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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Flour Sifter

When baking a cake, the recipe always calls for sifted flour and most people question why. Back in olden days, people sifted flour to remove impurities like insects and husks so this step was necessary. These days, devoted bakers still sieve flour in order to (1) Aerate it, making the batter lighter and (2) Remove any flour clumps, so the flour is evenly distributed throughout the cake.




Most chefs use the sieve below as it's versatile and can be used for other prep work. But, I find the vintage flour sieve with manual crank to be the best option. It comes with a grip action crank or rotating action crank.

At home I use a flour sifting pan, it's like a chef's sieve but bigger. To sieve the flour, you have to hit the sides like you're playing the tambourine.
Electrical flour sifters are also sold in stores although I am not sure what for as it only takes a few moments to get it done. Maybe its meant for bakeries and cafes that are short staffed, so they can switch it on and walk away.





Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Leg Cooling Gel

After being on my feet all day for something like shopping, it's usually swollen and overheated. So I apply some cooling gel and turn on the air-con, a really effective way of relieving discomfort in the legs especially after playing sports.


I used to get Gena Pedi Ice from my old pedicure place, 250ml for S$35. It's mainly made from menthol and eucalyptus to soothe and lightly cool your legs for hours. More recently, a newer product that came in the Oct trove is Audrey Christian's Venetrim, 150ml for S$79. Made from horse chestnut extract, butcher's broom and several other ingredients to strengthen veins, cool legs down and drain away excess fluids that cause swelling, almost like a treatment to prevent varicose veins with regular use.



Monday, October 29, 2012

Coca Steamboat Restaurant



Steamboat is the best place to pig out with friends and we like Coca Restaurant for the general good food, service and convenient location at Ngee Ann City, outside Takashimaya.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Strawberrynet Purchase



I was out of facial toner so I logged onto Strawberrynet to purchase a new bottle and lo and behold, there was a double freebie giveaway. Strawberrynet was having a Bizrate promo wtih free purple plush pouch and a Diwali promo with free Bourjois concealer (full size of course), both with minimum purchase of USD$ 25. 


I purchased my Lancome Confort Tonique tagged at S$34 instead of the usual S$42, after my loyalty discounts it came to about S$31 and got the 2 freebies sent to me as well. Nice surprise from Strawberrynet yet again.


I am absolutely loving the cosmetics pouch that comes in plush metallic purple material with a cute little strawberry charm and the Bourjois concealer comes in a rollerball applicator that makes the application easier and cooler on the skin, one of these offers is still ongoing until 30th of Oct (this month). Lancome toner is a full 200ml size duly shrink-wrapped as its new. Delivery was really quick too, I made the order on 20th and received the package on 25th, within 4 working days.




Saturday, October 27, 2012

Luxury Sample Sale Websites



Sample sales started as flash sales by luxury labels and high-end retailers to clear samples made for runways or buyers. Today, it's just a way of getting rid of past season stock. The most widely anticipated event in Singapore is Club 21's that appears only once every few years and shockingly enough offer up to 85% off retail prices. I've been to a few and always manage to get serious bargains although I have to say that it is only for experienced shoppers as the crowds and speed at which goods move can be overwhelming for a newbie. *Sale on this weekend at the F1 pit building.


Alternatively, there are online sample sale sites that are a lot more comfortable both for the consumer and the retailer. We can shop at our convenience comfortably at home or in the office and retailers don't have dozens of people pawing their goods. 


There are quite a few foreign sample sale sites. But, the ones I frequent most often are:
Gilt.com - sells clothes, accessories, holidays and activities based in America.
RueLaLa.com - sells a wide range of goods from mid to high-end labels.
Ideeli.com - has an Oprah's selection tab featuring retailers recommended on her shows.

*updated on 4 Aug 2013* These sites don't ship international or to freight forwarding addresses anymore.


Local sample sale sites:
CloutShoppe - Has pop-up sales in addition to regular listed merchandise for sale.
Reebonz - pop-up sales of mid-range to designer labels, activities and holidays.
HauteAvenue - mid to luxury label pop-up sale site.



Friday, October 26, 2012

Homemade Stocking Stuffers



Homemade Christmas presents of soaps, bath soaks, candles and accessories. I counted 80 items that is way more than the number of relatives and neighbors I actually have. Gift tags made with all my leftover scrap-booking stickers.



