Monday, September 28, 2009

My Money Saving Tips

After my big splurge a few posts ago, I decided I need to scrimp & save on some things for the next couple of months or so. Sadly, those Uniqlo cords I wanted to get might be out of the picture, though $19.90 for a pair are really we'll see how long I can hold out for...

But I did come up with some money saving tips that I thought I might share with everyone, so here goes:
  • Find inventive ways to style your hair - curl it, mimic a salon blowout. Whatever it is, styling your do refreshes it & buys you time before your next trim. So dust-off those curling irons and wake up a little earlier & put some effort into it. People notice, trust me.

  • Save on color cosmetics - especially the trendy stuff. Eyeshadows and lipsticks in experimental colors for the season don't have to be expensive. Drugstore brands will do just fine and if you're worried about the colors not being pigmented enough, just make sure you use an eyeshadow base/primer.

  • Always be on the lookout for good sales/deals - Old Navy has fantastic deals on basic tshirts and tank tops. Forever 21 and H&M are my go-tos for current trends. Uniqlo is awesome for affordable basics too. Being in NY, we have sample sales galore - so hit them up and stock up on the classics.

  • When shopping online - ALWAYS look for coupon codes. You never know when you can get an extra 15% off or free shipping.

  • Buy handmade - I've found great items for very affordable prices from These are up and coming designers trying to make a small living from their crafty hobbies.

  • Buy refill packs of shampoo/body wash etc instead of new bottles. You will often save a few dollars by reusing your old containers.

  • If you have small pets like I do, like hamsters or guinea pigs - recycle things around your home for them to play in or use instead of buying feeders or bowls from stores. An old tissue box, toilet rolls and paperbags make fun toys, makeshift feeders & hideouts for them.

  • Jojoba oil is a great multi-purpose product! Use it to treat split ends or as a hair treatment. It can also be used as a makeup remover (since it leaves no residue) and foot & hand treatment for dry skin & cuticles!

  • Invest in neutral nail polish to save you trips to the manicurist. Neutral colors last longer and chips are less obvious and they're easier to paint on.

  • Reinforce the soles and heels of your new or current shoes to make them last a lot longer and always consult a cobbler before throwing away a pair of old shoes/boots to see if it can be salvaged.

  • Pack your own lunch to work!

  • Drink your own homemade coffee or tea rather than ringing it up at Starbucks while on the way to work

  • Make use of a water filter rather than bottled water or if you are the bottled mineral water drinker - look out for deals. The other day at Rite Aid, I saw Smart Water on sale for 5 for $5!

  • Don't ever be shy when asking for samples. This gives you the opportunity to try new products without paying full price.

  • Make use of drugstore coupons and weekly deals they have. Often, essentials are featured like toothpaste or toilet paper and even cosmetics are sometimes buy one get one free!

  • Subscribe to magazines - its MUCH cheaper!

  • Never be afraid to look for cheaper alternatives online. Especially if you know what you're looking for. I found my Hot Tools curling iron for more than 40% off online than if I bought it at a beauty supply store. My vacuum was also at least 50% off too. Amazon has books which are sold used but really are in quite good condition and you save anywhere from 30%-70% off the retail price. This doesn't exclude designer/branded items too, my gf got awesome deals at - she paid $70 for a pair Giorgio Armani flats and $60 for a Marni skirt!
I do hope this proves to be useful information - in this economy a little bit can go a long way. Would love to hear any other money saving tips any of you might have! :) Go forth & save!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Golden Shopping Mall, Flushing

Today, my girlfriend & I decided to venture Flushing, NY - famous for good Chinese food, cheap Chinese groceries and all around Chinese goodness. Our goal Anthony Bourdain's featured spot on the "Outer Boroughs" episode on No Reservations - Golden Shopping Mall.
Armed with an empty stomach we made the trek out of Manhattan into the burbs of what is a predominantly Asian/Chinese area. All the signs are in Mandarin, no one speaks English and not a single Caucasian soul in sight. Feels like Asia already! And of course being Sunday, its universal grocery shopping day so Main Street is bustling!

With our iPhones and Google Maps in hand, we find our destination and eventually find the entrance and walk downstairs to enter a bustling, cramped, dirty food court. Ah! At last! & it feels so authentic too. Brought me back to the days in Singapore where hawker stalls are cramped together, while patrons sit on make shift seating consisting of stools and foldable tables and orders are always yelled out. PERFECT!

We do a quick look around and settle with dumplings first. We place our orders and dug in. Note: they aren't any menus and if there are its all in Chinese so if you don't read or speak the language, be prepared to point and pay. I also think its cash only but that shouldn't be a problem, our dumpling feast was $5 with a side of fried chive pancake. Disgustingly cheap for NY's standards but also fresh, handmade and piping hot. Plenty of chilli paste and chinese black vinegar. Slurp and all 12 are gone. Next stop, Xi'an Famous Foods - another foodstall toured by Mr Bourdain. Famed for Liang Pi & their lamb burger. Seeing how I don't eat lamb we went for the pulled pork instead which was well-spiced and seasoned to perfection. Mmm..Mmm...The Liang Pi was a first for me and it was AMAZING! Apparently, the recipe from this stall is several generations old and very authentic. Chewy, tangy, spicy and peanuty all in one - its a flavour that's hard to define and must be tried.

