Monthly Archives: April 2011

Simplylife Bakery Café restaurant review – a tea set down to a tee

I’m sure you must be sick of posts starting with ‘another thing I love about Hong Kong’ but ANOTHER thing I love about Hong Kong is the humble tea set. Usually served between 2.30-6pm at upscale restaurants and chan chaan dengs alike, they generally consist of a drink and snack-type main that’s a little lighter than the ones available at lunch – and at around half the price! Obviously, this is because most normal people are beavering away at work but for layabouts like me, living the life of leisure and not seeing daylight before 12pm anyway, it’s a perfect brunch-style compromise! And the tea set at Simplylife Bakery Café is one of the best around.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s nicer than both their lunch and dinner menus! I’ve eaten at Simplylife many times and enjoy their laidback casual café style but, despite an emphasis on quality ingredients, generous portion sizes and decent value, the meals themselves tend to be a bit hit-and-miss. Their European-based cuisine sounds great on paper, with healthy-sounding salads and pastas and hearty but modern meat and veg combinations dominating, yet all too often the food itself is slightly bland and underwhelming. However, their tea set is the tops.

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Sweet Valley High just got sweeter!

What’s this – photographs not taken during a season of Next Top Model making the pages of my Pretty Things section?! Yes, you read right, but this summer ad campaign for American brand Wildfox is too delish not to drool over.

It’s based on 90s teen book and tv series Sweet Valley High – I know, awesome already, right?! It’s all sleepovers, crushes, sunshine and secrets, basically an all-American summer encapsulated in one photoshoot by Henrik Purienne. Rather than delivering the typical ‘buying these clothes might make me as pretty as the models’ aspirational campaigns that many brands go for (cough Abercrombie & Fitch cough), there’s a sense of ease and fun to these images that means the models look like genuine BFFs.

I particularly love the sun-bleached look these photos have – you can practically feel the heat radiating off them! – and it all adds to a slightly vintage feel (check out that retro Pepsi can!) that makes you feel like you’re flicking through an old family album. Admittedly, one in which the girls seem particularly ill-disposed to wearing anything over their underpants (it’s a shoot for tees, who can blame them?!).

My favourite photos are the ones with the phone (above), which instantly make me think of racking up my parents’ phone bill on late night calls to my bessies It also reminds me of this amazing 90s board game called Dream Phone where you had a giant pink phone that played voice recordings of boys, so you could work out who had a crush on you (‘You’re right! I really like you!) – very apt, given the slogan on the tee!

I also love the pizza ones above, which call back to all those sleepovers where you all end up in hysterical laughter about nothing in particular, and the models perfectly capture that conspiratorial sense of fun in a way that just looks effortless.

So grab your sunnies, shorts and SPF – summer is here! [Wildfox tee optional]

Photos from Wildfox’s blog via Rock N Rose HK blog

Sasatinnie Intergalactic Wow nail polish review

Having given you time to mull over my first flakie nail polish, it’s time for another review from my Sasa haul. So following hot on the glittery-pretty heels of FCGL001, it’s… Sasatinnie FCGL002! Imaginative, right?

FCGL002 is waaaay too beautiful to be known by a string of letters and numbers that make it sound more like a hazardous chemical than a thing of wonder, so I’ve renamed it Intergalactic Wow. It’s a deep deadly nightshade purple swirled with silver micro-glitter and an abundance of glowing coppery-pinky-purply opalescent shreds, with such a mesmerising magic about it that you do feel like you’re being sucked into another galaxy. In case you’re in any doubt, it is 100% totally gorgeous.

Out of all three Sasatinnie flakies I bought, Intergalactic Wow had by far the biggest and the most ‘amazing shreds of rainbow awesomeness’ (I’m thinking of patenting the term). Again, there was a thin watery first coat and a somewhat toxic stink, but once you’ve layered on two to three coats of this lovely, you get a colour with such depth and richness to its shimmers and glimmers that you can barely remember your own name let alone whatever minor hardships it took to achieve. It reminded me of the photos you see from outer space – those vivid and multi-textured hues of a planet’s surface, topped off with starry sprinkles and flaming comets – hence the name I gave it. By now, the ‘Wow’ part should be pretty self-explanatory!

Hunting around the web, it looks like Intergalactic Wow may even be a dupe (nail polish jargon for identical twin) for OPI’s Merry Midnight, a colour from its 2009 Holiday Wishes Collection and long since discontinued. It certainly has the same red-based plum base colour, although from some photos, it looks like Sasatinnie’s polish may have even more flakie goodness going on! And for a fraction of the price to boot!

Intergalactic Wow was, unsurprisingly, my favourite of all the Sasatinnie lacquers I purchased. That it only cost $24 is nothing short of incredible; it easily outshines many of the other premium polishes I own, in terms of drying time, staying power and the most importantly, that magnificent colour pay-off. After all, why else would I have put ‘Wow’ in the name?!

