January Favorites 2019

Can’t believe we’re already at the end of the month, I feel like we were just celebrating New Year’s. One thing I’m super excited to be doing this year is monthly favorites. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers/vloggers do this in the past and I love the concept of sharing all the things you’ve been loving each month. What I share will vary from month to month depending on what life is looking like, but each month will be full of fun beauty products, clothing items, foods/restaurants, movies and anything else under the sun that I’ve been loving.

Favorite…

Makeup productTarte Sex Kitten eyeliner. I’ve been obsessed with bold eyes lately and this eyeliner does just that. Honestly I’ve never really liked non-liquid eyeliners for my top lip but this one changed my mind. It works so well both on the top lid and the water line, lasts forever and is so pigmented and bold.

Skincare productAhava Hydration Cream Mask. During these cold winter months, my skin has been so dehydrating and screaming for moisture and this mask makes my skin feel so much better. You can either leave it on for 20 minutes, wash it off and moisturize or use is as an overnight mask.

Beauty product– The worst part about moving to a place with seasons is not being naturally bronzed and tanned all year round. I never thought I’d be the one to use self-tan, but during the cold winter months I started craving a tan. I found the St. Moriz Instant Self-Tanning Mousse online with great reviews and tried it out, and I’ve been loving it. It’s so easy to apply, doesn’t get streaky easily, and gives a beautiful deep, but natural, tan. And the best part, it’s only $10 for a bottle and application mitt.

Haircare product– This month I started using the Treatment Mask from Morrocan Gold Series and it has seriously saved my hair. After being in chlorine for hours a day and then getting out to the driest weather ever, it’s helped to hydrate my hair and give it a healthy shine.

Clothing itemFluffy Pink Jacket from Forever 21. I bought this when I was back in Tokyo for Christmas and I have seriously been living in it. It’s the best thing ever, it’s big, fluffy, soft and the most comfortable thing I’ve ever worn.

Brunch spotFour Cafe in Eagle Rock. I’ve been to this place a few times before but I’ve been obsessed with it this month. They have a roasted Brussels sprout dish on their menu which is absolutely to die for. And they make eating clean so fun and easy, exactly what’s needed after the holiday season.

SnackTrader Joe’s Coconut Sesame Clusters. I found these a few months ago and have been obsessed with them ever since. They’re little coconut crisps covered in black and white sesame seeds and (healthily) hits those sweet and salty cravings.

Planner– The Kate Spade ‘Things We Love’ Planner (2018-2019) has been my saving grace for this school year, and that’s especially true at the beginning of the year when I’m trying to get everything ready and organized. When I first saw it on their website I knew I HAD to get it and I’m so glad I did.

AppRecovery Record. I actually started using this app a few months ago when my dietician recommended it to me, and let me tell you it’s been such a big part of my recovery. It gives you space to record what you’re eating every meal without going into specifics (you can literally just upload a picture if you want), and it also allows you to record how you’re feeling, if you’ve binged, if you’ve purged, etc. You can also connect it with your dietician/therapist (if you’re working with one) which gives them access to all your logs. It’s a simple and non-time consuming to keep track of everything you’re eating.

TV Show– Over the break I started ‘Fresh Off The Boat’ which is such a fun and easy watch. But I also couldn’t write this without mentioning my all-time favorite for this month which is Colton’s season of The Bachelor.

Book– I got “Becoming” by Michelle Obama for Christmas and although I haven’t finished it yet, it’s so incredible and inspiring, but honestly what else would we expect from her. It’s such a good read, but warning… it will make you miss the Obama’s, I promise!

Amazon purchase– I didn’t really have a good title for this one, it was pretty much just a random purchase, but I thought it was worthy of putting in here. I’d read about the Rapid Ramen Cooker from SharkTank, but thought it was too good to be true. Then I found it on amazon for only $6 and figured, why not, so I ordered it and it’s so cool. It actually works for instant ramen (every college kids comfort food, including this one), but it’s also just a sturdy and easy container to use in the microwave for anything else as well.

 

Natural Glam- “No Makeup” Look

 

Good morning lovelies! Now that it’s back to school and work, there’s a lot of 5 minute, easy makeup looks going on. Today I thought I’d share my natural, go-to no-makeup look with you all. I wasn’t always a ‘wear makeup to school’ kind of gal, but lately I’ve found that it helps me feel put together and ready for the day. Having basic makeup done makes me feel like I’ve made an effort for not only people around me, but myself as well. For me, natural looks are all about keeping your skin healthy and glowy while still covering up all the imperfections.

1. Before any makeup starts, you always need to prep your face. This is always important but I really stress this on mornings where I know I’m going to have my makeup on for close to the whole day. Use a gentle cleanser and make sure to tone and moisturize. In the mornings I’ve been loving the Tarte Drink of H2O Hydrating Boost Moisturizer. It’s very lightweight but super hydrating, and I love the way my BB cream goes on over it.

2. For my face, I don’t like using foundation if I’m going to have my makeup on for more than a few hours, so I use the Covergirl Vitalist Healthy Elixir (I’m shade 760- classic tan). It’s oil-free and lightweight but with pretty full coverage for a BB cream. And it’s also SPF 20, so would be perfect for a day at the beach or out in the sun. I love the way this blends out and covers imperfections without feeling cakey or oily. It lasts super well all day and has never made me break out. To blend it out I use my It Cosmetics Flawless Foundation brush.

3. After my face is done, I use the Sephora Waterproof Brow Pencil (I use shade 08- chocolate brown) to fill in my brows. I’ll then go over top that with the Benefit 3D Browtones (I use shade 04) to brush out and set my brows.

