Burger Land!

It’s been nearly 9 years since we last visited San Francisco and this time round, we headed back to the Bay area with our friends. The Man was on a Pro-Am tour and the golf wives tagged along while the husbands swung their golf clubs at Pebble Beach.

Burgers are a staple in the US and when we were there, I guess we couldn’t quite pass up a burger. So here are the two famous burger joints that we checked out during our stay around the Pebble Beach area.

Had my first In-N-Out Burger nearly 9 years ago, I didn’t think it was that great but with Shake Shack opening in Singapore and a crazy wait of at least 60 minutes and up, I thought to give In-N-Out another go.

For me, burger was pretty basic. Patty was juicy, the proportion of meat to the veggies were just nice and the buns were soft and toasty. Size-wise, it was good enough for a meal on-the-go.

Fries were not entirely impressive. In fact, after finishing our burger, the fries turned limp. In the end, we just left half a pack of the fries untouched. So go for the cheeseburger, if you must, make a meal with fries. But otherwise, if your stomach has enough space, go for two burgers then.

On our second visit to In-N-Out with the men, I didn’t feel like having carbs on my burger, so I swapped the buns for a lettuce wrap instead. Yeah, they do have veggie wrap options so speak to the server and explore other alternatives. I’ve also learned of a “secret” menu (not so secret now that I’ve decided to blog about it). There is an “animal” style option that our friend insisted we try. I got a little confused because one of our friends ordered their burger “animal” style and got more veggies plus onions with it. That’s where our lead ended. So if you do know what the “animal” style option entails in the burger. Pray tell.

Our friends who went with us on the trip have been raving about Five Guys burger joint. We were not sure if we would stumble across one so we were pretty pleased to find the Five Guys burger chain at Sand City (approximately 15-20 minute drive from Pebble Beach).

One should probably steer clear of Five Guys if you are on a diet for the portions here are true to what one can expect – ie: American sizing/ portion. The dining experience at Five Guys ain’t fancy but it’s a fun one for you get to pick and choose the variety of toppings that you would like to be accompanied with the burger. The concept is pretty close to how Subway does it for their subs but for burgers at Five Guys.

What I really enjoyed about the burger from Five Guys is that it was truly juicy with every bite. The toppings that I picked ranged from mushrooms, onions, jalapenos, lettuce, tomatoes, pepperoni, etc is what I would like to be placed for my burger. I also liked the attention to detail paid on the packaging. Using foil to wrap the burger may not necessarily be environmentally friendly but guess what, given how generous the toppings were and how thick the burger eventually became, the foil helped kept the burger intact (unlike paper packaging) while I tried to gracefully finish my burger without looking like some hungry maniac.

I hear that Five Guys maybe making its way to Singapore sometime this year. This would be a place to look out for. I doubt prices will come cheap but it’s definitely worth checking it out at least once.

 

When does the line get crossed?

Came across this article on Channel News Asia on ‘sharenting’ and while what was shared is not rocket science, what was listed struck to me for more than half the time, I’m guilty of whipping up the phone to document that milestone or to capture that moment as a memory.

Embarrassing and risky: When parents share too much of their children online Read more at https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/cnainsider/embarrassing-risky-parents-share-much-children-online-sharenting-11596622

We are in an era where access to information (thanks to technology) is so easy. So much so, we sometimes go overboard with the information and take for granted the privacy of ourselves and our loved ones. The information that we are giving people access to by revealing parts of ourselves online is something that I am also guilty of. Through blogging, I found a space and outlet to share more about the things that I love and enjoy doing. However, that space can also be opened to scrutiny and judgement from people who don’t really know me. There’s always that risk.

Penning my thoughts on this and hope that I will always try to remain conscious of not to cross the line with sharing of too much information.

 

Investment of a different kind

After decluttering my wardrobe and realising that more than half of the things I have bought have either been repurposed, re-gifted or thrown away, I started to become more conscious of just mindless buying.

I’ve decided to turn my investment on to my skin. Well, simply because time waits for no man and so does our skin. But with proper care, perhaps the signs of age on the skin can somewhat be delayed. That of course is my hope.

