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Christmas 2021 Recap: Of Food, Friends and the Spirit of Gifting

Anddddd just like that, another year has gone by.

I have much to be thankful for as I bid adieu to the old and welcome the new. Although it wasn’t a great start to 2021 – what with extended lockdowns due to the pandemic, job uncertainty and a general feeling of being stuck in limbo – things picked up towards the final quarter; the highlight being that my husband and I were finally able to reunite after almost two years apart from each other. He had to spend Christmas in quarantine, but we were able to usher in the new year together – and that for me has been the best present ever.

While waiting for the hubs to finish quarantine, I busied myself with preparations, finishing up work for my old job (I’m starting a new job tomorrow!), and catching up with old friends – which helped keep my nervous energy to a minimum. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

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November to December is typically monsoon season, and floods often occur on the east coast of West Malaysia, due to their proximity to the South China Sea. It is rare for serious floods to occur on the west coast, where I live, as we’re protected from most bad weather, thanks to the Indonesian islands. On 18 December, however, a continuous heavy downpour (it rained almost non-stop for more than 24 hours) caused by a tropical depression caused parts of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur to be inundated by floods.

The flooding was so severe that in some cases, homes in low lying areas were completely submerged up until the second floor. In total, 50 people across the different states lost their lives. People were extremely angry with the government, as they were ill prepared and the response was slow – leaving victims to fend for themselves, and some lost their lives while waiting for help that was too slow to come. But where the government failed, it was heartening to see how ordinary Malaysians from all walks of life banded together to help each other, with volunteers risking their lives and bringing their own boats to help with search and rescue.

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My brother and I did our own little part by volunteering to pack vegetarian food, to be distributed to victims at relief centres. The activity was organised by the Kuala Lumpur Chung De Confucian Association, of which my brother’s ex-lecturer is a member – that’s how we came to know about it. We were up early to head to May Yen Vegetarian Restaurant in Kepong, KL, where we joined a group of mostly young volunteers to pack 900 packets of lunch boxes.

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The kitchen was sweltering hot, and there was little space to maneuver about. It was a bit chaotic in the beginning, but once we had coordinated the roles, things moved quickly – there was a team assigned to ladling food (tofu, mock meat, vegetables and rice) into plastic containers, another team assigned to putting garnish and sealing off the lunch boxes, and yet another in charge of packing them into plastic bags for transport. We didn’t really have much chance to mingle as everyone was focused on completing their tasks as quickly as possible, but it was a good experience nonetheless.

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As of the time of this writing, flood victims are still in need of help, so it would be good to donate either monetary assistance or in the form of goods, if you’re not able to be on-ground for relief efforts.

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That aside, I’ve been taking time to catch up with old friends. Shopped for gifts for a few close friends, and also met up with G, a high school friend of mine whom I’ve been friends with for over 18 years. We don’t always get to hangout since she’s based in Ipoh, but we managed to have a quick catchup session. I think she badly needed some alone time that didn’t involve bringing her kid along.

Motherhood is an immense sacrifice – I think a lot of mothers give so much of themselves to their child, that they lose who they are as a person. I’m not here to judge, but that shouldn’t be how it is, even though society often expects it of mothers – and it’s sad that in Malaysian society, we still have this mentality. A healthy environment should involve a mother having the proper support to raise her child, but also the freedom to stay true to her own dreams.

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Anyway, I brought her to 1Utama and we ended up at Rocku Yakiniku, a Japanese-style BBQ buffet that offers free flow of various cuts of meat and seafood, including lamb, chicken, beef, pork, shrimp and squid. I’ve been here several times, including once solo for my birthday celebration (yes, I celebrated my birthday by gorging on a BBQ buffet alone. lol), and they’ve never failed to disappoint. This time was no exception, and I think we got back our money’s worth.

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We got to 1Utama pretty late, so I was starving. While waiting for the charcoal brazier to heat up, I got some quick bites – stir-fried udon, samosas, hams and fried dumplings. I know you’re not supposed to eat a lot of these at a buffet, coz they’ll fill up space in your stomach quickly, but the fried dumplings were exceptionally good.