Looks good with: black, star-gazing, cosmic wonder
Drying time: <2 mins
Coats required: 2-3
Chips: +5 days

Sasatinnie FCGL002 “Intergalactic Wow” nail polish, Super Dolly Fantasy Quick Dry Collection, $24, Sasa

OPI The One That Got Away nail polish review

Slowly but surely, I’m attempting to review all of the Katy Perry nail polishes before OPI’s Summer Collection comes out, so it’s down to The One That Got Away to get us over the camel’s hump.

So far, we’ve had the colour-changing silvery star of the show Not Like The Movies and the pretty in pink Teenage Dream. The One That Got Away is a deep bold but cool-toned fuchsia, with the merest smattering of glitter and shimmer, and yet it’s by far the most boring colour of the bunch.

The fact that there’s no other way to describe this shade than fuchsia should indicate part of the problem. It’s utterly one-dimensional, despite the metallic-glitter-shimmer effect that’s similar to the finish of The Show Must Go On. Whereas that polish glowed in a million different ways and was made even more unique by that beautiful finish, here those little flecks of glitter can’t save what is ultimately a flat and run-of-the-mill colour from being boring – a word which, love her or hate her, is so very un-Katy Perry.

I think it looks nicer and sparklier in my photos (especially the one below, taken in strong sunlight) than it did in real life. Even my boyfriend, who rarely manages to rouse himself from anything but boredom in regards to my nails, said he didn’t like it. I wore it with First Mate, hardly the world’s most exciting colour, on the other hand – and somehow, an inky navy crème managed to outshine a bright glittery shiny metallic. Speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

The One That Got Away? If only! Annoyingly for a colour that I didn’t like that much, it didn’t give me much of an excuse to take it off – opaque in two easy breezy coats and chip-free for WELL over a week. Since it hung around longer than a novelty record in the charts, I noticed that it seemed to lose some of its sheen as the week progressed, making a dull colour look even duller.

Without wanting to go on a full-on rant again, The One That Got Away does not even have the mitigating factor of being suited to its name. Once you’ve listened to the song itself, a wistful swoon down memory lane, it’s hard to reconcile this bright bold hue with any feelings of rose-tinted nostalgia – and for those that haven’t listened to the song, I’d argue that the phrase The One That Got Away has a sense of inbuilt sense of nostalgic longing anyway.

Perhaps I’m attaching too much stigma to the name; after all, ‘a rose by any other name would smell as sweet’. Alas, this rose smells of nothing but flat and uninspired. As far as I’m concerned, The One That Got Away can run for the hills.

Looks good with: Black, ignorance of the Katy Perry song
Drying time: 3-5 mins
Coats required: 2
Chips: +7 days

Read my reviews of the rest of the OPI Katy Perry Collection:
     •  Teenage Dream
     •  Not Like The Movies

OPI The One That Got Away nail polish, Spring 2011 Katy Perry Collection, $168 for four of four minis, selected Mannings

The Globe pub review – out of this world!

I don’t miss many things about England, but Sunday Roast is definitely one thing I do!

Whether our small microwave/oven has the capacity to cook a proper joint of meat in anything less than 24 hours, never mind fitting in all the trimmings, remains to be seen – and that’s before we’ve covered trekking to City Super or Oliver’s to get a good quality cut of beef, paying through the nose for it and trying to polish off the whole meal on my own as I’m the only one in my house that eats beef. Basically, that’s a whole lot of issues for a humble roast and too many for me to worry my little head about. Especially since I’ve discovered that The Globe does a top-notch, home quality Sunday Roast all of its own.

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China Glaze First Mate nail polish review

As some of you may know, I’m just a little excited about the Royal Wedding (she says, drinking out of a commemorative Royal Wedding mug, dining on commemorative Royal Wedding crockery and contemplating her giant commemorative Royal Wedding poster). I’ve also become obsessed with Kate Middleton – or to be more exact her amazing hair, which survives everything that horrible British weather and scores of unflattering paparazzi shots throw at it and still comes out looking beauty pageant perfect every time. So it was with Princess Kate in mind that I selected my next nail polish – China Glaze’s First Mate.

If you’re thinking that blue doesn’t seem a likely choice for the future Queen of England’s manicure (pretty neutrals all the way, right?), you’d be correct. I was in fact thinking of this iconic Kate moment in choosing it:

The royal blue Issa dress that Kate wore for the engagement announcement was just stunning. Flattering, sophisticated, just that little bit sexy and in an eye-popping shade that *stroke of genius moment* matches the iconic sapphire engagement ring. Apart from lusting after the dress (get me a cheapo high street copy, stat!), it’s had me lusting after that particular shade of cobalt for weeks on end. Enter First Mate, which has been photographed on many people’s blogs looking like this, i.e. a gorgeous hue of that striking blue:

(Note the long-suffering boyfriend’s look of disgust in the background, as I whip out a camera to take pictures of my nails yet again whilst probably droning on about Kate Middleton’s hair yet again.)

