Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Junior's Cheesecake!

 More cheesecake from Junior's Cheesecake! My brother ordered the first cheesecake for Mother's Day, and he ordered another surprise for Father's Day.  

It came in boxed a little differently than the first order, but just as secure.  The cheesecake was boxed in a large styrofoam box.  The Junior's Cheesecake cardboard box was sealed and the cake itself was sealed inside a plastic wrap. This time was the 8" Summer Fruit Cheesecake Cobbler Sampler.  They are both just as good but this one is definitely for fruit lovers.  
The top layer is cinnamon crumbles. The only problem I would have to say is that we have to store the cake in the freezer instead of the fridge because the cake would fall apart especially with the cinnamon crumbles and the fruit inside.  It is still really good although my parents and other older Asians may find it too sweet.  Asian bakeries usually lighten a bit on the sweets.  

On other news, I had a pretty busy week last week.  I've finally upgraded to fios, and so uploading my photos won't be so much of a hassle.  I also went to a dermatologist to remove the moles on my face.  I currently have a bunch of stitches and burnt spots from the laser.  I wouldn't be able to write any reviews on beauty products until everything is clear.  I will also be starting my new job in a few weeks, which means I will probably only be able to update on the weekends.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Hainanese Chicken Recipe

Just taking a break from my iodine diet, my mom made some Hainanese chicken at home for the first time.  It also happens to be Malaysian Restaurant Week here!  It was pretty good and I decided that I would share the recipe. It's quite easy actually.  I love to eat Hainanese chicken and its my favorite dish at Malaysian restaurants. 


  • Chicken thigh meat (dark meat, its more tender than breast meat)
  • cilantro
  • kirby cucumbers or just regular cucumbers
  • chopped scallion
  • chopped ginger
  • chopped garlic
  • dried anise herb (they look like stars, you don't eat them, they are just for giving flavor)
  • chinese oyster sauce
  • sesame oil (original or with added hot oil)
  • salt
  • soy sauce
  • clean ice water
Making the chicken:

1. Boil your chicken thigh meat in water for 10 minutes. Some people use chicken broth but you can just use water to keep it clean and healthier.
2.  Place cooked chicken into clean ice water to cool down the chicken and allow the meat and skin to be more tender.
3. Chicken is ready!

Making the sauce:

1.  Place your cilantro, chopped scallion, chopped ginger, chopped garlic, dried anise herb, salt, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil into a bowl and mix.
2.  Sautee everything in a pan for a bit to get the flavor going.

Layer your chopped cucumbers onto the bottom of a plate, layer your chicken and pour your sauce over it.  And enjoy!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

C+M Whitening Collagen Firming Gel Mask

I was a little excited to try this face mask because I thought I had grabbed a good deal on a gel mask at $2.70 for a box of two sheets.  After tearing open the packaging, I realized that it wasn't a gel mask but just a regular paper cloth mask with gel essence.  The "gel" only represents the gel type of essence and not the mask itself.  So, my main dissatisfaction of this mask is the result of this misnomer.  I guess at $1.35 a sheet, I wouldn't be getting a gel textured mask anytime soon.

I can't find any information from their company other than the description of their brand on sasa.com.  I have always found sasa.com descriptions to be very suspicious with lesser known brands.  In their description it notes that they are "a famous French personal and skin care brand with wide range of whitening, suncare, anti allergy, moisturizing, deodorant and ance treatment products."  On the box it is noted that it is made in Korea, while the written form of language used is English and Chinese.  So, which is it? You are a French company made of Chinese workers with a market in Asia that decides to produce your products in Korea because the labor and shipping is cheaper? Is that what it is?

I haven't tried any of their other products but I am a little tempted mainly because they are so inexpensive and after testing this mask, it's actually not bad.  I have a feeling that this may be a drugstore brand because many of their products are only a few dollars.  Though, I probably wouldn't spend over $10.00 on a single item on this brand.