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Two things that I recommend: the enoki mushrooms, and the scallops. They come served in small aluminium bowls that you can heat directly over the grill. The former has butter, which brings out the rich, natural sweetness of the mushrooms; the latter comes swimming in a clear, sweet broth, with sizable scallops that squirt juice forth with each bite.

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Another thing about Rocku Yakiniku: the shrimps are huge. Just eating the shrimps alone will give you your money’s worth, since shrimps of this size are usually expensive. They’re not marinated, but they’re fresh and juicy, and the grill highlights the meat’s natural sweetness.

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The meat selection is great too, especially if you eat it with fresh lettuce, which cuts through the greasiness.

Our meal for two came up to RM120, inclusive of drinks. Quite a reasonable price, given the amount we ate, the variety, and the service.

ROCKU YAKINIKU (1UTAMA)

F.355, F.356 & F.357, First Floor, Rainforest, No. 1, Lebuh Bandar Utama, Bandar Utama, 47800 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Opening hours: 11AM – 10PM (Daily)

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Dropped G back at her house and took the chance to play with her cats.

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And that was how I spent my Christmas! It was a great one, all things considered.

Here’s to a great 2022 ahead!

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All I Want For Christmas Is … A Lush Advent Calendar

With Christmas around the corner, now’s the time to start prepping gifts. My wish is simple this year. I want a Lush Advent Calendar.

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Have You Seen Their Gorgeous Box?

I’m a sucker for beautiful packaging — and the design of the Lush Advent Calendar can’t be prettier. Inspired by a magical midnight wonderland, London-based designer Sally Kelly has created a vibrant piece bursting with colourful florals and rich detail. The reusable trunk is also made from 100% recycled materials, so you can repurpose it for storage and even gifting. Definitely something I’d be proud to have in my room as both a decorative and practical piece of furniture.

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Lush Products, Duh

I love Lush products, not just for their quality and creative offerings, but their stance on sustainability. Each Lush Advent Calendar comes with 25 vegan products to discover, one for every day and night leading up to Christmas Day. It’s like celebrating Christmas, right up til Christmas! If you’re the impatient kind, you can always just open all of them at once. 😛

Take a trip down memory lane with four retro products from Lush Christmas past, like the Cinder Bath Bomb, Christmas Penguin Bubble Bar and Keep It Fluffy Perfume; or try out the six new products that are exclusively available in the Lush Advent Calendar, including Kris Mouse Bubble Bar, Merry Christmas Shower Gel, and Sleepy Bath Bomb.

The Lush Advent Calendar will be available online from 18th October at lush.my, and in-stores from 19th October, priced at RM1,299.

Now. Fingers crossed someone will fulfil my wish for me. 😛

*Photos courtesy of LUSH.

*In the spirit of the festive season, why not buy me a cup of coffee on Patreon? 🙂

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DIY Scented Candles Even A Noob Can Make

Like most of my ‘projects’, my first time making DIY scented candles started with a whim: I had a long Christmas break and thought it would be fun to make my own candles at home. Lazada sells convenient candle making kits, most of which are from China. I ordered them in early December, and they came just in time for Christmas!

Although I like artsy stuff, I am not someone who is skillful with my hands – I’m clumsy af, so I suck at things like sewing, weaving, painting, crocheting, embroidery, etc. Fortunately, making candles is relatively easy, or at least easy enough that even I couldn’t mess it up too badly.

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The kit cost me RM65, and came with everything I needed to make eight medium-sized candles, including metal containers (they sported bright, colourful designs), cotton wicks, four packets of soy wax (200g each), a stainless steel jug for melting, sticky tape to fasten the wick to the bottom, wick holders to keep them in place, a stirring spoon, dye blocks as well as four bottles of 10ml fragrances. I think it’s a reasonable price, as after making the candles I still had a lot of wicks left over, and I since I can reuse the equipment, I’d only need to buy wax and fragrances the next time I want to make candles.