Perhaps also now that the Bub is slightly older, I also have a little more time to myself. So when she goes to bed, I do carve out some time between 30 – 45 mins for my night-time beauty ritual. This is what I usually try to do (keyword – TRY):

Once a week:

  • Hair mask : The ends of my hair tend to be a lot drier with permed hair now, so I try to keep my hair soft with a hair mask every week. My fave is the Hair Mask from Meg (available on Ksisters). After about 20-30 minutes of placing my hair in the mask, I find my hair being really smooth after washing the residual of the hair mask away. The softness of my hair is maintained for at least two days and when my stash of hair masks run out, I either get the Korean ones from Watsons or Innisfree.
  • Deep cleansing mask : Another fave of mine is the deep cleansing mask from Serendi Beauty (also available on Ksisters). Prolonged usage of this mask will actually help minimise the size of your pores and it even helps to remove blackheads (my nemesis). While my blackheads haven’t disappeared overnight, I do feel that my pores are somewhat smaller. My face does look clearer the next morning after using this mask. Thus, I do try to be a little more diligent in using this at least once a week.
  • Miraskin RX Lifting mask: The elasticity of my skin tend to lose its firmness with age so I’ve been trying to care for it more. I really like the lifting mask as it helps to firm up the skin and improve overall appearance. It has a filling and lifting effect without any painful needles.
  • Neck mask: The neck is often neglected but actually that’s the one area that also needs a lot of care for it can reveal your true age with all the age lines shown. I know I should probably invest in a stronger neck cream but I keep forgetting to apply it. So the best way for me to care for my neck is to slather on a neck mask from Innisfree once a week. I usually do this together with my hair mask so I literally just stay in the toilet for a good 20 to 30 minutes masking simultaneously my hair, face and neck.

At least two to three times a week:

  • A facial sheet mask: I get an assorted range of sheet masks and alternate the use based on what I feel like that day. So from hydrating, purifying, brightening or soothing, there are different ones that I used from different brands. Along with slathering on a sheet mask, I also use this Pobling Gua Sha massager to massage my face with the mask on. It apparently helps to firm and lift the face too. Whatever works man, I’m willing to give it a shot.
  • Deep cleansing nose pore mask: I purchased this nose pore oxygenated mask from Don Don Donki for under $10. It’s supposed to help with removing blackheads and you can achieve baby smooth skin with this product. I’m not sure if it works entirely but after I wash the mask off, I usually will sit down and extract the blackheads on my own. I think extraction is the only way of getting rid of those comedones.
  • Petal Purifying Bubble Mask from Mamonde: I love to use this in the morning as a quick perk-me-up to the face before I put on my toner, serum, eye cream and moisturiser. It helps prime the face and makes it really soft and supple before I complete it with my morning beauty regime. Have to add, the rose petal smell also helps to soothe the senses.

On a daily basis:

  • Saborino Morning Masks: These sheet masks from Saborino promise to perform 3 functions in under 1 minute! Imagine waking up and putting the sheet mask on and after 1 minute, your skin is cleansed, toned and prepped for make-up. Sounds too good to be true right? But these morning sheet masks have been flying off the shelves in Japan. I saw them at the local drug-store during our recent trip to Tokyo but didn’t stop to examine further. It’s only after coming back to Singapore and I saw these in Tokyu Hands, did I then realise what they really did. These masks are also available at Guardian Singapore and I couldn’t help but bought a pack to try. I have to add that I do continue to wash my face in the morning but I enjoy slapping a sheet mask on my face in the morning for the minty and fruity ingredients infused in the mask does do a good job in waking my skin up. I usually leave it on for about 2 minutes for that’s about the amount of time I take to brush my teeth as well. Talk about multi-tasking! At about $20-ish for about 32 masks, I thought these were quite economical to prep and tone the face. But according to some online reviews, they felt that it was pricey for a product that could only last for a month compared to some beauty products that you could get for almost the same price and that could last longer. For me, I thought a little investment is necessary to achieve nicer looking skin!