Stuffed and sweaty, we decided to pop outside for a breather and some bubble tea and before venturing home. We swung by for cheap groceries and hopped back on the 7 to return to the city. What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday!

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Emmy Picks

I only watch this for the gorgeous gowns.
My top 2: Blake Lively (HOT!!! in Versace) and Drew Barrymore (Divine in nude Monique Lhuillier)

This song always makes me cry

I was surfing Youtube and came across a few unsigned but incredibly talented artists which I felt were worth a listen. In this cover of Death Cab for a Cutie's I Will Follow You into the Dark - is Jinah & Gerald (aka singindork888 or afraid of everest).

Everytime I listen to this song, I cry. More than just cry, I bawl. Partly because its such a sad song and partly because its so profoundly sweet. I don't profess to know the intention of song but it invites me to long for a type of love described here. It's incredibly hard to articulate but the lyrics of this song speak it so clearly and never fails to touch my heart.

It's the type of love only time can mould and inspire. The kind which supersedes death, separation & hardship. The kind of epic love stories and deep but quiet relationships are made of. The kind shared by an elderly couple or tragic young lovers.

It's the kind of love I should be so lucky to have one day...with time, age, wisdom and a deeply intimate partnership with the one I love and who loves me.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I've got you under my skin...

Holy cow. I think I just about spent the most lavish amount of money on my skin EVER. I decided it was about high time I treated myself to a facial. So off I went after work to Amore Pacific down the street. An hour and a half later, I walk out with glowing skin and a hole in my pocket from what I consider an obscene amount of money on my face.

Walking back home, I try to justify my indulgent purchase. 2 products & 1 facial treatment and my credit card is crying from the burn. I'm sure gonna feel it this next month...But I was thoroughly impressed by the impeccable service and quality of products. It better be, for what I just paid! I also remembered something my mum once told me: "You only have one face, so you better take good care of it" And with that, I decided recently that I will take better care of my skin. I realise youthful skin doesn't come to the lazy or complacent and once the damage is done - its done for good. Unless of course, you have no qualms spending even more obscene amounts of money to fix it later.

Good quality products go a long way. My mum used to always advocate spending a little more to keep your skin looking flawless and well-maintained. My mother had AMAZING skin - right till the end mind you, despite her illness. She always encouraged me to have facials once a month, always moisturize and use eye cream. She was the 1st person to introduce me to a proper skin care regime (cleanse, tone & moisturize!) along with a starter kit from Clinique at the age of 16.

Having facials once a month is a little out of my budget these days but I do try to maintain a good routine. I'm no product snob - I use drugstore brands as well as Japanese and other more professional/higher end products. I'm a big fan of Asian brands because I feel they target my skin better than generic products :) Although as I get older, I feel the need to invest a little more in the professional brands which come with much more extensive and advanced R&D.

Whatever your skin type - remember that you only have 1 face so the best thing to do is understand your skin's needs and be proactive about taking preventive measures rather than dealing with your skin issues later. So with a large hole in my wallet, here's looking forward to glowing skin :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fashion Week begins!

The end of Summer is commemorated by NY Fashion Week and to begin the festivities: Anna Wintour's brain child - Fashion's Night Out. A celebration of fashion where brands and retailers all over the world in fabulous cities come together to encourage shopping :)

Being fortunate enough to live in the ultimate city of fashion and work in the heart of a fashionable neighbourhood, I strolled the streets after work with some friends and checked out the festivities which involved freebies, appys, lotsa cocktails and champagne and apparently celebrities - which I was completely oblivious to :P Boo. I think I left Tory Burch a few minutes after Russell Simmons arrived. I missed Anna Wintour at Bloomingdales and I did see the crazy line-up at Bathing Ape which must've had some sort of celebrity (it was Kid Cuddi - WHO?)

Of course, I was also following the tons of live play-by-play tweets as I roamed the streets. But an early day of work the next day prompted me to retire early and head on home at 9pm. I do hope this is repeated every year - it seemed like a great success and apparently Jason Wu alone, moved about $30,000 of merchandise so I hope it did the retail scene a little good this slow back-to-school/fall buying season.

It's a Friday night, I'm exhausted from work and chilling at home with Willi and am in dire need of catching up on NYFW's first shows & my September books, doing my laundry and general apartment cleaning/tidying up.'s nice to be home :) Happy Housekeeping!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Always listen to your mother/grandmother

You know how your mom or grandma used to tell you to never go to bed with wet/damp hair because it will give you a headache? Well, shame on me. Always listen to your mom/grandma - their advice/old wives' tales may sounds ridiculous and totally unscientific but there's always some truth in it.

I know she must be laughing at me right about now :P