Wednesday, December 7, 2016

December Ideas to Spoil Yourself and Friends

The past year, I've got to experiment with a lot of new products and services.  Some, I've grown to love and have since incorporated it into my latest routine.  I'd like to share these with you, so you can spoil yourself too.  Extra bonus: I've been fortunate to have been given promo codes for most of them, so you can get a discount off this December!
Categories: Kitchen, Pantry, Skincare, Beauty, Health/Fitness, Haircare, Weightloss

For the Kitchen & Home Entertaining

by Indiana Supply Company
They have a fascinating range of edible whole salts, unrefined salts, and macrobiotic salts.  For both the health conscious foodie or gourmand friend who seems to have everything already, this is a great addition for him or her to experiment with.

or Nespresso Boutique
Nespresso needs very little introduction as the other coveted Gift Registry item after the Kitchen Aid mixer.  They've just released a Christmas inspired range, with tasting notes based on three traditional German and Austrian treats: Apfelstrudel, Linzer Torte, and the Sachertorte. While I like to eat Apfelstrudel the most, I highly recommend the Linzer Torte Nespresso capsules; they're a delight with hints of redcurrant and raspberries.

Another option for the Nespresso fiend, is the Versilo Capsule Dispenser.  It can stand on its own (depicted below), or can be hung on the wall. It's also magnetic if you want to stick it to your refrigerator.  This dispenser makes my whole Nespresso corner that much spiffier.

by Chitose Agriculture Initiative
Fresh seasonal produce delivered weekly from Japan and Cameron Highlands.  Most of the vegetables and fruits in Singapore are cultivated using large amounts of pesticides, which destroys the ecosystem in the fields; and chemical fertilizers that force harvest to grow drastically in a short amount of time. Chitose Agriculture Initiative works with artisan farmers and seeks to give our households access to their produce.
I've found it interesting using their services, since each week is a surprise depending on what produce is freshest and in season.  I've also been introduced to new vegetables I haven't cooked with before, so it forced me to get out of my comfort zone and learn how to prepare something new.  It's been very rewarding so far–I'm currently cooking and eating through an Omakase box full of Japanese winter vegetables: sweet potato, broccoli, mizuna leaves, San Fuji apples, oranges, and more.

Small batch bottle cocktails. Had a few of these babies at house parties and barbeques. It was always a complete hit, having great quality cocktails and zero of the work needed (mostly because the small team behind Sunday Punch slaved away to make our lives easier!). They've just released a Christmas edition, just in time for .. well, Christmas.

The Old Fashioned Christmas features spiced whisky, a velvety mouthfeel of cocoa and deep sweetness of blackcurrant, with a subtle coffee after-note.

MONOGRAM Collection
by Gryphon Tea Company
Contact for bespoke services
Promocode (10% off your first order): "SHOPNOW"

In conjunction with its 10th anniversary, tea experts Gryphon Tea Company is the first to offer bespoke services, where you can customize your own teas. Consumers can create their own blends of teas and tisanes, making for a personal touch in your pantry or as a gift.  
The quality of the teas are one of the finest as far as tea sachet brands go. Gryphon Tea Company is a homegrown brand that Singaporeans can be proud of. Having personally met Lim Tian Wee, the man behind Gryphon, it's been quite an experience to witness the sincerity and knowledge he has for his teas.  Many of the Gryphon Tea sachet recipes were personally created by him; and now tea lovers can create their own with the Monogram collection.
They have a pop-up stall set up at TANGS at Tang Plaza until 24 December. You can also purchase Gryphon Teas on their site, or Monogram teas at after 16 December.

Promocode ($10 off your first order, valid until 6 Feb 2017): "CHUBBYNINJAROO"

While compiling this list, I JUST realized that you can also use Deliveroo from your browser, the app isn't always necessary. Woohoo! 
As a heavy Seamless Web user back in NYC, I was pretty upset by the dismal food delivery options in Hong Kong and Singapore. Then, Deliveroo came to our shores and made the world right again. The app user experience is very smooth, and customer service is very quick to remedy any errors if it happens – errors of which have become more rare as time goes on (hooray!). I'm impressed by their restaurant selection, having been able to bring onboard mostly top notch restaurants, so food is hardly a disappointment. 