4. I typically don’t do any eyeshadow for these kind of looks, but I do like to use a little bit of Benefit Girl Meets Pearl liquid highlight on my eyelids and to highlight my cheekbones. Usually I’ll just use my middle finger to gently dab it on to give it a subtle and natural finish.

5. For my lashes, I always curl them first and lately I’ve been obsessed with this Tarte Pineapple Eyelash Curler. I’ll then go in with one of my all-time favorite mascaras, the Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes, which is my go-to for everyday looks.

6. And finally I love using the Sephora Goji Berry Lip Balm. It has such a sweet but light scent, is super hydrating and gives a very subtle tint to your lips. It’s the perfect way to pull the whole natural look together.

Food Adventures #12- Traveling Tokyo

A little late (actually a lot late), but finally some new Tokyo #foodinspo to brighten up your day!

*200 Posts* Looking Back

Wow, here we are, 4 years and 200 posts later. I’m going to try not to make this too mushy, but I’m truly amazed, proud, in-awe, and every other positive adjective of myself, this blog and all the places it’s gone. When I first started I was a bored high school student sitting in a class I really didn’t care about. I didn’t know who I was and I was desperately looking for answers. Swimming, school, friends, family, I didn’t know what my true life’s purpose was. And it surely wasn’t to just float through life doing whatever, I needed a purpose. The driving force to get me going. I started writing about things I enjoyed: food, fitness, travel, body image. I wrote for myself. But suddenly I realized the power that I had with my words, the power this platform I created had. People started coming up to me at school, “hey, I read your blog post the other day on body image and it was so inspiring”, “you’re blog post on those Singapore brunch spots was awesome and I tried a bunch out”. I was reaching people, people were reading my blogs. That’s when writing about things I enjoyed or cared about became my passion. It wasn’t about putting on this front that everyone would like, it was about sharing my story, my journey and my experiences while promoting what I cared about, kindness, self love and positivity. No matter what I’m writing about, how old I get or where I am in the world, those three things will always be where I’m rooted, and those three things will always be where SwimEatLove is rooted. I’m beyond grateful everything this blog has given me. It’s connected me to some of the most incredible and inspiring people, allowed me a creative outlet to express myself without any limits, and it’s given me purpose. So while I’ve now hit this milestone of 200 posts, there’s no slowing down. I want to share my story, be open, honest and vulnerable as long as I possibly can.

So to celebrate, I thought my 200th post would be a look back on the last 4 years, the posts I’ve loved, the ones you’ve loved and a bunch of others in between.

It all started with me sharing my love for swimming, the good, the bad and the ugly. Butterfly or Butterdie “When you are floating there in the water desperately trying to grab onto the lane line, is when it hits you. You are gasping for air and using the lane line to keep you above the water, while also trying to rip your super tight goggles and cap(s) off your head.”

I’ve shared photos through Life Through A Lens to give you all a little peak into my life. I’ve shared my love for food through my Food Adventures from around the world and many recipes I’ve come up with myself (some heart healthy, some healthy for your soul).

I began to share my journey to self-love, although a hard one. The ‘Perfect’ Self. “It blows my mind that I can pick up a magazine with the header “The New Plus-Sized Model”, flip it open and see a gorgeous woman wearing size 8 clothes. As a society, we have painted a picture of what the ‘perfect’ woman looks like; long skinny legs, a flat stomach, thin arms, and narrow hips.”

When I traveled, you traveled. You came with me around the world; Thailand, Paris, Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Cambodia, California and so many more. My adventures became your adventures and I loved that. I shared my journeys in those places and also what it took to get there. Holiday Travel Tips. “As this post is going up, I’m in an Uber on the way to LAX ready to hop on a plane and head back to see my family for the holidays. Since traveling is something that almost everyone does during the holidays in one way or another, I thought I would share my holiday travel guide/tips for today’s post. I’ve done some other “travel tips” posts in the past (be sure to check those out!), but this one will be my updated one specifically for the holidays. Enjoy and happy traveling! xx”

I found myself becoming interested in new and different things, and I shared that with you. Never thought I’d be a little fashion guru. Natural Glam- “No Makeup” Look. “Good morning lovelies! Now that it’s back to school and work, there’s a lot of 5 minute, easy makeup looks going on. Today I thought I’d share my natural, go-to no-makeup look with you all. I wasn’t always a ‘wear makeup to school’ kind of gal, but lately I’ve found that it helps me feel put together and ready for the day. Having basic makeup done makes me feel like I’ve made an effort for not only people around me, but myself as well. For me, natural looks are all about keeping your skin healthy and glowy while still covering up all the imperfections.”

And along with fashion, I’ve become obsessed with beauty, as well as all things summer and the beach but we already knew that. Summer Beauty. “It’s finally that time of the year where we’re all whipping out our bikinis/suits and headed to spend time at the beach, the lake or even just by the pool, soaking in every ounce of sunlight in hopes to get that perfectly sun-kissed skin. Today’s post is going to be all of my summer beauty tips and go-to’s to get you looking fresh, relaxed and glowing. Under each section I have linked some of the products I have been loving this summer.”

I shared by true and lasting love of my beautiful island of Singapore with you. Mega Guide to Singapore. “Planning on visiting Singapore or always wanting to visit? These are my top 10 things to do in Singapore. It may only be 31 miles wide and 17 miles long, but the beautiful island is PACKED with fun things to do!”