Thursday, October 25, 2012

Missoni Hotel



Missoni the fashion house is also a player in the hoteling industry, having setup two 5-star full-service hotels in Edinburgh and Kuwait. Surprised that a pret-a-porter label has done so? It's with good reason as Missoni is known for its knits and colourful zigzag patterns, easily translatable into a new type of hotel experience for guests.


 Missoni has a line of soft furnishings, so if inspired by the decor, you can setup your own home with the same.



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cricut Cake Decorating Machine



Scrapbookers will be familiar with Cricut, a printer-like machine that does precision cutting of paper to achieve different embellishments, borders etc. Recently, Cricut released its cake decorating machine, a device to cut pastry into intricate designs, so you can cut fondant embellishments for your cake or intricately shaped cookies.


Unfortunately, this device is not available in Singapore yet and can only be purchased from Williams Sonoma as an internet only exclusive, S$400 for machine and basic cake decorating shapes cartridge. Cricut website sells a mini cake cutter package for S$312, formerly an exclusive for Jo Ann's. The Martha Stewart version was seen on HSN the home shopping network earlier this year, but I think is already sold out. It would probably cost S$100 to use an escrow service to ship to Singapore. 


Making the everyday an event, this machine creates professional looking embellishments instantly at home and the variations are endless as additional cartridges like Martha Stewart's Seasonal S$105 or Birthday S$50 can be purchased to load into the machine. I read the reviews online and some mentioned that ordinary Cricut cartridges work on the cake machine (don't know if that is true), these are cheaper starting from S$20.


Frankly, I prefer this over cake printing machines, even though you can get photo quality printouts onto icing. This machine is great value as just 1 professionally made wedding/birthday cake can cost as much as this machine + cartridges. Making this a good investment for suburban moms who will be serving up homemade cakes on all occasions for years to come.

* updated on 24 Oct 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Colour Correcting Base



Sometimes putting on makeup is like painting a picture, you use different colours to achieve the skin tone you want and I have been using colour correcting bases since I first started on makeup. The coloured fluid goes on your face before foundation and powder. It may seem strange to put on a coloured fluid when you try so hard to find a foundation and powder that matches your skin tone, but is worth it for the end effect. Also used as an alternative to concealer or foundation.


Pearly White is the most popular base used by women to create a radiant, glowing complexion. Guerlain Meteorites Perfect White Light Perfecting Base, S$85.


Pink base is seldom used by Asian women. It creates a ruddier complexion and is used by fairer girls who want a healthy, rosy look. Shiseido White Lucent Brightening Control Base, S$45.


Violet or Purple is made for Chinese skin that has yellow tones. It neutralizes yellow, making the skin appear more white and fair. Biotherm White D-Tox Makeup Base SPF30 in Violet, S$68.


Green bases are an essential item on my makeup table. It offsets redness caused by overexposure to sun or any bright red pimples. Also widely used by people who suffer from rosacea or acne. Beauty Credit Somang Danahan bundled with foundation. You can try Biotherm White D-Tox Makeup Base SPF30 in Green, S$68.


Yellow bases lighten darker shades like bruises or dark under eye rings. Palgantong Correcting Base with SPF25 $22.50 or Benefit Lemon-aid S$48.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Pique Nique



New cafe at Takashimaya where McDonald's used to be, is Pique-Nique run by the Antoinette people. Expect all day breakfast like bangers & mash, french toast, waffles, croque monsieur and really awesome desserts. The macaroons are just bursting with ganache and lovely layered cakes like the passionfruit meringue I had are superbly executed. I slurped it all down with a PB&J milkshake.



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Samples by Mail


More free samples by mail.


L'oreal sent me a tube of Lucent Magique BB cream that is a pearly white colour correcting base. I tried it and have to say you should only put a tiny little bit each time, too much and it cakes. I was surprised there is a colour correcting BB cream as opposed to the usual skin coloured varieties.


Palmer's Fade Cream for sensitive skin. It's texture is creamy but when rubbed into the skin, it seems to be unevenly absorbed and the lumps have to be massaged in. Online reviewers say it works on regular use, I think its not meant for major scars but rather uneven skin tone and that sort of thing.


Manon Olive Oil meant to be used for a variety of purposes like cleanser and blemish cream. It's widely sold but I have never tried it before. Hhmmm... (*updated on 24 Oct 2012)


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pianos



I've always wanted a grand piano but of course a normal standing piano works just as well and fits better into the small spaces of my home. As I grew up, my requirements started to change and I wanted an auto-playing piano so I can listen to piano music without actually putting in any effort. Along with a few other features that Yamaha has put together in it's Disklavier series of pianos, the professionals choice.

