame oil and house sauce

House special rolls: Captain Cook’s and Tiger Lily

For a college town, this is a pretty vibrant place, and the Beavers spirit was so strong and alive that if there’s one thing every one living in the city had in common, it was their undying support and enthusiasm for the football team. I was surprised to find how easy it was to get around, specifically with the free public buses that loops around the university perimeters and beyond. Before I moved to Frisco back in 2007, I lived in a college town in the Midwest for a year or so. It was so difficult to get around unless you have a car, so coming to this town was overall a pleasant surprise, and we haven’t even touched a word on food.

Along the stretch at Monroe Avenue rests a considerable variety of eateries to choose from. My brother said he loves the fact that the MIME (School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering) building is perched right across the avenue, so whenever he stayed till morning in the lab or just in the building and got hungry, there’s always food available nearby.


Rice noodle with creamy Tom Yum soup, shrimp, mushroom, galanga, onions, lime leaves and lemongrass

beaverThere are a couple of campus foods I’ve tried in the area, such as Thai Chili (where I got my creamy tom yum soup above) and Shogun Bowl, but I wasn’t in town long enough to try everything that my brother said was good, like Local Boyz, Lemongrass Noodle House, and Qdoba (an Oregon specialty chain for quick bites), just to name a few. I know it’s such a small town and that it’s wonderful how there are plenty of established eateries to try, such as Magenta, Evergreen, and del Alma. Point is, you can imagine how easy it was for OSU students to enjoy the campus life there, considering how accessible it was for them to engage in outdoor recreational activities around the area, such as biking, hiking, trail running (!!!) and even river rafting1. It’s neat that the Willamette River stretches across the entire northwestern Oregon. My brother said that I can probably only see beavers if I get closer to the greener sites along the river, but we only had so much time, and it’s such a pity that I didn’t get to see one of those tiny little fur balls.

If there’s one thing I really miss, it’s Chipotle (nachos, burritos, quesadillas, anyone??). I know they’re everywhere in the nation and they’re pretty accessible across each state, but you’ll never get a guac and sour cream as good and as cheap as this anywhere else. They’re the kind of healthy fast foods that everyone from the die-hard vegan to the most carnivorous man in the room can enjoy.


Other than that, I’m really missing out a lot in PDX, as I was only there for less than 24 hours. If you haven’t been informed, Oregon is a tax-free state. It’s an ideal place to, literally, shop till you drop, and where else can you find the most retail stores per square foot other than the largest city of the state?


House signature roll, Beast: California roll baked and topped with Albacore tuna, spicy sesame sauce, shredded fresh fried yam and scallions

Needless to say, there were far more restaurants in Portland, Oregon, that you can get your hands on. What’s more, the city is the mother of all cities when it comes to food carts, the quasi-street style foods you see by the road in most urban cities around the world (not to be confused with food trucks). Initially, we were heading down to the famed Pok Pok, but we had to wait for 2 hours in line to get our seats. You can only book a reservation if you’re making it a party of 5 or more, so we went downtown for Yama Sushi & Sake Bar instead.

Seriously, I can’t remember when was the last time I had quality sushi with quality service (and at a happy price). The house was full that night (it was a Saturday night) and considering it’s very much a sake bar, diners were mostly enjoying their bottles of junmais and nigoris to pair with their sushis.


A bowl of creamy scallops topped with salmon roe, a tuna nigiri, a salmon nigiri, yellowtail sashimi, along with a couple of house classic rolls

Time flew, and by 2pm the next day I was already in San Francisco, California.

It felt splendid to be back, almost like that feeling when you’ve finally reached home after a long trip. My mother, who was visiting the city for the 8th time in her life, couldn’t help but feel almost as if she’s home as well. Before the 3 reckless children were born, she and dad came here to spice up their romance, and then there’s the U.S. tour the whole family got on back at somewhere around the millennium, and then there’s my big bro entering college, then there’s second bro entering college, then there’s me entering college, grad, and so on and so forth. The last time she was here, she made it clear that it would be the last time she’s going to see the Golden Gate Bridge (she’s seen too much of it), so this time around we skipped the landmark and headed elsewhere.


