Thursday, 31 October 2013

The Creme De La Creme Of Airports

Good Day Everyone,

I have probably spent more than my fair share of time at airports. Travelling overseas was pretty much part of every job I had during my career and as a result I have travelled through a lot of airports. Nowadays my time at airports is of a more relaxing nature :o) Instead of dealing with work emails, writing presentations and interview questions, I can actually peruse the duty free shops, stop of at the makeup counters (big grin) and just generally relax before boarding the plane.

Out of all the airports I have travelled through, one in particular stands out more than any others, so much so that it warrants its own blog post and that is Singapore Changi Airport (website). This airport is a-mazing! I love love love spending time here. This is one airport where I do not mind arriving three hours before my flight! 

Now I can appreciate that many of you may not ‘get’ my level of excitement relating to, of all things, an airport. But let me tell you, when you have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of airports, like I have, you will just know when you come across one that is as amazing as this one!

So you’re probably wandering what is the deal with this particular airport? Why all the fuss? Why a whole blog post dedicated to it? Well let me fill you in. First of all if you’re a Singapore resident then the automated systems (which by the way actually work unlike the UK eye scanner things!) at immigration means you never have to queue (not that the immigration queues ever tend to be that long when compared to those back home at Heathrow and Manchester!). You simply scan your passport and thumb print and the barriers open with a cute little message appearing on the computer screen wishing you ‘bon voyage’ or ‘welcome back’ (I know I know, little things please me). 

The airport itself is very large, welcoming, spacious and best of all carpeted once you pass through immigration. This means there’s no screech trolley noises and the sound of people’s heels clicking constantly (a sound I absolutely detest... nothing to do with the fact that I can no longer where high heels of course ;o)). In addition, the airport plays the most relaxing chill out music I've ever heard at an airport. There are seats a plenty and I’m not talking the uncomfortable bench style but more coffee shop style. There are even sun lounger type seats in dedicated napping areas where you can get some shut eye. There are free foot massaging machines dotted around the airport as well as free internet terminals and little seating areas where you can watch various shows. The airport even has a real movie theatre in two of its terminals – how cool is that!

If you’re travelling with children then there’s plenty to keep them entertained with a kid’s playground, the tallest indoor slide in Singapore, an integrated multimedia entertainment centre, arcade games at Zone X, 3D and 4D motion simulators and a forest themed indoor playground are just a few of the offerings.

The airport has several outdoor gardens including a butterfly garden, access to swimming pool and other relaxation facilities as well as beauty salon services. If you’re transiting through Singapore and have at least five hours between flights then you can even take advantage of a free two hour Singapore sightseeing tour!

The airport is probably one of the greenest airports I've ever been two, with trees lining escalators, flower gardens and various cultural and artistic installations. One of my favourites is The Social Tree (video) located at Terminal 1. This is an interactive installation that has several touch screen booths located around it where passengers can upload photos and/or videos of themselves in various artistic forms e.g. black and white, sketch format, sepia, with animated features such as glasses and against various backdrops such as the butterfly garden. 
The Social Tree
Touch screen booth
The Social Tree with an underwater backdrop
These photos/videos are then uploaded on to the screens at the crown of the tree where they float around on the screens against various backdrops. My hubby and I had a great time uploading our photo which appeared in a bubble at the sea bed, in a hot air balloon floating across various backdrops of Singapore such as a sunset, night sky and even a rain storm. Other backdrops that we saw included a butterfly garden and a dark mystical forest. You can even post your photos/videos to various social networking sites like Facebook and email them to yourself. We can even retrieve our photo next time we are at the airport – how great is that?
Singapore night sky backdrop
Singapore with the Formula 1 race track
Singapore rain storm
Singapore sunset backdrop
I love how innovative, creative and relaxing Changi airport is and can completely understand why it has been crowned the world’s best airport. I think airports back home could certainly take some inspiration and ideas for improvements especially Manchester airport. 

