WHAT TO BUY FROM IHERB - PART II

So just because I live in LA now and I'm in much closer proximity to supermarkets like Whole Foods & Trader Joe's and heaps of farmers markets doesn't mean I deserted my good ole' iHerb. If anything, I'm shopping on it more frequently because it bloody takes ONE DAY to get to my front door. I mean, sometimes I can't be arsed to leave home for cereal and it shows up on my doorstep the next day? YES PLEASE.

FYI, part one is HERE.

Rishi Tea, Japanese Green Tea, Sweet Matcha link

I'm a sucker for matcha but because of budget constraints, I can't spend too much money on good shit and I'm not going to apologise [or apologize? Which spelling should I use?] for that but what I will tell you is that this is sweetened, so use unsweetened milk when you make it. I make it with cashew milk, if that's available to you. Shit is good, especially when you're PMSing.

Chlorella by NOW Foods link

Since moving to LA, I've added algae to my vitamins to help my immune system and it has definitely helped. While it works for me, there are recognised side effects that you should be wary of in case you want to try it.

Nutrex Hawaii Spirulina Pacific link

Another algae. Omega 3s, inflammatory properties, crazy high in calcium, and most importantly for me, research has suggested that it helps people with allergies, or often experience allergic reactions. Story of my life, which is why I started. One of the reasons, I like to believe, why my eczema has improved so much.

Navitas Naturals, Organic, Sun-Dried Goji Berries, link

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Add goji berries into your acai bowl. It's a vegetarian form of protein, and crazy packed with essential amino acids and rich in vitamin A.

Sea Tangle Noodle Company, Kelp Noodles with Organic Green Tea

I'm torn between Shirataki noodles and these kelp noodles. You can eat these as it is as a cold noodle, or stir fry. I throw in tempeh, tofu, cabbage and whatever vegetables I have in the fridge for an easy vegan meal. Use the recipe on the packaging. It is good.

ThinkThin Protein Bars link

I love ThinkThin bars, and since I travel so much for work these days, it's been so bloody userful to carry these around and devour them on flights when a protein box costs you $20 and your meal allowance is $10 per meal. Pictured is my favourite ThinkThin bar, which I get from Whole Foods but the one I linked is just as delicious. They have a tiny bit of chocolate which help SO much.  

Madre Labs On-the-go Hand Cleanser link

Because you need to keep your hands clean, and sometimes bathrooms are too gross and sinks are too nasty to touch.

Giovanni Mixed Sanitizing Towelettes: Peppermint Surge, Grapefruit Splash link

I'm one of those people who carry towelettes everywhere but I hate when the sticky thing that's supposed to stick back on becomes unsticky and my towelettes dry up. These are essential oil-scented and individually packed. I love the grapefruit ones!

Remember to use my offer code "ZQL070" for a $5-$10 discount off your first order.

8 THINGS TO BUY FROM iHERB.COM

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What's better than grocery shopping? Grocery shopping in the sweet comforts of the cloud nest that is my bed. 

I'm a big fan of iHerb - I get most of the dry groceries and essentials from the site. Shipping is incredibly affordable, from S$4, and it's dependable and incredibly reliable.

Unfortunately, the website doesn't make it easy for people to shop on it - sure there are ratings on the different products available but unless you know exactly what you want to buy, you're going to be spending a lot of time perusing the site.

Lucky for you, I've done the buying and the researching enough to tell you what to buy. So now, you can quit googling "Faz + iHerb" because you can bookmark this page. Remember to use my offer code "ZQL070" for a $5-$10 discount off your first order.

Disclaimer: These products work for meConsult your doctor or medical professional before you take any supplements.

#8 Quinoa Pasta, US$4.27 link

What is it? Sometimes the problem with going gluten-free is that replacement foods like gluten-free bread and pasta taste like crap ran over twice. I've eaten gluten-free bread that feel like it can leave a hole in the wall if I decided to throw a slice against one. This tastes like wheat pasta, but is made of quinoa - which I love because it keeps me full longer. 