Apparently, there’s a new restaurant in Japantown that people are talking about. I decided it was a good place to meet up with a friend of mine, as we used to dine together around the neighborhood a lot to deal with college stress together. Unfortunately, we didn’t know SSISSO‘s going to serve such ginormous portions to the 4 little women on our table, so one of our dishes had to arrive only to become a takeaway item (not in the pictures).


The hearty, delish, big-ass banchan items


Fried boneless chicken mixed in special garlic soy sauce


Super spicy soup with ham, dukbokki, and ramen


[THE BOMB!!] Kimchi Jeon: Kimchi pancake with vegetables (option: add seafood)


Shared a few hours of life updates and before we know it, our tummies are beyond full. Nonetheless, everything on our table was fab.

The next morning rolled around, and my mother and I agreed on emptying our stomachs only to fill it with the abundant foodstuffs we’re about to brace ourselves during the day.

So I stopped by the awesomest bubble tea shop in the Bay Area, Sweetheart Cafe, to get me some tapioca balls. I first got to know the modest place while I was in Berkeley with a couple of friends, and later I found out the one here in SF Chinatown is equally awesome. Friends of mine tend to speed as far as a half-hour ride from Daly City just to get some bubble tea fix, so you can imagine how soft, bubbly, chewy and sweet these tapioca balls really taste like in your mouth. It’s not like any other balls you’ve tasted elsewhere; it tasted almost like real tapioca, but with the consistency of something that falls right between a taffy and a marshmallow.


Coconut green milk tea with tapioca pearls


Now … over to the Pier, and the underappreciated Bay Bridge.


Funny story: My naughty cousin, who moved to LA from the Bay Area, had a friend who was visiting one time. He took the guy around the city to look around, because this guy didn’t know anything about the city, not even what the Golden Gate Bridge looks like. So while crossing the Bay Bridge on an afternoon ride, couzie pointed out the window and said to the guy, ” … anddd here’s the Golden Gate Bridge.” The poor guy believed up to this day, at least, till the day couzie told me about the story.


Another irrelevant fact: The 6-mile stretch from Ferry Building all the way to Pier 39 is still my favorite flat course in the whole world, particularly if it’s still 6am in the morning, when there’s some fog, when nobody’s around, and that the sky is still pinkish yellow. It’s such a peaceful feeling to move your feet along the pier back to back with uber hot, tall, lean runner guys passing you by with either a thumbs up or them flashing their beautiful smiles. If you’ve been wondering what keeps me motivated to wake up in the morning and run 10 miles all these years, it’s the coregasms along the pier, and these uber hot, tall, lean runner guys had to do a lot with it (shameless, I know).


Speaking of which, I’m sure you’ll love this one store in Sausalito, California. I sought it out just because my mother had never been to the town, and she’s heard her friends saying it’s beautiful. I’ve been getting there by car all these years with friends, so this is the first time I’ve gone from SF to Sausalito by the ferry. It’s also the first time I went into the Ferry Building for the purpose of riding a ferry. It felt a bit touristy, though fun regardless.

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Even as the sun was starting to set, we’re still a little early for our dinner at my favorite garlic restaurant in the world, The Stinking Rose, so we had a bit of a photo sesh with the Transamerica Tower as the backdrop and Cafe Zoetrope in the mid-ground. This neighborhood is printed as North Beach on your maps, but it’s best known as the Little Italy of SF. If you’re new in the city and you’re hip and young, be sure to experience the nightlife in the area, because as soon as the clock hits 12 at midnight, the district turns into a vivacious little party town ;) There used to be a popular Italian dessert spot along the avenue called Steps of Rome Caffe (and the neighboring Trattoria), where the waiters would give you a a good striptease if you’re a girl and you said it’s your birthday that night, but they’ve closed down. Oh well.


