Festive shopping!

The year-end is always a time when the shopping malls are thronged with crowds, whether they are people out shopping for Christmas presents for friends and family, or simply people out to snare a good bargain or two due to the slew of year-end/season-end/whatever-else sales. For me, I shop throughout the year, but generally towards the year-end and of course carrying forward into January (an excuse for CNY shopping then), shopping seems like an inevitable, must-do activity. Even though the malls are packed with annoying crowds and the cashier and gift-wrap queues are horrendous, if I exercise a little patience, they can actually be bearable and in some cases I even enjoy all that buzz that adds up to the festive mood.

But this year, I have not really done much Christmas shopping. Well, before I went to Shanghai, while I was milling around the shops at the airport, I’d actually bought myself a Christmas gift of sorts, but other than that, I have yet to really go to the shops to get anything. Maybe this year, there isn’t really a pressing need to get gifts but we’ll see. Due to some unexpected twist of events in the last couple of days, a trip that I’d planned got postponed so it means that I have a few days to head to town and perhaps get myself into the yuletide mood, see whatever there is of the Christmas light-up and buy some gifts.

It is also different this year because I didn’t get anything yet from Crabtree & Evelyn. In past years, I’d join my friend for the Members Preview/Sale and get some toiletries and also their delicious cookies. This year I didn’t because apparently, a toiletries set I bought last year has not been opened yet. I got a travel set consisting of some items from the Pomegranate range last Christmas and I’d only just taken out the Hand Therapy for use when I went to Shanghai recently.

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I am really glad that this item, which I first discovered a couple of years back, made a return last year, or is it now part of the permanent range, but anyway I really love the scent, even more than my original favourite that was La Source. It contains argan and grapeseed, but in general what I like about this scent is that it has a tinge of sweetness in its smell, yet it is not too strong, and still provides a fairly refreshing feel. The hand therapy isn’t the best of hand creams that I’ve used, but it suffices to a certain extent although it does leave a little greasy trail for a short while. Nevertheless, this is my new favourite from C&E!20131204-153902.jpg

gifts!

In addition to this cheerful vase of flowers, I got some other well-meaning gifts for my birthday too! Maybe the biggest presents these days come from myself since I would know best what I want right? Gone are those days when you receive tonnes of gifts from the groups of friends and from the beginning my family don’t have the practice of gifting. But I did get a small red packet from mum though, for well wishes and good luck.

One of my friends know that I love toiletries, in the form of bath toiletries or body lotions, and got me this new item from Crabtree & Evelyn. I haven’t used Crabtree’s products for a while because recently I have been using shower gels from the BodyShop and Dove (drugstore brand that works fine too!) so when I am done with those I will move on to give this a try! 🙂20130808-082552.jpgThe steamboat dinner at my bro’s place was also some sort of a gift-ceremony because July sees birthdays of three members of the family, myself included. So my sister-in-law and brother were so kind to not just host us for dinner, but also got each of us gifts. These were the ones I received, and each comes personalised with a handwritten message within, one by my sister-in-law and another by my brother. 🙂

20130808-082604.jpgI haven’t read them yet, as with some other books I have, but for sure I will get down to them soon enough, I hope!

The Body Shop

Years ago, I think I did patronise Body Shop, but I am not a big consumer of their products, even though the products all look really nice and appealing. I guess where toiletries are concerned, I either opt for drug store usuals like Dove (in the past and also recently) or Essensuals (up until recently), etc., I wouldn’t really buy shampoo and conditioner from these specialty stores, whether it’s Body Shop, Crabtree & Evelyn, L’Occitane, and so on. There are many of these shops in town these days and truth be told, I don’t know how great their products are but if I were to consider something that I am using on a daily basis, it is definitely more economical to stick to the drug store brands, because I can’t sustain for a long while to splurge on daily necessities. Mostly, I go to these shops to buy gifts for friends during Christmas time, because what we don’t use for ourselves daily, we can buy them for someone else and let them choose the frequency of usage. Besides, during the festive gifting season, these shops do an excellent job of marketing their gift ideas to consumers. 20130307-102543.jpg

It was also during the last Christmas season that I stepped into Body Shop again to take a closer look at their toiletries. Typically I have only bought their combs, nail buffers or shower lilies, but for presents we tend to be a bit less conservative in thinking that a bottle of shower gel can cost that much. From that visit, I got to know about their loyalty program, where every $30 spent earns you a stamp and based on the number of stamps accumulated, you can get some free gifts, i.e. at every 3rd stamp earned. In addition, being part of this loyalty program also gives entitles you to a 10% discount!20130307-102601.jpg

