Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Silent Stress

I've been having a very bad case of indigestion and heartburn for a few days now.

It feels like there is constantly something stuck at the back of my throat, and it's extremely uncomfortable.

I haven't changed my eating habits lately, nor have I eaten anything out of ordinary.

It's most likely stress related.

Whenever I tell people that, the reaction I get is always, "Stress? But you're not even working!"

Well, maybe that stresses me out?

I guess I'm not adjusting so well, switching from one extreme to another. A few months ago, I was working 7 days a week; and now, I'm sitting at home doing nothing everyday.

Maybe it's the workaholic in me. Not doing anything stresses me out, and makes me feel like I'm not in control of my life.

Deep down inside, some burning questions have been quietly brewing all these while. So quiet that nobody noticed, including myself, until they started causing a heartburn.

When am I going back to Melbourne? How long am I going back for? What are my plans for my career? Do I just keep switching between working in Melbourne and being with Bee in KL? Am I ever gonna come back to Malaysia and work for government hospitals?

When do we plan to have the actual wedding ceremony? Have we scheduled the pre-wedding photo shoots/banquets/honeymoon? When are we gonna start renovating the house? What are our plans for the future? Do we plan to settle down in Australia or Malaysia?

I don't have the answers.

And that's my I'm resorting to medications for my heartburn, instead of solving the cause.

For now, anyway.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Deciphering Topical Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, and one of the most well known antioxidant.

Apart from being regularly recommended as an oral supplement for its numerous health benefits, topical vitamin E is also very popular in skin care, both on its own and in combination with other ingredients.

Vitamin E exists in eight different forms ("isomers"): alpha, beta, gamma, and delta tocopherol; and alpha, beta, gamma, and delta tocotrienol. Alpha-tocopherol is the most active form in humans, and most commonly seen in commercial products (both orally and topically).

Vitamin E is available in natural or synthetic forms. The natural forms (derived from natural sources such as vegetable oils or wheat germ) are usually labelled with the letter "d", eg. d-alpha-tocopherol; whereas synthetic forms (created from a synthetic base) are labelled "dl", eg. dl-alpha-tocopherol.

Research has shown that natural forms of vitamin E have more potency and a higher retention rate than the synthetic forms. It's also been suggested that the acetate form of vitamin E (eg. alpha-tocopherol acetate) does not penetrate the skin as well and provides less antioxidant benefits compared to the alcohol form of vitamin E (eg. alpha-tocopherol).

Common uses and benefits of topical vitamin E:

  • Treats or prevents dry, rough skin and minor skin irritations
  • Minimises visible signs of aging and wrinkles
  • Reduces the appearance of stretch marks
  • Increases the efficacy of active sunscreen ingredients
  • Protects against harmful effects of UV radiation, including photoaging
  • Reduces the formation of cell damaging free radicals upon skin exposure to harmful environmental elements
  • Strengthens and enhances skin's barrier function
  • Promotes healing of scars, burns and blemishes

Whilst possessing fascinating antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, the role of vitamin E in preventing or reducing scarring has remained controversial.

For decades, people have trusted vitamin E to speed wound healing or improve the outcome of scars. Or rather, manufacturers have it printed in bold letters on the box and promoters/beauticians/cosmeticians eagerly try to convince us that vitamin E is the wonder fix-it-all answer to get rid of those ugly scars we all can do without.

Contrary to popular belief, studies have shown that there is no clear benefit and in some cases, the application of topical vitamin E may actually be detrimental to the cosmetic appearance of a surgical scar. Additionally, almost a third of people developed contact dermatitis to vitamin E in one study.

At this stage, if you ask whether I would recommend vitamin E to accelerate wound healing and reduce scarring, the answer is yes and no.

I will tell you that I've had many patients/customers who swear by vitamin E products, but I will also tell you that I do not have the data from clinical studies to back it up.

Personally, I think further research in well-designed and larger scaled controlled trials is needed to clarify the role of topical vitamin E. However, many dermatologists will attest, and many patients still believe that vitamin E prevents and reduces the appearance of scars, thus its usage and anecdotal results will continue whether it's proven by scientific data or not.

