#1894| Round up: 2014 Favorites

It’s that time of the year again, where I start to round up the products I’ve loved best over the course of the past year. I’ve announced on instagram that I’ll be away for most of December in New Zealand for a very exciting collaboration with Nikon, so I’m bringing this post forward to November in case I don’t get the chance to talk about this later on!

ACCESSORIES

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From left: hand stamped JEMMA bar necklace from Modern Minimalist Co | white feather earrings from EtherealFay etsy store | Silver Cage rings, Rose gold seamless bangle, and Clear droplet pendant from The Ordinary Co | Gold classic Quartz necklace and Gold Josie Ring from Byinviteonly Store | Bullet rock bracelet from Chainless Brain | Christmas Card from the KRISxERN collection.

This year has brought on board a new, clean aesthetic for my accessories collection – I’ve found myself increasingly drawn to the simple lines and angles of jewelry in classic gold, silver, and of course: rose gold. These are some of my favorites from the huge collection I’ve amassed this year – do you see a trend forming? Because I do.

HAIR

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From left: Sea salt surf bomb spray, Know Knott conditioning detangler, and Atomic thickening spritz from Original Mineral.
2014 Favorite: Know Knott Conditioning Detangler.


I generally place more emphasis on styling products – like texturizing sprays, volumizing sprays and so on, but this year I went back to the basics with haircare products. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my sea salt spray, but over the past year my conditioning detangler has been a lifesaver, especially with my severely bleached hair. It’s the price one has to pay for blonde locks – and there’s no point having great color if it doesn’t look silky. I use the detangler everyday after my shower with my TangleTeezer and it works through my hair like a dream.

STYLING

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Bosch Hair curler and straightener. Image cred: Google

I bought this on Drea’s recommendation and use it almost everyday: it’s a fantastic 2-in-1 hair curler and straightener with a surprisingly less-than-hefty price tag of less than 90SGD – similar range curlers cost upwards of 100SGD. You can get it in Takashimaya I think, but it always sells out there. It’s also available at Great World City but I’m not sure exactly where else. I use this in conjunction with a styling spray by Original Mineral.

SKINCARE

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Benta Berry Girl’s skincare line

This one is a no- brainer. I’ve been raving all about it – it works wonders for me and has become the foundation of my skincare routine ever since I got back from Germany. You can read my in-depth review here.

MAKE UP


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Mac’s Gel Liner. Image Cred: Google.

I’ve been through so many liners over the years – liquid, gel, pencil – and I think I can safely say I’ve found the perfect liner for my needs. You have to use this with a liner brush, which can easily be purchased separately from drugstores, and it requires a bit more effort than straight on dashing your liner on with a liquid liner, but the difference is palpable. It’s pretty waterproof and smudgeproof, and gives you that clean solid line that’s essential in any eye-emphatic make up look. When I was trying to decide what my make up favorite would be, it was a tough toss up between this and Benefit’s Porefessional, which gives a surprisingly perfect matte look to your skin, but I use eyeliner literally everyday, so this one won. The Mac Gel Liner is available in stores at about 30 bucks.

THE ALL PURPOSE BAG

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Black leather backpack from Yesstyle.com

My love for leather has seeped into all aspects of my life. I saw a black leather backpack on Rumi Neely’s instagram page a couple of years ago and fell in love. Last year I started using a black leather backpack a friend got me from Korea, but it broke my heart in the form of an irreparable zipper earlier in the year. I never realized how heavily I depended on it – did you know, a black leather bag goes with everything? I couldn’t find one I liked enough to replace it (I always had issues with everything I saw online or in stores – didn’t like the zipper color, didn’t like the shape, looked too fake, etc) until I went to Germany ended up buying one from Yesstyle.com, which is a Korean site if I’m not wrong. It ships free for all orders above 25USD, which isn’t difficult to hit. Best decision ever – it fits everything including my laptop and DSLR, and I brought it everywhere. This baby has been halfway across the world with me.

IF I COULD ONLY CHOOSE ONE WARDROBE ESSENTIAL

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Black tailored pants from Zara

I don’t know how I never realized that I lacked a high res shot of these pants, but they’ve been an absolute essential of late. The above picture was taken at the Klarra studio preview, and I’ve been wearing these pants to everything – there’s just something about proper black pants that makes you look classier and more presentable immediately. Statement pieces aside, this is such a wardrobe essential. I’ve been looking everywhere and I finally got this pair from Zara for a cool 79 bucks I think. Topshop does something similar for slightly cheaper but the cutting is less flattering, and for a staple like this I think it’s worth investing a bit more. The picture does it no justice, obviously, which reminds me that I really should take proper shots of this soon.