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I didn’t want the kitchen smelling like fragrances, so I used the portable butane stove we usually reserve for hotpots. Didn’t have a big stainless steel pot either, so I used a clay pot (necessity is the mother of invention) to double as my boiler. The jug should not be heated directly over the flame as the heat would be too intense for the wax, which would cause it to scorch. Using another pot filled with water helps to ensure a low and steady temperature.

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While waiting for the water to boil, I trimmed the cotton wick and fixed it to the bottom of the container using the included sticky tape. The wick holder can be placed across the top to hold the wick in position when you pour.

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Using the spoon, I stirred the wax until it was completely melted.

Professionals who make candles to sell usually use a thermometer while making their candles, since different types of wax (beeswax, soy wax, paraffin) have different melting points. As I didn’t have one, I just winged it (ie making sure the pot wasn’t bubbling too much).

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Once everything had melted, I added my desired dye and stirred it until the colour was even. Once it had cooled down a little (but not to the point of solidifying, I poured the mix into the containers.

I made a couple of mistakes here.

  1. I added the fragrance right after the dye had melted. The temperature must have been too hot, which caused the fragrance to evaporate (?), so the result was that the throw (how far the scent carries across the room) was pretty weak.
  2. I poured everything in one go, which caused the candles to ‘sink’ in the middle once the wax had cooled. Apparently this is because the wax cools down faster at the sides, since the container is cooler. To avoid this, you’ll either have to keep the containers at a warmer temperature, or use the double pour method, where you first pour 3/4 of your mixture, allow it to cool, then top up with more wax to make the surface more even. I think this is quite a hassle though, as it means you’ll have to keep some of the wax. In my case, I couldn’t do that as I had a bunch of different colours and scents to work on, and only one jug.
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Despite the flaws, I was pretty happy with the end results!

I had four scents: lavender, vanilla, rose and lemon. The scents were actually quite pleasing when I held the candle up to my nose, but as I mentioned, I think I put them in too early so when I lit the candles I couldn’t smell much of the fragrances.

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Gifted a few to a friend as a Christmas present!
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Making my own candles was surprisingly fun (although it did take me three hours and my back felt extremely sore from having to sit on a low stool – sorry lah I’m old lol) , and I did feel a sense of accomplishment even if they didn’t turn out perfect. Maybe once I’ve had a couple more practice runs, I can start making more luxurious candles – like those pretty ones with flowers and stuff.

My candle making kit from Lazada : link

Have you tried making your own candles? Share your tips with me below!

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Merry Christmas!

Christmas has always been my favourite time of the year. Although I don’t celebrate it religiously, I just like the cheer and excitement that comes with the season – the beautiful Christmas decorations, the splendid feasts and festive dishes, the gifts and the gatherings.

The pandemic has certainly put a damper on things, as many people are unable to celebrate the holiday season with their loved ones due to safety/health concerns, work, or travel restrictions. I had been looking forward to my first proper Christmas with N, but since he’s still stuck in the Philippines, we have no choice but to be patient and hope things get better soon. The important thing is that we’re both healthy and safe.

While I wasn’t able to celebrate Christmas with the husband, I still got a bit of low-key celebrating in with a couple of friends. So here’s what I’ve been up to!

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I met up with some ex-colleagues for Christmas brunch, and bought them some pampering items from The Body Shop as gifts.

My office used to have a tradition where we’d all go for a Christmas dinner – usually a buffet at a hotel – where we’d eat and exchange gifts. It’s true what they say about not knowing what you’ve got till it’s gone – I never realised how much I’ve come to enjoy them. It feels a little weird that the company started off with 11 people this year… and now I’m left all by my lonesome. 😦

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More gifts, but for a different group of friends.
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Also took the chance to grab some pampering masks: ChrisZen was having a sale – only RM1 per mask!
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Also, finally managed to clear out the office a couple of days before Christmas. My ex-colleague was supposed to help before he left, but he dropped the ball so I was left to do all of it alone lol.

The main problem was the boxes of electronics and files I had to ship to our main office in Singapore. There were two huge Apple monitors, and I couldn’t find boxes that were big enough to fit them (lesson learned: NEVER throw away your original box). Custom-made boxes are expensive, and it would take time to make them to the required specifications.