Putting aside the bummed fact that it isn't a true gel mask, I can tell you that the cloth mask was well drenched in gel essence.  Unlike some other gel type of cloth masks, I found that it wasn't drippy and not as sticky.  The cloth mask is thin like the Sillk Whitia Pearl line.  The cloth mask fits my face well but I think it may be small for wide faces.  The one good thing about the mask cutting is that left the eyes for you to cover.  I think that the gel type essence complements the cloth mask.  You don't get much excess essence but I think it is enough for the face and neck. I think it transfers and absorbs into my skin quite well.  I could use the mask longer than their suggested usage time. 

After I use the mask, I massage the rest of the excess essence from the package and go to bed.  It's not a wash off mask and I don't feel that I need to apply any face cream over it.  I find the result good.  It is hydrating like any other face mask right after use.  I don't think its that convincing in whitening, however.  I don't find that I get that whitening glow that I do with other brands.  The following day, my skin still does look hydrated, soft and refined.  

The Good

  • Not too expensive at $2.70 for a box of 2 sheets
  • thin mask, gel type essence, not really sticky
  • hydrating, soft and refined result
The Bad
  • Not a gel texture mask, only a gel type essence with paper cloth
  • Doesn't give that whitening glow
  • not wholly impressive
The Skinny

I was overall just quite bummed by the fact that I didn't get a deal with a gel textured mask.  It is only a gel type essence with cloth mask.  I do find it hydrating and a bit refining, though I wasn't incredibly impressed because I don't think it gave me that whitening glow that I had at least expected.  And just terribly bummed that its not a gel textured mask.  However, they are moisturizing and I would grab a box or two of these if I ever find them on stock again. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

My Iodine Diet part 1

Last week, I had my regular check up with my doctor.  All is well except that my (TSH) Thyroid-stimulating hormone was tested way out of range.  In adults, the standard reference range according to the guidelines issued here is between 0.40-4.50 mIU/L (depending on your lab and location).  My test reported out of range at 9.69 H (high), which indicates hypothyoidism, an underactive thyroid.  I'm actually a little surprised because I do seem to eat a lot of fish.  My mom would steam fresh tilapia fish and salmons at least once a week.

My doctor didn't want to put me on medication right away but told me that I needed to eat more seafood, seaweed and iodized salt.  I am deficient in iodine and the primary foods that are sufficient in providing that supplement is seafood and seaweed.  I have two months to boost back to normal for my blood test in August.  I have decided that I would document my "iodine diet" and share with you all my seafood eating frenzy of the upcoming months! Right after I found out the news, I went to eat sushi with my mom.  Hah, I guess one good thing is that now I have an excuse to eat more sushi!

Yesterday, we went out to our local Han Ah Reum Supermarket to stock up on some roasted seasoned seaweed.  I've always enjoyed eating seaweed since I was little.  However, I do admit, I have been eating them less and less these recent years mainly because my mom would say that I finished the pack so quickly.  Now my mom is telling me that I need to start eating them regularly again.  That's fine with me because they are pretty good.  I also picked up a small dish of prepared calamari in korean hot sauce.

For supper the last three evenings, I had steamed butter fish with sauteed ginger, scallion and soy sauce the first night, and baked salmon with fish sauce and garlic the second and third night.  

My mom would also occasionally make a cold dish of laver with vinegar and garlic, more often in the warmer months.  I'll also be enjoying more of this dish! 

For dinner tonight, we had a change, mussels, the one type of seafood we almost have never made at home, and very rarely even have when eating out. My mom decided she would prepare them the same way clams are prepared at the chinese restaurants in the US: stir-fried with chinese fermented black beans (douchi).  I personally really like douchi in certain foods especially with the pork ribs dim sum!

So what you will need for the chinese fermented black bean mussels:

  • mussels
  • chinese fermented black beans (douchi)
  • chopped garlic
  • chopped ginger
  • two teaspoons butter
  • soy sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped scallion (not shown here, but optional)
  • wine (I didn't have it at home, but I have to say it would taste even better with wine)

First melt your two teaspoons of butter, add in the chinese fermented black beans,
chopped garlic and chopped ginger.

Throw in your mussles and begin to stir-fry.  

Add some soy sauce and a little water if it is getting too dry.
Add in your desired amount of salt and pepper and put the lid over.

