Honeymoon – London leg

This entry is waaaay overdue. We went on our honeymoon to London and Paris right after our wedding (last October) and finally I’ve the time to write about it. I can’t believe how impossibly blessed I am, to be able to go to my two dream destinations – Paris and Maldives in the same year, with the person I love. :) Anyhows, here’s my travelogue!


We travelled on Lufthansa and transited via Frankfurt before reaching London. Upon touching down, we left our luggages at our accommodation which we booked via WaytoStay.com and left to explore the city. First stop – Harrods!


We decided to have lunch at Bentley’s Sea Grill at Harrod’s Food Hall.


Here’s my sea bass with some really interestingly yummy seaweed!


The Food Hall is decked with scrumptious bakes and savoury items. We grabbed a couple of cupcakes and pastries and made our way over to Hyde Park! The weather was quite gloomy, and it drizzled slightly while we were there. Nevertheless, we ate our cupcakes there and fed the swans and ducks. :) I must say, the swans are a lot slower than the ducks in getting to the food.


We also checked out M&M’s World, Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square. Because we are in London, we must catch a musical and we bought tickets to watch Les Miserables the following night. :)


Excuse me while I have a drink!

Oh yes, we checked into our apartment and we were in for a rude shock late at night because the hot water for the place was faulty. :( It was really cold at night and it was impossible to shower with cold water. Multiple calls to the concierge didn’t help with the situation and they said they will solve the issue so I waited. I waited for several hours and nothing was rectified. In fact, it was only solved on our last night in London. >:( I know I can’t fault them (and I don’t know how the rest of the occupants in the building handle that, maybe they don’t shower) because the whole building was undergoing renovation and they had made plans to allow us to shower at a gym nearby but I thought they should let us know beforehand. Anyways, to deal with this situation, we went to Waitrose nearby and bought a pail to prepare our water for our shower. This method is so backward but we just gotta suck it up… ARGH. The only good thing is that we have a kitchen and we can cook! So sometimes we buy items from Waitrose and whip out meals. :)


The next morning, we had breakfast at a cafe nearby before we started our plan for the day.


Flowers at the train station! I absolutely adore flowers and they just really perk one’s spirits up :)


On our way to Bicester Village to do some major retail therapy to take our minds off the traumatic shower times at night and in the morning (haha)!


Of course, I have to take a picture in the city’s iconic telephone booth.

This place is amazing! Every shop’s minimum amount for VAT refund is different (and can be quite low too!) so we (or rather I) shopped up a storm. :D


We refueled at Jamie Oliver’s Fabulous Feasts. I can see why people like to dine alfresco here. Chilly weather paired with adequate amount sunshine, who wouldn’t like that?


We decided to call it a day and headed back to the city. It was 3ish, almost 4pm then.


Happy with our loot for the day!

We headed to Waitrose to get some items to whip out a simple meal before heading out for Les Miserables in the evening :)


We were seated quite far up and it was quite steep, so the view was still pretty okay. I was quite pysched, but I guess we’ve been too ambitious because we were feeling quite sleepy and were struggling to stay awake.


The next day we continued exploring London.


The Tower Bridge and I!


These kids on a field trip look so cute!

We headed back to our apartment and had lunch. I had Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks and some scones. Pumpkin Spice Latte is really yummy, please bring this into Singapore, Starbucks!

While Kevin decided to take a nap, I continued my exploring of the city… so I went to V&A Museum!


Love how the city looks after a bout of rain.


Pretty dangling lights greets you at the entrance when you look up. :)


An exhibition on the fashion through the ages, I also checked out another fashion-related exhibition but photography was prohibited in that one.


If you know me, I love museums and getting lost in the labyrinth of artifacts, sculptures and paintings. Exploring the place on my own allowed me to meander into different areas at my own pace, and allow me to be absorbed in my own observations. Conversations were also struck with strangers who thought I was an art student, hahaha.


I find it pretty cool that people here actually bring their sketchbooks and materials out to sketch, I have never seen this happen before!


It was kinda cool to see Kylie’s room backstage….


Close up of her dressing table.


Costumes of the Lion King musical can also be seen at the museum, how cool is that?!

I met Kevin later on, and we went to Hamleys – which is an amazing emporium of toys and games!


Passing by Oxford Street…

I didn’t take much pictures in Hamleys because I was too busy checking out toys and the staff over there are really enthusiastic about the toys they were promoting. It’s such a fun environment! :)


There are even Lego statues of the royal family!