For two years now, I’ve brought you into my life during the holidays. Trying to share my profound love for Christmas and the season, 12 Days of Christmas has allowed me to do so. Christmas Tag. “Red or green – which color occupies your life during Christmas? Red, and red glitter. What’s your favorite Christmas accessory? Gold hoops. Do you buy presents or try DIYs? Buy presents, but I love putting together gift baskets/sets. Chocolate, Strawberry, or Vanilla – what do you prefer the most during Christmas? None of them… everything PEPPERMINT! What is your favorite Christmas slogan? Be naughty, save Santa the trip;)”

And what I’m most proud of is how open I’ve been about the hardest parts of my life. Sharing about my struggle with an eating disorder with you all was the hardest decision, but the best decision I ever made. As scary as it was, the number of people who reached out thanking me for trying to break the stigma was life-changing, and I don’t say that lightly. It was become a big part of my life and will stay with me forever, even way after recovery. That’s what this blog has been about, helping others feel less alone. Mental Health Moments are a way to make sure that this important conversation is being had. If no one else will talk about it, I sure as hell will. To My Eating Disorder… “Today is National Love Your Body Day, and while I try to preach and live by the idea of self-love, I’ve been struggling with this by a battling with an eating disorder. It’s not something a lot of people talk about, and it’s not something a lot of people talk about publicly. But I’m ready to break that mold. The scariest thing about this whole battle has been feeling alone in my fight. But I know I’m not the only one. I’m here telling my story with hopes that it can help others out there feel a little less alone. I’m not posting this looking for pity or attention, I’m posting this because reading other peoples stories was such a big part of the start of my recovery. If this can help even just one person feel a little less alone, then it’s worth it.”

How crazy is that, 200 posts. And guess what, I already see 400 on the horizon.

Much love always, Aime.

 

10 Tips For A Productive Morning

Happy Tuesday lovelies! Today is my first day of classes for this semester, and I thought what’s more fitting than sharing my tips for having the most productive morning ever. Whether I’m getting up early for school, work or just to get the day started I’ve found that these things always make me feel much more awake and positive about the day ahead of me. I hope you find these helpful and are ready for a jam-packed week ahead

1. Drink water and eat. I can’t stress this enough, the second you wake up drink a big glass of water. It’s so important to rehydrate after hours of not drinking anything. And make sure you’re eating something in the morning. Whether it’s just a banana with peanut butter or a full breakfast with eggs, protein, and healthy carbs it’s so important to get enough energy in you for the day. Eating a hearty breakfast can also help reduce unhealthy cravings throughout the day, so make sure you start it off right. My favorite on-the-go breakfast is a banana with peanut butter on a whole wheat english muffin or berries and yoghurt, and my favorite full-fledged breakfast is a whole wheat english muffin, two eggs over easy, half an avocado and berries or yoghurt.

2. Keep a gratitude journal. I started keeping a gratitude journal a year and a half ago when I started college and it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made. I do admit there have been times where I’ve been not as good about writing something down everyday, but I always get back on track. All I do is whip out my notebook and write 1-2 lines about something I’m grateful for at that moment. Spending 30 seconds to think about something positive can make such a big difference to your day. I also find myself pulling out my journal and reading back through all the things I’ve written when I’m having a bad/hard day. I really think this is something everyone should do.

3. Spend 3 minutes checking your planner. I am constantly filling out my planner (currently using this Kate Spade one) throughout everyday just to make sure I’m on top of my schedule and all the work I have, but I like to spend a bit of time every morning going over all the things I have to do that day. As I’m doing this I also cross off the day before, it’s such a small action but really helps me shift my focus from the past to the present. When I do this I always remind myself that it’s a new day with new possibilities and new intentions, as cheesy as that may sound.

4. Make yourself a cup of coffee. I started doing this recently (even in my dorm room), and I’ve been loving it. I find that making coffee at home makes you move around a little bit which is exactly what I need when I first wake up (along with my cup of joe). I didn’t think I was going to be able to make coffee in my dorm room, but it’s surprisingly easy. I just have ground coffee from Trader Joe’s, an Alfred coffee french press (which I’m obsessed with) and then a microwave safe mug to boil water in. It’s something mindless you can do while still moving around a bit.

5. Do your makeup. Even on days that are a bit more chill or that I’m going to be staying in for a while I always do my makeup and get dressed. I don’t do anything crazy or over the top but the act of getting ready helps me get into a more productive mindset. Especially if I’m going to be doing some work or need to do something important, getting dressed and made up puts me in the ‘ready to go’ headspace, it always makes me feel so productive without fail.

6. Tidy up your space. I try not to let my room and workspace get too messy, but when I wake up I really try to tidy up and organize as much as possible. I’ll throw away any trash, file away lose papers and very quickly make up bed. Doing all of this helps me feel organized and calm about the day ahead of me. There’s nothing better than having a clean and fresh start to the morning.

7. Meditate or create daily intentions. I’ve started using the apps Headspace and Calm in the mornings, and it’s made such a difference. I usually just put on a 5 minute meditation that I’ll listen to while I’m tidying up or brushing my teeth. Even if I’m not focusing on it 100%, just having it on in the background makes me think about the day ahead of me and what I want to get out of it.

8. Use citrus essential oils. Citrus scents are known to be amazing for waking you up and making you feel revived and fresh. I love to use anything citrus (lemon, orange, grapefruit) in my diffuser in the morning to make the room smell nice and wake myself up. If I’m really needing it, I’ll also dab a little bit on the insides of my wrists to carry around with me as I start the morning.