And this is the result of our stir-fried chinese fermented black bean mussels for my iodine diet tonight.  I have to say it was pretty good, though my mom said she over cooked it a bit.  I couldn't tell.  Although it was good, I can definitely tell that it would have tasted even more fantastic if there was some wine in it. That's on our shopping list. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Wai Yuen Tong Pearl Whitening Mask

 Even after testing out bio cellulose masks and gel masks, I always return to regular cloth masks.  Cloth masks are usually less expensive, yet effective and practical as a one time use mask.  Bio cellulose masks and gel masks and maybe even the very nice pricey cloth masks seem so precious that it hurts a little when its time to throw them into the trash bin.  [Inexpensive] Cloth masks, on the other hand, are just made for the very notion of one-time-use, with the absence of "longing for" when its time to let them go.  

I was a little hesitant about purchasing this Wai Yuen Tong Pearl Whitening Mask.  You may have read my post on Wai Yuen Tong's Bak Fung Pills for menstruation.  I already knew that Wai Yuen Tong isn't really a skincare company, but just a traditional chinese medicine/herbal company.  Although they aren't a true skincare brand, I wasn't really suspicious with the purchase because I have seen a lot of their retail stores when I was in Hong Kong last year.  I haven't entered one of them, but while window shopping pass them, they do seem upscale, professional and not conspicuous.  I've also seen these masks displayed in their shop.  I guess, the only worry I had was that because they aren't a true skincare company, I feared the cotton cloth mask would be too thick or inappropriate with the essence.  Other reasons why I purchased this was because Silk Whitia's line was all swiped clean and this was the only "pearl" mask from any other brand left.  This isn't a popular mask brand, so that was given. 

 I have to start off by saying that the greatest negative aspect of this mask is that it is manufactured in China.  I'm wondering, when they say China, is this product made in the Mainland, China, where-there-are no-regulations-and-I-need-to-be-very-careful-not-to-purchase-China, or Hong Kong, China, where-it-is-a-little-better-because-they-have-some-regulations-as-an-SAR-China.  This, I may never know.  

But, what I can tell you is that, in my honest opinion, I think it is good.  Surprisingly, maybe because I had such low expectations especially after reading the "country of manufacture" and pulling out the cheesy sticker label packaging of this mask, I find that this mask is actually good.  Maybe, we shouldn't judge a book by its cover or in this case, a package and branding by its cover. And hey, maybe I should also start purchasing more "Made in China" shit.  No, sorry, I take that last one back.  

Country of Manufacture: China
The cheesy sticker labeled packaging I was talking about, sachet, as they call it, is smaller than your usual mask package. (Hm, sorry, the packaging is actually around the same size as My Beauty Diary masks and la glace ones, but smaller than Silk Whitia's packaging, but for some reason, it seems denser.) Their box is regular size, comparable to boxes of other brands.  I'm not even sure if this is even important to note or even logical to my reasoning, but to me it seems that because the packaging of the sheet mask is smaller, the essence is greatly consolidated with the cloth sheet.  Or, maybe simply because the essence complements the cloth sheet.  It's a surprise and a great relief to find that the essence and the cloth sheet texture is just right and appropriate with each other.  

I suppose that the smaller consolidated packaging does help a little because when I tear the package and remove the mask, its already fully absorbed with essence.  No need to press the packaging to spread the essence.  The essence is a clearish white thick type of gel emulsion. I'm actually starting to prefer this type of thick emulsion essence for sheet masks over watery types or regular gel-ish types because they are less messy, not drippy and they absorb quite well into the skin.  Some other brands also use this essence texture as well.  

The cotton cloth sheet mask is thick enough that it wouldn't rip but thin enough for the essence to be absorbed and transferred to the skin.  I think the essence type and the proportion amount complements the cloth texture quite well.  The mask happens to also fit quite well for my face.  People with large faces may find this quite small.  I am able to wear this mask over their suggested time usage.  It does not come with much excess essence.  There is a little bit left over, but I find this quite enough as the mask itself is fully absorbed.  After removing the mask, the excess essence from the package is very smooth to massage and absorb into the skin.  The directions do tell you to rinse your face after use even though it isn't sticky or I guess flaky.  I think I am getting use to rinsing after using a sheet mask, it's actually not that great of a hassle and it allows you to continue with your regular skincare regime.  

