#2089 | Singapore Snack Series – Jalan Tua Kong Lau Lim Mee Pok aka The Art of Mee Pok

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All pictures taken on the Nikon Z6, with a 35 f 1.8 lens

Hey guys,

Something I wanted to start doing last year but put off because Reasons (aka work) was to start talking more about the great spots we have back home. I travel so much that I’m always populating my feeds with recommendations for destinations far and wide.. when in reality, Singaporean food is like, the best. Obviously.

Singaporean food is a bit of a culinary convergence of the Straits, with influence from cultures all around the region. We have fantastic dining options from most asian cultures — Chinese, Malay, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, etc etc etc, which makes eating your way through the Lion City basically the overarching goal around which tourists plan their itinerary. We also have dining situations that cater to vasty varying budgets, from the mega high end to our beloved heartland hawkers. Actually, I’ll do up the breakdown of what kind of dining options we have in a different post as that’s a whole other story, but today, fresh off brunch at one of my favorite meepok stalls, I’m here with the first of my Singapore Snacccccc Series recommendations: Jalan Tua Kong Lau Lim Mee Pok, Aka The Art of Mee Pok.

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I’m not bullshitting, it’s in the name

This family run meepok stall sits right outside the Simpang Bedok food area, and is something of a mainstay for Eastsiders. I’m from Anglican High School which is about five minutes walk from here, so Simpang and Bedok 85 Food Market are familiar haunts for me, but even outside the immediate radius of Tanah Merah heartlanders and Anglican Alumni, the entire area is a hit for morning Kopis and late night suppers. It’s also the site of the informal War of the Mee Poks, with three famous meepok stalls triangulating the area – Jalan Tua Kong Lau Lim, Ming Fa Fishball and Jalan Tua Kong Ah Lim.

Who knows why you pick one over the other? To be honest, us Azns remain loyal to the stalls our parents grew up loving, and most of us have fond memories of breakfast at Lau Lim with our parents post wet-market shopping. The fab thing about this place is, they don’t just serve (admittedly excellent) meepok. They also serve a bevy of other breakfasty options, which makes it a great place to bring out-of-towners so they can try a whole bunch of traditional Singaporean dishes.

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French toast with Kaya

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Dripping Peanut butter bread

Unsung hero of the hour – the peanut butter bread. The bread they serve here isn’t what they’re known for but it should be. It’s soft and fluffy with the right amount of ‘outside crisp’. The fact that the peanut butter is served warm and dripping just makes it all kinds of amazing.

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Ngoh Hiang – five spice

Ngoh Hiang is new to me, I never had it growing up so I had to google this. It’s a unique Hokkien and Teochew dish originating in China but widely adopted in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. It’s a spiced (not spicy) pork roll wrapped in tofu skin, and it gets its name from the Chinese five spice powder that gives it a unique flavor. You eat it with sweet sauce or chilli. It’s very much a sharing dish, delicious but not really something you can have too much of at one go.

White Carrot Cake

This is new too – they never used to serve carrot cake! This white carrot cake served with their famous spicy chilli is really good, it’s crisp and not too oily. If you have it on its own like i do, it feels less guilty than having regular carrot cake. I can’t take spicy food because I am Weak Asian ™, but everyone else swears it complements the chilli sauce perfectly.

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Mee Pok!!!

And the star of the hour!!! Mee Pok!!!!

The Mee Pok here is served al dente, and you have it with either chilli or ketchup. A small bowl has fish balls, fishcake, lean pork, and minced pork, and the larger bowls have prawns as well. The real star of this bowl is the fish ball – in chinese slang we refer to this as qq, which approximately means squishy or bouncy. Man, singlish is weird. But yeah. It’s immensely satisfying to bite into, and I think this is because the fish balls are handmade, not machine made. Anyone raised on Singaporean food will tell you there’s a marked difference, which is why people devote themselves so religiously to family stalls instead of food court chains. The noodles are super springy too, and the noodle-to-gravy ratio is somehow always perfect, whether you order a big bowl or one with less noodles.

Happy Food Faces:

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This place is literally always crowded, so go early, or expect to queue!

