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:

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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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.
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  • 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 herbwisdom.com.

 
 
 

A TWG Tea update

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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?

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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).

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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.

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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.

vib

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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?

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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 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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Lovely supper at Le Signature

 

I first heard about this hideaway from Ivy a while ago. Just the whole fine dining experience in Pantai Indah Kapuk itself, which is rare in the area, has piqued my interest.

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Added with the fact that it’s tucked away in seclusion from the busy main road of Jalan Marina Raya1 , I could only grow even more curious. So the other day I finally went to try out Le Signature, and it was simply a pleasure.

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Footnote(s):
  1. turn left at Do It Best PONG Home Center, continue straight and you’ll see Bubur Sapo Bun Ong on your left, then you’ll see Sun Merry Bakery & Cafe ahead of you, and Le Signature right beside it []