Walking along Columbus Avenue (the Indonesian embassy happens to be on it), you’re bound to come across the hub of Beat poets City Lights Bookstore, where I used to chill for hours on end sticking my nose to books upon books. It’s an urban retreat, I must say, and I love how the bookstore’s preserved so much of its beatnik history to this day. They have sections devoted to Kerouac, Burroughs, Ginsberg, and other poets of the renaissance. Bookworms, rejoice.

Now, for the real deal …


TO DIE FOR: Garlic-infused extra-virgin olive oil, garlic bread, garlic and onion sauce


An orgasmic experience unlike any other: I couldn’t help but keep adding the uber fragrant garlic sauce to everything else as the night wore on.


Garlic Spinach Fontina Fondue: OH MY GOD … no words can describe … TRULY HEAVENLY, AN ALLURE ALL TOO UNDENIABLE. CAPS LOCK INTENDED.




Halibut Sott’ Olio: Ohhh rosemary has never tasted this good …


… and man … look at those garlic cloves … if you’re tempted by this camera quality alone, you can imagine how incredibly euphoric it feels as soon as its juices seep right through your cavities.

You know what? I guess there’s no such thing as too much garlic on my plate, and that’s all there is to it.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t any room left in my tummy for dessert that night, even though every item on the dessert menu looks so good it hurts just to sit down to decide and pick one.


As if Napoleon Hill’s Think And Grow Rich wasn’t enough to convince me that on a fundamental level, we are all motivated by the 2 necessities of life (food and sex), every dining experience I’ve had at The Stinking Rose goes much farther than meeting my needs of hunger - it’s an intensity that bursts right through every compartment there ever existed of the human need. It’s funny how we keep isolating aspects of our core selves thinking that if we just cut everything into bite-sized pieces, we can conquer each piece easier than before.  All we really want is to experience the ultimate pleasure in its most virginal form. After all, isn’t that what true desire tastes like? Okay, I’m getting a little too philosophical here, but I guess simply put, one practical way for me to experience pure, intense pleasure  is downing a mega-massive amount of garlic :p

On our last day in SF, I took my mother to try the one dessert I think everyone must try before they die: The glorious Buca di Beppo tiramasu.

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Oh ... the rum!

Oh … the rum!

If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering what is it that makes it so different from all other tiramisus you’ve ever tried. Well, it’s not as slimy and whipped-creamy as usual, and it’s got tons of mascarpone and rum to tantalize your buds. I love that even after they’ve made its recipe public and that anyone can replicate the dessert in the comfort of their homes, diners still come back for the unique dining experience Buca offers its patrons. It’s just that their vintage-styled interiors, their one-of-a-kind ornaments, the antiques and the crimson walls, festooned by the numerous old-school photographs of public figures, altogether make up for a very warm and welcoming mood that’s ideal for diving in to the splendid chows with your loved ones.

Buca chains are around nationwide, not exclusively in downtown SF. Although I was here only for dessert, I highly recommend coming in with a large group and trying out their pizzas and pastas for dinner. Buca is best known for its family-sized servings, so you better come with an empty stomach.

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On the day we leave for Jakarta, I took my mother to see Lombard Street for the first time. It’s dubbed as the crookedest street in the world, and fortunately, it was such a beautiful day to take pictures.

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Overlooking Coit Tower

Overlooking Coit Tower

Funny how I’ve been living there for 5 years and have never ridden the celebrated cable cars before. This was my first, and it was USD 6.00 for a one-way ride!! No wonder why only tourists ride on them, hehe.

We spent some more hours stocking up stuff that aren’t available in Indonesia throughout the afternoon, then headed back downtown to enjoy our last meal in the States at E&O Asian Kitchen. It’s a prominent fusion restaurant that’s just situated a few blocks away from where I used to live on Sutter Street. We skipped their house favorite item, the Indonesian fried rice, and enjoyed other specialties instead.