However, as I swiftly learned, First Mate only turns this colour in strong bright beating sunlight. Damn you bloggers with your indiscriminate use of flash! Under normal conditions, it actually looks like this:

That’s an inky, very dark, even a little dull, take on navy blue. Under most lightings, it’s actually almost black and is definitely a whole lot darker than the, dare I say it, Issa dress colour of the bottle. It’s got a nautical feel – well, it is from the Anchors Away Collection! – and also a certain Parisian chic to it. Navy in general is an underrated colour that’s extremely versatile and looks smart all year round, even if it isn’t a natural fit for spring. However, as has been well-documented, I’m just not a fan of dark colours on my nails, however great the polish.

This, incidentally, is First Mate’s middle ground, found in normal daylight. A nice enough navy but not exactly set to striking:

Application-wise, this was another China Glaze stellar performer. Nice smooth consistency, opaque in just one coat (though you might want to go two for added glossiness) and a steadfast defiance towards chipping.

I suppose First Mate will just about complement the royal blue found in the Union Jacks I’ll be frantically waving come April 29 and after all that, it looks like Kate’s dress, without the benefit of a million flash bulbs popping at it, also turns a similar inky navy too (see below)! So whilst First Mate is still flattering, sophisticated and just that little bit sexy, it’s just not the colour I was looking for. Even if that was the wrong colour in the first place… oh, never mind. God Save The Queen!

Looks good with: red, Breton stripes, the nautical look
Drying time: 5 mins
Coats required: 1-2
Chips: 7 days

China Glaze First Mate nail polish, Spring 2011 Anchors Away Collection, $60, Cher2

Lancome Blanc Expert Ultimate Whitening Hydrating Cream moisturiser review

If you’ve never been to Asia before, welcome to a whole new world. Not just unbelievable sights and indescribable feelings… but an entire market devoted to whitening products.

Coming from the West where a tan is considered de rigeur, you might find it strange to see the first ten adverts in fashion magazines are invariably for whitening creams, or that cosmetics companies develop entire lines of whitening products specifically for the Asian market. The first time I came back to HK, shop assistants would compliment my ‘lovely skin – so white!’, a far cry from the randomers I would hear dissing me in clubs in the UK as they thought I was wearing white tights (nope, just glow-in-the-dark pale legs).

I’ve since noticed my sunspots coming out to play far more in the hot and humid HK climate so decided to jump aboard the whitening bandwagon with Lancome’s Blanc Expert Ultimate Whitening Hydrating Cream (yep, it’s not just local companies, the big guns are at it too). The shop assistant at Bonjour was all for me buying an $800 special pen specifically designed to obliterate my freckles, but I was adamant I wanted a moisturiser – after all, if special pen failed, that was 800 dollars wasted but with this, at least I’d still be getting a decent moisturiser out of it, right?

Lancome promises that its whitening hydrating cream will provide intense moisturisation, re-plump the skin and fade the appearance of dark spots, giving me softer, smoother, firmer and more radiant skin as a result. It comes in the trademark chunky classy Lancome packaging that looks heavy and luxurious but is actually lightweight and plastic. The smell is also trademark Lancome – a not unpleasant, faintly medicinal aroma that reminds you of the scent of old-fashioned cosmetics cabinets and pampered aunts from your childhood.

It’s indicative of the cream itself, which manages to be rich yet still feel quite light. It has a slight liquidity to it – not to be confused with being greasy, which it definitely isn’t – that makes it feel like a cream that has been (not entirely successfully) mixed with gel, meaning it’s a bit too slippery to work as a good base for make-up.

As a moisturiser, it’s sound enough although I found it made my T-Zone look too shiny and my face too slippery for everyday use. Instead, I used it just as a night moisturiser and for the nine months it’s lasted, my skin has indeed been soft, plump and well hydrated. It glides on easily and has a luxurious feel about it, although it takes a while to absorb as it’s definitely a cream from the richer end of the spectrum, even if it doesn’t have that typically heavy texture.

As a whitener, I’m not entirely sure – with these things, you can never be sure if it’s the placebo effect convincing you that your freckles have faded! Overall, my complexion did seem very clear and bright, but I have pale skin anyway. I believe my lighter sunspots have faded somewhat and I’ve certainly not noticed any new ones appearing but for the larger darker ones, any difference is minimal. For an overall brightening radiant effect at a similar price, I preferred Bliss’ Triple Oxygen Energising Cream, which feels lighter and has a more modern fresh scent.

When I pointed my sunspots out to my auntie alongside my worries they’d look really bad in my old age, she told me by the time I got that old, a few freckles would be the least of my worries! Having given the whitening thing a whirl and not been especially wowed at the effects, I’ve come round to her way of thinking too. Lancome’s Ultimate Whitening Hydrating Cream is a decent enough moisturiser but if you’re expecting to come out it looking like Cate Blanchett, you may well be disappointed!

Lancome Blanc Expert Ultimate Whitening Hydrating Cream, $400 for 50ml, Bonjour; see all Lancome locations in Hong Kong here