I walked away with some toys for my little cousins and sister ;)


It was night time by the time we left the place, and so we had dinner.

The next day, was our last day in London, before we head over to Paris. We took a stroll through Hyde Park (I think? haha) to get to Buckingham Palace.


Passing by the Wellington Arch…


We also came across wreaths of red poppies hung on the railings.


Early morning in London, look at that beautiful sky


No changing of guard while we’re here I guess…

It feels like I’ve barely scratched the surface of London, it’s an eye-opener but I know we have to be back again for sure.

Next stop, Paris!

 

Repurposing macaron boxes

Macarons are my weaknesses and over time I’ve amassed many pretty boxes because it would be such a waste to throw them away! After all, they are well constructed and of such good quality, so it makes me happy to find a new purpose for these boxes that others may discard - storage of my beauty products (see, they can be so useful!)

You wouldn’t believe just how messy my drawer used to be and I don’t know how I used to deal with that. By simply sorting like items together (lip products in one, eye products in another, etc), I can now quickly pick up what I need.

Products I’ve used up

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted and today I wanna share which beauty products I’ve finished up recently.

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From left to right, top to bottom:
Phyto Panama Shampoo - I got it when I was in Paris (and it’s so much cheaper over there!) and it’s a gentle cleansing shampoo for slightly oily scalps. It’s housed in an aluminum bottle and the consistency of the shampoo is quite runny, it’s almost like water. Sometimes I pour out more than what I want to use. Generally there isn’t a strong fragrance or scent like commercial shampoo and it doesn’t foam up as much, but it always leaves my scalp feeling clean.
Will I buy it again? A loud and resounding yes, even when it’s not on sale!

MedaVita Sebodetox Shampoo – Got it during a sale, and similar to Phyto Panama Shampoo, it has purifying properties and works to remove excess sebum (I think you’ve noticed my fascination with a clean scalp by now…). It’s not as runny as Phyto and it works fine for me.
Will I buy it again? Maybe, afterall its handy size makes it good for travelling.

Redken Intraforce Colour Treated Thinning Pack’s Shampoo – I don’t know why the hairstylist recommended this to me but I went through it nonetheless. He recommended rinsing my hair with cold/lukewarm water when using the shampoo and I did what he told, but I only felt that my hair became slightly icky to the touch :( It was as if I hadn’t cleaned my hair properly and it just felt horrible. That pretty much defeats the purpose of achieving thicker hair with regular usage because hair needs a clean scalp to grow.  I can’t tell if it did make my hair fuller or thicker because in general, my hair’s pretty thick so… can’t say much about its results.
Will I buy it again? Probably not, there are too many shampoos out there to try!

Vichy Normaderm Purifying Cleansing Gel – I received a tube of it and decide to give it a try. I don’t know how else to describe other than it’s okay (as in it didn’t seem to do much for my skin) and I wasn’t blown away by it.
Will I buy it in the future? Probably not.

Mandom Cleansing Express Lotion <Sebum> – This is a water-based makeup remover and I love it! This is what I use before my regular cleanser. A couple of pumps onto my cotton pad gets almost all of my makeup (since I wear minimal makeup) off. I just like the fact that I don’t need an oil-based makeup remover to remove eye makeup anymore. :)
Will I buy it again? Yes!

Philosophy’s Sweet Fluffy Cupcake Shower Gel – I got this last year during the Christmas period, and it’s a 3-in-1 shower gel (though I only use it for my body). It’s metallic in colour and smells so divine that I would wanna eat it. It lathers well and it lasted me quite a while too.
Will I buy it again? Yes, it’s definitely repurchase-worthy (although it’s a little pricey) but I have to finish up the 125421298 bottles of shower gel and soaps first.

That’s all for now! :)

Bath & Body Works Haul

It’s been a while since I did a haul! Taking advantage of an extremely attractive BBW sale which also offers $1 shipping (to US addresses), I decided to add items to my cart happily. :) I then have the package shipped to Singapore via vPost (had some form of miscommunication with them on the delivery of the package that left a bad impression in my mind but nevermind).

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When Kevin carried this package home, it was like Christmas came early for the day! :)

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Unveiling in progress….

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Tadaah! In total,  I’ve gotten 5 bottles of shower gel and a 3-wick candle :) I can’t believe it but the candle’s scent  jumped out at me the moment I unboxed it (the lid is on the candle still)!