9. Get some sunshine and fresh air. When I wake up in the morning and don’t have anywhere to be for a bit, I always try to get outside even just for a little bit. Whether I walk out to grab breakfast and coffee or I just sit on my patio for 10 minutes, being outside always makes me feel so awake and ready to begin the day. And plus, so much research says that getting a little bit of Vitamin D every morning has infinite positive affects on your body.

10. Start your morning routine at night. Yes- get your morning off to the best start possible by getting everything ready the night before. Get your stuff organized, get your things together if you have an early start, just make sure you end everyday prepared for the next day. Not only will you thank yourself for doing so the next morning, it will also help you sleep better and feel more at ease knowing you’re prepared.

A Day At Disney- Tokyo Disneyland

Hello everyone and happy hump day! One of my last posts was my Winter Tokyo Travel Guide, and in it I talked about spending a day at Tokyo Disneyland which is what today’s post is all about. Since it had been over ten years since my family and I had all been to Disneyland, we decided to go again this Christmas in Tokyo. It was the best decision we made because it was so much fun! It was all decked out for Christmas which was done so beautifully and tastefully. Although everything is in Japanese, these days almost everything is in English as well and most of the workers also speak English. I highly highly recommend spending a day at Disney if you’re ever in Tokyo, especially around the holiday season.

I hear a lot of people who are skeptical about Tokyo Disneyland when they compare it to the original park in Anaheim, but there is honestly no difference. And if there is I would argue that the Tokyo one is much better. It has all of the same, original rides with the exception of the Matterhorn, including Space Mountain.

The tickets are currently selling for 7,400 yen (about 67 USD) which is extremely reasonable, especially compared to the Anaheim prices that can be well over $100. What I was really impressed by was how inexpensive the food was. We had gone expecting to have to pay and arm and a leg for dinner, but were able to get meals for about 1,000 yen (9 USD) each. It makes it easy to spend a whole day there without worrying too much about how much you’re going to have to spend on a whole day’s worth of food.

While it is a bit far from the central city, public transportation makes it so quick, easy and inexpensive to get there. There are multiple trains and buses that leave from big stations like Shibuya, Shinjuku, Yokohama and even Narita Airport that take you directly to the park. From the city it takes, on average, 30 minutes to get out to Disneyland. Trains run from 6am to 11:55pm everyday, so you can spend as much time at the park as your heart desires!

Another thing I loved about Tokyo Disney was how clean and spacious it is. Sitting at 115 acres, it’s over 30 acres larger than the Anaheim Disneyland, and you really do notice the difference. And in true Japan fashion, everything was just so nice and clean. I mean everything from the sidewalks and the rides to the bathrooms, all just very well maintained.

We also decided to stay to watch the daily light show and the electric light parade which were so well done. It was jazzed up for Christmas as well which just made it even more magical. It really just made me feel like a little kid again which was very much needed. I’m so so glad we decided to go and won’t be surprised if we decide to go again next Christmas. That day really just was one of the most festive days this holiday season, I loved it!

Quick Tips:

1. Buy tickets online to get them at the best price (buy through the website).

2. Avoid Golden Week (usually around April 29-May 5), it’ll be insanely crowded.

3. If you don’t want to buy food in the park, bring your own. Tokyo Disneyland allows you to bring food in.

4. Bring water, it’s a bit hard to find water inside the park. And you’re going to want to stay hydrated, especially if you go during the summer.

5. If you’re going without young kids, the late afternoons/early evenings get fairly empty and quiet.

6. If you’re interested, check out DisneySea as well. I haven’t been personally, but have had a lot of friends who have been and say it’s super fun as well! It’s located right next to Disneyland.

7. If you’re going in the winter, make sure to pack/wear layers. It can be fairly warm during the day, especially with all the walking you’ll be doing, but can get much cooler in the evening.

8. If you’re wanting to stay at a hotel around the park, check out the non-Disney hotels like the Sheraton and the Hilton, they are typically much cheaper than the official Disney Hotel/Resort.

Website: https://www.tokyodisneyresort.jp/en/tdl/

Mental Health Moment #5- Quotes To Live By

As we enter into the new year, I’m ready to continue my mission to use my platform to be an advocate for others who out there who are also battling. I vow to be open when it’s necessary, but also stay private when I need to. My hope, today and always, is to open myself up so that others know that they are not alone, and to help me understand that I am not alone.

With that, for my first MHM of 2019, I wanted to share some quotes about mental health, recovery and genuine self love that constantly cycle through my mind and have come in extremely useful in times of need. I hope these quotes can remind you of the beauty that lies within your soul. You are not defined by a mental illness, you are not defined by your weaknesses; so don’t let them define you. You are who you choose to be, today and everyday.

1. “You wake up every morning to fight the demons that left you so tired the night before, and that, my love, is bravery.”

2. “I’m proud of the woman I am because I went through one hell of a time becoming her.”

3. “From the outside looking in, it’s hard to understand. From the inside looking out, it’s hard to explain.”

4. “Mental Health is not a destination, but a process. It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going.”

5. “Keep going and don’t worry about your speed. You’re making progress, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Forward is forward, no matter how slow.”

6. “You are not a victim. Just a fighter with scars that few can understand.”

7. “The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of the world, but those who fight and win battles that other do not know anything about.”

8. “It’s okay to be a glow stick. Sometimes we have to break before we shine.”

9. “The most beautiful people are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths.”

10. “Sometimes the people around you won’t understand your journey. They don’t need to, it’s not for them.”