Coconut Curry Ceviche: White fish, green curry, chilies, taro chips

What’s really nice about a city filled with health-conscious hippies and eco warriors is that restaurants always provide a separate menu for them. So I opted for the gluten-free version for the signature E&O burger, which has its buns crafted out of brown rice flour and sesame.


E&O Wood Grilled Burger: Brown rice flour sesame bun, sriracha aioli, green papaya salad. I added white cheddar and fried egg.

This is the first time in ages that I actually enjoy eating meat. The patty was soooo juicy I was melting on the spot. It was perfectly grilled and perfectly salted to the point where the slightest bite of the tender patty oozes yet even thicker juices in the mouth. There were minimal hints of umami, which I like, overpowered by the pickles and the aromatic Thai-style papaya salad I added to the burger as I bite. If there’s any one meat dish I’m forced to eat everyday for a year, I’d pick this platter without a second thought.

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At the end of the day, while on our flight back to Jakarta, my mother said she thinks I need a vacation to the States once every year to let off steam. There’s the hypothetical question of me ended up living in Frisco for the long haul, or me applying for a green card. I can imagine the many natural stress-relievers there would be, but I would still miss the most important ingredient of my life (family and friends).

Jakarta is a pretty stressful city to live in if you’re not a big fan of carbon monoxide and traffic congestion. You can always survive in the city with a lot of careful planning and a resilient mind, but because I’m not a very tolerant person yet, I tend to get angry a lot on the road because people tend to think the yellow light means it’s green, and that they can just take over my lane as long as the clock keeps ticking. As time goes by, my patience for motorcyclers have increased, so that’s one good thing. During my first year adapting to the life in Jakarta back in the second half of 2012, it was beyond stressful – I was petrified.

For someone who’s already made it a habit to sabotage herself and always blaming herself for the big and small mishaps of life, it was by no means a torturous period for me. I think I burned out again. I literally missed my period like I did back in 2010-2011, and my head seems to sting at longer intervals each time. It all snowballed to the horrible months I’ve went through before this trip, when I suffered so many nights of insomnia and constantly sleeping late and waking late. Its damaging effects have well extended beyond me and onto my relationships, and while I never spend more than USD 1,000.00 a month on shopping, I developed this bad habit of attaching my self-worth to material goods. I never used to, and I blamed myself for that negative habit. It’s all an endless cycle of self-judgment and self-punishment. It’s frustrating and most of the time, all I really need was a walk, although I’d always prefer a good run.

Will outside situations and circumstances change after this mini letting-off-steam trip? Of course not. I can’t just lace up, grab my keys, and go out for a good run here in my hometown, but because I’ve blown major steam during this trip, I can now remind myself that intelligence isn’t fixed, smartness is learned, and that I can deal with stress better if I want to. Going back to SF and be reminded by such rush I get from little pleasures have certainly energized me with a broader perspective and given me much more room to become even more resilient about this thing called life.

I’m blessed, I’m thankful God’s restored my health and turned my snarled sleeping schedule around, and somehow, I’m sure I’ll be running back to the States again when the opportunity comes.



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via Annoying Orange


  1. Fun fact: Some of the biggest players in the sports industry are based in Oregon, namely Nike, Columbia sportswear, and Garmin. []

June 2014: Link love


Note: Seriously, it’s challenging for me to round up all the amazingness of the Internet into 5 links like I first did last month. The web is like a sponge that absorbs every fiber of you, and because of that, all I want to do is filter out content 24/7 without eating, showering, and sleeping (that sounds gross). Nevertheless, I’m adamant about keeping Stillwater a place where I attempt to keep the well-rounded woman’s best interests in mind, injected with irrelevant anecdotal information from me, of course. So here goes, my favorite links of this month:



1. Your future self will thank you: 6 proven hacks to increase self-control. [Refinery29]

2. Why, thank you: The 10 beauty compliments every girl loves. [BYRDIE]

3. June 2014: Hot new book releases. [POPSUGAR Love & Sex]

4. Unapologetic’s the word: 27 things happy girls have. [Thought Catalog]

5. The Big Eat 2014: 100 foods to try in San Francisco before you die. [7x7]

6. Amazing: 25 photos that will make you want to visit Indonesia. [Airows]



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 via Refinery29 / BYRDIE / POPSUGAR Love & Sex / Thought Catalog / 7×7 / Airows


Stocking up my cups of tea


Aside from upgrading my beauty bag during my recent trip to the States, I also trawled varieties my daily drug (in teabag forms) that I thought I’d share with you. Let me cover briefly what I use them for and how they can do wonders for your wellbeing.


  • Premium Japanese green tea by Choice Organic Teas

    Unless you’re still living in the caveman era, you’ve probably heard that green tea provides tons of health benefits for you. I’ve been drinking the tea every day ever since I was 13, and today, I drink it mainly for cardiovascular health and endurance purposes. This selection from Choice has a very rich, grassy aroma to it that I particularly like. You’ll love it if you’re a purist.


  • Organic green tea lemongrass by Traditional Medicinals

    So far a teabag of this has been my daily pick-me-up. I love how it’s so lemony (almost as if it’s aromatherapy when you sniff it while it’s brewing) and yet still retain the original earthy undertones of green tea. Citral, the compound that lends lemongrass its therapeutic scent, also contains anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties that boosts your gut health.

    Aside from repelling mosquitoes, citral, according to an Israeli research, also triggers apoptosis of cancer cells, which is sweet to have pervading throughout your body. Read more on the health benefits of lemongrass here, courtesy of SFGate.


  • Mandarin orange green tea by Lipton

    This one was highly recommended by my older brother, who usually enjoys drinking oolong (yeap, tea runs in the family). He said I must try it and that I won’t regret buying it. I thought, heck, even if I did regret it, it’ll only cost me 4 bucks. So I tried it and finally ended up loving something from Lipton. I’m sick of the prevalent Lipton black teas already, so this is something refreshing. I still love the lemongrass concoction by Traditional Medicinals better though.

  • Honey lemon ginseng green tea by Celestial Seasonings

    Ever since I found out my hair keeps falling out (I used to have super thick hair), I’ve been incorporating more TCM in my regimen than I’ve ever been. When before I used to puke at the first kick of ginseng, now I seek to savor it and learn to love it for its adaptogenic properties.

    This is one unique selection from Celestial Seasonings, a brand I always pick up during my grocery trips to Walgreens back then. According to the official site, one tea bag contains: Green tea, white tea, eleuthero, natural lemon and honey flavors with other natural flavors (soy lecithin), licorice, lemon verbena, roasted chicory, ginger, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), orange blossoms, honey and Asian ginseng – that’s a whole lot of beneficial ingredients to boost your energy.

    I find one cup of this a treat, just because 2 sips is enough to make me fully awake and alert in the morning, without the instant kick you get from coffee, of course. There are mild flavors of fresh herbs, naturally sweet flavors, a very smooth blend for its green tea-white tea base, along with very little hints of ginseng. It’s slow-rising but provides you steady levels of energy for hours. If you’re thinking of incorporating the popular remedy into your routine, this is a good place to start.


  • Ginkgo Biloba & red Panax ginseng tea by Prince of Peace

    When it comes to bulking up my TCM regimen, ginkgo biloba is my new friend. Numerous studies have shown it’s great for enhancing concentration, upping your working memory and overall cognition. In fact, it is great for your whole nervous system because it inhibits norepinephrine reuptake, a neurotransmitter and stress hormone that increases blood flow, glucose levels, as well as regulating mood and improving attention.

    What I love about this tea is its cooling floral notes from the chrysanthemum. It completely offsets the bitter base of the herbs. They all blend well, and it’s nice that you can sip this at night because it’s 100% caffeine-free.

