Tag: review

First and foremost, They Told Us To Move is an important piece of Singapore history.

They Told Us to Move is a collection of interviews, reflections and short essays about many elderly Singaporean residents who had to relocate from Dakota (one of Singapore’s oldest public housing estates) to Cassia Crescent and the volunteers from the Cassia Resettlement Team who provided support during this relocation process.

This book gives a voice to a segment of society whose opinions are often unheard and ignored – the elderly.

It provides clear insight into how the elderly are not sickly and frail people we can just cast aside and forget about.

The older generation like us have their own vivid lives and memories and connections to the community. Their lived experiences and stories are just as important as ours. And in the face of adversity, change and loneliness, they prove to be really resilient in character and are pretty hopeful and optimistic about their new lives and memories, even when their important ties to the community around them are removed, and their homes in which they have lived in for so many decades are pulled down to make way for economic redevelopment.

They Told Us to Move is a bittersweet call to arms, to think about what we want Singapore society to be, and to acknowledge and embrace the community around us and to extend a helping hand to our neighbours.

They Told Us to Move: Dakota—Cassia edited by Ng Kok Hoe and the Cassia Resettlement Team published by Ethos Books (2019)

At the start of the year (2018), I challenged myself to read 15 books and had by the beginning of December completed my goal. It’s surprising because I’ve not been able to finish my reading challenges in previous years – this year I had to finish 1.25 books per month. Sounds a little tough but it is totally doable!

I think I had more time this year in comparison to the past few years where I was adjusting to work life and also studying for my Bar exams. So I had other important things going on in my life that I had to prioritise.

This year marked the end of exam taking probably for the rest of my life. So I could dedicate the extra time to reading books instead of studying the law. There is a certain comfort in the written word, immersing yourself in the mind of another human being, like soaking in a nice warm bath and just momentarily forgetting the troubles of your own life. Kind of like how listening to someone else talk is a real comfort instead of drowning in your own never-ending thoughts.

I decided to jot down a quick one liner reviews of the 15 books I read this year before I forget, ‘cos I’ve already forgotten some of the books which I read in 2018. Fortunately I have it all tracked on my goodreads account so I can refer to it in future. It’s really useful, and I highly recommend using goodreads for reading detailed book reviews as well as curating your reading list.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my mini book review below! (Please feel free to let me know in the comments section what books you’ve read this year and which ones were your favourite!)

1. The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro

This was quite a difficult and long-winded read, even though the story takes place over three days, the book is a mammoth five hundred pages (!!!) and it follows the protagonist, Ryder, who is a famous pianist who has arrived in a European city for his concert; Ryder finds himself stuck in a weird world where everything goes wrong and throughout the book he is moving through a ghost-like fog where he has no control over what goes on.

2. The Beauty Myth: How Images are Used Against Women by Naomi Wolf

I found this book a little too narrowly focused, archaic and academic in style for my personal tastes, but it’s not too bad; it goes deep into how images of women in patriarchal society are used as a weapon against women to create a sexualised idea of how women should behave and look like, and interestingly enough, this feminist author was formerly the political advisor to Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

3. An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro

Ishiguro is a British Japanese writer so he provides an interesting perspective – having traditional Japanese parents while growing up in England – in this book he presents a very Japanese literature style (I think quite different from his usual writing style), the book transports the reader to post-war Japan and zooms in on the life of an elderly Japanese artist and his children’s young family, the book is something like a bildungsroman but from the perspective of an old retired man.

4. The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens

If you enjoy reading about tax havens, The Panama Papers, and white collar crime, you’ll enjoy this quite short but very insightful and interesting non-fiction book; this translated work covers the history of tax havens, how they came about and provides meaningful recommendations on how the world can fight back and stop individuals from hiding behind shell companies and start paying their taxes.