Have you ever had the pleasure of visiting Singapore’s Changi airport? What were your experiences/impressions? Which is your favourite airport and why?

Love Sheen xxx

P.S. As I said I've experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of airports and my worst experience has got to be the airport in Bali. There were more cockroaches than people at that airport and it’s one that I will never transit through again!!! You've been warned!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Sephora Collection Blush Me!

Good Day Everyone,

Whenever I have been in a Sephora store lately, I've been paying a bit more attention to Sephora’s own line of makeup, Sephora Collection. Typically in the past I have spent my time looking at the various makeup brands that I am most familiar with (Stila, Make Up For Ever, Smashbox, Dior etc) and ignored Sephora’s own line. This is because I’m the kind of person that tends to stick with makeup brands that I know and have had positive experiences with. Makeup isn't cheap, especially in Asia and I really dislike the idea of spending money on something which I then don’t use because either the colour wasn't quite right for my skin tone, or the product didn't have much staying power etc. Returning makeup products that just didn't work for you isn't really something you do in Singapore or the UK for that matter, unlike in the US which definitely leads the way in good customer service and returns policies (from my experience). 

On my last few visits to Sephora I have found myself drawn to the Sephora Collection blush me! blush in the colour Abricot No.11. That’s right Abricot (not apricot). The shimmery golden tones of this blush have been calling out to me for a while now and finally, I not only heard their call, but answered it by making my purchase :o)
Now Sephora describes this as;

 “What it is: Three shades of coordinated color for cheeks. What it is formulated to do: Highlights, contours, and adds radiance to your cheeks with a single swipe of the brush. Can also be used on eyes for a pop of vibrant, shimmering color.”

The blush is split into three colour strips of gold, rose gold and bronze. All three colours have a lovely shimmery (not glittery) effect. The packaging is very sleek and I love the see through lid as it makes it very easy to see the colours when rummaging through a box full of makeup products. There is no mirror which doesn't really bother me. I quickly realised that there is a knack to opening the lid, which once I mastered, made life a lot easier :o)
On my medium skin tone, this blush does not work well as a blush but I had kind of guessed this from the colour swatches I had done in store. The colour wash is too sheer and lacking in depth and just doesn't show on my yellow skin tone the way I would want a blush to show. If I try to build up the colour by layering I end up building the shimmery effect rather than the colour itself. Given the shimmer, I don't tend to use this blush to contour with as I prefer a matte contour product.
From left to right: gold, rose gold, bronze, swirl of all 3 colours
It is really difficult to pick up just one colour from this blush unless you use a highly tapered brush or an eye shadow brush. I find the colours work best when swirled together to create a beautiful warm toned highlighter, which I often pair with a peach or coral blush and this was my main reason for purchasing. The blush leaves a very pretty golden sheen on the cheek which glistens beautifully in the light – a glistening sheen, if you will - see what I did there? ;o)
A close up of the colours with several layers of product
In addition, all three colours make nice eye shadows whether used together to create a look or separately. I will use the gold colour as an inner corner highlighter and bring the colour in on the inner third of my eyelid. I then use the rose gold as my main eye shadow colour on my lid and use the bronze colour in the crease and outer third of my eye to create some depth. The result is a pretty, warm, autumnal look that goes perfectly with my brown eyes.

So whilst this blush is not a great blush, for me, it is a beautiful highlighter which was my reason for buying it and a lovely eye shadow trio and for that reason it makes my experience of Sephora Collection blush a positive one!

Have you tried any of the Sephora Collection products? Which have been your favourites?

