Category Archives: Random

A doggie bag for all seasons!

Owning two dogs = a whole new bunch of cute things to spend my money on!

Yes, no longer am I restricted to human mo liu, now I can waste my hard-earned cash on puppy mo liu too!

…I jest. In fact, this stuff is not really mo liu at all because dogs are generally overjoyed at anything you bestow on them (socks, string, dirty underwear) so actual treats – be they practical, edible or playful – always go down in a tail-wagging frenzy of licking, jumping and maniacal excitement!

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Hello Kitty mo liu – the cat’s meow!

I was introduced to the term ‘mo liu’ by a few friends on Twitter and rapidly found that it seemed to describe my life!

In English,  mo liu translates to items of frippery, flippant impulse buys that are super-cute but ultimately functionless. I have always been susceptible to pretty things (and indeed, a whole category on here is named thus!) yet in Hong Kong, such mo liu lurks round every street corner, in every market, on the shelves of every shop, supermarket and convenience store. You cannot escape!

Prime offenders are items emblazoned with the likeness of a certain cartoon cat (previously featured on my blog here). And yes, forgive me for I am weak… for I gave into the cute collecting craze again… not once, but two times!

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Forgotten Fine Art: The Cityplaza Copper Suite

In Hong Kong, you can often find pretty things in the strangest places… which often means discovering fine art in the most mundane of anonymous corporate offices.

Such was the case with this stunning series of plaques entitled The Cityplaza Copper Suite by Australian sculptors Joan Walsh Smith and Charles Smith in Tai Koo’s Cityplaza complex of buildings.

I was taken aback by the level of detail in these – you could spend ages poring over these still find even more interesting and clever little vignettes revealing themselves in the copper artwork. The style reminds me a little of Jan Pieńkowski’s silhouette illustrations for the Joan Aiken books I used to read when I was little. Click on each photograph to enlarge and zoom in  and you can check out some of the detail for yourselves!

Each ‘Rondo-Progression’ has a different theme (unfortunately, I forgot to note them down, bad blogger, slaps wrist!) but I believe they were The Arts, Food, Leisure and Work. My favourite is probably The Arts with its striking centre-piece of the two Chinese theatre masks and loads of other dynamic pictures surrounding it – it’s almost like it’s alive with movement!

You can’t really tell from the pictures (which have distorted the light reflections weirdly) but these are made from copper, which is even more stunning and vivid in real life – and I loved the way the light reflected and bounced off these pieces, making them even more vibrant.

It seems a shame that these are tucked away in a place most people wouldn’t even notice so hopefully this post does its bit to show them off to the rest of the world!

7-Eleven Hong Kong – use your noodle

UPDATE: This is the post that got my Stitch pillowcase and my boyfriend’s hands forever immortalised on Buzzfeed – check it out here (#35!).

Oh 7-Eleven. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

I love that you’re never more than 5 minutes away from any given location. I love that I can now buy crisps and ice-cream whenever the hell I want, preferably in my pyjamas. I love your cute collectible promotional toys that I will never spend enough to obtain all of (but I’ll lose my mind trying), and friends and colleagues will harass me for the tokens regardless.

I love that school kids frequent ‘Club 7’ to get their first illicit taste of alcohol, stand outside in the streets drinking it and that staff actually open their bottles for them. I love that we then do exactly the same thing in a loosely ironic fashion and it probably ends up being more fun than a night out in Dragon-I. I love that living it large outside Club 7 is practically a rites of passage in Hong Kong (see above photo for reference, taken in my second month in HK!).

But recently… I love your noodles. Not as much as my boyfriend does though.

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Retail Therapy Rach-style

I love buying make-up. No, like really, LOVE. So who wants to see some high quality make-up porn photos then? [God knows how many weird Google searches that will send my way!]

Firstly, I had a wonderful surprise again from the GORGEOUS Bastian at Flare, who sent me a goodie bag of SK II products. She always sends me a lovely little card as well… love the personal touch! (Check out the hummingbird seal – so cute!) Don’t these products look haute?!