IF I COULD ONLY CHOOSE ONE WHATS-IN-MY-BAG ITEM


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17 month agenda from ShopBando. Image cred: glamorousrevelation.blogspot.com

I cannot live without my agenda. I simply cannot. When I leave home without it by accident I feel like my life is collapsing in on itself. I always have a photo of the upcoming month’s pages in my phone in case I need to refer to it at any time. (Lifehack alert!) I’ve been using a Fashionary over the past two years on Shini’s recommendation, but this year I thought to try something different so i went for the supercute Ban.Do 17 month planner after seeing it on their instagram page. It’s got a very kiki.k feel, except more.. American? I dont know. It’s adorable and I adore it. It comes with a bunch of extra things which dont do much functionally except add to its quirky feel, like stickers and motivational doodles and messages, but it works for me. I also love that it starts from August and ends in December the following year – following the academic year. Unfortunately, it’s sold out at the moment but you can wait for next year’s edition.

WARNING: the planner itself is only 20 bucks, but the shipping will kill you. If you’re in Singapore, the shipping is nearly 1.5x what the planner itself costs, so ship it to a friend in the US and get it from her. That’s what I did.

Alright, that pretty much sums up my 2014 favorites/ essentials. I doubt anything else will suddenly pop up over the next month that makes me want to bump off a spot on any of the above, but if it does, you’ll hear about it on my instagram. :)

Have a great year end, everybody. x

x
♥jem

#1893| Jemma for Orchard Hotel Singapore: Checking in for Cram Week

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Location c/o Orchard Hotel Singapore | Photos by Warren Tey and Martin Hong

People underestimate the positive effect a well timed staycation can have on you. There was a particularly painful week last month with mid terms and deadlines all crammed together (read: university cram week) and we decided to do our final year’s hell week in style: upgrading from overnighting in Starbucks to overnighting in a hotel room.

Orchard Hotel was where I had my very first prom back in 2008, so returning felt kind of nostalgic, like I was reliving a bit of the harried glamor from that night. OHS very generously offered us a premium room with club lounge access for all our studying caffeinated needs, and boy oh boy it was a long night – but arguably one of the most comfortable cram sessions I’ve ever had.

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Cookies and gummies from the club lounge delivered to our room

The thing about OHS is, they’re located right on the fringe of town and a short walk from the train station (nearest MRT station: Orchard Road), but not so smack in the center of Orchard that everything becomes inflated price wise. Right across the hotel there’s a 24 hour macdonalds, and in the vicinity there’s a Starbucks and Coffee Bean, if you’re thinking of popping out for a shot. And while the hotel itself has fantastic dining options, if you’re up late and want to explore a little, there’s the famous Jane Thai down at Orchard Towers open till 4am, which some have ventured to call the best thai eatery in Singapore. Our initial plan was to cram till 2/3am then grab some Thai takeout, but it never happened because we were so full from the insane dinner buffet at the Orchard Cafe:

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Serving lobsters, shellfish, sashimi, and local fare

The sashimi in particular was mouthwatering, something I didn’t expect from a non-japanese specific buffet spread. And even though we realized that it was due to our being invited down, we were impressively well taken care of. From the moment we walked in to take a seat to the time we finished our meal, the restaurant manager and chefs came up to us to greet us and describe the menu to us – we felt like very undeserving VIPS, given how we were basically there to cram.

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In the club lounge

Post dinner happy hour in the club lounge, where they serve cocktails from 6-8pm and screen soccer all evening.

Imagine this: intermittently napping while revising for midterms, then waking up in the laziest way possible – in a flurry of white down quilts and pillows with gentle sunlight streaming in. It was glorious.

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The burning question is: how effective is studying in a hotel room, really?

I was up most of the night revising and practicing for my BTT – yes, i know, late to the party – and I passed a day after check out, so I’d say the cram session fulfilled its purpose for me. But more than that – it was a supremely well timed break in a period where stress levels are normally flying high. And there’s just something about waking up in a hotel room that puts you in a good mood for the rest of the week, no?