In the end, my ex-designer was a lifesaver – she came to the office with two of her friends who do prop-making on the side. They basically cut and put together smaller boxes to make a big one so that the monitors would fit. They also helped to dismantle the wooden cupboard and shelves we had in the office, so I didn’t need to get a lorry service to cart them away. Thanks guys!

I still had to throw a lot of stuff away; 10 boxes of keychains, luggage tags, old magazines, cardboard boxes and stuff. I’m not young anymore so it was torture lugging all the stuff to the big dumpster outside the mall, four floors below. A good workout but my back was killing me for days after lol.

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Rewarded myself for all that hard work @KFry, 1Utama
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Met up with a high school friend, G, who’s back from Ipoh for the holidays. She has three adorable cats. They’re triplets, so they have the same orange and white pattern.

Cats are like people and have unique personalities: which is the case with these three. The oldest, Big Bean, is friendly, playful and affectionate; she loves pets and rubbing on your legs. The middle child, Zhong Fen (Mandarin for ‘centre parting’ – because she has a pattern in the middle of her forehead) is quiet, haughty and antisocial: she shot me a distrustful look when I put out my hand for her to sniff, then promptly turned around and showed me her butt. She also dislikes being manhandled, and protested loudly when my friend’s son tried to hug her.

The youngest, Small Bean, is calm and cool, and likes to observe. The first thing she did after being let out from her cage was jump on top of the fridge, so that she’d have a good view of the surroundings.

I think G’s doing an excellent job with her cats, despite being a first-time owner. They’re all fat, fluffy and clean.

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Zhong Fen
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“Gib pets”: Big Bean
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Christmas Day was spent playing with my DIY candle kit, which I ordered from Lazada. Now, I’m not very good with arts and crafts (or anything that requires working with my hands lol). But the process was actually fairly simple, and I’m happy with the result. Will detail this in a separate post! 🙂

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And finally, I met up with another friend, H, for lunch. It was good to catch up and walk around the mall. Felt almost normal again. The mall was surprisingly empty (we went to Sunway Velocity) – a far cry from how Pavilion KL was over the weekend. The crowd there was crazy. I think people aren’t even worrying about the pandemic anymore. You can’t blame the government when they announce 2,000+ cases if you’re not even practicing social distancing.

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H said: “You’ll probably laugh when you unwrap my present”. Sure enough, I did. It was just really funny that she gift wrapped the Super Rings But it was this simple gift and gesture that, to use the old-fashioned idiom, warmed the cockles of my heart.

So that was my Christmas! I initially wanted to bring a little festive cheer to the house by suggesting we get each other gifts, but was promptly shot down by the Moo. Not giving up though… there’s always next year.

How did you celebrate Christmas? 🙂

Yohoho!

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Experience A Hong Kong Christmas, No Matter Where You Are in The World

A couple of weeks ago, the highly anticipated Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble (initially set for November 22) was shelved after a surge of cases in the region – much to the disappointment of many. Some hotels and shopping centres, had, in fact, tailored special holiday experiences – ready to welcome their first leisure travellers after over a year of travel restrictions. 

While that obviously hasn’t worked out, that doesn’t mean Christmas has to be canceled. Hong Kong retailers, businesses and artists alike have banded together to bring an immersive and innovative festive season to people all over the world – using the power of technology.

Take a 360-degree virtual tour of Hong Kong’s festive Central Business District 

Hong Kong’s Christmas celebrations are widely considered to be some of the best in the region, with vibrant Christmas markets, stunning displays, fun activities and more. The Hong Kong WinterFest, an annual fixture organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, has been a major tourist draw each year – and although visitors might not be able to attend physically this year, they can still expect a veritable wonderland through their screens. 