11. “Close your eyes and imagine the best version of you possible. That’s who you really are, let go of any part of you that doesn’t believe it.”

12. “Healing isn’t about changing where you are; it’s about changing your relationship to who you are. A fundamental part of that is honoring how you feel.”

13. “Accept everything about yourself- I mean everything. You are you and that is the beginning and the end- no apologies, no regrets.”

14. “Sometimes I forget putting myself isn’t selfish but necessary.”

TOKYO Travel Guide ~Winter Edition~

Good morning lovelies and happy Sunday. If you’re looking for some 2019 travel inspo, you’re in the right place! Today’s post is my second Tokyo Travel Guide, and this is going to be full of all the things to do in Tokyo in the winter. I wrote my first Tokyo Travel Guide in April, so be sure to check that post out if you haven’t already. But for now, happy reading and I hope you have lot’s of fun adventures lined up for the year!

What to eat:

Jojoen Yakiniku– Jojoen is our favorite yakiniku (translates to grilled meat) spot in Tokyo. With locations all over the city, their menu is full of various types of beef and pork, seafood, Korean side dishes and rice and noodle dishes. They also have super reasonable lunch sets that range from 1,500-3,000 yen that come with meat, rice, veggies/a salad, soup, a drink and dessert. With tons of locations, they each vary a little depending on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a more down-to-earth meal, I love the ones in Shibuya and Meguro. But if you’re looking for a nice locale, try the Jojoen on the 39th floor of Ebisu Garden Place.

Trattoria Mari e Monti in Roppongi- This has quickly become one of our favorite restaurants in Tokyo. Run by two Italian guys, the ambiance of the space makes you feel like you’re eating pasta and drinking wine on the streets of Italy. Their huge selection of produce, cheeses, meats, pastas and desserts are amazing and jaw-dropping. Some of my favorites are their truffle pasta, pappardelle with meat, grilled pork belly, literally all of their desserts and of course their homemade limoncello at the end of the meal.

Shibuya Parlor right by the Shibuya Crossing- My sister, mom and I stumbled across this place this past Christmas when I was on the hunt for a decadent fruit parfait. Located on the 7th floor of the Magnet building, the little cafe overlooks the famous Shibuya scramble crossing with the perfect birds eye view. To curb my craving, I ordered the strawberry brulee parfait which came with yoghurt, granola, vanilla ice cream, bruleed pudding and of course tons of strawberries.

Obica Mozzarella Bar in Roppongi Hills- We found this place this summer when we went out for lunch with some family friends and I’m actually obsessed with it now. The restaurants has a very modern vibe with shelves full of pastas and wine and huge floor to ceiling windows letting in so much natural light. I haven’t spent too much time looking at their dinner menu (every time I’ve been it’s been for lunch), but I can say that their lunch menu is incredibly reasonable and very extensive. For between 1500-2500 yen, you can get a lunch set with one main dish, one or two side dishes (depending on what you choose) and one drink. You can also add on a glass of red, white or bubbly for only 400 yen ($3.60USD). Some of my favorites are their pastas of the day, their grilled chicken salad and the lasagna.

Kushinobo in Roppongi Hills- Okay, I had heard my parents rave about this place forever and was always so skeptical until I went this Christmas and WOW. Kushinobo serves fried food on a skewer, but not greasy American fried food, elegant and refined Japanese fried food. It’s not too oily or heavy, it’s so light and delicious. My dad and I went for lunch and ordered the 10 piece set which came with 10 different kinds of skewers including salmon with roe, black pork, asparagus, and scallops, as well as a set of rice, an egg, miso soup, veggie sticks and dip and dessert. I don’t really know how to explain it, but PLEASE go try this place if you’re ever in Tokyo.

If you happen to be staying with a friend, at an Airbnb or anywhere with a kitchen, I highly recommend going to the store, getting some hot-pot soup (during the winter they have them everywhere in all kinds of delicious flavors), some shabu-shabu pork, tons of veggies and other fun treats and have a hot-pot night at home. It’s the epitome of winter meals in Japan and is so yum. And if you can’t do this, I would suggest going and walking around the supermarket anyway. Call me weird, but I think Japanese supermarkets are so fun.

How to get around:

Public transportation in Japan is absolutely the way to go. The trains and buses are everywhere and can get you anywhere you need. It can be a bit intimidating, but these days almost all signs for everything are in English as well. Don’t be afraid to go up to someone who works at the train station or bus stop and ask questions, most of them are able to have a conversation in English.

For the Shinkansen (bullet train), I would recommend getting the JR pass for either 7 or 14 days which allows you to get around the country on the bullet train conveniently and at a low cost. And seriously, riding on the bullet train is SO cool.

For the local trains, you can try and get a train pass/card which requires bringing your passport to a train station and going to an office to get it done, so I would only suggest doing that if you’re going to be in Tokyo for an extended period of time to save money and time. But if you’re only there for a bit, buying tickets at the machines are super simple and easy and, again, are in English as well.

If you’re trying to take the bus around, make sure you’re carrying coins on you to pay the buss fee (most are between 200-250 yen). Also look there are a couple of apps in English that will give you everything you need to know about the bus routes, including all the stops, their names and how to get from one place to another.

And while I always recommend using public transportation while traveling to really get to know the city you’re exploring, taxis are fairly easy to find and flag down. Simply look for the dark cars with a white sign on top and stick your hand out to flag it down. If the light in the bottom right hand corner is red, the taxi is available, and if it’s green it’s been taken or is on shift change.