5. The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu

To be honest I started this classic perhaps last year or the year before, it’s a really really long book (more than 1,000 pages), and it’s the first novel ever written in the history of humankind (and written by a woman too!), this dramatic tome follows the life and death of Genji (the son of an Emperor) and his dalliances, and shows us what court life was like during the Heian period, it’s truly like Japanese theatre in beautiful written form, it’s also pretty well translated.

6. Hard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Needless to say, all politicians are great at talking, but this book focuses on Hillary’s work as Secretary of State during the Obama administration and the tough calls she had to make, dealing with difficult and precarious situations, people, countries, personally I found that it makes for both an exciting and boring read at times, would be a good read for those with a keen interest in politics and diplomacy.

7. The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple by Jeff Guinn

Possibly my favourite book that I’ve read this year, Jeff Guinn and his team make amazingly detailed biographers and storytellers, and so much research has gone into this work, it’s truly a work of art, I highly recommend this book, it delves really deep into the history of Jim Jones and the Jonestown cult.

8. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

I was extremely motivated to finish this book before the movie, and I’ll say the movie is quite close to the book, like a condensed version, but the book has a very very different type of humour to it, it’s super easy to read, lots of cliffhangers, like chick lit to be honest, and I did enjoy seeing all the Singaporean references like ACS and CHIJ, etc, and on some level could relate in the sense that I knew people who lived lives similar to that of the characters in the book, while reading this I did wonder to myself, whether Kevin Kwan wanted the reader to question whether capitalism is wrong, wrong, wrong, perhaps…

9. The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less by Barry Schwartz

This book really captured my attention, it’s super easy to read and even though it was written in the early 2000s, it still remains super relevant, it’s a self-help book of sorts, it makes you question why we need to make so many choices each day, and how our lives are more stressful and depressing because of all the choices, I found myself agreeing and disagreeing on some aspects, I think at the end of the day it is something like an opinion piece…

10. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

OITNB is also another book turned into a show, to be honest, the book feels more realistic but it is also kind of “pat on the back”, self-congratulatory, written from a very privileged perspective, I think I enjoy the show a lot more, as it develops the stories of different characters, and focuses less on Pipes and her first world problems, this book was surprisingly short and easy to read, it was a little annoying how she would throw in unnecessarily big words from time to time, but to sum it up, I enjoyed the show more.

11. This is What Inequality Looks Like by Teo You Yenn

This book of essays is written in a very Americanised way, like for an American audience to understand the lives of Singapore poor, something of the opposite of Crazy Rich Asians, funny how the CRA movie came out in the same year as this book, but like OITNB, this book is written from the position of someone who is both quite privileged and educated, I found myself nodding most of the way but towards the end, I was kind of disappointed that she did not go into racism in Singapore and instead kind of sat on the fence about it, I guess it’s quite a taboo topic that’s not safe to discuss, especially in written form, nevertheless, this was an enjoyable, eye-opening, introductory book that confronts poverty in Singapore head on, fearlessly; I look forward to reading her future works.

12. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Didn’t have this in my photo above because it’s on loan to a friend, but this is another very tiny book on feminism (I subscribe to the view that feminism is for everyone and benefits everyone in society, female, male, etc), it’s essentially the TED Talk (which has millions of views by the way) in book form, I really enjoyed it, it’s a refreshing read and I highly recommend getting this book for yourself or others as a gift, or watching the original TED Talk, it’s truly enlightening and very light-hearted but also ever so slightly serious in a good, relatable way.

13. Ayiti by Roxane Gay

A short, unpretentious, very blunt and very fearlessly real book, Ayiti is an easy to read but maybe harder to digest collection of short stories that follows the struggles and successes of various Haitian people.

14. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Took me a while to finish this book, but she’s an amazing storyteller, weaving multiple stories into one story with a happy ending, I quite loved it, it was just a little long, sarcastic and repetitive at times, but it isn’t too bad, it is quite funny and real at times, it’s essentially about various people from different parts of Africa moving overseas and their changing, intermingling lives.

15. Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami

This book was quite disappointing, very repetitive, had some typos here and there, not really well edited or translated and it was super long at 700 pages or more, I suspect Murakami is past his prime, this isn’t his best work, felt like he was just writing because that’s his job and there’s a certain expectation when you’re famous, at times the book gets really weird, but it’s basically a mystery novel with an unexciting, easily forgettable artist as the male protagonist and some other boring, mysterious characters, if you’ve read Murakami’s earlier works, it’s very similar, just worse and badly edited.

Recycling.

Admittedly, the word itself doesn’t inspire much.

But lo and behold… Beauty brands such as Lush and Innisfree have DEFINITELY lured me into not just using, BUT actually finishing their products with their “Bring in x number of empty containers and we will give you product y… FOR FREE!”

MAC does it as well, but let me tell you finishing 6 tubes of lipstick ain’t an easy task. It’s actually quite difficult, requires A LOT of commitment and time.

Took me a few years just to trade in my first empty containers for a free MAC lippie!

Since I started my blog as a channel or means to which to broadcast to the world my reviews.. opinions.. on beauty stuff, I thought I should take the chance to scribble down some thoughts before I haul these empty containers away to their respective shops for recycling.

So what products have I finished using this month?

Let’s start with LUSH.

In early January 2018, I went to Tokyo, my favourite city in the world and stocked up on some Lush goodies!! Did you know Lush Japan products are made in Japan? Awesome.

Fast-forward to early July 2018 and I’ve now finished my Ocean Salt Body Scrub and my Big Shampoo. Completely. Gone. I love both of these Lush products in particular because they are just so citrusy, refreshing and uplifting. And just plain salty like me.

But honestly, the Big shampoo literally gives you the most voluminous hair that smells like the ocean. I love it. Recommend it. But just be warned.. it’s addictive. And did I mention it’s a scrub? A scrub for your hair!! So good. Your scalp will thank you. Especially after a grubby long and tiring day.

Likewise, Ocean Salt is pure salty, scrubby goodness that will wake up and rejuvenate the rest of your tired body. Scrubs are a real godsend, enough said.

Innisfree. One of the things I don’t like to admit? That I buy into the whole K-beauty craze! Ha. I’ve been using this face wash for more than 6 months. Maybe almost a year? It’s the limited edition tube that came in a JUMBO 300ml bottle. I swear. It’s more like 500ml of face wash packed in there. Towards the tail end of me using this facial cleanser, i.e. the past few days, the packaging had a tiny hole which has now turned into a massive rip in the side and now I can’t squeeze the remaining product out! Such a waste. But. I love this. It’s like Dove/Heads and Shoulders shampoo/shower gel kind of fragrance but for your face. And it is superrr creamy and foamy. Ahhhh. Not to mention, it does a fab job of removing makeup, dead skin and general grime every time.

Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Clay Mask. I think this one needs no introduction for those familiar with the Innisfree brand. But if you haven’t tried this before and you’re a clay mask buff, I highly highly recommend it. It’s super affordable and super long lasting.

Only drawback? Started to smell a little fermented and sourish after almost a year of using it (even though the product hasn’t technically expired as per the expiration date). Otherwise, this is a solid face mask. One of the best I’ve tried. Especially at this price point, I would instantly recommend this clay mask to anyone and everyone. And I have it on right now. Yes, give it a try if you haven’t yet! It works. It’s cheap. Buy it! Your skin will feel super duper soft and smooth and clean afterwards.

I’m not too sure whether I have a lot of other products that are almost empty, (the answer’s probably no) but I’ll definitely collect all of whatever I have that’s almost finished, and do an updated August Favourites review!

It’s good to finish products rather than have them sit around and collect dust. And it’s always good practice to empty your beauty products rather than buy, buy, buy new products all the time.