  • Licorice spice tea by STASH Herbal Tea Company

    According to Dr. Peter D’Adamo’s blood type diet, it’s great for me as a blood type B to supplement with licorice to maintain digestive health and keep my liver happy. Honestly I really don’t like how sweet it is, like that of nutmeg and cinnamon, so I added a bit of ACV (apple cider vinegar) with its tannic flavors and some lemon squeeze.

    Proponents have also suggested how the root is effective for increasing fertility in women, and ever since I’ve had that year off without menstruation in 2010-2011 (due to severe stress), I’ve been really proactive in finding ways to do just that. To find out more on licorice and its health-giving properties, see here, courtesy of


A TWG Tea update


All the exclusive white tea blends of TWG Tea are based on the silver tea leaves of Yin Zhen,

If you’ve been around for a while, you know I’m trying to do the impossible: I want to try out all the 800-something blends of the TWG Tea collection. This is how I picked up the latest addition to my list …

I was really happy with my previous white tea blend, the N6172 White Happy Tea, as I feel much more calmer on days I drink the blend in contrast with on days that I don’t. It has mild, slightly floral undertones that sends me that perfect “ahhh” feeling without the excessive bitterness associated with teas.

Maybe it’s the massive amount of antioxidants washing away the toxins out of my system (white teas are the least processed variety of them all, thereby preserving the most antioxidants and providing the least caffeine among other varieties), but I tend to sleep better when I drink white tea instead of green and/or black.

On my recent visit to the boutique, the TWG staff was pretty helpful in assisting me with their offerings, as always. Frankly, if I have all the money in the world, I would’ve bought all 15 blends of their white teas … but I ended up choosing the N6140 White Mist Tea. The silver stuff is welded with lover’s blossoms and cupid’s arrows, making it super fragrant, and what’s particularly alluring to me was its rosy aroma. It’s very feminine, the ideal pick for me to wind down along with a good book.

As you can see, the needle-like leaves are relatively longer than your usual black and green teas. They’re really pretty, don’t you think?


Even as I’m typing this, I’m brewing a cup beside me. I may have bought 100g, an amount that can normally last me up to about 6 months. But I just bought this about 4 to 5 weeks ago, so you can imagine (or not) how many cups a day of the White Mist I’ve enjoyed per evening. It works as a sedative as it really soothes me on an emotional level.

With the N6140 White Mist Tea in hand, here’s an update of the TWG Tea selections I’ve collected so far:

N6140 White Mist Tea

☑ N4003 Jasmine Pearls Tea

☑ N6003 Comptoir des Indes Tea

☑ N6051 Love Me Tea

☑ N6172 White Happy Tea


-_- Right … so that’s five down, hundreds to go. I think I’m gonna have to be 120 of age to have tried them all. We’ll see.



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Recent haul, and a review of SK-II’s LXP Ultimate Perfecting Cream


If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ll know I recently went on a vacation to the States. This means a chance for a beauty bag makeover and fill in all the good stuff that aren’t available in Indonesia (yet).


The multi-purpose organic virgin coconut oil from Simple Truth (USD 17.99)
100% pure & natural rose hip seed oil from NOW Foods (USD 6.99)
 Eucalyptus essential oil by Aura Cacia (USD 6.99)
 The popular EOS smooth sphere lip balm in Sweet Mint (USD 3.29) (see all flavors)
100% natural acne solutions pore refining scrub by Burt’s Bees (USD 10.00)
 The classic Great Lash mascara by Maybelline in Very Black (USD 6.40)
 My can’t-live-without bareMinerals original foundation by Bare Escentuals (USD 27.00)
 T00 Faced’s chocolate bar (USD 49.00) (yay!! crossing off this item on this wish list)
 Caviar anti-aging dry shampoo by ALTERNA (USD 22.00)
Retinol Fusion PM by Peter Thomas Roth (USD 65.00)
 AHA/BHA acne-clearing gel by Peter Thomas Roth (USD 54.00)
ExfoliKate intensive exfoliating treatment by Kate Somerville (USD 85.00)


As you can see, the goodies cover everything from nature’s beautifiers, drugstore buys, and some of Sephora many bestsellers. I went a little crazy while raiding every section in Sephora, stuffing things into my beauty basket every now and then. Each time before I make a beeline for the cashier, I corner myself on the side and examine the stuff in the basket that I don’t really need, discarding them sadly. But overall I’m pretty happy with the stuff I got, and I got to pick 3 amazing samples to boot.