Jalan Tua Kong Lau Lim
306 Bedok Rd, Singapore 469466
Open till 5pm but usually sells out about 4. Go for breakfast.

x
Jem

#2088 | Freelance Fridays – best office gifts for you/ your newly minted tax paying friend

Hey guys,

As I am now easing into my, what, fourth year of freelancing after three years working in Advertising, the ratio of freelance to not freelance years in my life has shifted firmly into the first category. It is the gig economy is what it is. So I’m starting a new series on my blog called Freelance Fridays, where I’ll talk about different aspects of freelance life as and when they come up, and try to field common questions I’ve been getting about work life in general.

Aaaaand obviously the first post is more a generic one for all new working professionals.. not just freelancers. Hmm. Lets try to stick to the topical boundaries next time girl, but since we’ve already begun… Here are some decidedly awesome office gifts for a friend who’s just gotten a new job, a friend who’s just shifted office, or a friend who you just feel like buying something for. In all cases above, that friend can be you. Lets go.

The super practical gift

I work most visibly as a host, which requires a lot of on set time, but when I’m not shooting, about 90% of my work sees me holed up in my office space at The Hive Carpenter. So as someone who works at a desk all day, I can testify that two of the biggest non-job related concerns any deskbound person has is keeping track of their hydration and movement. There have been so many solutions offered up online, like setting an vibrating alarm on your smartwatch to get up and move (which requires a smartwatch that costs hundreds of dollars to begin with anyway), downloading apps that gameify the hydration narration (though I have to admit, Plant Nanny is pretty fun), or purchasing a standing desk/ replacing your office chair with an exercise ball (IDK about you but the asian in me quails at the potential awkward conversations and unnecessary attention this inevitably will trigger). But my absolute favourite solution is to just leverage the God given bladder we all have sitting in the vague regions of our lower abdomen.

A giant water bottle or water canister is my current office desk mainstay. I used to use cups, but getting up and down to refill them gets cumbersome, and it gets easy to forget or brush it aside especially when work gets more intense over the course of the day. The sweet spot, I think, is a bottle which is about 750ml. Fill it up first thing in the morning, and because it’s right there, it’s easy to form the habit of reaching for it everytime you pause your work. Because it’s quite a bit of water, you’ll inevitably have to go pee every hour or so, forcing you to get up and move. Fill your bottle again on the way to/ back from the restroom. Seriously, this problem just solves itself.

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My girlfriend Xiaoqi got me the one pictured here which is my new fav.

This is from Daiso, and you know what that means! TWO DOLLAH! You can get as fancy as you want with the bottle but remember, the most important thing is the volume of water it can hold.

The super luxurious gift

Well, luxurious by my standards. Refer to picture above to behold my absolutely unnecessary obsession – wireless charging. I spoke about this in my 2018 Things I was Impressed By post as well. A wire will perform the same function just as well, but just not as… delightfully? Honestly, I dont know. It’s one of those kind of extra things you dont need but will definitely love. I like the Samsung Fast Charge Stand because it props my phone up so I can quickly see the time/popup notifications and calls. I have a traditional Anker charging pad, but trust me, the experience is significantly different when the phone has to be placed lying flat vs just propped up on a stand. You know, I’ll just call it what it is: it’s varying levels of extra, and I love it, and I’m not even sorry.

The guaranteed hit

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Messy desk situation

My sister bought me this mini desktop aroma diffuser from MINISO for christmas last year after I started burning candles all around our home and my office, and I am absolutely loving it. I’ve kind of had diffusers on my radar for awhile, because my parents have one from MUJI which makes their room smell like a spa, and I’d also bought my boyfriend one of the MUJI ones that he uses quite often. The only thing is, MUJI items are so pricey and I’m just not willing to spend that kind of money on me.

I ended up buying a cheaper one on Lazada, but it’s bulky and lights up blue, which is very odd. And after that I kind of stopped searching for alternatives to Muji and resigned myself to just inhaling deeply whenever I go into my parents room.