Perhaps my next review will be a more makeup based one.. I have so many moisturisers too. So maybe you’ll see more of that in my next empties/favourites review!

Till next time,
Rachel

This has been a much requested review so I’m glad to finally have gotten the time to sit down and share this review with you!

Function of Beauty is a personalised haircare brand from the US.

You start off with a hair quiz on their website (www.functionofbeauty.com) to sort out your hair type and goals and scalp profile.

According to their website, there are millions of possible permutations for your very own personalised shampoo and conditioner. You can even choose from the type of fragrance to the size of your product bottle! So cool.

Something I should have taken note of but forgot is that Function of Beauty offers free refunds within 30 days!

Anyway, I decided to be a guinea pig and try this product out because I was sooo curious and had to try this magical looking potion. The reviews I have read online have been a mixed bag so that wasn’t exactly helpful but it gave me some idea of how good/bad the product was. Some reviews were positive, some negative, and some neutral.

Everyone has different scalp and hair needs. And as every bottle of Function of Beauty shampoo and conditioner is different, my views which I have expressed here may differ from somebody else’s. So let’s get into my review!

I listed my hair profile as follows:-

• Wavy hair

• Fine hair

• Normal scalp

And my 5 hair goals for Function of Beauty were:

• Lengthen

• Strengthen

• Anti-Frizz

• Nourish Roots

• Deep condition

The colour I chose for my shampoo and conditioner was blue! I spent a lot of time trying to pick a colour. The other available shades are orange, pink, green, purple. Pick wisely!

My selected fragrance was “all(you)calpytus”. After I had ordered from Function of Beauty, they actually came out with a “no fragrance” option which sounds like the best option.

What I liked about the Function of Beauty hair products was that there was noticeably less hair fall. Hair did feel stronger and less brittle plus even in this humid weather, my hair was slightly less frizzy, straighter and more manageable!

Although my fine hair didn’t become tangle-free, it did have less tangles. Maybe this is something they can work on in their shampoo formula. Other stuff I noticed after using this product for a few weeks is that the shampoo is quite sticky and a little difficult to rinse. When washing the shampoo away, I have to scrub really hard at my scalp, otherwise my scalp and hair would become rather oily and unbearable afterwards! The shampoo would be much better if it was less heavy in that sense. And I guess from this I learned that my scalp might be more oily than what is considered “normal”. Perhaps another tip for their website quiz, giving people more information on how to select the correct scalp profile; maybe through additional guiding questions.

One other pro of using Function of Beauty is that my hair looks more sleek and feels a lot softer and less dry! I would recommend Function of Beauty if you have a really dry scalp and dry hair.

Other cons about Function of Beauty is that it doesn’t ship to Singapore, and when I first started using it, my scalp would feel rather oily and itchy and my hair felt greasy. The conditioner was also not a good replacement for a hair mask as there were still some occasional tangles in my hair. The fragrance was also really strong and not what I expected. The shampoo had a really heavy and masculine fragrance like sandalwood mixed with mint (reminded me of Lush’s Mask of Magnaminty). The conditioner on the other hand had a strong, rosey, herbal scent.

So there you have it, my take on Function of Beauty’s personalised hair care products. As you can see, I have quite mixed feelings about these two product!

While I can’t say I love the product, I do very much love the Function of Beauty concept! It’s just too bad that I didn’t like the product as much as I thought I would. I probably won’t be reordering any time soon but I may try a different permutation in future! 🙂

I’ve been eyeing Oasis Skin’s products on social media way before the recent launch of their website, so the moment the parcel arrived at my door step, I was beyond elated!

Oasis Skin is a Singapore skincare brand that recently launched in March 2018. Their masks and mists are all made in Singapore! They’ve incorporated lots of natural wild ingredients from France into their masks and mists, all of which are made in small batches! Each batch has its own unique batch number on the label. And speaking of labels, isn’t the lettering on their labels soooo gorgeous? (But I must warn you that the ink isn’t waterproof so keep it in a dry place away from your sink!)