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Go on a tour of Christmas Town – a snow-kissed virtual CBD based on Hong Kong’s very own Central Business District – which ‘starts’ off at Statue Square, a historic public space in the heart of Central. From there, visitors are free to choose their own adventure: you can learn how to make festive DIY crafts such as aromatic wreaths, ornaments, pop-up holiday cards or candle holders via video tutorials, download holiday-themed Whatsapp stickers designed by famous Hong Kong illustrator like Din Dong, Dustykid and Messy Deck, or tune in to beautiful Christmas carols. If you prefer to just soak in the sights of the CBD’s iconic skyscrapers (which will be all decked out for the holidays), a towering tree and festive Christmas lodges, let Uncle Siu – a popular English educator known for his charming voice – lead you through the innovative 360-degree experience, and make fun, interactive stops along the way. 

The virtual tour of Christmas Town is part of the 2020 Hong Kong Winterfest, which will run until 3 January 2021. 

The world’s first “AI Butterflies Illuminating Interactive Art”

Enter a playground of light at Lee Tung Avenue in Wan Chai, where a seven-metre-tall, stained-glass butterfly and over 350 little LED butterflies have taken up residence. Dubbed “Butterflies of Hope,” it is the world’s first AI-powered butterfly art installation,  created to inspire, uplift and remind visitors of the hope, love, beauty and positivity we have in this world.

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If you are in Hong Kong, afternoon is the best time to visit, as the glass installation refracts natural light onto the ground, painting the boulevard in a myriad of colours. Evenings are a magical affair, with a music-and-light symphony that sees the butterflies taking flight as they ‘dance’ to the sound of music using artificial intelligence.

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The Lee Tung Avenue atrium is also home to a stunning, 12-metre-tall Christmas tree, with some powerful special effects. Combining touchless interactive technology and a special shadow projection technique, the tree projects butterflies onto the clothes of visitors – a feat of art and technology. 

Enjoy the festivities at Lee Tung Avenue until 10 January 2021.

Get lost in the Asia debut of Globoscope, a light showcase from France

K11 MUSEA, a new cultural-retail destination and arts hub on the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade, has turned up the Christmas spirit this year with A Very MUSEA Christmas Village. The village spreads joy and wonderment with a roster of artistic cultural experiences, including the Asia debut of Globoscope.

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Globoscope debuts in Asia at K11 Musea

Created by Collectif Coin, a renowned French art lab, the site-specific immersive light show stretches across the Bohemian Garden, a roof-top open space. A 20-minute private experience can be reserved to enjoy the surreal, sensory light exhibit with family or friends. It’s a sight to behold: Glowing spheres dance and swirl in choreographed light movements, while the dramatic Hong Kong skyline shines in the distance.

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Adding to the festive vibes is K11 MUSEA’s gorgeous Christmas Forest, featuring glistening golden trees in the mall’s atrium. Also not to be missed is a special Santa Muse Parade and a Christmas Market.

Experience A Very MUSEA Christmas Village through 3 January 2021. 

“Christmas Every Day” goes high tech with virtual Santa Meet & Greets

For the past 50 years, Harbour City has marked the holiday seasons with larger-than-life Christmas installations and festive surprises. This year is no different: it’s “Christmas Every Day” celebration once again promises unforgettable holiday memories, complemented by a roster of online experiences. 

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Take a virtual tour of the incredible decorations throughout the mall and “check-in” on social media or share your Christmas wish list with Santa during a virtual Meet & Greet. For the little ones, Harbour City has created an interactive online colouring game, where children can dress up their “Monster Friends” – adorable 3D cartoon characters illustrated by Dutch artist Eva Cremers – and then watch their masterpiece come to life!

The holiday extravaganza continues in person. At the “Christmas Lighting Garden” on the Ocean Terminal Deck, you can wade through a sea of illuminated LED clovers and dandelions and enjoy the “Christmas Lighting & Music Show” every evening with the stunning Hong Kong skyline as a backdrop.

Enjoy Harbour City’s “Christmas Every Day” online and offline experiences until 3 January 2021.

*Photos courtesy of Hong Kong Tourism Board.

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Review: The Body Shop Christmas Scents 2020

Hey guys! There’s just a few more days to Christmas, and we all know what that means – Christmas promos!

Many shops, especially beauty and body care brands, are having sales and festive-season only collections. As someone with a weakness for body care products, it’s hard for me to resist the beautiful, sparkly displays and gift packages. And so it is that I finally succumbed … and got myself some treats from The Body Shop.