 While I rinse the essence off with water, I can feel that my skin is softer.  After rinsing, I can see that my face has that whitening glow.  I think the whitening is actually pretty good, I'm more than satisfied with the results.  I find that my regular skincare regime absorbed quite well and easily.  My skin is still soft the following day.  

Finally, down to the price.  At $1.78 per sheet for the overseas price (US), I would have to say it is reasonable for what it is.  It's still expensive for a one time use mask, but inexpensive compared to other sheet masks available for the US market.  This is better than many other higher priced sheet masks I have tried.  To be honest, in general, I think that sheet masks are getting pricier.  Even My Beauty Diary masks are around $1.10-$1.50 a sheet these days.  So, when I discuss the price, the factors of location and availability of the product as well as the availability of products of same nature come into play.

The Good

  • Emulsion essence type complements the cloth sheet mask texture well
  • Emulsion essence is smooth and easy to absorb, non sticky
  • Reasonably priced for US buyers
  • Leaves skin soft, well moisturized and provides whitening glow
The Bad
  • Country of Manufacture: China
  • Still generally expensive for a one time use mask
  • I guess it is important to note, that although it fits me very well, I do have a small face. It may be too small for larger faces.
The Skinny

A surprisingly good cloth mask that has a smooth thick gel emulsion type essence complementing the cotton cloth mask.  The mask is a good fit and is the right thickness.  It leaves skin soft and translucent, though some may find the country of manufacture daunting.  

Friday, June 8, 2012

L'Occitane Rose Velvet Cream

I got the L'Occitane's Rose Velvet Hand Cream a while back at one of L'Occitane's retail stores. When I first got it, I really liked it, mainly because I don't usually use such an expensive hand cream.  When I use it now, I find it just a little bit above borderline average for what it costs. It does have a lovely rose scent without being suffocating or being too artificial.  

The texture is very light for a cream.  It's more of a lotion in the name of a cream.  Bluntly said, it's a lotion, not a cream.  But it's also safe to say that it isn't a watered down lotion.  I personally like hand creams because they definitely moisturize better and longer, without having to use as much.  However, if you do not like hand creams because it takes a bit of an effort of rubbing, you will find that this "cream" will be very easy to absorb into your skin.  
I don't think you can really fail in a hand cream, they all work in some way, more or less.  And this one does not fail.  I think it leaves the hand nice and smooth without being sticky or anything.  It is "velvety".

But I just can't help but consider the similarities this "cream" has to one rose lotion I had used many years back from Victoria's Secret.  The Victoria's Secret one was a little stronger in scent and a little runnnier than this one, but just worked very similar.  The VS one, I purchased one with my two other friends for the sale price of 3 for $12.50, I believe.  This L'Occitane one is around $22-24.  Of course, I would prefer this one, but my wallet prefers the VS one.  I like it but I don't think it is worth the price and it also isn't my favorite hand cream.  

The Good

  • Nice rose scent; lovely, not overpowering and does not smell "artificial"
  • easy to absorb
  • leaves skin smooth, not sticky
The Bad
  • Not a cream, but really a lotion
  • expensive
  • Not amazing for what it costs
The Skinny

I think its good, it has a pleasant rose scent and applies smoothly, though overpriced.  It's not really a cream.  I think its an average product wrapped up in "luxury" brand/packaging.  

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cleaning your Clarisonic Brush?

I've only recently started cleaning my Clarisonic brush with the daily facial lathering cleansing cloths from Olay that my mom had bought for me from one of those whole sale clubs long ago.  These daily facial cloths come folded dry and just need water and a little rubbing to get the lather going.  

In the past, I only cleaned my Clarionic brushes with liquid soap and water, scrubbing it against my hands.  I don't like the idea of cleaning it against my palm even if my hands are cleansed thoroughly.  With a disposable cleansing cloth, I can be more sure that I am keeping my brush clean. I admit, though, I wouldn't buy the cloths for this sole purpose. I'm guessing I could also use Bounty, but the "quicker-picker-upper" is probably not even as strong as these facial cloths.   