Love Sheen xxx

My verdict:
As a blush 2/5
As a highlighter 4/5
As an eye shadow 3/5

For the UK: unfortunately there are no Spehora stores so it means buying online from the US
For the US: click here although I think this particular product has been discontinued
For Singapore you can find his product currently at Sephora for $24SGD

(Note: I purchased this product with my own money)

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Lounging In Lombok

Good Day Everyone,

Over the weekend, my hubby and I were talking about all the trips we've taken since we moved to Singapore and all the great places we've seen. When it came to picking our favourite trip thus far, there was no contest really - there could only be one winner and that was our trip to Lombok Island (Indonesia) this time last year. It was simply the most relaxing holiday we'd ever had. We'd made the decision not to rush around taking in all the sights, like we would typically do, but to instead just take it easy, recharge our batteries and simply spend some quality time together. 

We took a flight to Bali before getting the boat across to Lombok Island for three nights and then had planned to take another boat to one of the Gili Islands for three more nights.

In Lombok we stayed at a resort called Jeeva Klui (website) and it was a-mazing! Like truly amazing and idyllic and one of THE best places we’ve ever stayed in. It is a small resort of about 35 suites and villas situated right on the beach. It was west facing and so we had beautiful sunset views whilst having our dinner each night. The rooms were very spacious, beautifully built and decorated using local building styles and materials such as bamboo, stone, wood, and terracotta tiles. The rooms we stayed in had a verandah with huge seating areas (great for an afternoon nap) and an outdoor shower! I say ‘rooms’ because after 3 nights we made the decision to stay for another 3 nights rather than going onto one of the Gili Islands. We were having such an awesome time and the place was so relaxing that we didn’t want to risk going to one of the Gili Islands and then not liking it as we’d be kicking ourselves for not staying put at Jeeva Klui. Sometimes you just need to realise when you have it really good! Luckily the resort had one room left for the next 3 nights, not the one we were staying in, so we moved to a room facing the beach with an unobstructed view of the sea, even from the bed!


The resort had an extensive DVD library and DVD players in the rooms so I finally got to watch ‘Breakfast at Tiffany's' plus they had a large lounge open to guests that housed various board games, books, computer with internet access and huge comfy sofas. The outdoor grounds had a pool, sun loungers, beach access, beautiful lush gardens and a spa. The service was faultless and the staff were incredibly friendly and efficient.

Relative to Bali, Lombok is very under developed and rural. We definitely preferred it to the parts of Bali we’ve been to as we like the peace and quiet and just being surrounded by nature. We went into the local town a couple of times for a wander and it was very quiet and almost felt a little deserted. Our six days consisted of eating (the food was delicious with a good mix of local and international cuisine), sleeping, watching DVDs, playing scrabble, having spa treatments, watching the sunset and listening to music as we chilled in these sun lounger huts overlooking the beach. 

We left Jeeva Klui and Lombok feeling totally relaxed and de-stressed with some amazing memories. It’s the kind of place I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to friends and families looking for some tranquil relaxation time.
Have you ever been to Lombok? What did you think? Where did you stay? Have you been to anywhere else in Indonesia that was really amazing? If so, do let us know as we are always grateful for any recommendations.
Love Sheen xxx
My verdict for both Lombok and Jeeva Klui: 5/5

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Feeling Bleurgh And Photos From Home

Good Day Everyone,

Yesterday I went for a Thai massage as I've really been struggling with the arthritis in my spine lately. I had so many knots and so much tension built up in my shoulders that they really did look as though they were carrying the weight of the world on them. It was not a relaxing experience but it was a very functional experience! I spent the hour clenching my teeth, trying really hard not to scream out in pain as the stubborn knots were massaged out of my aching arthritic body. Afterwards I felt like I’d just done ten rounds with Mike Tyson but I also felt an amazing release, so much so that it was really hard not to fall asleep on the bus home!

Today, even though my joints and I feel better, I am struggling with my shoulder joints which are radiating pain down my arm and into my hands and fingers. As a result I’m struggling with typing today and just generally feeling a bit bleurgh, very tired and a bit homesick and missing my friends. Believe it or not after almost 2.5 years in Singapore I still get bouts of homesickness. To cheer myself up a bit I was looking through photos of our recent trip home to England and thought I’d share a few of them with you (plus it means I don’t have to type so much but I'm sure you gorgeous glisteners won't mind :o).