I like The Body Shop because they carry a wide range of really nice scents. While I only buy from them once or twice a year, I’m always satisfied with the products and customer service.

This year’s festive range is decidedly Christmas-y, and features three exclusive scents: Warm Vanilla, Winter Jasmine and Festive Berry, available across a range of items such as their body yogurt, body butter, hand and nail cream, and shower gel.

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The shop was running a promo through its social media app, whereby any purchase would be entitled to a free body scrub, so I got the cheapest available item (30ml hand cream – RM25 /discounted RM22.50) and had it shipped to my house. It arrived after 4 working days.

Vanilla is one of my favourite scents, but the Warm Vanilla was a tad disappointing for me. It’s sweet and very strong, and it reminds me of cake. No doubt some people will like this, but it just smells very artificial to me.

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The free 50ml Festive Berry body scrub that came with my hand cream is touted to help exfoliate and refine the skin. I have used it a couple of times in the shower, and it’s pretty good. The consistency is like strawberry jam, and it smells like that too, what with the berry and sugar crystal blend.

You can get the small tub as part of The Body Shop’s festive gift box (RM139), but if you want to purchase the scrub on its own, it’s only available in 250ml jars at RM113.

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My favourite of the lot has to be the Winter Jasmine Body Butter, which coincidentally was the most expensive item I got (RM84, 20% discount for The Body Shop members). It was worth the splurge, though.

The butter is creamy and luxurious, and it looked so smooth and luscious when I first opened the tub I almost felt like it was a shame to use any lol. The floral scent is sweet and relaxing – it reminds me of aromatherapy oils and spa fragrances that they use at massage parlours to help you relax. The skin feels soft and hydrated after application, and you get the smell of jasmine just wafting off of you : best to apply before sleeping !

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If you’re looking to gift, The Body Shop has a variety of items catering to different budgets, all in beautiful packaging. If I had the money, I’d buy them all lol.

But perhaps someone wants to get me something for Christmas? 🙂

Shop online at www.thebodyshop.com.my.

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How To Be A Cheapskate: Christmas Edition

When I was younger, I used to scoff at people who’d go out of their way to get free samples.

“There’s shower gel at home, why on earth would anyone want to take that tiny little bottle that will probably only last for one use?” was basically my attitude to people who took amenities from the hotel after a stay. Spoken like a true spoilt brat lol.

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But as with everything in life, change is the only constant – and now that I’m at that age where the burger boy actually calls me ‘kak‘ instead of ‘cik‘, I can finally understand why.

I come from a middle class family, and growing up, I knew my parents weren’t rich so I’ve never asked for anything. But at the same time, I’ve never wanted for anything – I’ve always had quality clothes to wear, good food to eat, all the books I could ever read. I had a Digivice, a Walkman, a vid game console, and in my teens – a mobile phone – which was more than what most kids my age (at that time anyway) could say they had.

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After coming out to work, though, I’ve come to realise the value of money. Now if I wanted something, I had to work for it. And as you get older and have more commitments (family, household, etc.) you realise that every little thing adds up t – and if you can get something that would help you save, no matter how small, you’d jump on it in a flash.

2020 has, all in all, been a pretty shitty year for a lot of people. I count myself luckier than most (Haven’t been laid off. Yet.) but I’ve also been more cautious in spending.

Since it’s the festive season, though, I wanted to give myself a little treat after a long year of ‘fasting’. So I devised… a little plan.

THE PLAN

The ‘plan’ was actually accidental.

I’m not a girly girl, and I rarely buy makeup / clothes / accessories / bags. My only weakness is body products and fragrances. I love candles, scents, shower gels, lotions, face masks… that sort of thing. Because of this, I follow a lot of brands on social media like The Body Shop, Lush, L’Occitane, etc. It so happened that while scrolling through my feed recently, I happened across an online event by The Body Shop, which promised a free jute bag: all I had to do was RSVP to the event, take a screenshot to confirm that I was ‘going’, and redeem the bag when I next visit any of their physical stores.