Just add water, and scrub your brush clean against it.
How do you clean yours?

Silicone Pore Cleansing Tool

This silicone facial scrubber is a must for every beauty lover. It's a small flexible pore pad with soft bristles that help to exfoliate the skin.  I got mine for only $1.50 at the mall in HK.  

It's an inexpensive little tool that does the job pretty well.  It leaves my face pretty smooth and clean, much better than just cleansing with my hands alone.  If you do not own a Clarisonic, I highly suggest getting one of these.  Even if you do have a Clarisonic, it's still definitely worth getting.  

I've never really used facial sponges before, but I like this, and probably purchased this instead because its easy to clean and remain clean.  The silicone pad is really not porous, so there may be less of a chance for bacteria to live there.  This should also last you quite a while.  Unlike other brushes, the silicone bristles are short and strong.  It hasn't gotten worn down or anything.

The Good
  • Very inexpensive
  • effective - gently exfoliates, pore cleaning, leaves skin smooth and clean
  • very cost effective - will last 
  • very easy to clean
The Bad
  • maybe not "strong" enough for some
The Skinny

Very good and very inexpensive little cleaning tool.  A must have for all beauty lovers.


Friday, June 1, 2012

Alba Botanica Deep Sea Facial Mask


Alba Botanica Deep Sea Facial Mask Advanced to draw out impurities is a great drug store item.  I'm very happy that there are a lot more drug store brands that pay more attention to the ingredients of their skincare products.  So far, I think Alba is one of the brands that you would want to pay attention to when you are visiting your local drugstore.  This product uses 100% vegetarian ingredients.  No animal testing, paraben free, and EU Cosmetics Directive Compliant (The European Union (EU), a group of 27 European countries, is one governing group that has made safe cosmetics an important part of its laws. Their laws have banned chemicals that scientists strongly suspect to cause cancer or cause birth defects.)

The description: This deep clean (clay) mask gently draws out impurities and the excess oil that can clog pores.  Sea enzymes and aloe vera tone and revitalize for a fresh, healthy complexion.  

To use: After cleansing, apply a thin layer of mask evenly over face and neck.  Avoid delicate eye area.  Leave on for 5 minutes and thoroughly cleanse.  

I have to say, I really like this clay mask.  It's not too expensive and it just works for me.  It leaves my skin with a clean, fresh feeling.  The texture is just right, it is quite thick but easy to layer onto your skin. You only need a thin layer and you only need to leave it on for 5 minutes.  It's simple, clean, practical, affordable and effective.  It has a long list of great ingredients.  Even their glycerin is vegetable glycerin.  A lot of drugstore items, even department store items have maybe a couple of good ingredients with a long list of chemicals, but for this mask, it's not the case.  I'm trying to use less chemicals... in baby steps.  

The Good
  • 100% vegetarian ingredients, long list of great ingredients: ie. purified water, certified organic aloe, vegetable glycerin, safflower, shea butter, sweet almond, algae, kelp, sea lettuce, irish moss, etc. 
  • Paraben free
  • EU Cosmetics Directive Compliant
  • Not insanely expensive
  • Leaves skin clean and fresh
  • Although it is noted that it has fragrance, it is so mild, clean and fresh (the scent), you will like it.  
  • No animal testing
  • Easy to use
  • Very accessible in the US
  • Made in the USA 

The Bad
  • Although still affordable, it is still around $11 in a lot of stores.  I think it would be more appropriate if it was around $7-8.
  • Although it is accessible in the US, stores don't stock a lot of these, as much as other brands, so they go out of stock quickly.

I got some water in it.  It is actually a little bit thicker than
The Skinny

Overall, I just think its a great clay mask that leaves my skin clean and fresh.  It is still quite affordable.  I like the ingredients and I like that the scent is so mellow and fresh.  I really like that there are some better drugstore products now.  Really, no complaints.  I also just purchased alba's sea algae enzyme scrub.  I'll be giving a review on that when I am ready.  But, judging from the deep sea mask, I'd say this may be a brand you would want to pay attention when you're at the drugstore.  


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