"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."

Oscar Wilde

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Spectacular Seven: August

Until very recently, I put off making a proper blog simply because I had no idea what to write and no time to think about it. (Or, more accurately, no time I was willing to spend thinking about it.) Now that I’ve successfully bullied myself into making one and writing more, however, I have no idea what kind it should be – Beauty blog? Lifestyle blog? No? – so I doubt such a day lurks anytime in the future when I will actually be self-actualized enough to pick. In light of the indecisiveness, I think I’ll be fumbling my way through this and one way of doing so is, apparently, making a Spectacular Seven feature.

The Spectacular Seven post will most likely be a monthly event and feature whatever seven most notable things I’ve encountered in the past month; be it strange, awe-inspiring, disturbing or just things that made me really very happy. Here’s this month’s list:

1. The coolest taxi driver in the world, basically: I’m not even kidding, he existed. My father asked if he would be willing to take us to Kuala Lumpur from Putra Jaya later in the day. His reply? “No. I don’t like KL.” Father then proceeded to ask why, as one can make a lot of money doing inter-city, especially if it’s later at night when buses are harder. He snapped back with a quick, “No need for money. I got wife, kids, home and car. Don’t need money; I have all I need.” Personally, I found his contentment with life and brusque (but not intentionally rude, I don’t think) manner delightfully refreshing.

The beautiful cherry on top is the frankly scandalised sound of disapproval he made in his throat when Dad mentioned breaking traffic rules. It was offended, disapproving, and altogether amazing.

2. Forever 21 sale: For some mysterious, delightful reason, Eid is a never-ending affair in Malaysia. This means two very important things: open house parties neighbours invite you to, and sales. On a random browse in a mall – Pavilion in Bukit Bintang, I believe – I saw a sale sign at Forever 21, wandered in and immediately fell in love with the hair accessories on sale. The purchase that I’m still gleeful about almost a full month later, however, is the bracelet I also bought. Brought down to a mere RM10, it is a gold bangle with rounded-edged conical studs all around it and it may be one of those pieces that everyone has one of but it is just so cute? Adds flair to any ensemble – even though I’m more likely to slip it on with a random t-shirt and jeans than to pre-plan outfits – and is just a really great general piece to have that goes with almost everything.

I also got a set of 3 headbands that were all equally lacy and/or braided and bohemian and adorable.

3. Melt-in-your-mouth dreams: Malaysian food and drink company F&N has an ice-cream line called King’s Grand. I tried out a couple of flavours, Tin House Brownie and Triple Chocolate the other week. Although Triple Chocolate was decent for a supermarket ice-cream carton – chocolate ice-cream with chocolate sauce and chocolate-covered sunflower seeds, it was Tin House Brownie that is the new love of my life mouth. Vanilla ice-cream, chocolate sauce, brownie and almonds. Mm.

4. Seashell curry: It was an actual Malay dish that I encountered the other day: a seemingly innocent meal that looks harmless and quite a lot like Indian curry and then woah, oops, seashells. Seashells in the curry, ‘nough said.

5. On the shelf: Queen’s Own Fool (A Novel of Mary, Queen of Scots) by Jane Yolen & Robert J. Harris involves, as the title aptly puts, Mary, Queen of Scots and her fool. The tale is fictional, told from the point of view of one of Mary’s three female jesters, La Jardinière. Although the book is classed as fiction, La Jardinière is a known figure in history as Queen Mary’s personal French fool who was sent back to France with a large payment when Mary went off to England. Through embellished fiction entwined closely with history, the authors have woven a beautiful tale that features both fictitious events and history that kept me reading until the last page into the wee hours of the morning. (Yes, I did read it in one go. And yes, it was completely worth it.) As the author’s note prettily sums it up, “Where history ends, storytelling begins.” [I got the book at a discount book store a few months ago for about a dollar, maybe, but it is available at Amazon for $8.68 for paperback and $16.99 for library binding.]

6. Home comforts: Update: I finally have a home to live in – a cute little apartment – and since it’s a condominium building, there is also a pool and gym, etc. This all pleases me greatly.

7. The Coldplay Collection: Coldplay’s online store has the most gorgeous merchandise for their new album on sale. Seeing as how pretty the album and singles’ cover art is, this was to be expected. However, for my part, I find the pieces so gorgeous that I am willing to get a job, work my butt off and actually buy an iPhone after I conveniently lost my last phone in a taxi, just so I have a use for one of their iPhone covers. The best mate might vehemently agree and also agree to cry over the merch with us all.

Now playing: Laura Palmer by Bastille
More soon! 
Anum xx

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Review: Maybelline Fit Me® Foundation Stick

Is your skin oily or combination or something moody that is weirdly in between like mine is? Are you also lazier than a tortoise on tranquilizers when it comes to doing your makeup and getting foundation looking flawless? Right, go grab this product right now, and then please continue reading (and nod furiously in agreement as you try it out).

[Note: I am taking a second here to issue a fair warning that I am by no means an expert at anything even remotely beauty-related and this is just my personal opinion as a regular user of the product.]

As the perfunctory Google search revealed, the Maybelline Fit Me® Foundation Stick inspires firm opinions in users; they either love it or they hate it. Mine, of course, is firmly in the positive column, but here’s my two cents on why.

Touted as Maybelline’s “first gel stick foundation with an anti-shine core”, the foundation stick lives up to the hype, in my opinion. It’s part of a range of skin range designed to fit your complexion perfectly and provide light to medium, breathable coverage, so this is a pretty solid investment if it works for you, listed at $8.99 on the Maybelline website. Personally, I got mine absolutely free as a present from my auntie in Australia, but I’m on the lookout for a replacement all the time for when it runs out.