Thank you for having us, Orchard Hotel!

x
♥jem

#1892| Jemma for Nikon: Krabi, Underwater

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imagesKrabi, Thailand.

Before we get into any narratives on Krabi, let me first address the burning question in the room: how did I get this instagram photo, would I recommend the camera, and is this the beginning of another Instagrammer’s Guide To post?

The only way to answer the above seems to be to run an unbiased and unprofessional (read: non hardcore, user viewpoint) review of the camera based on my experience with it. For the past month or so, I’ve been carrying the Nikon AW120 around in my various handbags, using it interchangeably with my iPhone camera for instagram. You can, as usual, track the photos taken with it via the hashtag #jemmafornikon on IG. It’s tiny, much lighter than my DSLR, and very, very convenient. Here’s why:

GREAT THINGS ABOUT THE AW120

It’s hardy.
Waterproof, coldproof (to -10deg) and shockproof for a 2m drop, which is more than my height, so that’s perfect.

It’s cheap.
>Under $500 for a camera? That’s pretty rare.

It’s made for instagram.
Read: WIFI enabled. I’ve been beaming photos straight from the camera to my phone via a Nikon photo app, which has been extremely useful all over Korea, Krabi, and Singapore when I’d rather have a 16mp picture to edit over an iphone-quality one.

It comes in a cute camo design.
Need I say more?

However, having all these functions is great, but not crucial. Meaning, it’s fun to have a wifi enabled, army print camera, but is it really necessary when you already have a perfectly serviceable iPhone to take photos with? I dont know. On the other hand, when I flew to Krabi last week, the hardy little camera suddenly became indispensable.

Beach holidays are always a toss up between beautiful pictures and risky situations. Very few places inspire similar feelings of utter relaxation, but at the same time you’re always finding yourself in precarious situations while trying to capture the perfect beach shot. I’ve had friends lose phones to sudden monster crashing waves while trying to capture pictures, and have long lamented not being able to take great photos while snorkeling in the gorgeous cave pools of Ponza. The fact is, most times you just cant risk bringing your thousand dollar DSLR near a body of water, and the few times I’ve brought my iPhone out to sea for the pictures I was hyperventilating the whole time. Is this what the Nikon is then? The pictorial parallel for what you search for in every relationship: Security.

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In any other circumstance, this picture would have cost me a good camera’s life.

I felt like I spent most of my time in Krabi dripping in a swimsuit. The AW120 came in incredibly handy – most days I just slung the camera around my neck and went swimming or snorkeling happily, without worrying that it’d bump into something (it’s shockproof anyway) or that it’d get wet (that’s the whole point). The clarity of the pictures depend on the murkiness of the water body – pool pictures turned out sharp, sea pictures were less so but still pretty clear:

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Taken underwater

I imagine, though, that in Singapore waters the pictures would just be a blur of sea green. Still, the camera’s best features really come out when you take a proper summer vacay.

On our second afternoon in Krabi, we took a boat out to the Phi Phi islands and went snorkeling in waters that were famous for brazen fish – the minute we dropped into the water, they came swarming over us. And this time, I have pictorial proof:

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Getting photobombed by a fish? Check.

It’s not so much that I captured so many priceless moments with the camera (seriously, I must have about a thousand pictures of.. fish). It’s also that we could take photos in the water, not necessarily underwater, that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to capture. Selfie in the water anyone?

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Off the shores of Maya Bay.

Out of the water, the photos taken by the AW120 are serviceable, to say the least. It runs with a wide-angle f/2.8 NIKKOR lens, which means great landscape or group shots, and you can switch it up to Macro mode for crisp pictures with a minimum focusing distance of 1cm. Here are some of the pictures I took with the camera while out of the water, subject to basic editing in Lightroom as I do all my pictures:

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The picture quality is vibrant enough for a compact camera, much better than others of the same price range. I’m comparing this not just against my vague memory of my first camera, but across the many compact cameras I handled in Krabi. You can’t really holiday in a tourist destination without people constantly coming up to you and asking you to take a picture for them, especially if they see you snapping away.

On a whole, I’d say that it’s a good camera. It won’t replace my DSLR – I feel like I’ll always be a DSLR girl – but it works well as a stand in on days I don’t want to lug it around and when I’m traveling to highly elemental places. It’s got a great price point, and the battery life is pretty decent. The wifi is also a huge plus point, especially in this day and age of instant updates and connectivity.