Here’s a close-up of the products – a bottle of SK II’s Facial Treatment Essence (dubbed ‘miracle water’ by some), 10 Facial Treatment Masks (as famously sported by Demi Moore on Twitter) and a super-cute hi-tech bottle of Cellumination Essence (the bottle has this gorgeous pearlescent opalised finish which I’m in love with already). After reading loads of raves for SK II and having never tried anything of theirs before, I can’t wait to bust these out! Stay tuned for more reviews… and not just on Through The Looking Glass either (hmmm… cryptic right?!)

My friend Mirander went to Singapore recently so I asked if she wouldn’t mind looking for some Urban Decay things for me – and lovely girl that she is, she agreed! Seriously, Urban Decay is my most missed cosmetics brand out here – as you already know, their 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils are one of my make-up miracles and I love their range of exciting edgy colours together with their commitment to awesome quality, which (for me) is unmatched. Of the things I asked Mir to find, only the 24/7 Glide-On Shadow Pencils were in stock, so she grabbed me a few of these.

Firstly, let’s admire the cool iridescent packages. Ooooh… shiny… like a super-sexy oil slick.

Appetite whet, here they are in all their glory, from top to bottom: Delinquent, Morphine, Narc, Midnight Cowboy and Sin. They’re basically big fat versions of my beloved eye pencils (which I’ll admit to sometimes using as shadows, probably very naughty of me); Midnight Cowboy and Sin are absolutely fabulous neutrals that are anything but boring beiges, proper reviews to come!

Sadly, the infamous Naked Palette and the 15 Year Anniversary 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil set that I also asked for were sold out in Singapore. However, as you all know by now, when I decide I want something, I’ll hunt them down with more persistence than a trained assassin… or something like that. One morning, I woke up really early and after perusing Urban Decay’s Facebook page, noticed some folk saying both of these items were in stock at Debenhams. Unfortunately, Debehams doesn’t deliver to Hong Kong… but Mum Post does! So I snagged these before they sold out yet again and my mum was great enough to forward them on to me… and they are so worth it!

As you know already, I love me my 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencils. This limited edition 15 Year Anniversary 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil set contains 15 amazing eyeliners (most of which I own already), including six new shades that are exclusive to this set. So obviously I HAD to have it! There’s also a sharpener and given that the pencils usually retail for £13 and this contains 15 full-sized ones for only £60, this is an amazing deal. Love.

The Naked Palette is probably one of the most raved about sets on the web; every girl needs some sophisticated neutrals set aside for a rainy day, right? This includes twelve shades of shadow, plus a brush and a travel-sized bottle of Urban Decay’s cult favourite primer potion.

My other favourite make-up brand is Clinique – see here and here are why, for the uninitiated! I saw these Chubby Sticks advertised and loved the cute playful look of them, and once I got in the store, I loved the feel of them too. I’m a lip balm freak, always seen smearing Vaseline on my smackers, and generally go for stronger eye make-up with bare lips, meaning these tinted moisturising lip balms are perfect and ultra-convenient for on the go.

I started off wanting one shade only – Super Strawberry. Then I took a liking to Whole Lotta Honey too and wanted them both, but Strawberry was sold out. Over the next few days, I somehow ended up bagging Woppin’ Watermelon and Mega Melon too… oops… and desperately seeking Strawberry, which is apparently sold out in HK. Proper reviews to come (top to bottom: Honey, Melon, Watermelon) but for now, suffice to say, they’re brilliant.

I also picked up some Clinique Quick Eyes Cream Shadows whilst I was there. HK seemed to only have a limited range of colours so I went for the only two that took my fancy – Rock Violet, a shimmery lavender, and Kiwi, a glowing green-gold. I normally use powder shadows and have heard good things about how crease-free these are, so am looking forward to reporting back!

My boyfriend need some new razors so popped in for what he thought would be quick in-and-out shop in Mannings. But as you know, this isn’t really in my vocab. He was persuaded into buying me some My Beauty Diary face masks (an exclusive to Mannings Cupid’s Love Set, featuring a mix of Chocolate and White Rose ones) and an adorable Mini Teatime Set, that includes a Strawberry Yoghurt Amino Acid Cleanser, Vanilla Soufflé Face Scrub and one Chocolate Truffle and one Earl Grey Tea & Macaroon Sheet Mask. The gift box seemed ridiculously cheap (just over $30); don’t these look and sound good enough to eat?! I’ll be disappointed if they don’t smell amazing although I’ll admit I mostly picked them because they looked pretty!