Where to go:

This section could seriously drag on and on, so I’ll try to keep it short and sweet with lot’s of links and photos.

1. Tokyo Disneyland– We decided to go this Christmas to see all the lights and since we hadn’t been in like a decade and it was amazing! Christmas at Tokyo Disneyland is a must (whole other post on this going up soon so keep an eye out for that).

2. Roppongi Hills Mid-Town lights- If you walk out around Roppongi Hills at night during Christmas, the streets and trees are all lit up with stunning lights (called イルミネーション or Illumination) that go on and off in beautiful patterns. It’s nothing tacky, just simple, elegant Christmas lights. And depending on where you are you can get a picture-perfect view of Tokyo Tower as well.

3. Takeshita Dori, Harajuku- Of course this is a must-do any time of the year, but I love walking down the crazy crowded streets right before Christmas to scavenge for last minute gifts and stocking stuffers. I found so many fun little gifts for my family and friends (especially for all the beauty and skincare lovers) by just walking around and popping into a bunch of little stores.

4. Mega Don Quijote, Shibuya- I don’t know if you’ve heard of this store, but it’s actually heaven on earth. This huge one in Shibuya is 6 floors and has absolutely everything you could ever want or need. Literally from Louis Vuitton bags to Japanese junk food and cleaning supplies to makeup. It’s crazy busy and insanely packed.

5. Ginza- If you’re looking for some higher end shopping or some luxury, head out to the Ginza area and walk around the malls and streets that are filled with tons of high end brands and boutiques. Perfect if you’re looking for a nicer gift for a loved one or honestly even yourself (you deserve to get yourself a Christmas pressie too!). And if you’re as in love with Kate Spade as me, there’s a huge 3-story store right by the station that is beyond adorable.

6. Backstreets of Harajuku- Of course Takeshita Dori will always draw in the crowds, but during the winter months the backstreets are absolute stunning. Their often really empty and the trees all turn a beautiful golden color giving the whole space a very old and classy vibe. Just spend a few minutes walking down the streets, taking pictures and taking in the natural beauty.

7. Odaiba Spa World– Okay, I have to admit that I’ve never been BUT I’ve always wanted to go and have done so much research on it (and my sister has been so that counts, right?). This place is a completely indoor onsen and spa “world” full of different baths and other fun activities. It’s a bit tacky and touristy, but I honestly love that sometimes. And what’s better than going to the hot springs during a cold winter day.

8. The Westin Hotel in Ebisu and Ebisu Garden Place- During Christmas, The Westin and Ebisu Garden Place are decorated to beautifully. Ebisu Garden place is lined with Christmas trees, bright lights and a huge annual crystal chandelier. It’s the perfect place to have a coffee or a drink with your loved ones and take a few pictures. And after that you can walk underground to The Westin to see their traditionally decorated but absolutely breath-taking tree and decorations. Also, if it’s in your budget, The Westin is my favorite hotel in Tokyo to stay at.

9. Combini- Go to any convenient store in the city (you’ll find one every 10 steps) and relish in the magic of Combini in Japan. I really don’t know what else to say, just do it and you’ll thank me later. PS, convenient store coffee and donuts are the bomb!

How to dress:

It does get fairly cool during Christmas in Tokyo, and by fairly cool I mean an average of 38-50 (that’s freezing to me!), but it’s also usually really clear and sunny. You will for sure want to have at least one pair of good sunglasses and one solid coat. For me, jeans are for sure the way to go for pants, it’ll keep you warm but not too warm if you’re going to be walking around during the day.

If you do start to find yourself getting cold, find a Uniqlo (there’s seriously one on every corner) and get some heat-tech long underwear and that will keep you warm for the rest of your life (haha- not really but my family swears by it!).

Tokyo, generally, dresses quite conservatively so try not to dress to scandalous when you’re visiting. I think everyone should dress how they want to all the time, but I also think there’s something to be said about respecting the culture.

I hope you have all the wanderlust vibes now and are ready to go and explore!! xx

2018- The Year in Moments

Happy 2019!!

It seems like I was just writing my 2017 highlights just the other day, but here we are again, 2018 in moments. This year has been absolutely crazy. I’ve been extremely open about my struggles this year, and even though it was one of the hardest years of my life, I learned so much about myself and wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s made me appreciate the smaller things in life (as cliche as that may sound), and remember who the people who truly matter are. For me, 2018 was a reminder that family is everything, and I should never forget that. So here we go, first post of the year, my 2018 in moments.

 

January 1st // New Year’s at the beach- Started off 2018 the best way possible, laying out at Manhattan Beach. Even though it was cloudy and cold (and I was basically in a sweatshirt the whole time), being outside and with a bunch of my friends was such a fun way to ring in the new year. And plus, how lucky am I to be able to go to the beach in January?!

March 9th // Home for Spring Break- My Christmas present for the year before was a plane ticket home for spring break, since my winter break is so short (as you can imagine, I burst out in tears when I got my plane ticket). I was able to fly back to Singapore for 9 days and see all my favorite people, eat all my favorite things and go to all my favorite places. Being able to spend an extra week at home with my family was an absolute highlight of my year, and plus it was a surprise which made it twice as good.

March 24th // Marched for our lives- While it’s extremely devastating that it’s come to the point where we have to march for the safety of children’s lives, it was so incredible to stand alongside so many others who are fighting the same fight. After spending an evening making our posters, my friends and I were proud to show up to DTLA wearing our ‘March For Our Lives’ shirts and walk next to so many other people from all walks of life who were all there to end the most preventable form of death in our nation. That day made me extremely proud and brought so much hope.