THE BOTTOMLINE: GET IT IF YOU

- don’t need incredibly professional (read: DSLR) photos and rather not compromise your shoulder blades for pure megapixels.
- are looking for a casual camera that works better than the average.
- are clumsy. I knocked the camera against a couple of hard surfaces accidentally and carried it around in my bag without a case (sorry, Nikon SG!) and it’s still hunky dory.

VERDICT

It’s a perfect family camera, and in the same way teenage girls go for flip screen selfie cameras, this is one that you should get if you’re the outdoors-y type who also likes to instagram.

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All pictures in this post taken with the Nikon AW120, except those of the AW120, which are taken with the Canon 500D. Full list of specs here.

Thank you for the love, Nikon SG!

x
♥jem

#1891 | Jemma for Spotify: November Tunes

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imagesKrabi, Thailand.

Hello from Krabi, land of sun and sea. I popped over for a breather with a girlfriend after a nightmarish couple of weeks stuffed with assignments and deadlines, and I’ve been annoying everyone on instagram with this beach life, but I came up with a less expensive alternative for those geographically committed.

Nothing makes me happier than to announce that I’ve collaborated with Spotify to release a new playlist every month! For those of you who, impossibly, are unfamiliar with Spotify, you can read my review of the music streaming service last mid-year here. Music is such a huge part of my life, having been an excessively emotional choir girl, and while I’m not a veteran in all genres, listening to the right songs can make such a huge difference to my day. In the months to come, I may host giveaways for premium accounts and what not, depending on a variety of factors, but to start off here’s a list of tunes for the month of november, deadlines, and examinations:



Taylor swiftless it may be, but this playlist is a personal curation of tunes that never fail to lift my mood in a laid back, side-smile kind of way. I only hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

And for those of you who need a playlist to accompany you through the long and inevitable nights of cramming, here’s something else I’ve been hooked on – Spotify’s in house Intense Studying playlist:



I know right. Spotify, it knows the feels.

Meanwhile, if you have any favorite songs, do share them with me and I may put them in my next playlist! :) You can find me on Spotify with the username jemmawei, or via this link.

All my love, and well wishes for those of you who are also trudging towards the last bits of the semester.

x
♥jem

#1890 | An afternoon at the Barceloneta

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imagesBarcelona, Spain.

Of course I’m blogging during prime cramming season. We humans are creatures of immolation. In between breaths of Renaissance literature I find myself dreaming of an afternoon at the Barceloneta. It’s funny – I’ve never thought of myself as a beach kinda girl. First things first (I’m a realist) I hate sand. That alone makes it kind of difficult to look at a beach holiday with any sort of enthusiasm. But then again, my locus of experience with beaches have always been the sticky sands of East Coast Park. I adored the Barceloneta with a fervor that caused the boyfriend some level of alarm. Perhaps it’s just humidity I take issue with.

I could have spent my whole trip just lazing by the water. It’s probably an act of divine providence that we only made it to the beach on the last couple of days or we’d have gotten absolutely nothing else done. I remember this: an old european man dusting sand off a polaroid picture and handing it to me.

I think this is yours, he says. Where are you from?

I launch into the familiar spiel of Chinese born Singaporean, based in Germany, holidaying in Spain.

Germany! Sehr Gut. Ich bin von Deutschland auch. I am from Germany also.

We engage in low level German conversation, till the limitations of my prowess cause us to switch back to English.

May I give you some life advice? He asks.

I shrug, it seems older people always have advice to give, solicited or not.

I’m from Germany and I run a business there, but I spend half my time in Barcelona. Two weeks in Germany, two weeks in Barcelona every month. When I’m in Barcelona, all I do is have a mojito and sit by the beach. Hard work is good. But so is learning to relax.

I’ve heard many variations of the Life is short lecture over and over, but this is the first living example I’ve encountered. I’m fascinated, I’m jealous. The idea of geographically forcing yourself to cleave your life cleanly into a neat division of work and play is completely foreign to me, where a moment unproductive is a moment wasted. I forget sometimes about the intangible currency of learning to relax.

It’s the old German I’m thinking of now as I trudge through the last sighs of hell week. It occurs to me that I immensely enjoy the subject matter I am pouring over, the only thing I take contention with being the pressure cooker environment academia demands from us. It’s a tough line to toe between balance and boredom. I’m still writing here because I am not writing the other thing that demands to be written. Is there a better time for an abrupt ending? I think not.

x
♥jem