The ever-popular hope in a jar by Philosophy
PHOTODYNAMIC therapy eye lift lotion by DERMADoctor
Oil-free, mattifying priming perfector by BECCA


Really, really sadly, I was raised from my previous Beauty Insider status to the exclusive VIB status right on the last day before I leave for Jakarta. Why was it sad? BECAUSE IT EARNS ME 3 FINGER-LICKIN’ OFFERS ON MY NEXT PURCHASE: 1) 10% OFF EVERYTHING, A COMPLIMENTARY MAKEOVER BY THE PROS, AND FREE SHIPPING FOR MY ORDER!!! And I can’t get all 3 offers only because I no longer live in the Bay Area … Le sigh.


For now, though, I’m super excited to try on all these products and anticipate the results. The first thing I got my hands on was Alterna’s dry shampoo, which is nice because I’m falling out a massive amount of hair these days, and I’m trying my best to avoid washing it without my scalp getting all itchy and oily.

If you’ve read the blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m now aware of the ingredients section of all cosmetic products. I’ve promised you a list of nasty things I always try to avoid, which will come out soon, but keep in mind that there will always be exceptions to the rule. Some of the products I bought here do contain traces of the harmful chemicals I try to avoid, but I don’t make a big fuss about it. For the most part, these chemicals were actually meant to serve as stabilizers so the active ingredients of the product won’t disintegrate and lose their potency by the time you get your hands on them. That said, as long as they take the backseat on the ingredients list, I don’t mind as much.



Now let’s jump right in to the review.


I’ve been using the cult favorite SK-II product, the Facial Treatment Essence (FTE), as well as a few other SK-II products for over a year now. There was a period where I stop using them altogether just because I didn’t see the regime as a long-term thing. In addition to that, the brand seems to be targeting women age 40+ since it first came out.

Despite seeing improvements over my first 3-4 months, I dropped it all and resort to other brands that claim to work faster when it comes to improving and protecting the overall health of my skin. But they didn’t last long

Often, I find these fast-acting products can only work so much in the first few weeks, then they stall off until the problems appear again. Some have even left my skin worse than before, as I did with a product that completely dried off my already-sensitive skin, and that’s when I went back to incorporate SK-II slowly into my regime, and there’s never been a day gone by without a dose of Pitera ever since.

With skincare products, you know you can only incorporate new routines once in a while, even if the new products belong to the same skincare line as the one you already trust. I gave it a full year before I try any creams from SK-II. Before, I’ve only used the FTE, the clear lotion, the much-acclaimed masks, and the cleanser.

As it was the first item on my ultimate list of products I want to try this year, I finally got myself the Cate Blanchett-endorsed LXP Ultimate Perfecting Cream about 3 months ago, which came along with these fabulous samples.


Honestly, I haven’t touched an ounce of these samples even after all these months. They’re still sitting in my drawer all new and polished. I just thought it’d be great to see and compare results from the different creams that SK-II carries, so I plan to only use them once I finish my LXP Ultimate Perfecting Cream, and I’m almost halfway there by now.

Unboxing the rose-gold package, you’ll find a heavy, bigass cream along with a spatula underneath.



The spatula was meant to help you extract a pearl-sized amount of the cream, which would suffice to moisturize your whole face. It’s supposed to be standing on your dressing table all pretty like this.


However, I find the spatula totally unnecessary, seeing how fast I like my skincare routine to go and how redundant the step is. You have to clean it after using it, remember?