My regular fixes are roast Irish duck from Tunglok, Motorino pizza, Hyangtogol, Crystal Jade Korean Ginseng Chicken, Park Bench Deli sandwiches, and Saladstop.  I'm waiting for the burger crave to hit before I tap into Market Grill's burgers or Burnt End's pulled pork sanger.  It will come.



Look at my skin!!!! (also, cookie) Thanks to the products I use below.

I'm annoyingly particular about my skincare routine, and once I find something I like, I'm reluctant to keep experimenting. I have sensitive skin and I don't want to risk a bad reaction when I use something that already works. I used SK-II for a very long time, and eventually (with some coaxing) I was persuaded to give Cle de Peau de Beaute a try.  Likewise with Dr.Leaders, I responded to a friend with it that I won't endorse a product I don't like, and I hate experimenting with my face! P.S. I also don't like whitening products (see more below under SK-II for more on that). She persisted, and so I tried.


I love this product. Thank you for insisting I give it a shot, Elaine and Joan! I've used the cleanser, toner, serum and gel cream from the Hydrophilic Expert series. The brand is from Korea, touting itself as luxury plant powered skin care. It's particularly made for Asian skin and the humidity.

After using Dr.Leaders for a week or so, my skin balance has improved a lot, and my skin tone has evened out after a month – so, unless I need to be on camera, I don't wear foundation when I go out anymore! My skin's bouncier, "juicier" feeling from the plant stem cell power. Even during hormonal weeks (PMS), my skin condition doesn't change. 

However, I did use this product also when I started going to The Wellness Suite for facials, so it's hard to say if it's a combination of both or if the skin improvement is solely from the product.

I grew up as an SK-II loyalist, since my father (who has amazing skin) uses the product. I used to use almost all of their products, except whitening, until I discovered Cle de Peau and Dr. Leaders.  However, here are the SK-II products I still use regularly.

1/ SK-II Color Clear Beauty Artisan Brush Foundation retail info here
The coverage is fantastic, and the applicator brush is better than any brushes I have! The foundation has HD-camera worthy coverage, along with 4x concentrated Pitera (SK-II's signature formula) and SPF 40/PA+++.  I usually use Chanel Vitaluminère Aqua (Teint Parfait) if I only want to even out my skin tone, but I use this SK-II foundation for special nights out or if I know I'm going to be filming that day.
 2/ Mid-Day Miracle Essence retail info here
This is SK-II's signature Facial Treatment Essence in a portable to-go bottle. I like to spritz this if I've been sitting in a dry environment for a few hours (air conditioned rooms, airplanes, or cold cities in the winter). If I get back home really late and am way too tired to shower (ew, I know, but rarely), I'll wash my face and spritz this on then crash.

3/ Facial Treatment Essence (Limited Edition Bottles) and Facial Treatment Essence masks
The Facial Treatment Essence works, period. There's a certain dewy glow that results from using this daily. Likewise, the FTE masks are a real treat for the skin. 
If you're gifting this for someone else this holiday season, may I recommend the latest Limited Edition bottles; inspired by Sumanigashi, the Japanese art of ink on water.

4/ Genoptics Aura Essence
Removes and prevents sunspot formations.
I mentioned before that I don't like whitening products, because generally, it's some form of skin bleaching. Plus, I don't like the unnatural creepy doll-like effect it has overtime. Perhaps the American in me also appreciates a touch of the healthy golden glow from being active outdoors.

However, I noticed my suntanned freckles take longer to fade as I get older. SK-II's Genoptics Aura Essence penetrates through the layers of skin to work from within, rather than simply bleaching spots off your face. The team behind SK-II reassured me that it doesn't whiten; rather, it prevents spot formations from under the surface of your skin.  I use this product when I know I will be outdoors a lot that day.