The foundation is hit-or-miss on different individuals. My mum, for example, has extremely oily skin, breaks out whenever she uses this foundation and it doesn’t really keep her face matte. On the other hand, my skin is somewhere between combination and oily, with a T-zone that almost always develops shine in a few hours and the rest of it oily enough to pass for a glow instead of grease. For me, the foundation is perfect and goes on like a creamy dream before drying into a matte, powdery finish.

Photo Courtesy: Maybelline

The most prominent – and useful – aspect of the stick is easily its portability and how easy it is to apply. Being first and foremost a student who only rarely feels like dressing up and would much rather spend an extra fifteen minutes in bed instead of dealing with fussy hair and makeup, this product is, quite frankly, my newest best friend. Once you have your daily skincare routine out of the way, all you have to do is swipe it on and give it a quick blend with your fingers. No brushes necessary, no careful buffing; that’s all it takes. I do have to pat on some mattifying powder – currently either The Body Shop’s All-In-One Face Base in number 05 or Palladio Rice Powder in Warm Beige – to keep things completely matte and shine free throughout the day but that’s it.

The packaging is light, compact and the easiest thing to carry around so if you expect to need a touch-up later in the day, just pop it in your purse and you will barely know it’s there.

Coverage is definitely medium. With a good concealer and a quick blend with a foundation brush to make it look smoother, the final finish is definitely decent. Personally, it is the sort of foundation that I would wear everyday to university or running around for errands, et cetera, but probably not for night’s out or special occasions.

BOTTOM LINE: A good, easily blendable, medium coverage foundation’s worth the price.

Now playing: Heart Out by The 1975
More soon! 
Anum xx

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Take 1.

It has been approximately 26 days since the move. So far, we remain homeless, uni-less and a whole bunch of other -lesses. On the other hand, it's pretty here in Malaysia. In the past almost-month, I've seen a fair bit of Kuala Lumpur, some of Putra Jaya and also put in a visit to the Swiss-Garden Golf Resort & Spa in Damai Laut.
Here's a general breakdown of events and cities (mostly malls):


Been living on and off in Presint 14 since arrival and there is an adorable market nearby. Food  if not in great variety in the Presint 14 area, at least to my knowledge  is good and we seem to have found an adorable Pakistani-run restaurant which definitely serves some of the best naan I have ever tasted in my life. Outside the presint I reside in, we also visited what is perhaps the only shopping mall in the city: The Alamanda. For being the only one of it's kind  again, to my knowledge at least  in the city, the mall is certainly adequate. Supermarket, a scattering of interesting stores, the staple collection of token mall haunts (including Forever 21, Dorothy Perkins and Benefit – the obvious ones to attract me) and the eateries you need on a shopping binge – McDonald's, Burger King, Starbucks, Famous Amos, Dunkin' Donuts and the like - make the place a delightfully sensible choice for an afternoon of fun and shopping.
(Some might be glad to note that restrooms are also easily available and clean; always a valid concern.)

Also, transport-wise, the city is pretty interesting. Although hailing a passing taxi on the street is a nightmare, mostly because it is alarmingly rare to actually see taxis on the street, the commuter bus system is convenient, easily accessible and surprisingly comfortable (and clean!) for public transport.

Damai Laut

To be very brief to respect the fact that it was only a three day trip, the resort was positively stunning and very comfortable but had shit wifi that was only available for free in the lobby (room wifi was heinously expensive) and everything else was ridiculously overpriced as well. The resort's club room had great performances every evening with lovely covers of music in English and the beach was nice. Unfortunately, being gravely ill meant I missed out on the excellent adventures on offer, including archery, golf and nature walks and exploration trips, but I did get to have a lovely snooze on the beach and chilled by the pool for a bit. Not bad for a holiday if you aren't tight on expenses.

Kuala Lumpur

First things first, coming from a third-world country where public transport is mostly for the impoverished, let's just give KL a gigantic round of applause for being easy to get around. Taxis are easy to get and plentiful and I don't believe I've looked back since the evening I got my RapidKL card. It works on all three forms of transport – RapidKL bus, LRT and monorail – and can basically take you anywhere you want to go within the city. Handy dandy.

Malls-wise, I visited a few and I'm liking what I'm seeing so far. KLCC Suria – the majestic mall located inside the world-famous Patronas Towers – is certainly a sight to see. On the downside, however, the place is decidedly high-end and boasts the likes of Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana and their high end brethren. For a more pocket-friendly experience, head to the Pavillion mall instead. It has every store you could possibly want in a mall, cinemas, an entire floor full of restaurants, smaller eateries and even sizable Sephora and H&M outlets right across the road. Moreover, the Bukit Bintang entrance has some pretty interesting things to see outside the mall to boot.

(Superhero fans would like to note that a shop called Superheroes that I have found in both Alamanda and Pavillion has some really cool merchandise and is basically a nerd's wet dream. I took a demented selfie with the Joker. Good times.)

For a desi experience, feel free to head to Masjid Jamek and get the full flavour of South Asia. I know I certainly enjoy being there whenever a hit of homesickness strikes. Well, there, and a couple of amazing low-end Pakistani-based eateries (found in Chow Kit, I believe.) Unfortunately, I haven't seen much more of the city clearly enough to comment on it, but it's a work in progress.

On the flip side, I've got no house, no university and no clue about what I'm doing with my life right now. I also really miss my pillow, my electronic pepper mill, my fridge and my sofa. Basically, I kind of want to go home a lot sometimes and there is no home to go to. But, well, that's just life, I guess. And moving. It's an adventure for now.

More soon! 
Anum xx