  • Eye masks: The Man got a variety of them from Japan that can be used daily. Love the packaging which is rather eco-friendly for 20 or more of these eye masks are kept in just one packet rather than individual packs.

  • Skin whitening supplements: I’ve caved in to taking oral supplements to try and achieve fairer skin or rather to whiten the pigmentation on my face. I guess I can’t avoid the age spots now that I am getting older but I sure can try to delay it. Have been taking these oral supplements for the past 2 months. I am hardly the pill-popper but I really do try to remember that I have to take them on a daily basis. Let’s hope it works.

There you have it, my attempt in trying to achieve better skin (and look younger) with this skincare regime.

 

Half for you, Mama

We celebrated Mother’s Day a week ahead of the actual occasion as one can imagine it would be quite crazy to secure any decent restaurant reservations over the actual weekend. The Man brought us all for Japanese and we brought the little one along with us in tow (equipped with all her art materials).

Don’t want to jinx it but she’s at a lovely age now where she can actually eat her meals properly, enjoy the food that’s dished out in front of her, engage in actual conversations with us and the chef as well as sit down to do her craftwork/ colouring/ drawing if needed. We try to refrain from using technology devices unless really needed. To be fair, about 1.5 – 2 hours is all that she can probably take if we are dining out.

The omakase dinner that we had at Ishi was lovely and we really enjoyed the freshness of the sushi and sashimi that were dished out in front of us on top of the wine and sake that the Man ordered. The ending to our meal was a slice of musk melon that the Bub had much earlier when she finished her rice. I knew she would love another piece or two of the melon so I saved my last piece of the melon for her. She was coughing so we didn’t want her to have too much fruit as well.

What she did next really touched me.

She thanked me for the piece of the melon that I had given to her. Then she used the fork and cut the piece of melon into half. I initially thought that she was going to have them both but she fed me the melon with her fork and proceeded to finish up the remaining piece. “I share half with you, ok Mama?”

I must have teared up a little when she fed me with the melon. Such a precious thought coming from my little one. I hope she remains this way – little and pure. 🙂

The day she pierce her ears

Achievement unlocked! Bubba got her ears pierced on 24 March, Sunday at the age of 4 plus turning 5.  Yes, we did it!

Again, different schools of thought as to whether she’s too young to have any sort of piercings and whether she can take care of her ears. But we weighed the pros and the cons, and I thought this would be a good age for her to get a pair of earrings. They do look cute on small girls.

We decided to get our ears pierced with Stellar in the end. My friends tried out services both with B’dazzle and Stellar, and I observed the piercing tools that were used. Both used equipment that comply with health and safety requirements but I preferred Stellar’s ear-piercing equipment for it’s shaped like a pistol giving the technician greater control while holding the child’s ear lobe, ensuring that the earring will be pierced at the mark. The other equipment that I’ve seen previously is shaped like a stapler which u can’t really tell if the piercing in on the mark. Again, I am no professional ear-piercing expert, these are some observations I have made on the two different brands.

There were many varieties of earrings that one can choose from. I was concerned about any infection that might arise as a result of the piercing so we decided to get the 14K Yellow Gold earrings for her. I would have preferrend for the little one to select a simple crystal studded earring but well, we let her have a choice so she picked out a pair of white/pink floral crystal earrings. While it went on a slightly larger size, it did look cute on her! I think we paid about $238 for the earrings which included the complimentary piercing as well as a bottle of solution.

Here’s a photo of the little one prior to getting her ears pierced. This enthusiastic mother made sure that her hair was neatly pleated and I had to take a picture of her without any piercings, of course. The process is irreversable thereafter. She did look very happy and was feeling excited about the whole process for she felt very engaged – from picking of her own earrings to settling down on the big girl chair waiting for the big moment.

Before getting her ears pierced, the technician will actually brief us on what to-do and what we should not do after the piercing. Some things to avoid will be shellfish as the wound might itch and young kids will feel the urge to scratch their ears in the process. This was probably one of the reasons why we chose to let her have her ears pierced earlier too because I find it easier to restrict her diet now compared to when she’s older. Another thing to avoid after getting her ears pierced is not to do any water-related sports/ activities for about 1 week. Again, we timed this to coincide with her one-week term break from swimming. Yes, I guess the stars were aligned.