Of course, no make-up haul of mine is complete without nail polish. Firstly, here are some pretty pictures of the glitterbomb extraordinaires that are my collection of Estessimo Tins. Some, dare I say it, even have a touch of the holographic about them… squee!!!

Left to right: The Neptune (already reviewed here), The Splash Blue (reviewed here), The Relax Mint, The Snow Love, The Spicy Pinwheel.

Left to right and some holographic rainbow goodness: Rich Topaz, Bon Bon Savon, Seductive Amethyst, Alluring Aquamarine, Passionate Ruby.

I also finally found some Deborah Lippmann nail polishes, much raved-about on the Interwebz. These were very pricey (over 3x the price of my usual Cher2 buys!) so I kept it down to two very special unique glitters – Across The Universe and Today Was A Fairytale, which allegedly contains Virgin Diamond Powder. Well, for that price, I bloody hope so! At least some money was spent on packaging I guess!

So, as you can see, I love make-up. I worry for the number of excited exclamation marks that pepper this post. Keep ‘em peeled for proper reviews Retail Therapy Rach-stylesoon!

(My Mum is probably shaking her head in disgust right now. Sorry Mum.)

Flakies FTW – a trip to the vats of Sasa

Back when I first started writing nail varnish reviews, I promised myself that I would never start using the polish jargon so beloved by many beauty blogs. Holographic this, duochrome that… and what’s the difference between a crème and a jelly anyway? After all, it’s nail polish, not quantum physics! I describe it as I see it, and if that means I’m calling something a glitter when it’s a foil or a shimmer when it’s a glass fleck then so be it!

However, one mystery elixir continued to tantalise me – the flakie. Flakies, or as I know them ‘amazing shreds of rainbow awesomeness’, are probably one of the most lusted-after types of polishes in the blogosphere. Unfortunately, I couldn’t locate many of polishes that blogs frequently mentioned (Gosh Rainbow, Sally Hansen Hidden Treasure, Andrea Fulerton Gemstone, Nubar 2010) in Hong Kong, whilst although the brand most famous for them (Nfu-Oh) boasts Ebay sellers seemingly exclusively from HK, I’ve so far had more luck finding The Holy Grail than their lacquers in a real-life shop here. I began to doubt that I knew what flakies really looked like – basically, they’re confetti-esque shreds of iridescence, with rainbow reflections similar to the flashes in an opal gemstone; had I been passing by flakies all the while, mistakenly thinking they were mere glitters or shimmers?

But thankfully, my quest for flakies – and as you know, my make-up quests can get a bit obsessive – has a vaguely happy ending! All thanks to Sasatinnie, the own-brand sold by cosmetics behemoth Sasa.

My first post about nail polish already told you the state of Sasa – namely, huge tubs of bottles, piled high and haphazardly with little rhyme or reason (the picture below is from Bonjour but the effect is the same!). Consequently, I took refuge in the calm of Cher2, with its well-ordered selection of premium brands, and have been a bit snobby about the drugstore stuff ever since. Yet my quest for flakies meant I (and my reluctant boyfriend, who received a crash course on what to look for prior to the search) finally dove fist-first into a Sasa vat… and came up trumps!

For just $24 a bottle (or $40 for two), these three flakie polishes come from Sasatinnie’s Super Dolly Fantasy Quick Dry Collection. They weren’t quite what I was looking for, as they all have coloured bases rather than clear ones so I can’t layer them over just any colour to get the full flakie effect, but they’ll definitely do for now. Unlike many of the big brands, they’re probably not ‘3 Free’ (see here for details of what chemical nasties are probably lurking under that awesome flakie finish, especially if the more pungent-than-usual smell is anything to go by) but I was actually surprised with how well these applied – despite seeming pretty thin and watery, they all became opaque in a standard two to three coats and stayed chip-free for a positive aeon.