So here I have shower gels in Forever Sunshine, Wild Berry Tulips, Black Raspberry Vanilla, and Japanese Cherry Blossom and the scent of the candle is Summer Boardwalk. All these for just $26USD, inclusive of shipping! Adding in shipping at nearly $40 and after conversion, my total damage was just about $72.50 SGD. If each bottle of shower gel is about $20SGD and the candle is worth about $32SGD (can’t remember the prices locally offhand), I would have paid about double the price if I were to buy them in Singapore at one shot! 0.0

It’s awesome now that we have not one but two BBW stores in Singapore (I’ve gotten WallFlower diffusers and bulbs, shower puff and candle), making it convenient for a quick BBW fix but whenever an online sale that’s too good to be missed, no questions about where I’d rather get my stash from :)

Israel Trip: Day 8

I can’t believe it’s the last of my travelogue in the Holy Land and day 8 is our last day in Israel. Today we are headed to the Garden Tomb. We did not to go to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which is the traditional spot on the pilgrimage route because our pastor believe it is not the site of the crucifixion. As we walked away, a man bellowed that she didn’t know what she’s talking about and went on about how the Garden Tomb is so new… so you can tell there’s much disagreement about the spot.

So back to the Garden Tomb. We believe that this is the correct spot because:

1) The crucifixion occurred outside the city wall.

Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. ~ Hebrews 13:12

2) Jesus bore the cross with the inscription near the city, and people can read the inscription.

Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. ~ John 19:20

3) He was crucified on the road, with many people passing by and it can be seen from a distance.

And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, ~Mark 15:29

4) It is near a garden with a new tomb of Joseph Amaritia.

Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. ~John 19:41

5) Jesus was brought to a place called the Skull.

And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, ~John 19:17

6) Mount Calvary should be in northern Jerusalem, and Jesus is our perfect offering.

He shall kill it on the north side of the altar before the Lord; and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall sprinkle its blood all around on the altar. ~ Leviticus 1:11


Okay, side tracked a little, but check out the sign! =P


Can you see the eyes of the skull?


This is how the spot look like previously when it was discovered before it became a tourist spot.

Not only that, a large cistern located underneath the garden indicates that this is the garden of Joseph of Arimathea.

We then visited the tomb whose interior matches the description for the seating of the two angels and how the disciples looked into the tomb.


Looking for Jesus? He’s not here, He’s risen! :D


We then took some time to have a short sharing session and then a praise and worship session.

It so happened that the Pastor Prince devo for the day (March 18) is about how we are blessed regardless of your location because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross and it made mention of Calvary’s hill. Everytime when there’s such ‘coincidences’, I just feel so loved by Daddy God.

From my notebook:
Jesus has come to give us a brand new beginning. Sin separated us from God and Daddy God wants to be with us all the time. That’s why He sent Jesus to reconcile us to Him.

He was raised from the dead so that we can be made right with God. We need to be restored the sense  that God is no longer angry with us.

Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. ~Romans 4:25

He has decided we will be saved.

Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, ~Ephesians 1:4

When you love someone, you give. I know Daddy God loves me, because He gave me Jesus.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~Romans 5:8

Then we had a Passover meal experience for lunch at Yad HaShmonah Biblical Garden! It’s located in the Judean hills and ran by messianic Israeli Jews and Finnish Christians. There’s also a garden that displays plants and agricultural tools from biblical times. :)


Taking an exciting trip back to the times of Jesus!

Our host explained to us that this is how people ate in Jesus’ time, reclining on one arm. She also shared with us that John sat at the right hand of Jesus while Judas sat at His left hand. She also walked us through various foods and its symbolism.

It’s pretty interesting how before we ate or drank each item, we had to recite a Hebrew blessing first. For example before breaking bread, we were to say a blessing that went something like Bless the Lord, our God, the King of the universe who brought forth bread from the earth in Hebrew. :D

And there were so many cats at this place too! They were all quite affectionate. The white one repeatedly came up to me, jumped onto my lap and rubbed against me. I guess it’s really cold out there for them. It also kept wanting to take pictures so I had to oblige ;)

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One of the last few places we visited was the Valley of Elah, where the well-known battle of David against Goliath took place. We also went down to the Brook of Elah, which is famous for the five stones David picked to take down Goliath. Avi said that David chose 5 stones just in case he needed to face Goliath’s other brothers too, haha!