May 13th // Mother’s Day back at home- And then we were back in Singapore for summer, and started off the break by celebrating the most amazing woman in my life. I was SO happy to be able to make it back in time to celebrate with her. My sister and I went as all-out as we could with flowers, balloons, presents and dinner at home to try and show my mom how much she meant to us. And Singapore even treater her to a gorgeous sunset to top it all off.

June 25th // Beach getaway with the family- With only a few more weeks to go in South East Asia, we had to get another Phuket trip in. One of our go-to destinations for long weekends and breaks, we were lucky enough to spend a few days at Le Meridien in Phuket as a family to soak in some beach time. We dined at our favorite restaurants in the area and got in tons of tropical cocktails during happy hour too. It was so much fun to be away with my family for a little bit and to celebrate 20 years of life in South East Asia.

July 6th // Last day in our home of two decades– Finally, after 20 years and 3 months, my family said thank you to Singapore for being the city that raised our family. We spent the last days on my favorite island eating all of our favorite foods, including hawker food, steamboat, dim sum, all the brunch and char siu noodles, soaking in all the beauty of the city and spending time with dear, old friends. There are no words to express all the feelings and emotions that were felt over those last two weeks. While it was with tears of sadness that we said see you later, the tears were also happy as we remembered all the amazing and incredible people and memories that Singapore had given us. Bittersweet, to say the least.

July 7th // First day in our new home, Tokyo- But as we said goodbye to one home, we said hello to another. While we had visited Tokyo many times before, this time was different. We slowly learned to make Tokyo our home. Couch by couch, street by street, house by house. As we went back to some of our favorite places, we also ventured out to new areas, tried new restaurants, met new people and slowly became more and more comfortable in our new home. And while it will never replace Singapore, it’s opened us with nothing but open arms.

August 25th // Juuban Matsuri (end-of-summer festival)- To get rid of all of those back-to-school blues we spent one of the last days of summer (and one of my last days in Tokyo) with friends at the Obon Matsuri in Azabu Juuban. We spent the evening walking through the crowded, vendor-filled streets eating tonkatsu (fried pork) on a stick, playing traditional obon games and sipping on frozen sangria. As crazy and chaotic (and sweaty!) as it was, it was so much fun to celebrate the end of an amazing summer in such a special way.

October 30th // A week in LA with dad- I was SO excited for my dad to come and to be able to spend a week with him in LA in the middle of the semester. We did everything from going to the Grove, walking around Beverly Hills, eating so much brunch and Dim Sum and exploring the original Farmer’s Market. We also headed over to Claremont for a night to spend some time with my grandparents and were able to catch up with close family friends. Having a quick break from campus life was much needed and so much fun!

November 21st // Thanksgiving road-trip to San Francisco- After my grandparents decided to forgo our traditional Thanksgiving, we decided to go on a short trip up to San Francisco. We started with a two day drive up the coast and spent a night in the cute little seaside town of Cambria (seriously, the cutest town ever!). After getting to SF, we spent the next few days walking around the city, grabbing lunch at Pier 39 and of course having steamboat for Thanksgiving dinner, because what else would you do? My grandparents absolutely love SF, so they took me back to all their favorite places, including their two favorites, Lori’s Diner and Sears Fine Food on Powell Street. And to top off the weekend, we were able to watch the first Macy’s Christmas tree lighting of the season.

December 13th // Home for Christmas- And finally, the highlight of my year for sure, being home (in Tokyo) for Christmas. I was crazy excited to be home with my family for the holidays this year, and to have a real winter Christmas. I was so lucky to be able to spend so much time with my favorite people doing Christmas shopping, eating at our go-to places (and a bunch of new ones), going to Disneyland (whole post on Tokyo Disney going up soon!) and of course doing anything and everything Christmassy. We had so many cozy movie nights, nice dinners out on the town, Christmas parties and endless cuddles with my puppy. It was simply one of the best Christmases ever.

I already have so many amazing things lined up for 2019 and can’t wait to see where this year brings me.
Happy New Year! xx

12 Days of Christmas|Day 12- The Perfect Christmas |2018

So here we are, Merry Christmas! Can’t believe how fast December has gone, actually can’t believe how fast the year has gone. It’s the last day of 12 Days and I couldn’t think of a better way to end it than to share with you all how to have the perfect Christmas. And when I say perfect, I really mean imperfect because I believe perfection lies in the imperfections of everyday. I’ve put together all my recipes, tips and tricks to having the most magical day ever.

The Perfect Christmas Morning:

You know that quote, “I’m only a morning person on Christmas”, well that could not be more accurate. Ever since my sister and I were tiny humans, we would run into each others rooms early on Christmas morning and then run downstairs to see what Santa had left us in our stockings. Our excitement would eventually wake our parents and grandparents up and we would sit around the living room by the tree opening our stockings. After that, we all head into the kitchen to make our Christmas breakfast, pancakes, fruit, hot chocolate and egg nog. Once the dishes have been cleared and washed, we’ll go back to the tree and open all of our presents while sipping on more egg nog and listening to Christmas music. It’s always the most chill, relaxed but exciting morning of the year.

Christmas Traditions:

Each family always has their own Christmas traditions, and I think that carrying those for generations hold so much meaning. But I also think that coming up with new traditions to pass on to your kids and grandkids are so special. Every year for Christmas my grandma made her special ‘holiday nugget’ cookies (our family recipe), and as I got older I began to carry on that tradition as well. My family has all the little things we do on Christmas that we’ve pretty much done my whole life, and carrying on those traditions no matter where we are always makes the day extra special. Traditions are rooted in family, remember to be thankful to have been blessed with your family, Christmas is rooted in family.