As you can see from my card above, I have only achieved 2 stamps to-date, so I have not yet redeemed any freebies from them yet, but I still have time because this loyalty program goes on for a year so I have several more months to buy more things from Body Shop! I am not a make-up junkie so where cosmetics are concerned I am also not exploratory like many of my friends are, so I have never taken any proper look at their cosmetics range. And skincare is something rather out-of-bounds for me due to sensitive skin, meaning that I am also not adventurous in trying out skincare for fear of the dreaded breakouts thereafter. Perhaps I can consider trying their body care range, or even hair care, who knows maybe I will just discover something I like. 20130307-102616.jpg

While I was shopping for gifts during Christmas, I came across the Japanese cherry blossom series of body care items and I remembered it being rather nice-smelling. I think this is not an uncommon scent because L’Occitane has something similar which I think is not too bad, and last April I bought a huge bottle of Japanese Cherry Blossom shower gel from Bath & Body Works in the US that I really liked but have unfortunately already finished. To my surprise a couple of days ago, I found something in my office cabinets while doing some housekeeping: 20130307-102628.jpg

This was something I got from a Christmas gift exchange in 2011 which I had left in the office and forgotten about. I guess it should still be usable, but in any case cheers to unexpected discoveries!

L’Occitane and Crabtree also have their own loyalty programs, but I’m not on either since a friend of mine is a member of both so generally I just tag along with her when they are having member events during Christmas. I don’t buy enough to really justify or warrant having a membership in any case. Unless I start to switch out from the drug store brands to these. But that would mean increasing my toiletries budget significantly, which at the moment is already pretty high due to my reguarl visits to the dermatologist. Oh well, let’s see how things go. I shall probably start with Body Shop, since in terms of pricing they tend to be a little friendlier to the pocket!

mistaken identity

This was what the hotel provided for a body lotion. Initially I thought it was a rose scent since it said “rose magnifique”, although it seemed odd if it indeed was rose and then the packaging is blue – seemed contradictory no?

So anyhow I tried it, the entire suite of the toiletries from shampoo to conditioner, bath gel and body lotion… and well… the first thought that came to my mind. Crabtree & Evelyn La Source.

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The colour and texture of the gels and whatever are exactly what I recalled from La Source. I also had a tube of La Source handcream in my luggage on this trip and the scent of this ‘rose magnifique’ bears an uncanny similarity to La Source.

Again the shampoo and conditioner were like the La Source ones that I’ve tried – blah. But I have used the products for the last few days and thankfully no side effects appearing yet. Anyhow it’s just a few days and I will be travelling to Shanghai this evening so no more ‘fake’ La Source!

overcast

I can totally get how the Londoners must feel. The Seasonal Affective Disorder, since they are supposedly shrouded in gloomy weather for most parts of their time. I have an extremely low tolerance of heat and humidity to be living in this part of the world, although I am sure I am not alone where that is concerned, and therefore we are complaining incessantly about the weather this and that, so much so that I use it as a convenient excuse for a lot of things, such as being always togged out in comfortable attire like tanks and shorts with flip-flops, which has already garnered our ‘fine’ city a bad rep for sloppy dressing.

Anyhow, the rainy season has sort of arrived on our shores, evident by the recent slew of thunderstorms that can occur at any time of the day. Yesterday I was unfortunate enough to be caught in the rain while on the way to work, and I suspect I might just have to ditch that pair of pumps I was wearing since it was thoroughly soaked and I wonder if it would ever dry. Well, a legit reason to shop for new shoes? But I really liked that pair for its comfort without sacrificing too much on the aesthetic front, imo. I need to do some serious housekeeping of shoes and clothes but am still trying to stop procrastinating on that. It’s become more vital for me now considering that I’m going away for a vacation soon! And what happens on vacations, I just eat and shop. I’m not big on sightseeing, especially since I am the sort to prefer to play things by ear, so most of the time I end up just chilling, eating, and shopping. Lazy traveller, if you’d ask me, but that’s what vacations are supposed to be about!

Sometime back I read from Her World’s tweet that Crabtree & Evelyn are launching a new series, the Pomegranate (together with Argan & Grapeseed). I was thinking if it could be that range from last Christmas. Last year during its year-end members’ Christmas sale, Ilsa invited me along and I got the shower gel of the pomegranate series, since the rest of the items were already sold out! I used it when I travelled, and I really liked its scent! It has a nice mixture of fruity and slight floral scent without being too sickeningly sweet, so there is still a refreshing aroma that appeals to me. I was honestly quite sad when I finished the large tube of shower gel that I had on one of the business trips, so just the other day when Ilsa and I were passing a C&E shop, I popped in to try the body lotion and it IS the same scent! I guess they must have gotten feedback of its popularity that they decided to launch it as a permanent item. That can only be good news to me, although I didn’t get anything there and then since I have only started on the Jurlique hand cream; but come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever finished any tube of hand cream completely, except for the La Source hand therapy, which happens to be my favourite C&E range (except the shampoo and conditioner which I find to be quite blah). Now Pomegranate is going to be a competitor for La Source, and I highly doubt I’ll see me finishing up the Jurlique hand cream. Hehe. Christmas come soon (and don’t go please)!