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Who can resist a scented vanilla candle and a nice diffuser? Photo for illus only don’t actually put candles on your bed, folks. Via Pexels

So … you know how ad targeting works on the Internet ? Once you’ve clicked on one thing, the system records this ‘interest’ and will recommend (read: bombard) you with related ads. I was suddenly getting dozens of body/ beauty product ads – most of which were offering promos/sales for Christmas. Some were even gamifying their campaigns, to make them more fun and interactive.

With this in mind, I started looking up different brands, to see if I could get a similar ‘deal’ as the one from The Body Shop. My goal was to look for giveaways with no minimum purchase – so I could get stuff for free, with no strings attached.

My second goal was to look for brands that were all under one roof, so I wouldn’t have to go to and fro and waste gas money. Since 1 Utama Shopping Centre is close to my work place, and they have dozens of beauty brands, I used the place as a ‘benchmark’ for my search: by looking up all the possible beauty brands available in the mall’s directory. Yes I know I have too much time on my hands lol.

The first one I found was Kiehl’s. They had made this nice little interactive game, where players had to complete a few in-game tasks like answering questions about their product and playing some mini games, which would then entitle them to free samples. The next was L’Occitane, which had a similar campaign – register, play some games, get samples.

CASHING IN

I went to the office on Sunday to get some packing done, so I dropped by the mall. My first stop was L’Occitane. It was actually pretty fuss-free. I showed my screenshot of the voucher code from their mini game to their staff, and they gave me a packet containing the promised 12 sachets of hair and face care samples. They also invited me inside for a look, although I’m pretty sure they knew I wasn’t there to buy stuff lol. Gotta commend L’Occitane staff though. You know how some staff members treat you dismissively coz they know you’re just there for free samples? None of that here: service was still impeccable.

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will the day come where I’m so rich I can buy stuff without looking at the price tag? We may never know
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Next, Kiehl’s. I’ve never even set foot in a Kiehl’s store before because I know I could never afford their items lol. Still, the brand has a good reputation and it seems like their marketing campaign worked well – because there was a long line of customers waiting to go into the shop. I had nothing better to do so I spent 40 minutes lining up lol. Ask a 20-year-old-me and I’d probably tell you you’re dumb to spend that kinda time for free samples. but like I said, people change.

Again, the staff at Kiehl’s was very profesional – she even explained to me what each sachet is for and how to use them.

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Last but not least, The Body Shop. Unfortunately the 1U outlet had run out of jute bags. I got this from IOI MALLwhile I was out running errands.

WAS IT WORTH IT?

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This might seem funny but I did feel a sense of accomplishment at getting all these samples. While I doubt I’d see much effect from one use, it’s still nice to get what is essentially a treat, and would have cost money to buy under normal circumstances.

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Also, I managed to do a fair bit of Christmas shopping (gifts for friends) while I was at the mall. If it had been solely to get samples, I think I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to do so.

And that is How to be A Cheapskate: Christmas Edition! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it ! And if you have any tips on saving during the festive season, I’d be delighted to hear about it in the comments below.

Seasons Greetings, and have a good one!

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The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Malaysia Presents Alice In Wonderland-Themed Treats This Festive Season

Holiday season is just around the corner, and after a year filled with challenges, I think we’re all in need of some festive cheer. To spark some holiday joy, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf ® is presenting an array of whimsical Alice in Wonderland inspired treats, which are a feast for the eyes as much as they are delicious to eat.

Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland

For an unforgettable Christmas party with friends and family, the Winter Wonderland (RM250 for 3kg) makes a wonderful centre piece for any gathering, with its intricate, handcrafted gingerbread detail and delicate frosting on a base of chocolate fudge. Complete the setting with Hatter’s Winter Log (RM 13.95 per slice, RM139.90 for a whole cake), a delightful dessert featuring luscious chocolate mousse and ganache; Cheshire’s Cherry Bundt (RM 8.90 per slice, RM52.00 for a loaf), stuffed with cherries, lemon and butter cream; or Stollen of Hearts (RM 6.90 per slice, RM48.00 for a loaf) with its hearty mix of Swiss dark chocolate, almonds and hazelnuts. Of course, a visit to Wonderland would not be complete without The Red Queen (RM12.95 each), a luscious pastry filled with caramel, coffee and chocolate mousse concealed under a rich red crust of almond chocolate.

