Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Red wine mask

I finally managed to get my hands on a bottle of this mask from Taiwan earlier this month. This mask was highly recommended by renowned Taiwanese artiste Big-S, in her book, 美容大王.

I've heard that there are lots of imitation products out there due to the success of the book, so when one of my Taiwanese ex-colleague offered to go to the clinic to get them, I was thrilled. They cost quite a bit so I got her to get me a small bottle (60g) for now.

When I got the bottle, I didn't feel that thrilled anymore.

On the rather cheap looking plastic bottle, the English translation says "Direction: Apply thin layer of the mask with a spatula to the face and leave it for 15-20 minutes. Remove the mask with a spatula, then, with adequate amount of water with sponges."

Remove the mask with a spatula? Erm.. the mask is supposed to be on my face, right..?

Very dodgy.

Fortunately, the directions in mandarin were much clearer, just remove the mask with wet cotton buds.

Keen to test out the effects of the mask, I used it everyday, for about half a month now.

And I must say it is good. I feel that it brightens my complexion and my skin feels smoother.

This mask is available on sale at this website. You'd have to be able to read traditional mandarin to navigate this website.. although... I don't really know if it delivers overseas.

But I've managed to secure my channel for future supplies now. It's nice to have friends from different parts of the world.

Monday, April 27, 2009

And now soil mealies?!

Oh.. this is really bad.. my purple chillis (all four of them) and my cherry tomatoes (all three of them), have been attacked by soil mealies..

I saw those pests yesterday and I stared for a while in disbelief. I took some actions immediately.. but I don’t think my babies stand a chance.. they are still so young!

My garden is now almost bare again..

I’m quite convinced I have black fingers now.. and am too sad to blog on further.

I think is my plants’ way of complaining my absence from the garden.

Sigh. And I’d be away for another week soon again. Oh dear oh dear.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

April is sakura month

Sakura, or cherry blossoms, are one of my favourite flowers. For one thing.. they are pink! And they look so delicate and ladylike.

I was going going through some old photos and came upon these ones, taken in Beijing about 2 years ago in April at this park called 玉渊谭公园. It is extremely crowded in the weekends.. But weekdays are less scary.. and it is nice to visit when the sakura flowers are in bloom in April.

Of course, I love the sakuras at Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo as well.

Thought I'd use a picture of these as my blog's header and share some pictures as well.. :)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

My sweet basils have gone to heaven

It is depressing, that whilst the blog of the other forummers on the GCS Forum is filled with beautiful pictures of their newest plants and freshly harvested herbs and vegetables, here I am, blogging about pests and deaths.

It is depressing indeed.

My basils were the first "real plants" I have.. and the first herbs I grew. Before that, I only had a few of those plants that almost never die.. like money plant and the like.

I was so proud of them. I bought them from the supermarket and rooted them in a nice rectangular pot.

They grew big fat juicy leaves. I ate their leaves for dinners, cooking them with tagliatelle, garlic and parmesan cheese.

They were attacked by white flies. Armed with the advice from fellow forummers, I used an organic insecticide and fended the pests away.

Their leaves turned yellowish. Again, with advice from the forummers, I brought them into a place with full sun and their leaves turned nice and green again.

I went overseas. They looked fine when I returned and waved their big green leaves cheerfully.

Then, I noticed their stems were a little brown.. their leaves started turning yellow.. And then, inexplicably, they turned brown and died.

Today, I packed them into a plastic bag and threw them down the rubbish chute.

My searches in Google tells me that they were rotting due to over-watering. I can only suspect that the problem was due to the heavy rains, on top of the daily watering.

But at least, for now, I can comfort myself that they are probably in heaven now - for the little joy they added to their owner and to her dining table.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Wild winds

Wednesday night was a scary night..

Even now, my roselle and blue peas are recovering from it.