The top of the line Yamaha Disklavier records and playback your performance, auto-play some 400 pieces that Yamaha has installed in it and the DCFX Mark IV version allows for remote teacher/student lessons, live performance and live collaboration remotely. No word on pricing but expect to pay around S$150,000 (pic above).

Cristofori Examination Model S$5,900 

If you are looking to start piano lessons, a brand new piano starts from about S$5,000 and used pianos from half that. Not exactly cheap for a musical instrument but then again it is the only instrument that covers all the notes.

Tocayo GP2 used Grand Piano S$12,800

Some resources you might be interested in:
Pianoshop.sg - Connects buyers and sellers for new or old musical instruments, accessories and books. Wide variety of brands available.
Usedpiano.sg - online portal connecting sellers and buyers of used pianos, as well as other services like tuning.
Renner Piano Co - sells Stainberg & Song and Elington pianos.
Robert Piano Co - sells 12 different brands of pianos, including lessons and examinations.
Pianomaster.com.sg - Carries 8 different brands of pianos.
Cristofori - Music school and carries several brands of pianos including it's own house brand.

Petrof Upright Piano P 118 R1 S$20,000


Friday, October 19, 2012

Homemade Pizza



Homemade pizza but I didn't have yeast on hand so I used baking soda and it turned out like cake. It's just pizza dough covered in tomato paste, topped with mushrooms and salami then drizzled with olive oil and shredded cheese. Simple and quick comfort food.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Versace Hotels



You may have heard that Gianni Versace's home in Miami has been turned into a boutique hotel. The actual brand itself, now helmed by his sister Donatella, has also opened hotels in Gold Coast and Dubai called Palazzo Versace.


In classic Versace style, everything is Renaissance Baroque and comes in either colourful jewel-tones or monochrome. It's like living in a palace with all the modern comforts and star treatment from the hotel staff. We can all get used to this.




Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Countertops



I just realize the most frequently used countertop material in Singapore is Laminates. It's cheap, easy to fit and provides several other common sense benefits like heat resistance, durability and easy to clean. It also comes in a whole range of designs and colours to match your kitchen design. My kitchen countertops are 20 years old and you wouldn't know that just by looking at it.


Traditional country style kitchens use ceramic tiles (above) or wood (below). Tiles create a really fun and pretty look as you can play with colours and designs. Especially nice if you have a Hacienda-style home. However, it is not as durable, uneven so you need to set crockery down carefully and grout will build-up so you need to give it a good scrubbing once a year.


Wood countertops give kitchens a warm rustic feel. If you protect it with a glaze than you worry about harsh chemicals mixing with your food, without the glaze the wood will get chipped, burned from hot pots etc. Best to use reclaimed wood that is already imperfect.


Granite, a common high-end choice that looks as gorgeous as it is functional. Granites (pic above) as opposed to Marble (pic below) are extremely durable, heat resistant, easy to clean. Natural stones tend to be cooler to the touch and stay that way even in hot weather. It is a dream to work desserts on as you can craft chocolate and candy, cool pastries and dry out springerle and fondant cutouts on it.


Quartz or Onyx countertops (picture below) are quite rare and my absolute favourite choice. It has all the benefits of granite and comes in beautiful shades and colours. Naturally, it is more expensive as well, much more expensive.


If you have a catering kitchen or want an industrial look in your home, surgical grade stainless steel is an obvious choice, utilitarian, tough and easy to maintain. It is used in all commercial kitchens.


For a sleek, contemporary look there is a newer product on the market that I see in all the new condos. Something called resin I think. It is like plastic, artificial, non-reactive and comes in any colour you want in a high-gloss finish. I say it is the new laminate.


I can't help but touch on glass countertops as it's always found in modern designer homes. These new glass countertops have quite a few advantages like heat-resistance, no chemicals used so it's food-safe. Nice alternative to bear in mind when re-doing your kitchen.


Pyrolave is a specialty countertop made from volvic lava stone extracted in Auvergne, France. The material can be coloured in any shade you desire and comes in pre-ordered slabs much like granite. It is heat-resistant and non-reactive. Good for outdoor kitchens as it's colours are UV resistant and the material itself is weather-proof.