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Walking to the dried up riverbed of the Brook of Elah. The whole place is covered with mustard flowers and it’s so pretty :)


Avi gave us some guidelines on the kind of rocks to pick that were similar to David’s. They needed to be smooth and palm-sized, and many of us took our stones to Avi to get his stamp of approval hahaha!


In the end, I picked up 5 (not all for myself!) and they were heavy despite their small size!


I was back on the bus when I looked out and saw Avi plucking stuff from the tree and began eating it. He then took some and passed it to some of the tour members with him.


Intrigued, I asked Sarah what they were and she said they were almond fruits and I’ve never seen an almond fruit! She passed me one to try and you have to eat it whole like that. It’s a little sour and tasted like green apples, interesting!


Cute inflatable on the construction crane, hahaha! we should have these things in Singapore too.

The last place we went was Joppa, now known as Jaffa and it is where Peter raised Tabitha from the dead. This is also the place where Peter received the vision of a large sheet filled with animals (some non-kosher) being lowered from heaven and it was the pivotal moment for the gospel to reach the Gentiles.

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Guess what? We saw a wedding car and a wedding couple too in this place!

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We then had dinner at one of the restaurants and made our way to the airport.

This trip has been amazing on so many levels. After a terribly dry season, it felt like rain had finally come. I hear Daddy God’s little whispers at every corner I turn and I felt reassured that He has good things lined up ahead for me.

In this place, He showed me that He listens to prayers. When I had prayed for rain to come in Singapore and it happened the next day, I was overjoyed when my fellow P&W leaders verified that it did rain and I was like, wow Daddy God, You answer prayers really fast in Israel! Then He corrected me, it’s not where you pray that matters, it is Who who answers the prayer. :)

In this place, He showed me that He takes care of me. Through the tour agency, we were given the chance to rent a local Israel phone or a nano/microsim card for usage in Israel because it will be hard to get a prepaid card since we wouldn’t have time to stop and buy one locally. Kevin and I missed the deadline for the order so I was left thinking, fine, I’ll just be MIA for the 8-10 days then. Little did I know, that our bus was Wifi-enabled! *gasp* That means if I want be connected, I could be. We didn’t need to fork out any additional money to enjoy the connectivity! :) I used it whenever I had pictures I wanted to share on Instagram or text on Whatsapp or check out something on the Internet, but other than that I’m happily looking out of the windows, drinking in the scenery set before my eyes.

In this place, He showed me that He loves me and hears my heart’s desires. I asked to see a rainbow in this beautiful land during the trip and He answered not just once, not just twice but thrice! At the Garden Tomb, when Pastor Pauline asked for suggestions on songs to sing during a time of praise and worship in this place, I wanted us to sing Just let me say, but I guess my voice wasn’t loud enough to communicate my song of choice so we didn’t sing it then and I let it go. But Daddy God didn’t and He saved the best for last because He wanted to make it a memorable trip for me. On route to the airport, Sarah suddenly called out from the back and made a request to sing one last Praise and Worship song to end the trip and it was that song. :’)

So let me say
How much I love You
With all my heart I long for You
For I am caught
In the passion of knowing
This endless love
I’ve found in You
And the depth of grace, the forgiveness found
To be called a child of God
Just makes me say
How much I love You
O my Savior, my Lord and friend


So long Israel, I know it wouldn’t be too long before I’m back :)

Friday’s Fancy

Orchids had never caught my attention because I thought they were far too common and easily available, unlike the likes of anemones and peonies. But after one bride requested for tropical flowers for her bouquet, I’ve begun to see them in a different light. Orchids all used to look the same to me, but now I start to identify and classify them into cymbidiums, phalaenopsis, et al. They look amazing (elegant/glamourous even) in wedding bouquets, don’t you think?

Image credits:  1 / 2 / 3 via Pinterest

Israel Trip: Day 7

We woke up bright and early to make our pilgrimage to the Temple Mount in anticipation of the long queue of visitors like us (there was a long queue when we arrived). We were informed the day before to avoid carrying backpacks as security is extremely tight in this place and bringing one would cause delays at the security check. And when I say security is tight, it really is (just imagine passing by law enforcement officers with guns strapped on less than a metre of space between us and they were all sitting in a single file on the bridge that would take us into the place).