Enter the MINISO diffuser! It’s such a cute little size, it’s USB powered, and it makes my desk smell great. The white design is so minimalistic that it can probably blend nicely into any interior style, and the little warm light it emits when active isn’t jarring at all. Diffusers are also such a smart gift because they make future present buying easy. This christmas, a diffuser. Next christmas, a new bottle of essential oils. And because diffusers are just vessels, the gift recipient can just buy whatever scent they like so it’s not like committing to a $100 candle that they may find odd-smelling. In fact, having it on is such a mood elevator, that I cant imagine anyone who wouldnt be happy with this gift. Someone who doesn’t like being happy, perhaps.

The gift with lots of utility

This is another one you can go affordable or high end with, but who doesn’t need a wireless mouse? A good wireless mouse can make a huge difference to your workflow, and it’s just nice not to have to deal with wires and such. Nowadays, most wireless mouse… mice? are also USB charged, which means you don’t have to keep buying new batteries for them.

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Please dont ask me where I got my mousepad from as it was a gift from my boyfriend so I have no idea

Here you have a prime example of high end, low end. My pink wireless mouse is from Taobao, I think I paid $8 for it and have been using it for almost two years now. My black Logitech mouse (the MX Anywhere 2) is far more ergonomic and a joy to use, and depending on where you purchase it, it can cost anywhere from 70 to 100 dollars. Honestly, both are totally functional and I’m happy with both. It’s far preferable to using a wired mouse, and to be honest, in a day and age where you can get a perfectly decent wireless mouse for less than ten bucks, there’s no reason not to switch over.

The slightly indulgent decorative gift

I quite like decorating any sort of space I have ownership over, which explains the state of my desk (a total affront to our darling Marie Kondo, I’m sure). One thing I tend to do is affix post-it notes, printed photos, polaroid pictures, so on and so forth to various parts of my desk. I have a small notice board, two dollars from Daiso, where I pin various memorabilia to, but I also use washi tape to stick pictures to my desk walls. Having one consistent tape color theme gives your desk an overall more coordinated, planned feel, even if the actual items are pretty haphazardly stuck on. Haha. This copper foil washi tape I bought from Lazada for SGD$2 per roll, and I have gold glitter tape from Kikki.k which my friend Martin gave me a few years back as part of a stationery set for Christmas.

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The gift that sugarcoats your workload, because why not?

I’m very much still a pen and paper girl at the end of the day, and although I’d experimented with Stickies (an electronic post-it app for your computer) and the like, I find it easier to keep my mind focused and on top of all the work i have to do when I can see it handwritten in front of me. I use a yearly planner from Starbucks x Moleskine on the go, but instead of flipping back and forth my calendar and to-do page, I have a paper to-do list from TYPO propped up with a clipboard against the side of my desk with a list of things I have to do. I refresh this list every other day or so, and it’s very satisfying to slowly check things off my list as I go along!

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This is what mine looks like. I have a lot of random make up on my desk because I wait till I get to the office to do my make up (my face is too warm after my morning gym session to really apply makeup.)

I got the paper to-do list on sale for $5 (it was one of those year end clearance sales that TYPO often has) and the clipboard was also about $5 from a random shop, which has served me well for almost 7 years now. If you want something fancier, there are many fantastic paper companies that do paper planners, like Kikki.k and Rifle Paper Co. Even brands like Kate Spade have their toes dipped into the stationery business. It can get pricey fast though, and as with all paper products you kind of burn through them quick, so just think about how much youre wiling to spend before going crazy in the planners department.

The gift you never knew you really needed

Let’s cut to the chase: get a foot rest. If youre sitting at your desk for hours and hours, it can really mess with your posture. Besides, the ability to put your feet up gives you an absurdly wonderful feeling. There are so many foot rest options – but what I did was buy a small DIY shelf off Ezbuy for about fifteen dollars, fix it up to about mid-shin height, and install it under my desk. Now throughout the day I can sporadically put my feet up while reading, typing, or just when trying to take a break. It really is all kinds of amazing.