How to eat it? As you normally would, with pasta sauces. Be sure to cook this a little longer than traditional pastas, though about 15 minutes. I love using this in casseroles because it doesn't get gummy or loses its shape like wheat pastas do.

#7 Sun Warrior, Raw Organic Ormus Supergreens, Peppermint, US$49.95 link

What is it? We all know greens are good for us, but not all of us eat enough greens everyday. Ormus Supergreens, recommended to me by the good people at Ritual, ingredients such as barley grass, spinach, wheat grass go through a patented cold-drying process and become powder form. The ingredients come from mineral-rich volcanic soil, thus enriching your bod not only with the goodness of greens, but with a range of minerals including platinum, gold and silver.

How to eat it? 1 tablespoon in a glass of water everyday, or throw it in your smoothie.

#6 Solgar, Omega-3 Fish Oil Concentrate, 240 Softgels, US$17.28 link

What is it? You know this already - Omega-3 fatty acids play important roles in brain function, normal growth and development, and inflammation. Southeast Asians frequently have elevated triglycerides (a form of cholesterol) and a high rate of death from heart attacks, but omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and used in fish oil supplements can help reduce triglycerides and decrease the risk of death from a heart attack. So if you don't eat enough fish and other foods that contain Omega-3 fatty acids like flaxseed, canola oil, walnuts, soybeans or kidney beans, get these. They don't have a fishy taste, and you don't get fishy burps!

How to eat it? As a dietary supplement for adults, take two softgels three times daily, preferably at mealtimes.

#5 Mrs. Dash, Extra Spicy Seasoning Blend, US$3.67 link

What is it? I know chicken breast is healthy, but I get really tired of it. I mix it up with seasoning chicken differently before I grill it up, and this is one of my favourite seasonings because it's flavourful and it doesn't have salt. 

How to eat it? Season your meat with this baby. I've tried seasoning a tuna steak with this and I loved it too. It's not spicy though, don't believe the label. You can throw in some chilli padi in there and have a ball, if you want.

#4 Simply Organic, Get Crackin, Peppercorn Mix, US$5.81 link

What is it? It's a blend of peppercorns, instead of the usual one-colour that you usually get.

How to eat it? Try this on roasted pineapple chunks. So. Good!

#3 Navitas Naturals, Organic, Acai Powder US$31.98 link

What is it? Acai is loaded with antioxidants, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids and while you can grab a bag of acai pulp to make breakfast at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods so easily, it's impossible to find it in Singapore. This brand of acai is sourced directly from farmers, cultivated sustainably and in accordance with fair trade practices.

How to eat it? Throw it in your smoothies or shakes, or sprinkle over your yogurt, chia seed pudding or oats.

#2 PB2 Peanut Butter US$5.31 link

What is it? If you're a fan of peanut butter, this powdered peanut butter is a good alternative. It has 85% less fat calories than traditional peanut butters and it's just as tasty.

How to eat it? Mix 1 tablespoon of water with 2 tablespoons of PB2. However, I love using the powder in cookies, waffles and pancakes with gluten free flour. For an easy peasy pancake recipe, throw:

  • 3 Egg Whites
  • 1 Medium Banana
  • 1/2 Cup Blueberries
  • 1 Serving PB2

...into a bowl, mix it up and dump it on a pan and cook till brown like you would pancakes. This makes two and is about 98 Calories per pancake.

#1 Sriracha, US$3.74 link

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JUST SLATHER ON EVERYTHING. NO HOLDS BARRED.

Remember to use my offer code "ZQL070" for a $5-$10 discount off your first order.

BACK FROM BLUEPRINT EMPORIUM

If there are three things that will sure to lift my dampened spirits, it's travel, shopping or food. And it's also these three things that will see me up too early on a Saturday morning bouncing off the walls in excitement. My brother, my colleague Kerryn and I, hit Blueprint Emporium bright and early while people were still setting up. I love the cozier set up this year, as compared to the one at Marina Bay Sands last year. More importantly, here was what we got:

1. Desti Saint Handbags, from a few seasons ago for our mum. SGD$20 down from USD$169! The current season pieces are on 10% just for these two days!