As for me, it's an example of the constant battle that happens inside of me. A battle between the rigid healthcare bitch to whom everything has to be 'evident based", and the superficial airhead who is a sucker for cute packaging and extravagant commercial.

For that matter, MisSmall is my perfect alter ego to be the complete girly girl without being held accountable for anything. Hehe.

If you do decide to give it a try, here's a pointer I can give though - do not blindly look for the highest "International Units" on the box thinking the higher the number, the better quality it is. More often than not, manufacturers will play with the numbers.

Note: 1 IU of vitamin E is the biological equivalent of about 0.667 mg d-alpha-tocopherol (2/3 mg exactly), or of 1 mg of dl-alpha-tocopherol acetate.

When comparing concentrations of vitamin E, check the number of International Units (IU) per ounce. Most of the pure vitamin E oils on the market contain 28,000 IU per ounce, but some products might claim a higher IU concentration simply because they contain more than one ounce in content (eg. 35,000 IU for 25% more). Some products even completely leave out IU and market their vitamin E oil as "25 IU per drop", which is really misleading.

So my advice would be, pick the right product and have fun experimenting. Just remember not to use it on open wounds, and be persistent with applying it twice daily.

Let me know how you go. :)

Fruit of the Earth Ultra Pure Vitamin E Oil

We were at our regular pharmacy, picking up some medications, when I remembered that I need some vitamin E oil for the little pinkish patch on my face.

To my surprise, the pharmacy doesn't stock Invite-e vitamin E oil that I'm more familiar with.

While browsing through the shelf, I spotted this Ultra Pure Vitamin E Oil by Fruit of the Earth.

Like the one by Invite-e, this also contains 100% undiluted vitamin E oil. And the good thing is, it's unscented!

It comes in a tiny glass bottle of 15ml, with the thick and sticky consistency of pure vitamin E oil. Since I'm only gonna be using it on the little pinkish patch which has a diameter of less than 4mm, this is probably gonna last for ages.

And tomorrow, I'm gonna tell you the myth about topical vitamin E.

Stay tuned. :)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

More Taco Shells

I wasn't ready to give up on our fortnightly-Mexican-cuisine just yet after the less-than-perfect experience with taco shells that reek of old oil.

So we went back and found another brand, in the same supermarket.

This time, it's by El Sabor.

The pack of 8 taco shells also came with a small pack of seasoning powder, so it's great for those who are just trying out making your own tacos at home for the first time.

I had high hopes for it, but I've learned from the previous experience to not expect too much. So, I bought a backup plan - Doritos nacho chips! You know, something safe to fall back on.

It was proven to be a very wise move, because the taco shells had the same old-oil smell!

And that's not all. The pack of muesli bars that Bee bought from the same place has the exact same smell too!!

We've come to the conclusion that the "oily smell" problem probably has more to do with the supermarket or the lack of proper storage in this hot and humid weather of ours, instead of the manufacturers. Guess who isn't going back to TMC Bangsar no more? :/

The last time I checked, neither Cold Storage nor Village Grocer stocks them. Hopefully that's changed now.

What's a gal gotta do to get some decent taco shells around here?! Ugh!

Till my next taco shells update.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Spring Resolution 3 - Scar Be Gone II

It's been 2 weeks since I had the little scar on my face removed.

And this is how it looks like now.

It seems to be healing alright, but it's probably still too soon to tell whether or not it's gonna leave a mark.

The naughty me skipped my appointment with the dermatologist today because there doesn't seem to be much to worry about at this stage. *Fingers crossed*

Maybe I'll go back to him in a week's time and see if he thinks there's anything else we can do about it.

In the meanwhile, I should go pick up some vitamin E oil to help with healing.

Later, peeps.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Orange Capsicum and Jimmy Choo

Pardon my ignorance, but am I the only person who's never seen an orange capsicum before?

It's true that I don't go to supermarkets often and veggies aren't exactly my best friends, but I believe I've seen my fair share of capsicums (they're mostly cooked when we meet, but still).

Always green, red and yellow, but never orange.

I was overly excited when I saw this orange capsicum today (yes, I get excited over silly things). It was the only orange one among all the other "ordinary" capsicums too, as if it didn't belong and was only left there by accident.