So let’s get right to the bottom of it: This has been a gargantuan step in terms of my moisturizing routine. It’s also a risky one, considering the premium price and all. If it doesn’t work, I’ll be wasting my dough, and I’ve been using the more commercial Vitamin E range from The Body Shop for many years. But the good news is, I’m so glad I’ve taken that giant leap that I’m even considering replacing my FTE routine with the LXP essence instead. It’s a huge price tag, but it’s well worth it.

If you haven’t been informed, SK-II’s LXP series is exclusive in the way that its products contain 8 times more Pitera content than any other SK-II products. This means the whole range (the essence, the serum, and the cream) has the most Pitera-concentrated products out of any other SK-II range. Sounds too good to be true? Well, read on.

For starters, the LXP Ultimate Perfecting Cream has the thickest, silkiest, cloudiest consistency ever. When the instructions say a pearl-sized is enough, a pearl-sized is really more than enough - I got the all-day hydration I need without the icky grease. I have an oily/combination skin, and I love that the cream is balancing out the whole tone and texture instead of just adding more density to my sometimes dry, sometimes oily face.

On a less brighter note, the rough patches of my skin didn’t instantly disappear, and it took over a week to see that the red blotches and other irritated areas to calm themselves down and even out. The cream also does nothing to prevent the breakouts from happening. But please note that all these high expectations I have weren’t part of the many things the cream was compounded to do.

sk-ii-treatment-essence-water-elementsI admit, its claims are pretty vague (‘ultimate treatment for skin’, ‘enhance skin’s vitality and structure’, ‘strengthens skin’s moisture barrier’), but SK-II promises results that encompasses all five dimensions of crystal clear skin: It works to improve texture, increase radiance and firmness, even out skin tone, as well as building wrinkle resilience.

With time and diligence, the cream did its magic to reveal an overall healthier look – my skin seems to be more tolerant with the air pollutants that usually cause itchiness and/or mild redness. Also, even without much sleep, I still wake up with a more rested-looking skin than before. This only happens around week 3, and the results only get better over time (it gets softer, suppler, a more even tone).

But best of all? It removes the first signs of aging I’m starting to see in the area around my eyes. Yes, it wasn’t written on the factsheet, but I dab excess of the cream around my eyes every night. After more than half a year of little to no sleep, I’ve summoned the premature lines, bags, and dark circles quite quickly. But thanks to the LXP Ultimate Perfecting Cream, the nasty things that easily made me look 10 years my senior are all but gone. It’s as if every application does the job of slowly but surely erasing the fine lines.

Here’s the deal: You definitely can’t see the improvements on a day to day basis, as I’ve only noticed the drastic improvements recently when I stumbled upon a selfie I took a few weeks before I started using the cream. But I assure you, this cream really works when it comes to conditioning your skin to combat against aging. You just have to give it time.

I’m willing to bet that you’re not going to regret making the big purchase for the LXP Ultimate Perfecting Cream, especially if you’re already in your 30s. Be patient, wait it out, and let me know how kind your skin is treating you in the next few months.



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My thoughts on About A Girl by Lindsey Kelk


“This will not be the first time anyone’s said this to you, but there isn’t enough time to waste in this life. So don’t.”

About A Girl
Page Count: 416
Release Date: July 4, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-0074-9798-0
eISBN: 978-0-0074-9799-7
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Chick Lit

Official blurb:

Tess Brookes has always been a Girl with a Plan. But when the Plan goes belly up, she’s forced to reconsider. After accidently answering her flatmate Vanessa’s phone, she decides that since being Tess isn’t going so well, she might try being Vanessa. With nothing left to lose, she accepts Vanessa’s photography assignment to Hawaii – she used to be an amateur snapper, how hard can it be? Right? But Tess is soon in big trouble. And the gorgeous journalist on the shoot with her, who is making it very clear he’d like to get into her pants, is an egotistical monster. Far from home and in someone else’s shoes, Tess must decide whether to fight on through, or ‘fess up and run …

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