Skincare Travel essentials and tips for tropical weather: 
With so many different products out there, I ask SK-II USA Ambassador Steve Jan what actually works and what's just a marketing gimmick.  He also explains that whitening products can be very drying, so avoid using them before or right after airplane travel.

Cle de Peau Beauté 
Cle de Peau is my new favorite travel skincare products, and for a time it became my entire morning and night skincare routine. I take it everywhere I go, particularly in temperate climates (Japan, United States, Hong Kong during cooler weather, Australia).

In Singapore and Hong Kong, during the day, I use Hydro-softening Lotion and Protective Fortifying Emulsion (which has SPF). I carry the Hand Cream in my bag wherever I go, whichever country I'm in.

In the evening, as I mentioned I now use Dr.Leaders. However, every 3 nights, I'll switch back to my Cle de Peau routine with (1) Hydro-softening Lotion, (2) Intensive Fortifying Cream, and especially (3) Intensive Eye Contour Cream and (4) the ultra-luxurious La Creme.  La Creme is a miracle cream, I use it the night before anything important, in order to look my very best the next day. 

It's a ritual I've grown to love. I have a special little set up on my vanity table for my Cle de Peau products, for those nights I have time to take a few extra minutes to luxuriate and pamper myself. The packing is especially beautiful, which quite frankly, enhances the whole ritual experience for me.

The Hydrafacial
Location: Paragon Shopping Centre, Level 13
Promo discount, quote this during reservation: "Victoria Cheng"
for 1st trial Hydrafacial at $125 or All Skin Laser+IPL Combo at $70

For the ultimate medical grade facial (non invasive) using the 4-in-1 Vortex Technology – to cleanse, exfoliate, extract, hydrate and nourish. The first thing the therapist warned me was that this wasn't your average spa-like pampering facial, where most of the time is spent on massages. Initially, I was worried about leaving with blotchy red patches on my skin, or worse, serious burns from uncertified clinics.
Turns out, this facial is by far the most effective I've ever had and a doctor who could answer all of my questions (Dr. Jonathan Yong). Clearer skin with every visit, lessening of fine lines, and noticeably brighter and younger looking skin. Highly recommend.

Sun Protection Mist
by DrGL
Ultra light and can be applied over makeup too. There's no white oily residue, and I haven't had any clogged pore problems using this. It's become part of my travel necessities kit, especially this past year having spent most of my overseas time in sunny cities. It's meant for Hair/Face/Body, and I do spritz a fair amount over my hair, scalp, and shoulders as well.



by Shiseido Professional
Speaking of hair protection, in addition to a spritz of DrGL over my roots, I use this lightweight protector over the rest of my hair (starting from the ends and working my way up on towel dried hair). I find this particularly crucial when I'm spending a lot of time in the sun. I brought the whole bottle with me on my recent trip to Bali.

by Shiseido Professional
I prefer the Luminogenic series since it preserves my hair color best, and seems to leave my hair condition the softest. Also, it smells so good... a wonderful floral perfume. I use the whole series, including the Caviar Essence, of which you can learn more about in this overly dramatic video:

If you don't have colored hair, then I would also recommend the Aqua Intensive series.

by HairCube (Novena)
Promo discount, quote this during reservation (until December 31): "Victoria Cheng"

The stylists here are great. Personable, warm and friendly, and I've always left with perfect hair.  See examples below:



by Flutters Lash Salon
Promocode (for 10% off ala carte services and trials, 5% off regular packages): "VICTORIA" 
The quality of their services speaks for itself. My lashes and nails alway look gorgeous after I visit this cute salon tucked in Duxton Hill.

by Covetella
Promocode ($20 off all rentals over the holidays): "VICHOLIDAYS20"
Covetella has been my go-to dress rental the since F1 in September. I've gone to them even as late as the day before to pick up gowns for events, weddings, cocktails, parties... Here are some of the outfits I got to wear.

by Cle de Peau Beauté
I use the Extra Rich Lipstick in Dusty Red (103) almost daily for a natural tinge of pink, and the Radiant Liquid Rogue in Light Rose (13) for evenings I go out.  I'm actually wearing it in most of the photos above in the Covetella section.