I just had to get it, and now I have no idea what to do with it.

I think I might display it in a glass bowl as a table decoration. *Shrugs*

While we're on the topic of things I've never heard of, I might as well mention the reason why I'll never pay full price for another pair of Jimmy Choo again, and why I'll never be caught dead with a bag by Jimmy Choo:

How Jimmy Choo Lost His Name

LV will still be Louis Vuitton without Marc Jacobs (and I adore that man!), but Jimmy Choo without Jimmy Choo?

That's like ordering "fried rice without rice" or "milk tea without tea".

Enough said.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gossip Girl: Lily van der Woodsen

She's one of my favourite characters from Gossip Girl, if not THE favourite.

Tall and blonde, thin and super poised, Lily was described in the book as "the middle aged version of utter coolness".

And she really is. A beautiful and slender Kelly Rutherford plays the fictional Lily van der Woodsen flawlessly in the much celebrated TV series.

Call it trashy teen shows if you must (that's what Bee calls it anyway), I ain't gonna say no to anything with hot boys and girls with an even hotter wardrobe and fabulous parties.

But even among all the pretty young things, Lily van der Woodsen isn't outshone at all. In fact, it's quite the opposite.

I love it whenever she comes on the screen. She's so sophisticated and elegant in her every move, and she never fails to hold her poise even in the most unpleasant or embarrassing situations.

I love the way she speaks, the way she rolls her eyes, the way she holds her wine glass, the way she chews, the way she walks, the way she holds her handbags, the way she smiles, the way tears well up in her eyes...oh I love everything about her! Well, almost.

After the first few episodes of Season 1, I nearly wrote her off as another arrogant and pretentious good-for-nothing socialite, who also happens to be a distant and critical mother.

But as the season went on, her character developed into something totally unexpected - a complicated woman who strives to be a better person and a better mother the best ways she knows of.

Sure she fails at times, and she makes mistakes, but beneath that cold porcelain-like Upper East Side exterior, lies a genuine soul and a big warm heart. That's when I fell in love with her.

And despite having a problematic teenage daughter and a depressed teenage son, she still manages to always look so graceful and effortlessly stunning.

Women like her only gets better as they age, and I only hope that I have half of her elegance when I'm "middle-aged". Minus the multiple divorces, of course.

Here's hoping that we'll get to see more of Lily in Season 2 of Gossip Girl (she's FINALLY coming back in episode 4!).

You know you love me. XOXO.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Oralife Peppermint Lip Treatment

THIS, is my Holy Grail lip balm.

I love love love it!

As the name suggests, it's a peppermint flavoured ointment for the treatment and prevention of dry lips and dryness of the mouth. It also contains 0.1% Chlorhexidine Gluconate as a mild antiseptic to prevent infections, especially for those badly cracked lips in winter.

Ingredients: Peppermint Oil BP 5.3mg/g, Wool Fat BP 53mg/g, Chlorhexidine Gluconate 1mg/g in a paraffin base.

If you get dry or chapped lips, look no further, because this, my dear, is your answer.

I don't normally rave about products, but this is definitely one of those things that I'd put my name on.

It comes as a clear gel, but due to the wool fat and paraffin base, it melts at warmer room temperature to a liquid-like consistency. I keep mine in the fridge whenever I'm in Malaysia, or during those warmer days and summer in Melbourne. If it melts, just pop it in the fridge (not freezer) and it should solidify back to its original texture.

I don't like the smell of most lip balms, but this, I can't get enough of! The mild peppermint scent is absolutely yummylicious, yet not overwhelmingly strong. It pleases even someone as picky as me. :)

The lip ointment glides on effortlessly on the lips, leaving a glossy finish and cooling sensation, without any oily residue or sticky feeling. Oh, just heavenly! It's colourless, so it can be used in conjunction with any shades of lipstick or lip gloss of choice.

The packaging is nothing impressive or fancy. In fact, it's rather boring and "medical", which is why it's often overlooked. Sure it's not the most attractive and sexy thing to be pulled outta one's purse or makeup bag, but I assure you, it's absolutely amazing!