Channel NewsAsia had this to say: "The National Environment Agency (NEA) says a tropical storm is the reason for the strong winds which blew into Singapore Wednesday night. A wind speed of up to 83 kilometres per hour was recorded -- the strongest in nearly nine years. Among the damage caused - fallen trees and a broken construction crane."

Broken construction crane? Wow.

But it was really quite scary. We don't stay too high up - only on the 5th and 6th level, but because of our apartment's location and the fact that we don't really have other buildings blocking our view, the wind really hit us on Wednesday...

For one, Mr Umbrella had to be hulled near the wall. Mr Umbrella, is our balcony umbrella. A really strong, heavy and sturdy square umbrella, who usually stands closed and quietly. But he really looked as if he'd open up and fly off if we didn't drag him to a corner. And in doing so, our beautiful decking got badly scratched.

Ms Yellow Hibiscus (who gets white flies attacks all the time) collapsed and so did Mr Palm, Ms Roselle. Our balcony furniture - a resin chair and a wooden bench was toppled over by the winds.

My husband and I had to go out in the rain, putting everything by the wall and then climbing back to bed, wishing for the best.

It was a really scary night.

The morning after, my balconies were in a horrific mess.

Isn't it quite amazing what a strong wind can do? It makes me think.. we.. or rather I, take our surroundings and weather in Singapore for granted a lot more than I should.

If I were in Hong Kong, or Japan, or even Beijing.. I'd never leave things just out in the balcony just like that.

Hm.. talking of which, I should go bring them indoors now.

I passed my driving test

I am so so glad I passed my driving test today. I'm still in a state of disbelief, actually.

I had a sleepless night worrying about the test. Honestly, I've never been so worried for any test - in school, at work.. (not that i had exams at work, but there are those presentations to clients and bosses.. well.. they were kind of like tests..). Actually, I usually am quite bold when it comes to these things. Nervous yes.. but usually bold.

But I felt myself turning into a nervous wreck this morning, whilst waiting for my warm-up instructor. He could tell I was very nervous because the car stalled when I turned out of the carpark.

I bet the instructor could feel it too... because I couldn't release the handbrake. I think I attempted to release it for about 6 to 8 times.. The warm-up instructor really left it quite tight after he parked the car. But I was also too nervous.

So you can imagine what a nervous wreck I was at that time.

Whatever it is, the Singapore Traffic Police felt I qualified enough to give me a driving license and boy, am I glad I can finally drive our car now.. AND... I don't ever (fingers crossed) have to go through a driving test again.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tea Tree Oil

I always have a bottle of tea tree oil at home. It works best for me whenever I have those nasty little pimples that crop up when the weather gets too hot.. or whenever I return home from a different climate. My pimples usually disappear the next day. A really red and big one meant take one more day to go away. But it always works.

Tea tree oil also works against mild dandruff. A couple of drops in your shampoo is all it takes.

Hence, I always make sure I don't run out of tea tree oil at home. When a forummer from GCS offered tea tree seeds, I jumped at it. Not that I hope to get tea tree oil out of it of course.. just thought it'd be nice if the shrub gives out a nice smell for my balcony. (To be honest, I don't really know if it does... ) I haven't gotten round to germinating the seeds yet due to my travel plans. I was thinking of doing it in May, after our trip to Hong Kong..

But I've just found out that tea tree oil is a lot more useful than just for pimples.. Apparently, besides being a natural antiseptic, it is also a germicide, fungicide and insecticide! Rummi shared that it can be effective towards red spider mites.. so last evening, I took some chilled water, added a couple drops of tea tree oil and sprayed and sprayed and sprayed.

The smell of my balcony afterwards was like that of a spa. So much so I felt like spraying it on myself. And viola, when I woke up this morning and inspected my plants, I didn't see a single RSM. Not sure if it is 100% due to the tea tree oil, or the heavy downpour last night.

But whatever it is, this is such a nice spray to use that I think I'd be using it for quite a while yet.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Red Spider Mites

I found out yesterday morning I had a red spider mites problem... on the GCS forum, it is also called RSM.