The Red Queen & Minted Ever After [cupcakes]-horz
The Red Queen and Minted Ever After cupcakes (left); Hatter’s Winter Log

There’s more for the sweet-toothed dessert lover: choose from an assortment of cakes such as Minted Ever After (RM 7.90 per cupcake, RM 50 per petite cake, RM139.90 for a whole cake), a decadent concoction of dark chocolate and mint topped with cream, fresh redcurrants and rosemary, and Velveteen’s Wish (RM 12.95 per slice, RM129.30 for a whole cake), a red velvet cake topped with crunchy cookie bits and cheese mousse.

Alice's Tea Party
Alice’s Tea Party

For a bit of everything, go for Alice’s Tea Party (RM109 for 20 pieces), a selection of bite-sized treats of Hatter’s Winter Log, Jolly Breadman, Tweedle Tart and Minted Ever After. Top-up as needed with Jolly Breadman (RM7.90 per piece) or Once Upon A Door butter cookies (RM9.90 per piece).

Holiday-Magic-Quartet

CF & TL is known for its delectable beverages, and there’s no shortage of exclusive specials to try this season. Indulge in a Chocolate Cookie – a combination of premium espresso and decadent chocolate cookie notes – available in several varieties: the Chocolate Cookie Ice Blended® drink (small RM16.50, regular RM18), Pure Chocolate Cookie Ice Blended® drink (small RM16.50, regular RM18) or hot / iced Chocolate Cookie Latte (small RM16, regular RM17.50).

Cheshire's Cherry Bundt - whole (bg 1)
Cherry Bundt (whole)

Making a comeback for a limited time only is the ever-popular Double Chocolate Peppermint beverages, available as Double Chocolate Peppermint Ice Blended® drink (small RM16.50, regular RM18), Pure Double Chocolate Peppermint Ice Blended® drink (small RM16.50, regular RM18), hot / iced Double Chocolate Peppermint Latte (small RM16, regular RM17.50) and Peppermint Nitro Latte (RM15.95 at selected stores). Best of all, kids get to enjoy their own coffee-free version, as a hot / iced Double Chocolate Cocoa (small RM16, regular RM17.50) and tea lovers can enjoy the hot Peppermint Tea (RM9.60/cup or RM12.50/pot). While you’re sipping on your holiday beverage, upgrade to a complete meal by trying out the brand’s new Black Pepper Chicken Sandwich (RM19.80).

Stollen of Hearts (loaf & slice)
Stollen of Hearts

Even if you’re not dining in, there are plenty of new retail items to celebrate the season on-the-go, or in the comfort of one’s own home. Take your pick from dark-roasted Holiday Blend (RM55 /12oz), Peppermint Tea in a green tea blend (RM45/tin), Limited Edition 8oz Powders in French Deluxe Vanilla Powder, Peppermint Chocolate Powder and Hazelnut  Powder (RM40/tin). Also available are new designs for the Hydro Flask Series (RM205 each) and Frost Tumbler Series (RM128-138).  They also make for great gifts.

Jolly Breadman & Once Upon A Door [cookies]

In line with the season of giving, CB&TL’s popular Gift Tags return with new designs, with proceeds going towards the Caring Cup initiative. This year, the beneficiary is the Assunta Integrated Social Services programme by ASSUNTA Hospital, to help raise funds for equipment upgrades and essential supplies for their new mobile clinic. With the added support, they will continue to provide much-needed medical and healthcare assistance to marginalised groups.

For more info, visit http://www.coffeebean.com.my.

*Photos courtesy of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Malaysia.

Help a Girl Out ! 

If you enjoyed reading this, please consider supporting my website. Contrary to popular belief, I do not make big moolah from writing – and this will go towards hosting fees and ensuring that I can continue to deliver authentic content for your reading pleasure. Thanks for stopping by!

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