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These are all things that have served me well throughout the last few years of cozy office life, and over half of them were gifts. This is me paying it forward and recommending it to more people – may we all have beautiful, productive workspaces, even when the work itself is driving us insane. Till next time. x

x
Jem

#2087 | Sleeping alone in a foreign city; a love letter to solitude, safety.

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Shoreditch, London

As someone who’s shared not only a room but a bed with two sisters her whole life I can tell you the peculiar feeling of having a room to yourself is a sort of quiet wonder. I was in London for a month and a half during the tail end of 2018, completing my editorial traineeships with Aitken Alexander Associates and 4th Estate Harper Collins London, and during that time formed an intense emotional attachment to my proverbial room of one’s own.

And what of this particular room? A month and a half was too long for any self respecting adult to reasonably impose on a London based friend, and hotels were out of the question (too expensive, too.. cold) and so short term apartment rentals were the way to go. I spent months prior scouring Airbnb for options and eventually settled on a studio apartment in Shoreditch for several reasons – proximity to both my workplaces, familiarity with the area (my best friend used to live on Liverpool Street), box-ticking all my requirements, and also just the fact that I really, really like Shoreditch for its buzzy vibe.

Over the last year in particular I’ve received many variations on the same email, asking how I ensure safety when travelling alone. That’s a post for another day, but here’s a little starter. Even though I’ve written a guide to picking Airbnb listings prior, the requirements obviously shift slightly when you’re travelling as a single woman, so some of the features that were especially important to me were:

double lock: one at the entrance to the building and the other being my actual door
corner room (so it’s harder for me to be followed even if someone else enters the building with me)
first floor room (so only one flight of stairs to tackle with my luggages)
bustling nightlife – I was actually living above a nightclub (so I would never, under any circumstances, be walking home in a totally quiet street)
washer and dryer (so I could do laundry frequently without having to leave my apartment at weird hours unnecessarily)

It was also important to me to have a place with some natural lighting because I’m a tropical plant who flourishes under the sun, much to the chagrin of my dermatologist, so the corner apartment was perfect for me. I rearranged the furniture once I checked in to create a little sunlit corner where I could get my work done, and the amount of love I have for it is kind of ridiculous:

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And thus I was all set! Many mornings I spent having a coffee there before work, shooting off Singapore bound emails, many evenings spent tap tap tapping off the keyboard whilst working on something or the other.

The kind of peace of mind one gets when living alone is unique in how all consuming it is, how it creates a kind of excitement that hums in your belly as you move about your new space. I read 29 books in London and hauled home another 65. With unprecedented space, both physically and mentally, I confronted a lot of work that had to be done. I signed up for two gyms – a 2 week F45 trial (20 pounds/week) a 13 minute walk from my apartment, and BLOK London (100pounds/30day trial), a 5 minute walk – and worked out from 630-730am every morning before work. I bought groceries from the co-op a 5 minute walk away, I cooked the same thing everyday and felt happy to have some kind of routine to hold on to. I set up my chromecast on the wall-mounted TV and used it only once, I set up my google home mini and spent most evenings reading to the background lull of sleep time jazz. I bought candles, I bought flowers (the columbia flower market a fifteen minute walk from me). I existed, happily.

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My queen sized bed (mine, mine, all mine!!) meant I could read on one end and sleep on the other: by the end of the month I was bed-sharing with about twenty books. The small bedside table was incredibly useful (i dont have one at home); I bought a little lavender packet from the flower market and left it there, I perched my night time skincare there on the table, lit a candle before bed each night. Tea, I drank a lot of tea in London. It was edging winter during my time there, so take the fuzzy feeling you get when imagining cozying up with a book with a mug of tea and a candle burning, and triple it.


I mentioned earlier living above a nightclub, which I was fully aware of before touchdown thanks to the multitude of airbnb reviews that you should definitely look at before booking any listing. I wanted to live above a nightclub: on one hand perhaps it provided a romantic grittiness, a sense of being in the hub of a city, on the other, it was a safety-related concern, which I know seems counter intuitive on first glance but actually made sense for me.