We were also told that we should clean her earrings with the solution provided – once in the morning and once in the evening and ensure that we twist her earrings to allow the ear-hole to slightly open up to fit the piercing eventually. It’s also recommended to remove the earrings only after 6 to 8 weeks should we intend to change the design of the earrings. Earrings should also be kept on for up to a year, else the ear-hole might risk closing up.

After the detailed briefing, the technician proceeds to look at the Bub’s face structure and then shows us the marking for the earring for each side of the ear. This was the part I was most paranoid about for I had to suffer the brunt of uneven piercing then – blaming it on parallex error. So I brought the Man for reinforcements to check if both sides were even.

Do check out the video on how the deed was eventually done. To be honest, we did prepped the kiddo and showed her videos/ pic of her friends who also had their ears pierced without crying. So I was hoping for the best but she did bawl when both her ears were pierced at the same time. Well, it could be that she kept fidgeting when the numbing spray was being administered or the realisation that there is no turning back that really shocked her!

But guess what, she DID it and we are extremely proud of her! 🙂

Checking out ESORA

Finally checked out ESORA after hearing about the reviews for a while now. Well, to be honest, I could have gone for dinner there in Sept last year for my birthday but due to a ‘hiccup’, we ended back at Odette. I’m not complaining for like I’ve said, we are creatures of habit. 🙂

Located along Mohamed Sultan Road, ESORA promises to take diners on a modern Japanese dining experience. Helmed by Chef Shigeru Koizumi whose culinary experience includes that of working at Nihonryori RyuGin in Tokyo and Odette in Singapore, it is interesting to see how these places have influenced the way he creates food in the kitchen.

An amuse-bouche of Monaka wafers, traditionally a red bean dessert, is given a different twist as a starter and it is packed with seasonal premium ingredients along with kaffir lime zest delighting the palette in anticipation of what other goodies that are to come.

Soramame – Kagoshima uni, Hamaguri, Peas

Fried Abalone – Tottori cucumber, Coriander

ESORA Sashimi Selection

Grilled Kinmedai – Shizuoka nanohana, takenoko, fukinotou

Omi Wagyu – Okaki farm in Shiga, burdock, nobiru, chirizu

Matsuba Crab Donabe and Miso Soup

Cherry Tomatoes Jello – Palette Cleanser

I particularly thought this candied apple palette cleanser was very beautifully created. Resembling like an apple, the inside was an apple sorbet encapsulated with a candied exterior. The butterfly that was on top of apple was a cut-out using the apple as well. An outstanding dish!

The whole dining experience at ESORA was very memorable indeed. Each course was steeped in Japanese flavour but gives a different perspective in terms of using various ingredients to bring out the core Japanese ingredients and I’ll have to add that the plating takes on a bolder approach from traditional Japanese plating.

Baby Girl’s request

Baby girl is growing up way too fast and the time has come for her to ask us for a pair of earrings. It’s a right of passage, little girl wanting earrings (in her own words) “sparkly and pretty”.  I have deliberated if she’s too young to have earrings and whether she would be able to care for the ear-piercings well enough. But I had my ears pierced when I was a teenager and the concept of pain was a lot harder for me to just shrug it away. Furthermore, I had to deal with unpleasant discharge that came out of the ear piercings so I hope that it would be more manageable for younger kids.

When I shared with the Man his little girl’s intention of having her ears pierced, he immediately jumped and said no. He only caved in when the little one asked him for permission to have her ears pierced. His only request was to be around for this milestone.

So that settles it… we are off to have her ears pierced this Sunday! After doing some research, I’ve narrowed it down to either Be’dazzle at Wisma Shopping Centre or Stellar at Bugis Junction. We are likely to go with Stellar for I’ve read some online reviews on them and they seem quite experienced with ear-piercing for kids.

Wish us luck!!