The two products that I received from Oasis Skin were the Lavender and Sage Mist and the French Marine Clay + Ocean Vitamins Mask.

Oasis Skin Lavender and Sage Mist

Much like its namesake, this mist provides a surprising amount of hydration and is a real oasis for the face. In my opinion, the fragrance is a mix of flowery honey, essential oils, and relaxing lavender. I love how the bottle feels so weighted, and that the mist is so delicate and fine! It’s a refreshing change from the usual less fine water mists that I use.

I especially love spritzing this stuff all over my face before sleeping. If you have trouble falling asleep, I highly recommend this product to help you fall asleep instantly. There’s something about lavender that just relaxes you and makes you sleepy.

One other thing I really enjoy about this mist is that it provides adequate moisture to your face without making your face oily or hands greasy! Like really this is a godsend. Just a few spritzes of this stuff and you can go to sleep assured that your night time skin routine is taken care of.

The ingredients are absolutely fantastic as well. So if you’re interested in learning even more about this mist from Oasis Skin, please check out this LINK!

I 10/10 would recommend this lavender and sage mist to a friend and would replenish this product as soon as I’ve finished it!! 🙂

Oasis Skin French Marine Clay + Ocean Vitamins Mask

Honestly I’m not sure what vitamins are in this clay mask, but I must say, this three-ingredient mask is AWESOME. Firstly, to find a product with so few ingredients that works really opens your eyes to the kinds of products on the market out there. Do they really need so many other preservatives? Well, the fact that this clay mask is in powder form makes it much longer lasting than your usual store-bought clay mask and I suppose less in need of all these preservatives.

The three ingredients found in this clay mask are: spirulina extract, seaweed and illite clay. Clay has tons of minerals and is super good for clearing up and soothing unhappy skin (read: breakouts and rogue baby pimples). As for spirulina, it’s great for your body, and often touted as a superfood because it’s a great source of Vitamins B and antioxidants! Seaweed offers hydration, and is said to have anti-aging properties.

After using this mask, I didn’t expect much because it applied quite thinly. But surprisingly enough, the clay in the mask kind of dried quickly and there was this kind of hugging sensation as it dried (which seemed to happen faster and more effectively compared to other clay masks I’ve tried). Further, it was so easy to wash off. The only slight drawback I felt was that the smell was a lil strong (like the sea) but it reminded me of my time in Hokkaido and it made me realise how natural this mask really is 🙂 And halfway through masking, the smell of the ocean kind of went away.

After using this clay mask, all of my pimples (both big and small) went away and my pores had shrunk visibly too. My skin felt a lot smoother and more supple as a result the next day! If you’re worried about clay masks drying out your skin, just spray the Lavender and Sage Mist to re-hydrate the skin 🙂

Oasis Skin have a variety of really effective and natural masks and mists to choose from, so do give their new local business all the support it deserves! I actually really honestly like their products and packaging so much.

You can check out the clay mask: HERE!

Something I also just realised that is immensely helpful is that Oasis Skin have taken the trouble to include directions on how to use their clay masks on the website!

So if you ever purchase the mask and aren’t sure of the water to mask ratio to mix, the directions are as follows:

“Scoop 2 spoonfuls of mask powder out into a non-metal bowl and carefully add liquid to mix it into a paste. We recommend a 1:1 ratio of clay to liquid. Use the oasis:skin mask brush to apply the mask evenly onto your cleansed face and let it dry for 10-15 minutes. Gently wash it off with warm water and mist your face after to complete the treatment. For the ultimate treat, use your oasis:skin face mist liquid as a mask mixer to supercharge your mask therapy.”

Also, since Oasis Skin only just launched earlier this month, they are currently giving all customers 10% off. Hurrah!

Take advantage of this promotion and use OASIS10 at checkout.

Happy masking and misting friends!

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