Luckily, as my hubby and I are going away tomorrow for the weekend, I have planned Sunday’s post in advance and trust me when I say it’s good one. Hopefully, I’ll feel better after a weekend of relaxation and some quality time with hubby and I’ll be back on track next week :o)

Have a lovely weekend all.
Love Sheen xxx

The world's first iron bridge in Ironbridge, Shropshire
View from the iron bridge
Love these types of signs
Flowers always make me smile
Rosemary and peach - a surprisingly delicious combination
You don't get canal boats in Singapore
View of cars down 23 floors through a glass panel in the floor
How many modes of transport can you spot?

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

DIY Wedding: My Learnings And Tips

Good Day Everyone,

This is going to be the last of my DIY Wedding mini-series. If you've missed the first four posts then click on the following; first, second, third and fourth post.

To wrap this up, I’m going to touch upon some of the learnings from my experience of getting married and what I’d suggest to one of my girlfriends about to take the plunge. Now there’s lots of advice and tips I could give, in fact I think I could write a whole book on it as there’s so much that goes into planning a wedding, but for the purpose of this blog post I’m just going to focus on a few key ones that stood out the most for me.

Leverage Contacts:
Do ask for help and sound people out for you never know who might know someone/something that could help you out and save you money. For example, I was on the phone to my best friend (who happens to own a wedding dress shop in the North of England (website), although I didn't wear one of her dresses) about how expensive hiring chair covers through the wedding hotel was. I was having a bit of a grumble about not having time to shop around when my friend reminded me that her sister had a wedding chair cover business (how I did not recall this myself I do not know! Clearly my mind was over flowing with too much information!) and that she would probably do me a mates rate, which she did – Thank you Josephine (website). Not only did Josephine provide us with the chair covers and organza bows, she also lent us a runner which we used for the aisle with pink rose petals lining the edges and it looked stunning! It was also my best friend that told me about a wedding and floristry wholesale suppliers called Country Baskets (website) where I was able to get all the little bits and bob that I needed for our wedding e.g. wedding cake boxes, organza bags for wedding favours, diamante pins for the bridal bouquet, helium canister for the balloons, vases for the table flowers and so much more. I'd definitely recommend checking that place out if ever you're planning an event.
Shopping Around:
Make sure you shop around! If someone you trust makes a recommendation, even when you think you've found what you’re looking for, check it out. My hubby and I had actually decided on a wedding cake maker, about a year before our wedding and then several months later a friend suggested a local baker that she had used and so we explored this option and ended up saving £150 on our wedding cake.
Sleeping Before The Wedding:
If you’re getting married at a hotel and spending the night before your wedding there then I would recommend spending at least two nights before your big day there rather than one. This is because, if you’re anything like me, you’ll struggle to sleep that first night in a new place as the surroundings are all unfamiliar, as is the bed. You don’t want to wake up on your big day with huge bags under your eyes because you didn't get a good night’s sleep. Therefore I recommend you check into your hotel at least two nights before the wedding day itself, so that your body and mind has time to get used to your new surroundings.
Get Some Space:
If possible, book yourself a suite (rather than a room) at the hotel because trust me you are going to need the space when you’re getting ready, especially if bridesmaids/friends are getting ready with you. Even better, would be to book somewhere with a bit of outdoor space just so that you can get some air, if you need to. We booked a suite with an alfresco balcony which was amazing! The balcony gave us out door space to store the flowers and that’s where we made the table flowers and bridal bouquet. It was also great to have the patio doors open for a bit of fresh air whilst I was getting ready on the day of the wedding and just that bit of outdoor space meant that when there were several of us in the room it never felt too crowded.
Delegate And Ask For Help:
Now I’m a bit of a control freak who loves to organise (just a bit!) but even I realised that I could not be in more than one place at a time on the wedding day to oversee the decorations of the wedding room and the layout changes. So I delegated and explained to a couple of close friend’s as well as my hubby (who understand and are sympathetic of my control freak nature) of how I would like the room and tables to look in terms of decoration, and how I imagined the space working when the room was transformed from the wedding ceremony layout to the wedding breakfast and reception layout. This meant that I could relax with confidence knowing that this was being taken care of. We also had friends on the morning of the wedding helping with the helium balloons, arranging the aisle runner and music.In addition, we had one of my best friends help with the flowers and she even wrote the place cards for us.
A Bride’s Right Hand Woman:
Make sure if you’re the bride that you have a great right hand women. Someone who works well under pressure, is resourceful, trustworthy and detail orientated... gosh that sounds a bit like a job interview! I had one my dearest girlfriends come over from the US for my wedding and she was my right hand women. She thought of all the little details that I just didn't have time to think about. For example, whilst my hubby and I were mingling with our guests at the wedding reception, she arranged for housekeeping to come and tidy our suite, she cleared away all my makeup clutter, hair tools, ironing board, clothes steamer and everything else that was used in the process of getting me ready that morning. She made sure that at the end of the wedding day, the table flowers, cards and gifts were moved from the wedding reception into our hotel suite, our bed was scattered with rose petals and she even made sure we had a fresh bucket of ice. What a gem! I love you M :o)
Everyone's A Cameraman/woman:
Get anyone and everyone to take lots of photos for you as you or your designated camera person cannot be everywhere all of the time. You never quite know when someone might take that gem of a shot!
Lastly, just remember to breathe and enjoy the day. Don’t worry if there are little hiccups along the way, just focus on the reason why the day is taking place... to celebrate and unite you and your partner. Everything else is just the icing on the cake :o)