Having travelled both alone and in groups, I can confirm that one of the most terrifying things weaved into the female experience when travelling is a quiet walk home.. worse when it’s quiet and dark. I could more or less triangulate the location of my airbnb (they normally dont give you the exact location till you book) and prior to my trip had mapped the possible transport routes (for work, for socialising, for points of interest) outwards. There were two major busstops near my place (Great Eastern Street and Shoreditch High Street) which had brightly lit paths to my apartment, they also serviced so many buses that I could essentially get all around London without having to descend into the tube network more than cursorily if I so chose. This was a huge plus point for me budget wise because buses are significantly cheaper than tube rides, and it adds up. Same goes for tube lines – I was in between Old Street, Shoreditch High Street, and Liverpool Street stations, and had already determined that the paths from all of them to my apartment were main streets. Obviously nothing would guarantee safety, but all one can do is minimise opportunities for danger. Being a bit of an obsessive planner myself, these were all things I sorted compulsively before my trip, despite the slightly ditzy aura I know I carry with my person, leading to perpetual looks of surprise whenever I unfold my pre-travel mind maps..

The fact that I was above a nightclub (with another three or so in the area) meant it would always be noisy because in my experience, the concept of a weeknight has no bearing on a Londoner’s capacity to get turnt. This meant I would never have to walk home alone, there would always be security personnel outside the clubs (which is something people dont think about, ever), and even though I might have to sidestep vomit more often than I’d like, if anything serious ever happened, the sisterhood of tipsy partygoers would probably always come to my aid.

So at night: the chorus of partygoers formed my white noise, in the day: I got into podcasts, especially after discovering they could be casted to my Google Home. I listened to countless podcast episodes whilst making breakfasts and dinners, and then happily settled down to eat with a book.

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ingredients, tea, home made lemon water

It was a nice surprise that my studio came with an oven in addition to a microwave, washer, and stovetop, meaning I could bake salmon without having the smell linger in the room for days afterwards. I remembered thinking that this place was so perfect for one, and I remember with some embarrassment how I congratulated myself heartily on having located this place.

Really, there was very little of the studio that I think I could have improved upon. It was essentially self sufficient, meaning I was never forced out by necessity, and each time I had to leave it was because of something I chose to do – go to the gym, to work, grocery shopping, to catch a musical. Amenity wise I think it had all a girl would need in a tiny, compact space – a huge wardrobe with ample drawers, a mini couch for pre-shower eveningtimes, lots of power points, fast wifi, a very space efficient toilet.

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cold weather favs: laneige’s water bank series, elizabeth arden’s probiotic and retinol series, and the supergoop sunscreen which i now swear by!

(I’d always wanted one of those toilet cabinets that hide things behind a mirror!)

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And of course, also how damn well located it was.

Perhaps the most unexpected yet amusing part of my life above a nightclub were the one sided conversations I partook in, the fly on the wall persona I adopted. In the middle of the night (usually thursdays or saturdays), fragments of conversation would waft up to me in my half-asleep state. Once I heard a girl scream she’s not interested you asshole which made me smile because girls backing girls will always make me smile. Another time: Nah, man, I’m not tired, are you tired, which was so clearly a lie. Once a fight broke out downstairs and I rushed to my window to peep through the blinds, it was a lot of posturing on the streets, like a cockfight that attempted to impress the girls looking horrified. But my favourite was the one time I woke up to the distraught sounds of an alcohol addled voice: I wanna call him man, I wanna call him and the responding chorus no girl – take her phone – what’s her passcode – dont give it back – give it back!

Lying in bed, I shook my head, half smiled, and said: Don’t call him, girl.

No one heard me. I went back to sleep.

Book the same apartment here
SGD35 off your first trip when you sign up for airbnb at airbnb.com/jemma

x
Jem

#2086 | Favorite books of 2018

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Hey guys,

Here we are at the end of the year. In wrapping up 2018 and bringing us into 2019 I offer you the words of those far wiser, kinder, and smarter than I; may the new year bring us nuance and perspective. May we all find ourselves a little bit more.