On most days, a thin layer on the lips will do the job to moisturise well, and it can be applied as often as necessary throughout the day. When my lips are particularly dry or cracked, I'd slather on a generous layer before sleep, and wake up next morning with much alleviated and smooth lips.

I've put a lot of people on this, and almost everyone falls in love and swears by it. It's a wonderful and effective product, works like a charm each and every time. Best part is, it's dirt cheap!

A green tube of 20g usually retails for AUD3.95, and can be found in most pharmacies in Australia and New Zealand. Oh, and it's made by a Western Australia based company, Orion Laboratories.

So next time you're at a chemist, do check it out.


My precious tube that traveled back to Malaysia with me

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Snack Attack

I go through weird food phases, during which I have constant craving for a certain food and I'll keep eating it over and over again until I move on to the next phase.

Bee's amazed at my ability to eat the same thing everyday and not get sick of them.

The behaviour is actually very in line with my obsessive compulsive personality, if you think about it. :P

Last week, I couldn't stop thinking about char kuey teow and fried bee hoon (Singapore noodles). I kept on bugging Bee to buy them for me despite his well-meaning nagging about how unhealthy they are.

But this weekend, it's all about chocolatey snacks! (Yes, there is nagging about them too.)

Let's stick our heads into my pantry and see what I've been nibbling on.

Cakes from Secret Recipe

Chocolate and banana cake (My favourite from Secret Recipe)

Chocolate walnut brownie

Loacker Quadratini - Napolitaner

All hazelnut fans have to try these crispy wafer squares with rich filling!

I didn't like this one bit

My current favourite - Oreo Wafer Bites

Dark chocolate pecan cookies by Pepperidge Farm

And of course, the good ol' Famous Amos cookies

Freshly baked chocolate chip and pecan cookies
(Ready packed ones never taste as good.)

Now, what have you been munching on?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mulberry Bayswater in Fuchsia Ostrich

As much as I love the Mulberry Bayswater in Oak with aged-bass fittings, the fuchsia ostrich leather is HOT!

This large Bayswater bag has a width of 38cm, height of 27cm, depth of 17cm, and the handle drop is 15cm.

It comes with silver hardware, brown lining, two handles, hidden buckles at the side to expand the bag, a zipped and an open pouch on the inside and a padlock tag attached.

Available exclusively at net-a-porter.com and Mulberry stores, the price tag is a whooping £1,937.87.

Now that is gonna definitely gonna burn a hot fuchsia pink hole in my pocket. :/

Friday, September 19, 2008

New Vampy Nails

For years, I've been the old fashioned French manicure gal. Still am, actually.

And when I do have colours on my nails, they're usually pastel colours. Pink, mostly.

But I totally caved in to the whole dark nails hype, namely Chanel's Black Satin of 2007 and Blue Satin of 2008.

The only problem is, I couldn't wear them whenever I'm working.

Now that I'm not working, I guess I'm entitled to be a little more adventurous with my nail colours.

Check out my new vampire nails, as Bee calls them.

It's a deep, blackened burgundy red with a plum tone, and no brown. I couldn't get the right colours to show up on my stupid camera, but it's much darker in real life.

The manicurist couldn't find a nail polish that matches what I had in mind, so she mixed two different shades together in order to get this colour. And I love it!

I used to think that only older women wear deep wine red, but I realised the key to wear the colour right is to have more black tones, and less of the red.

Take it from me, ladies, my new vampy red nails are making me feel extra sexy and feminine, with a hint of "dangerous" rebel. Haha.

Try it, and tell me if it does the same to you. *Winks*

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tacos! Delicioso!

I whinged about not able to find taco shells sometime ago.

And I found it!

I was super excited that I just had to have it right away.

So tonight, we had tacos as dinner at home.

Ready made and fresh ingredients, minimal cooking and washing. Now that's my kind of cooking.

In case you haven't noticed already, kitchen is not exactly my scene. *Grins*

Oh I love Mexican food and sour cream! Perfecto!

The only thing is, the Rositas taco shells had a really strong "oily" smell. Kinda like stinky old cooking oil? And it kinda make you feel "bleurgh" after a while.

So if you know of any brand of yummy non-smelly taco shells that is available in Malaysia, be sure to let me know. :)