Fun Things To Do On Christmas Day:

  1. Play a big board game with your family
  2. Watch a Christmas movie (Santa Clause and Love Actually are always SO GOOD on Christmas day) and cuddle up with Christmas cookies and peppermint hot chocolate
  3. Play with all your new presents. I know this sounds like something kids do, but I promise everyone wants to sit there and try/check out all their new goodies
  4. Go look at all the Christmas lights and decorations around your neighborhood (or wherever you are)
  5. Shop!! I know this sounds crazy, but post-Christmas sales are the real deal
  6. Cook dinner…and try out a new recipe while you’re at it (festive recipes down below:)
  7. Festive crafts and DIYS- make paper snowflakes, homemade ornaments or DIY decorations… and you’ll be getting a start for next year
  8. Build a gingerbread house, bake some Christmas cookies, get your sweet tooth ready
  9. Lounge around all day in your Christmas PJs or ugly Christmas sweaters… you deserve it!

Festive Recipes:

The Perfect Cheese Platter: 

Is there any other way to start a Christmas meal than with an over-the-top cheese platter?! To start off, grab a large board. Pick out 3-4 cheese of your choosing. My motto when it comes to cheese is the stinkier the better, but to each their own. Get different kinds of crackers or slices of a baguette and lay out on the board. Now arrange the blocks of cheese in the center. Fill up the open spaces with slices of fruit, bunches of grapes, jams or honeys and nuts. Always have a sweet and salty element on your board. And of course… serve with wine:)

Tapas Varieties:

One thing my family has started doing over the past few years is different kinds of tapas during festive meals. Tapas is the Spanish word for small plate/appetizer. Usually, we do these on slices of baguette or simply on crackers. Our go-to is a thin slice of baguette, garlic yoghurt, caramelized onions, grilled red peppers, prosciutto, a slice of camembert with sugar and bruleed with a blow torch (absolutely to die for). Others we have done are a slice of chorizo with asparagus and aioli, crab salad with avocado and caviar, as well as prosciutto, blue cheese, pear, honey and black pepper. These are so easy to make ahead of time and in bulk and are always the first to go at any dinner or gathering.

Grilled Garlic Prawns:

Ingredients:

Large/tiger prawns

6 cloves garlic

Flat-leaf parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Carefully split the prawns in half, you can leave the head on or you can remove it and use it to make a prawn head oil.
  2. Season with salt, pepper and any other desired herbs.
  3. In a large pan, heat butter and garlic on high heat until butter bubbles. Put prawns in the hot pan (meat side down). Cook 2 minutes, flip, and cook another two minutes.
  4. Serve hot with fresh parsley to garnish.

Roasts:

Roasts are always the perfect center piece for a festive meal. Whether it’s turkey, chicken, pork belly or ribs, theres always a way to make it a little more Christmassy. Try spices like clove, all-spice, ginger, star anise, nutmeg and cinnamon as your dry rub. If you have access to it, using fresh spices (like whole cinnamon sticks) can do wonders. Adding a little bit of sweetness using oranges or cranberries is another way to amp up your roast.

Easiest-Ever Tiramisu:

One of the desserts I made this year was a tiramisu. I always thought that it was a technical and difficult dessert to make, but it couldn’t be easier. This boozy, creamy dessert will be a hit!

Ingredients:

Lady fingers or pound cake

1 1/2 cups strong coffee

1/3 cup Kahlua (coffee liquer)

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup marscapone

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Cocoa powder, for dusting

Directions:

  1. Start by whipping the cream with the powdered sugar and a dash of vanilla essence. Once soft peaks are formed, fold in the marscapone. Set aside.
  2. Mix coffee and Kahlua in a shallow tin. If you’re using pound cake, cut into strips the size of your container.
  3. To assemble: Start with a thin layer of the cream at the bottom of a clear class container.
  4. Dip your cake or lady fingers in the coffee mixture and form one layer.
  5. Add cream on top and spread evenly. Repeat this process until you’re done.
  6. Refrigerate for a few hours or over night. Before serving, dust with cocoa powder.

Brandy Snap Canoli (A take on Jamie Oliver’s recipe):

Ingredients:

1/2 cup brown sugar

5 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup Hennessy (brandy)

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup marscapone

1/4 cup dark chocolate

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup candied nuts (pecans or walnuts work best)

Orange, to zest

Directions:

  1. To make the shells of the canoli, bring the brown sugar, butter and syrup to boil in a pan (until it becomes a silky caramel).
  2. Pour the caramel into a mixture of flour and baking soda. Mix until well combined. Add brandy and mix it in.
  3. Scoop spoon full of the mixture onto a baking sheet (with lot’s of space in between) and bake at 375 degrees for 7 1/2 minutes.
  4. Once baked, leaved to cool for exactly 90 seconds, then shape around a wooden spoon or rolling pin until set.
  5. Set the shells aside until ready to fill and eat.
  6. For the filling, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Then add marscapone and gently fold in.
  7. Add chopped chocolate, cranberries and nuts to the mixture and grate in half of the orange zest. Gently mixed.
  8. Right before eating, put the filling in a piping bag and fill the shells.
  9. Serve topped with powdered sugar and orange zest.

And with that I’m signing off for 2018. Thank you for an amazing year, can’t wait to see all the next has to offer.

Happy new year and I’ll see you in 2019!! xx