(photography by David Yeow)

Promo code (5% discount off all orders): "VICTORIACHENG"
Founded by an entrepreneurial team of women from Malaysia, PurelyB focuses on fitness, wellness, and healthy living. The past year, I've experimented with their meal plans–I lost 2 kg after 2 weeks on their SaladStop plan, and have shopped from their Marketplace. 
One of my favorite items is the beautiful glass Fressko Flask. It can store hot or cold liquids, and has a "brew as you go" concept. Infuse berries, honey, herbs, into teas or water; or store smoothies and yogurts in a gorgeous on-the-go container.

by We Are Cultured
Promocode (15% off everything): "VICTORIA15WAC"
There are a few different varieties depending on your needs, but I've been using their PURE MA-CHA, a ceremonial grade matcha (green tea) + probiotics in one.  80% of the immune system is located in the digestive system, so the gals behind Teabiotic focus on your gut health to heal you from the inside out.  Claims say it helps with focus, energy, detoxing, and skin health.  It can be drank as a tea (hot or cold), or used as a sprinkle ontop of desserts or dishes.  Check out their site for some ideas.

by Alvin Tan, Owner Lifestyle Fitness
(related article: How F&B Tycoons Stay Trim)
I've written about my training at the boutique gym on the 5th floor of Sheraton Towers a number of times. I've even mentioned it in articles that ask about my fitness routine (see Straits Times article below).  There has been a direct correlation with my weight loss and training with Alvin Tan.  My training with the vibrogym has also helped with increasing flexibility, endurance and muscle tone.  
Mr. Tan caters his training depending on his client's goals, age, and body type.  He also assists with injury rehabilitation. He's the only trainer I've had so far who's been able to get me to lean out rather than bulk up (my body type is prone to getting bulky & muscular looking rather than limber).



by Vermilion 
Promo code at checkout (buy 2 boxes, get 1 free): "VCSLIM"
*3 boxes need to be in the cart before entering the promocode. I've written a few testimonials about this product over the last few months. I've used a lot of different methods to try to lose weight to supplement my exercise. In particular, I've found that diet pills or supplements are terrible–they gave me bad mood swings; fullness meant feeling bloated; faster metabolism was just caffeine kicking in, or worse some made me hungrier.  Best case scenario was no effect at all.

So I started taking Vermilion's latest Slim Support with low expectations. Vermilion's other supplements worked well enough for me and I like their natural approach to the product, so I trusted that it wouldn't be harmful at least.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my appetite did decrease, and I continued to lose weight even when I had to go on a 1 month break from exercising.  Also, no side effects!
Check the link above for more details on the product.

My body type is naturally curvy. There are pros and cons to this, depending what your preferences are. I gained 14kg in a year, then lost 12kg in 6 months. I plateued for a bit here and there. One thing that helped get over those humps was @vermilion_sg's Slimming jelly supplements. Tried and tested! Usually diet pills/teas etc are all bullshit (I know I'm not the only one who's tried and failed). These Vermilion jellies (all natural using a combo of TCM and western science, developed by two doctors) effectively reduced my appetite and sped up my metabolism, and no addition of caffeine. This is NOT a sponsored or paid post - I'll explain how I came across this product in a YouTube video later. ☃️❄️❄️❄️But they've offered a special promo code until Christmas: Buy 2 boxes, get 1 free. Use code: VCSLIM at checkout on their website🦄 . . Yes, I realize this photo is flanked by delicious food photos. That's the problem! Hahah. Thank goodness for these jellies.
A photo posted by the chubby ninja (@victoriacheng) on



These make for great gifts. They're attractive cuff bracelets with words meant to inspire you everyday you wear it. These are the two I chose: "Believe" and "Fearless". I'm planning to order a bunch for Christmas for each of my 4 brothers.

W Sentosa Detox Retreat, Singapore

Alaya Ubud, Bali
More about that soon.

Katamama Boutique Hotel, Bali
More about that soon.

Westin Singapore - Makantrail with Misstamchiak
More about that soon.


Related Posts with Thumbnails