Love Sheen xxx

P.S. What tips / advice would you give to someone getting married?

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Sephora Collection Contour Eye Pencils

Good Day Everyone,

There are certain types of makeup products where I do tend to go high end, like concealers and foundations, because I like to be colour matched and have the opportunity to wear the product for the day to see how it wears before parting with mine/my hubby’s hard earned pennies. Also, I find the whole idea of trying to colour match myself at the drugstore way too stressful. The mirrors tend to be so small that combined with the artificial store lighting, I’m never confident that I’m picking the right shade.

However, there are other types of makeup products where I tend not to go high end, like eyeliners, mascaras, lip products, because a) I don’t need to be colour matched and therefore I’m confident to pick shades myself and b) because I honestly believe that you can get great quality products at much more palatable prices at the drugstore. Let me add a c) to that which is that for products in colours that I don’t tend to wear often I just don’t believe in spending lots of money. Coloured eye liners and mascaras are a great example of what I mean here.

I've recently started to delve into some of Sephora’s own branded products and I have to say I've been very impressed with these Sephora Collection Contour Eye Pencils that claim to be waterproof and provide 12hr wear. I recently picked up three colours;
  • Snakeskin dress – a beautiful olive / khaki green with gold flecks
  • Girls night out – a gorgeous gold shade
  • Blonde ambition – described as a ‘beige’ by Sephora but I’d say it’s more of a pearly cream

All three of the eye pencils are incredibly easy to use, have a slight shimmer (the olive colour has flecks of gold as well), glide on smoothly, are very soft so there’s no tugging on my eyelids and once on, they do not budge. Seriously the staying power of these is amazing! On me, they certainly do last for the 12hrs Sephora claims. How often do you get a makeup product that actually lasts for as long as it claims to?

I don’t find these particularly blendable as they set very quickly and so I have to move incredibly quickly if I do want to blend and typically I use my fingers for any blending action as I find the warmth of my fingers helps improve the blendability (I know it’s not a word but you get what I mean) of the pencils.