I’ll be treating each polish to their own review fairly soon but suffice to say, I can’t get enough of these amazing shreds of rainbow awesomeness. So if anyone has any tips for getting my mitts on more flakie fabulousness in Hong Kong, do let me know in the comments below. In the meantime, my lesson has been learnt – no more Sasa snobbiness! And I’ll be the one jumping headlong into the tub of nail varnish on your next visit.

[Incidentally, if you do want to swot up on nail varnish jargon, check out Lacquerized’s fantastic post here].

Ice is back with a brand new invention!

I remember there being quite a lot of hype for these ice-cold Coke vending machines when the first one popped up under Island Beverly (near Sogo) in Causeway Bay. Alas, Hong Kong’s combination of heat and humidity meant the machine apparently didn’t work too well during one of our trademark sticky sweaty summers. It quietly disappeared a few months later.

But that wasn’t the last of these icy Coke vending machines. We spotted one, classily located next to a dingy back alley, on our epic trek round Wan Chai on my quest for Gosh cosmetics. My boyfriend (a Coca-Cola connoisseur… or simple addict… who has fizzing black gold constantly coursing through his veins) decided to give it a go, at $11 a bottle (Octopus card only). I was on hand to commemorate the experience photographically.

Alas, the Coke didn’t arrive via a polar bear wearing shades.

As you can see above, there were handy pictorial instructions, plus plenty of choices of beverage…

The first step was to open the bottle and take a quick sip – I presume this was to prevent the bottle exploding due to contraction/expansion caused by freezing (science geeks, feel free to clear up my ignorance in the comments). This step was boring so no photos here.

Second, slowly turn the bottle upside-down, whereupon ice crystals start to form in your Coke. To compensate for no pictures of the last step, I took two pictures of this one. Yay! Ice magic! You can really see it in the close-up below.

Finally, tip back your head and quaff that frozen Coke right away! Dingy back alley optional.

It was a cool day so everything worked perfectly and the Coke stayed icy for ages. It tastes like a Coke slushie, only you don’t have to put up with a surly-faced cinema employee to get it. It would probably taste even better on a hot summer’s day – providing the technology still works, that is!

I’m sure there’s a scientific explanation for this, but I prefer to think the Coke fairies did it.

What next for vending machines?! Umbrellas?! Oh wait…

Elementary, my dear Watsons: my epic quest for Gosh Cosmetics

If you have been following my blog since its infancy (…poor you!), then you’ll be familiar with the term ‘Treg’s Luck’, introduced in my early post about the beautiful Waterfall Bay and the numerous misfortunes that occurred as we looked for it. Check out the post itself for a more detailed explanation (and some lovely photos), but it basically boils down to Sod’s Law – anything that can go wrong for me, generally will. Especially if until now, everything had previously been ticking along far too well.

My quest to find a certain shade of Gosh nail polish is a case in point. By now, you’re all well aware how my indifference to nail varnish has bubbled up into a full-on obsession, helped along by the multitude of nail blogs sprawled across the Interwebz. Having spotted a particularly lovely Gosh lacquer on such a blog, I remembered seeing the brand sold in Watsons (think Superdrug, but not as good) so set out to claim a pot of glittery goodness for my own. Alas, none of the colours in the Tin Hau branch took my fancy.

Having stopped off at every Watsons on the way back home from Tin Hau, it transpired that Gosh Cosmetics were only sold at selected Watsons stores. Specifically, absolutely none near me. Most people would shrug, sigh and move on to bigger and better things. Unfortunately, I decided that the most important thing in my life from that moment was getting hold of Gosh nail varnish.

So my quest got more professional. I found their Facebook Page, which helpfully listed all the Watsons stores that stocked their cosmetics line. In Chinese.

I can’t read Canto. God bless those Gosh folk, they’d tackled their task with gusto, listing at least one hundred stores and my auntie would probably have a breakdown if I presented her with such an essay to translate. But things were looking up – my boyfriend understands certain characters and was able to pinpoint the section sub-titled ‘Hong Kong Island’ i.e. area where I live (and obvious best area in HK, fyi). Once he’d gone to sleep and was oblivious to my raging obsession being put in action, I painstakingly copied and pasted each string of characters of around twenty locations into Google, who showed a map of each possible destination.