(mini) battle of the hand creams

I am not very diligent when it comes to hand creams, although I have started using them, albeit on a very on-and-off basis, since a few years ago.

Of the first hand creams that I recall using was L’Occitane’s Happy Hands series that I bought from Duty Free. There were 6 tubes of 3 different types of miniature-sized (about 30ml) hand creams/lotions in a box. If I remember correctly, it was verbena, lavender, and something else, maybe cooling hand gel? Aside from the three types contained in the (then) Happy Hands kit, I have tried some other L’Occitane hand creams that were usually Christmas gifts that I received from friends, like the festive edition type. I’ve tried Shea Butter too and it isn’t too bad, moisturising without being too greasy but it has a smell that perhaps not everyone may be accustomed to.

Then there is the other well-known toiletries brand, Crabtree & Evelyn. They also have various lines of fragrances with hand cream being one of the items. I haven’t tried many of their hand creams as opposed to body lotions, which I tend to use a lot of when I travel to dryer climates, but most recently I used and finished the La Source Hand Therapy 25ml tube, which was also a gift!

Other than these, there is Jurlique’s Rose hand cream that I bought on a trip to Australia and happened to pop into the Jurlique shop to pick up some toiletries then. It was sometime back since I bought that but I figured that as long as it wasn’t opened it should be safe to use. I just opened it today and it still smells fine.

Honestly, I would be one of the last persons to compare hand creams because I don’t use them consistently enough to comment if they actually work. Now, I use them in the office because the air-conditioning makes my hands really dry and I apply them to the elbows too because that’s another spot of dry skin on me.

Of the ones that I have used, I think I like C&E’s La Source Hand Therapy best. It is no secret that I am a huge fan of the La Source scent so that is a major contributing factor. Besides, I like the light texture of the cream as it doesn’t leave your hand feeling sticky after applying it. It glides on easily and gets absorbed into the skin promptly after applying, and after that it makes my skin feel and look softer. As compared to L’Occitane’s hand creams that tend to be rather thick and therefore sticky, this was a godsend for me. I also think that some of L’Occitane’s hand creams tend to be a bit too slick without actually doing the work of a hand cream even if it smells rather nice.

I have just started using Jurlique today and already I am comparing it with C&E. The Rose hand cream is stickier and as I type I think I’m leaving some residue on my laptop. It’s not as easily absorbed which means I have to spend more time rubbing the cream into my skin, and to be frank I don’t really fancy the rose water scent. Perhaps hand creams that are creamier works better for dry skin but to me, how it feels like after application is very important too.

morning dalliances

I’m glad that Friday is here! But it’s a tiring morning, especially when the last few days saw long days packed with stuff. Lessons on Monday and Tuesday, concert on Wednesday and beer-drinking + music last night! Today is going to be another day but at least there is no work tomorrow.

The only two pictures I managed with the dying phone on Wednesday night. This was the before picture, slightly past 8pm, when it was still rather empty. The stage set-up was really weird actually, because they have 2 huge speakers at both sides of the stage that if you were sitting in the blocks of seats right next to the stage, you can see nothing because they obscure your view of the stage totally.

People started trickling in later, and before the lights went off, the standing area was pretty much filled up. There were some people who were sitting near where I was who came in late, at about 930pm. Why they would be so late and why they still bothered, I don’t know. C’mon, if you are attending a concert that is supposed to start at 8pm, even factoring in all the delays and whatever, 930pm is seriously a bit too ridiculous?

Last Christmas during the C&E members’ sale, I bought a huge tub of pomegranate-flavoured body lotion that I adored. It smelled really good without being overpoweringly sweet, and the texture was rich enough to moisturise in cold and dry weather yet doesn’t leave a sticky residue after application. It lasted me for a few trips, when I went to Tokyo in February then Hong Kong in April and most recently in Mexico. I never really use moisturisers in Singapore because there really isn’t a need to when I don’t sleep in airconditioned rooms, and I’m just too lazy to do it. But I can’t afford to be lazy when I’m abroad because I don’t like to see my skin flaking. 

So I got a nice surprise on Wednesday too  when I was presented with this!

I haven’t tried it yet but at first whiff it smells like something I would like, lightweight and fresh. Many thanks to my dear pal!

And… I recently discovered that a small hint of civilisation landed near the workplace. It isn’t the best but if we make do, it’s still not too bad.

Yay to takeaway local coffee/tea! I don’t think we will ever see the day when chains like Starbucks, Spinelli or Segafredo pop up around here but we can always wish can’t we? Yesteday during lunch we were talking about those mobile food operators that we saw around for a really short while many years back but somehow were discontinued. I think they are a great idea, like what we always see in other countries in the region especially Japan; provides more options during meal times for deprived folks like us!