Now, I hate pests.. no, actually, I'm intolerant of any pests - ants, spiders, lizards (Argh!).. When I started gardening, I found out that some plants are a magnet for pests - like my lovely yellow hibiscus, she is a magnet for white flies.

And so I dutifully spray all my herbs with an organic insecticide, actually a bacterial insecticide to be precise.. and I spray all my other plants regularly with insecticide and pesticide. So, whilst my yellow hibicus still gets lots of white flies attracted to her, the problem is under control.

But since I came back from my trip, I noticed my plants were looking a little forlorn. My special mints (orange mint, chocolate mint and EDT mint) looked... erm... dusty. I thought it was because of lack of water. But then, as I casually flipped the mint leaves, I noticed some faint webs..

"Oh no!" I thought. "Bad sign!"

And I was right. It was a bad sign. Under many leaves were small dark red specks. So tiny I didn't can't tell if they are specks of soil or insects. But I blew on them and they moved. Oh dear....

I've heard that red spider mites are one of the most feared pests of a gardener. Some species are incredibly resistant to insecticide. But they hate humidity and cold water.

So, I've tried to kill those I can see with my hands (and a tissue) and have sprayed 2 rounds of insecticide. I'm also trying to spray on my plants more regularly to increase the humidity.

Hopefully, that will keep the problem under control.

Sigh.. I hate pests.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Gardening and Travelling

Gardening and travelling, i found out... doesn't go well together. Like rice and ketchup, soy sauce and pasta, business suits and slippers... oh well, you get the idea.

I went away to Beijing for about 9 days.. and during that time, left basic instructions for my busy husband on how to take care of my plants. He did a really nice job. Really. And I really appreciate his efforts.

But my plants are all spoilt by my daily tender loving care... or what I like to think it is what I do. I would rush out into the balcony at the slightest sign of rain and hustle them indoors. On days when it is just too hot and sunny, I'd give them an extra sip of water... If pests come near them, I'd spray, catch and kill..

So, after 9 days.. my plants are well but they looked at me reproachfully.. for neglecting them and leaving them.

And now I'm thinking of I should do when both of us travel together back to Hong Kong in early May..

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Back to Beijing

I arrived in Beijing on Tuesday morning.

Yes, it meant I took the red-eye flight again. Even though after every single time, I tell myself that I'm too old to do this again. But of course, I always forget how unpleasant the experience is after a couple of weeks.. "Mdm! Wet Towels!"... "What drinks would you like?"... even though I was obviously drifting off to dreamland.. And then "Mdm! Breakfast for you!?" at 430am.. sighz...

But I digress.... this blog is meant to be about Beijing.

Having lived in this city for about 3 years.. it's nice to be back for a week after 3 months of being away. When I arrived, it is strange how familiar, yet distant everything has become. But then, surprisingly, after 2 days.. it is as if I never left.

It is great to visit my favourite restaurants, plan for shopping in the weekend and all.

But best of all, I get to catch up with my friends. :)

It is lovely move back home to Sunny Island - there's nothing I like better. But it's nice to be back in Beijing. Especially in Spring..

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Etsy Shop - Kailo Chic

OK.. so I haven't really been blogging.. have been procrastinating for some really lame reasons.. busy with driving class, busy with baking classes... blah blah blah..

Whilst I wanted to blog on my hobbies - cooking, baking, gardening, etc.. is funny that one of my first blog should be about... my other not-so-wholesome hobby - shopping! hehe.

I was first introduced to by a church friend of mine. "Your place to buy and sell everything handmade".. Ahh.. doesn't that sound quaint? I like handicraft and like things handmade. There are so many cool things in etsy. I always feel that you can browse endlessly inside etsy.

I stumbled upon this lady's shop today and since I always have a weakness for purses and clutch bag, it didn't take very long for me to fall in love with her etsy shop:

So nice....She even has her own online shop -!

I really like this particular pouch.. it even has a polka dot lining.. :) *Sigh* So nice..