The Temple Mount is a site which holds special significance to the Jews and Muslims. It is also the place where Jesus was presented in the Temple by His earthly parents Joseph and Mary and later stayed behind to debate with the teachers. It’s now a mosque and as you can see there are Arabic writings on the tiles. Fun fact: See the dome at the top of the mosque? Its measurements and dimensions were modelled from a similar dome of a church nearby.


You wouldn’t believe how many visitors come by the Temple Mount each day but I managed to get a clear shot void of any tourist!


This is the Dome of the Tablets/Spirits and there’s a theory that this dome marks the site of the Holy of Holies in the Second Temple, as the east-west line aligning the Mount of Olives with the Eastern Gate and the Temple cuts through this very location.

You wouldn’t believe that there’s a mini protest happening while we were there. I couldn’t hear what they say but it seems that the people were against tourists visiting the place. =S

Sometimes the access to the Temple Mount is restricted due to protests happening (and apparently one took place a day or so before), so it seems like Daddy God aligned everything so that we can visit this holy place. :)


There are several cats within the premises, I can’t help but snap many pictures of them!


Remember the pool of Bethesda in the Bible? Bethesda means House of Mercy, and this is where people would wait to be the first one into the waters after it was stirred by an angel. This is the same spot where Jesus healed a paralytic of 38 years :)


I really like this particular kitty!


Yet another kitty!

We then had lunch before we went to check out the Via Dolorosa, which means the Way of Suffering in Latin. We went underground first, to see the markings which by now had become faint. Avi was trying to show us that there are inscriptions of the battalion’s symbol and a crown of thorns on the flagstone.


The circular discs seen on the buildings mark the various spots on the path.


As we walked the path, I could imagine that it was a very busy street that Jesus walked through then.


Another picture of a kitty.


It seriously is a very busy place and it’s of utmost importance to stick close to your group/guide as there are many tour groups around.


Too many cats around in this place!


Oh yes, we spotted little children and adults alike dressed up like it’s Halloween, but it’s not – it’s Purim (Festival of Lots)! I can’t believe our trip coincided with one of their Jewish holidays and we get to see them celebrate it. :D

Purim is a celebration of the deliverance of the Jews from Haman (you can read it in the Book of Esther). The tradition of dressing up is based upon the way Esther concealed her Jewish identity at the beginning. Some of their costumes really deserve awards! I saw this particular guy’s costume that was of someone who’s in the portaloo and it’s really darn good!


Bob the Tomato from VeggieTales!


This is a replica of a temple menorah and it’s been fashion from one piece of solid metal – gold.  If my memory didn’t fail me, the original one had been taken away to Rome but its whereabouts to this date still remain unknown.


I spy with my little eye, I see a dog in there!


This is the road that Jesus walked on 2000 years ago. WOW.


A mosaic map of Jerusalem back in the days. It’s pretty cool how they actually managed to match the location of places of the past to the current day Jerusalem.

We then had some time to spend at the Jewish Quarters. It’s filled with many stores and art galleries.


Look the star of the framed picture sitting in front! After I snapped this picture, many others followed suit hahaha


I wasn’t joking about the level of security in this place. Here we have some Israeli soldiers near the Western Wall.

Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. ~ 2 Chronicles 7:15

So, we were at the Western Wall (also known as Wailing Wall) which is part of the remaining wall from the time of the Second Temple surrounding the Temple’s courtyard. This is the most sacred and the holiest spot in Jerusalem after the Holy of Holies. Men and women are segregated to pray at different portions of the wall, with the men wearing a kippah before doing so. As I struggled to make my way to the wall. I see ladies rocking themselves standing with their faces in their copies of Torah, wailing. Some of them were reading the Torah with their hand on the wall. As I got closer, the ladies exiting walked backwards from the wall (it’s their custom). When I finally reached the wall, I placed my finger on the wall (with the help of my tourmates because it’s just too crowded!!), said my silent prayers and left. I also observed many notes containing written prayers were left in the crevices of the wall.

Interesting note: There’s a live cam streaming the happenings at the wall and you can check it out here!


Southern Wall – built during King Herod’s time. It’s made of limestone and it can be easily identified that the style was Herodian by the margins of the block with a slightly raised centre.


At the Southern Steps, and we had a short sharing over here. Jesus climbed these very steps when He visited the Temple and this is the place where 3,000 were saved and baptised in the Holy Spirit!

With that, we ended our day of sightseeing :)