I don’t tend to wear these pencils on my waterline just because I don’t often wear anything on my waterline (unless I want to intensify a smokey eye look in which case I use a black kohl pencil). My favourite way of wearing these is on my eyelids, very close to the lash line in a thin but not too thin line, and/or below my lower lash line. I often use Blonde ambition as an inner corner highlighter and I've even used Girls night out in the same way when I've done a warm toned (e.g. brown) smokey eye.

I find Snakeskin dress works beautifully with my brown eyes and I wear this on my top and bottom lash line on the outer two thirds and for the inner third I use Girls night out which works to highlight the inner corners but also compliments the olive green colour perfectly.

These are not retractable pencils so there is some product wastage due to the sharpening but as these are relatively inexpensive this is something I can live with. Also, as these are very soft and creamy I do find it quite difficult to achieve a very thin and precise line but then again that’s what liquid eyeliners for! Even though the colour doesn't budge throughout the day, it does come off reasonably easily with eye makeup remover.

All in all I think there are around 35 colours so a huge selection and cost around $12 (SGD) and $9 in the US so relatively inexpensive (for Singapore) which means I can pick up a few other colours. So there we have it coloured eye liners that don't make my eyes water with their price ;o)

Have you tried these? What were your thoughts? Is there anything else from the Sephora line that has been impressive?

Love Sheen xxx

My verdict 5/5

For the UK: unfortunately there are no Sephora stores so it means buying online from the US
For the US: click here
For Singapore you can find this product at Sephora 

(Note: I purchased this product with my own money)

Thursday, 17 October 2013

DIY Wedding: Wedding Favours

Good Day Everyone,

If you've missed the previous few wedding posts then click here, here and here.

Wedding favours are a lovely gesture from the wedding couple to show guests their appreciation and we certainly wanted to show our guests how much we appreciated them joining us to celebrate our special day, given that ours was a mid-week wedding.
When it came to deciding what to have as our wedding favours, for me, it was easy – I love sugared almonds. I love the soft pastel colours, the tradition that they represent (click here to find out why sugared almonds are used as favours) and quite simply they are timeless and elegant – at least that’s what I think. However, my hubby does not like them, which is quite surprising given that they contain his one addiction... sugar!

So we spent quite a bit of time discussing alternatives. Nowadays, the type of wedding favours and choices one has is quite frankly, mind-boggling! There’s sooo much choice, from key rings, photo frames, candles, sweets to handmade soaps, charity donations, scratch cards... (yes I said scratch cards), homemade jam and anything else you can think of!

For us, we wanted something personal and meaningful (now that sugared almonds were out of the picture) and something that would evoke a response from our guests be it laughter, nostalgia or surprise. Given that my hubby and I are quite nostalgic people and often reminisce we went down the nostalgic route and decided to have ‘sweets from our childhood’ as our wedding favours.
There were a lot of other sweets that we could have included such as cola bottles, fried egg, wine gums etc but as quite a few of our guests were vegetarians we excluded the jelly sweets (due to them containing gelatine). We opted to put the sweets into a sheer golden organza bag rather than a box as the bag allowed the colours of the sweets to pop through which looked really pretty against the white linen and place settings on the tables. The great thing about the favours was that it was something we could do ourselves and we had a lot of fun putting them together, although I had to ensure we had more than we needed given that they kept disappearing ;o)
At the wedding reception, it was wonderful listening to our guests opening the organza bags and filling the room with laughter and comments like, “OMG I used to love these”, “I’d forgotten how good these tasted”, “Do you remember these? I used to love these as a kid”. It was a real trip down memory lane which made us feel all warm and fuzzy..aaawww.
wasn't so sure about the choc flavoured limes as I don’t remember them at all but my hubby assures me they were his favourite... perhaps they were before my time given that my hubby is a few years older than me ;o) As you can see I even managed to sneak in a sugared almond :o)
Can you guess what all the sweets are? Which are your favourite sweets from your childhood?

Love Sheen xxx