The best books I read this year:


The book that wrecked me:
Forgotten country by Catherine Chung

The book that perfectly encapsulated my feelings about motherhood: Motherhood by Sheila Heti

The book that changed my mind about poetry:
Nobody Told Me by Holly McNeal

The book that everyone got confused with the Sally Rooney one but that I actually liked more:
Ordinary people by Diana Evans

The book that was so beautiful and authentically southeast asian and that gives me hope as someone writing from the diaspora:
We the survivors by Tash Aw (Forthcoming April 2019)

The book that made me laugh and laugh and laugh:
Single Carefree Mellow by Katherine Heiny

The book that retold greek myth with modern magic and took my breath away:
The Porpoise by Mark Haddon (Forthcoming May 2019)

The book that was so lucid and perfect and that you should definitely buy for every new parent:
Dear Ijeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche

The book I loved so much it actually hurt me when it ended:
The Pumpkin Eater by Penelope Mortimer

The book that made me wary of pasta for a long time
: The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante

The book that was uncool to like but that i liked anyway:
Milkman by Anna Burns

The book that was super fun and that you should definitely pick up: My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

The book that I re-read so many times it’s getting almost embarrassing:
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche

The book that I found totally amazing and painful and inspiring and truthfully asian
: A Thousand Years of Good Prayers by Yiyun Li

The book that made me want to immediately and effectively become the author’s friend:
The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy

The book that was actually a screenplay but that was so totally incredible that I’m including it in a book list anyway:
The Inheritance by Matthew Lopez

The best short stories I read this year:


We love you Crispina
by Jenny Zhang (found in collection – Sour Heart)

The Finkelstein 5
by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (found in collection – Friday Black)

After a Life
by Yiyun Li (found in collection – A Thousand Years of Good Prayers)

Waugh by Bryan Washington (found in The New Yorker Fiction)

The Husband Stitch by Carmen Maria Marchado (found in Granta Mag)

Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience™
by Rebecca Roanhorse (found in Apex Mag)

The best essays I read this year:


Work Life Balance Should Not Be Class Privilege
by Teo You Yenn (found in This is what inequality looks like)

A Lotus for Michelle
by Morgan Jerkins (found in This will be my undoing)

Sometimes You Make Your Rapist Breakfast by Marissa Korbel (found in Harpers Bazaar)

On Eating Alone in Paris by Stephanie Rosenbloom (found in The New York Times)

Why Women Still Can’t Have It All by Anne-Marie Slaughter (found in The Atlantic)

Sadly:


The book I didn’t ‘get’:
The White Book by Han Kang

The book I rolled my eyes so hard at:
Fresh Complaint by Jeffrey Eugenides

The book I hated so much I actually didn’t finish:
The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

Also, reading update:

I finally bought a kindle.

See you in 2019 x

x
Jem

#2085 | Things I was impressed by in 2018

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Hey guys:

Not exactly a gift guide (though feel free to lift liberally from it for gifting ideas) but a random assortment of things that made me go oh wow in 2018.

1. Wireless Chargers

I am in love with wireless charging. I have a standing wireless charger in my office which is made by Samsung, and I bought a Belkin one off Amazon as well. The Samsung one is significantly easier to use, and I feel like it charges phones faster too, but the Belkin is cheaper and still functional. Wires? Pft. Wireless charging is the very chi chi future.

2. Suubalm Moisturiser

So simple but so effective. If you’ve ever known the pain of a mosquito bite itch, which is part of the guarantee living in a tropical country like Singapore, then this is pretty much a godsend. The Suubalm moisturiser is a menthol product which makes the spot where it’s applied to feel minty, which works to distract you from the itch till it goes away. It’s formulated at the National Skin Center Singapore, which gives me faith that it’s all of the good things. Obviously I drank the gov’s kool aid.

3. Scented Candles

See this blog post for backstory, but yes, belated to the party as I am, I am now extremely into scented candles and I think they make excellent gifts.

4. Short hair

I went to the salon to try and get my hair dyed pink and they cut it all off instead, which proves that my stylist really knows best because I LOVE IT. In fact I am now particularly excited whenever I see another girl with short hair, it’s like being in a secret club. My boyfriend is not amused by this (like all boys, he likes the hair long), and he was like please dont when I said I wanted to go even shorter. I was all like, who cares what you think?!?!?! I dont live for some mans approval!!! and he was all like, … we’ve been dating five years..