‘The ones with the star next to them’

I was thus able to narrow my quest down to Wan Chai, in order to disguise my mania with a trip to Marks & Spencers Food. Wanting to double-check the exact locations of the stores, I presented my auntie with this small section of Wan Chai stores, asking her to translate ‘the ones with the star next to them’ (the asterisk denoted Gosh Cosmetics were sold there, as opposed to Skincare). I even pointed for good measure. My auntie confidently told me one was at some China Insurance Centre that I couldn’t figure out her directions for, the other the Hopewell Centre.

First, to M&S, which, true to form, had barely any of the items I wanted to buy (I should have spotted the Treg’s Luck warning signs from here). We then plodded from Gloucester Road all the way to Hopewell Centre on Queen’s Road East, where pots of glittery goodness would be waiting to be snapped up by yours truly. On arrival… no sign of Gosh Comsetics. Argh.

My boyfriend has 3G on his iPhone so I brought up the Facebook Page to show him. Even his limited grasp of Canto was enough to tell me that my auntie, in her infinite wisdom, had wonderfully managed to translate every location listed UNDER each asterisk. ARGH!

Not wanting a wasted trip, I picked up some other toiletries at Hopewell instead. On reaching the check-out, I was presented with a plastic bag bulging with random stuff as a free gift. Normally, people use the word random when they mean anything but. No really, this bag was random. I presume it was a clear-out of Christmas stock they couldn’t flog anymore. Then the saleslady decided my bag of free crap wasn’t quite complete… she wanted to include some cereal bars too. Alas, this involved authorisation from the manager, eating up a further five minutes. I eventually emerged from Hopewell Centre with: three packs of my pill (sadly, not free), box of yoghurt berry flavour CelebritySlim snack bars (impressively not even past their sell-by date), mini bottle of Listerine, red Garnier mobile phone case/purse, Olay sample, overnight CracKare moisturising patch (no… me neither), strange but cute fruit/alien shaped shower pouff and masses of pent-up annoyance at auntie.

Initially, my plan had been to catch a bus home from outside Hopewell. But now my determination to get Gosh nail polish had intensified further. Another location was Johnston Road, merely a street away. Off we went.

Bizarrely, the folk at Gosh aren’t too keen on divulging actual shop numbers on their list. Luckily, I used to work in Wan Chai so had some vague recollection of which Watsons they meant, or else we could have trotted down the wrong side of Johnston for who knows how long. On arrival at Johnston Road Watsons… a Gosh concession! Hurrah!

By now I wasn’t even bothered about the original colour I’d set out for and just wanted any nice nail polish to show for my efforts. I had a few back-up choices courtesy of those damned nail blogs… my boyfriend immediately noted that the space labelled with shade number ‘541’ was empty. I felt a familiar sinking feeling in my stomach as I used his 3G to Google it… yes, 541 was the very number of my next best back-up choice, Gasoline. Treg’s Luck strikes again.

I was weary, frustrated and all tregged-out, ready to admit defeat and head home. But my boyfriend knew that if we left now, I’d no doubt be horrifically annoying for hours/days/weeks on end, wondering if the other location (Hennessy Road) had my shades in stock. So on we marched, continuing to walk further back on ourselves and our ill-fated trip to Hopewell, including passing where we had started off in the first place.

This time, Gosh had given us a shop number: 205-207. Do I need to tell you that we found ourselves at the single-digit end of Hennessy?! We plodded on and got to the place we really should have gone to in the first place, where an amply-stocked display of Gosh Cosmetics awaited us… and, what’s this, plastered in red stickers offering 25% off!

Gasoline was there… so was Golden Dragon (another back-up favourite)… so I grabbed my booty. Horrors! A sales assistant starting removed the 25% off signs but, after some badgering, she reassured me I’d still receive my discount. By now, I was fielding calls from my auntie asking when I’d be home since some friends had arrived and would like to see me. So, of course, it was destined that I’d be served by an assistant who looked like Tubbs from The League Of Gentlemen and was mystified by the workings of her till and how to do 25% discounts. Fifteen minutes and three failed attempts later, I’d finally paid for my haul (receiving some no doubt erroneous further discounts along the way) and my lip-biting, hand-quivering mania was quelled. By now, I was so exhausted, flustered and late that I cancelled out all savings made by hailing a taxi home.

My hard-fought Gosh haul is pictured above and thank God, they are worth it (even more so at discount, reviews to follow). My auntie is using the phone case, I managed a fleeting hello to the friends as they left and Tubbs learnt how to use the till. Needless to say, I have since discovered that the original shade of polish I wanted has been discontinued and was probably never available in Hong Kong anyway. Treg’s Luck strikes again!

[Banner photo: Tim Ellis’ Flickr]

Merry Listmas!

I love making lists. Shopping lists. To-do lists. Lists of lists. You name it, I’ll list it.

My favourite, though, is Best Of Lists. There’s just something so naively pleasing about listing your most favouritest things in the world in order. For the past five years, I have been Music Editor for Teentoday, meaning my lists of best singles and albums of the year have actually gained some sort of legitimacy… but hell, I’m not going to pretend I wouldn’t have written them anyway.

In some end of noughties madness, I decided I’d quite like these lists on my own site. But the benefit of hindsight is a wonderful thing. Some songs passed me by at the time, other songs were included at the behest of other contributors/commenters, whilst for some strange reason, I hadn’t written a singles list for 2007 at all! So eagle-eyed readers of my work (hi Mum!) may notice that some songs have shifted about since original publication or disappeared altogether, whilst other ones only now realise their greatness.

A few rules:

  • Entries on the singles list must have been released in the UK that year.
  • Entries on the singles list must have been released as singles. So no albums, B-Sides, random tracks re-emerging thanks to iTunes.
  • Artists can only be featured once on each list, even if they’re released more than one great single. (Although you will notice, I do sometimes cheat my way round this!)

So without further ado, let the countdown commence! And then I’ll make a list of my favourite lists or something…

All the lists be here…

P.S. I’ve gotta admit, I’m actually quite proud of these lists! I’d happily listen to all the songs on them again now… and in fact, I regularly still do!

Photo credit: paloetic on Flickr

I love making lists. Shopping lists. To-do lists. Lists of lists. You name it, I’ll list it.

My favourite, though, is Best Of Lists. There’s just something so naively pleasing about listing your most favouritest things in the world in order. For the past five years, I have been Music Editor for Teentoday, meaning my lists of best singles and albums of the year have actually gained some sort of legitimacy… but hell, I’m not going to pretend I wouldn’t have written them anyway.

In some end of noughties madness, I decided I’d quite like these lists on my own site. But the benefit of hindsight is a wonderful thing. Some songs passed me by at the time, other songs were included at the behest of other contributors/commenters, whilst for some strange reason, I hadn’t written a singles list for 2007 at all! So eagle-eyed readers of my work (hi Mum!) may notice that some songs have shifted about since original publication or disappeared altogether, whilst other ones only now realise their greatness.

A few rules:

Entries on the singles list must have been released in the UK that year.

Entries on the singles list must have been released as singles. So no albums, B-Sides, random tracks re-emerging thanks to iTunes.

Artists can only be featured once on each list, even if they’re released more than one great single. (Although you will notice, I do sometimes cheat my way round this!)

So without further ado, let the countdown commence! And then I’ll make a list of my favourite lists or something…

Pizza Hut pizza: still disgusting

So the shrimp-stuffed crusts of the Tapas Pizza weren’t disgusting enough for you? Well, Pizza Hut HK sees your Tapas Pizza and raises you one Scallop Cheesy Volcano just in time for the festive season.

Oh, that some poor, beautiful scallops had to die in vain to make this monstrosity. It seems Pizza Hut has so little respect for premium ingredients that seeing truffle-sprinkled caviar on their next special wouldn’t come as much of a surprise. And they’d still manage to make it look like a pre-schooler’s art project.

There are little cheese-stuffed balls bubbling out a lava of cheddar and mozzarella (creating the eponymous volcanos), encircling the creation menacingly and preventing the scallops from even thinking about any last-ditch attempts at escape. This is demo-ed in the advert by a lang-mo delicately squeezing said globule. Big bulbous thing oozing out unctuous yellow goo? I’m not thinking volcano… I’m thinking giant pus-filled spot. Gross.