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I cut my hair with Calvin at Hairloom Singapore

5. The High Low Podcast
I’m new to podcasting(ish), I’d dabbled in it before, earlier in the year, but they were all very specific podcasts that had to do with one topic or were basically musicals, so they weren’t habit forming per se. I got into podcasts again during my time in the UK because everyone there listens to podcasts, and on the recommendation of a colleague I started listening to pop culture podcast The High Low by journalists Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes. I listen to it when I’m doing housework or driving, so basically whenever I cant be using my hands or eyes (ruling out reading or watching TV), and I am really loving it! I now feel like Dolly and Pandora are my friends, which of course they arent, so I kind of hope I never run into them IRL because I will probably definitely be extremely uncool about it.

6. F45 Training
I started working out at f45 this Feb and something about it just makes you want to commit. Alright, it’s probably the money. It’s pricey but essentially boutique gym price (meaning you pay the same as say if you’re into spin or boxing), and it’s the kind of workout that triggers momentum, so you feel compelled to keep going back. Reader, I kid you not: I feel guilty when I miss a day. Anyway, having a workout routine feeds very well into the whole becoming more of an adult business, so I’m very pleased about this.

7. Multiple books, all of them.

I read a lot in the second half of 2018 by virtue of the editorial traineeships I did in London. First half of the year was insane, and I am ashamed to say I barely got any reading done. But I more than made up for it in the second half because not only did I read a lot, I read a lot of good books. Will post a list soon, but the books are usually more or less all on my IG story highlights. Yay! #bookstagram

8. Elizabeth Arden’s Skincare & etc

I know it’s odd to be impressed by like, a whole brand, but I only got on Elizabeth Arden this year and my word I love it. I’m obsessed. I haven’t tried a single thing from them that I dont like yet. My favorites are the Superstart Probiotic range (the 1 min clay mask and skin booster) and the Retinol ceramide capsules which I am basically addicted to. I let my sisters try them and they are very annoyed at how much they like the capsules because EA is totally not student-budget range. Haha. But yes I’ve been very impressed by what I’ve tried from them so far, skincare wise.

Since we’re on the topic of skincare, I was also very taken by the local products I tried in Okinawa whilst on shoot there earlier this year. The Suisavon clay mask and the Nuchima-su sea salt in particular I am loving. The sea salt works as a scrub, which you can use maybe 2x a week for exfoliation, with immediate and visible brightening results. The Suisavon clay mask spreads like a dream and leaves your skin really fresh and soft.


The travel show I did with Okinawa Tourism Board and Jetstar, here

9. The Google Home Mini

Also a longer backstory at this blog post, but I love my google home mini so much I actually bring it with me when I travel. Hot tip: I’ve customised my google home to trigger a series of routines when I get home by saying ‘google I’m home’, and it immediately a. welcomes me home b. sets an alarm for 11pm (which is my bedtime) c. reads out my next day’s events pulled from google cal and d. plays this ultra chill home playlist which I curated myself on spotify thank you very much! Unimaginatively, it’s called Google I’m Home and you can listen to it here.

10. Wakesurfing!!!

My friends and I are always looking for new things to do together and this year we alighted on wakeboarding/ wakesurfing. One of the benefits of living in a tropical country is the easy access to water sports, either locally or in the region, and I’m a total waterbaby. I used to wakeboard in school as an elective but I was all kinds of horrible, so it’s a relief that adults have better balance (it seems). Still, in addition to regular wakeboarding, I tried wakesurfing for the first time and I freakin love it! I texted my boyfriend and I was like, youre so lucky cos youre obviously dating the next wakesurfing olympic champion. He’s obviously used to my nonsense because he wasn’t even fazed, he was like, aight.

Anyway, I love it.

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I’m sure there’s more stuff I was impressed by but here are the top ten off the top of my head. In retrospect there arent that many there that can be repurposed as gifts, but, yknw, whatever, this aint a gift guide.

Till next time x

x
Jem