2. Purple python purse by Emblem, from the good people at Asia Fashion Inc who gave me a wicked discount! Thanks so much, and thanks for reading thedramadiaries! ;o) I'm also obsessed with this clutch that has a miniature version of a door knocker.

My brother paid for the purse for me as an early birthday gift! Thanks, Feiztaples! [His Twitter username is my nickname for him]

3. The coolest purchase of all, was my brother's. A gold ceramic bow tie by Italian label Cor Sine Labe Doli. He's experiencing a bit of cognitive dissonance because it's the most expensive fashion item he's owned to date, but seriously, this bow tie is so bloody brilliant, it's totally worth it. $248, from Curated Editions booth. Also comes in silver, gunmetal, white and matte black!

Other deals:

  • United Nude shoes up to 70% off.
  • Carrie K up to 35% off.
  • ELOHIM By SabrinaGoh at 50% off.

I'll probably be making another trip with J in tow after our virgin yoga class at Yoga Movement tomorrow!

GO SHOE SHOPPING!

My love for shoes is no big secret. The only thing that makes my stomach lurch more than looking at my bank balance after shelling out money for a pair of hot shoes, is when I fall in love with a pair of hot shoes to discover that they don't make it in Yeti size. Nevertheless, in my years of traipsing in heels, and shopping for new shoes wearing new shoes, I've learnt a thing or two, so here's your exhaustive list of shoe shopping like a true shoeaholic shopaholic!

Fitting If you have a good shoe, you've half-conquered an outfit. Provided if the shoe fits properly! I've stuffed my tootsies in heels too small [and to many of my dearest vertically-challenged friends, too high] and I've suffered enough. The best time to shop for heels, or shoes in general is when you've walked heaps, so your feet are more swollen then they are at the very beginning of the day.

Can't Find Shoes Your Size? Join the club. Like clothes, I hate when people tell me what I can and cannot wear. I've been told I shouldn't wear pointy-toe shoes because it'll make my feet look bigger. Up yours - the shoes look hot on me, and considering what you're wearing, you shouldn't be giving fashion advice. Wear what you like [except for Crocs. Crocs is where fashion goes to die, no matter what they come up with, they can't redeem themselves for making the ugliest shoe mankind has ever seen], and what looks good on you.

My years of online shopping, globe-trotting and shoe-hunting has given me quite the list of places online and offline to shop, so below is my go-to list. The sizes are based on what fit my feet, because size charts differ from one website to another. Some make UK 8.5 to be a US 11, some make EU 41 to be a US 10.

Shoes that fit me best are US Size 11/ US Size 8.5 - 9/ EU Size 43.

  • ASOS: Goes up to a US 11/ UK 9/ EU 42, but unfortunately, the biggest sizes are usually flats and sneakers.
  • Irregular Choice: Their crazy shoes may not be for everybody, but some styles go up to EU 43.
  • Jeffrey Campbell: Goes up to a US 11/ UK 9/ EU 42, and has a generous fitting, probably to accommodate the men who wear women's shoes.
  • J. Crew: My to-go spot when I'm in the States during the summer because they make such lust-worthy sandals. Goes down from a US 5 [holy tiny feet, Batman!] to US 12. J. Crew now shops to Singapore, in case you haven't heard!
  • Michael Kors: Goes up to a US Size 11.
  • New Look: In local stores in Singapore, sizes go up to US 10.5/ UK 8/ EU 41, but their sizes are not consistent, and tend to fluctuate. The website, or if you're in the UK, stocks up to US 11/ UK 9/ EU 42.
  • Nine West: I've never liked the selection of shoes Nine West has here, but the ones in the States are awesome. It helps that their shoes go up to a generous US 12.
  • River Island: Stores in Singapore only stock up to UK 8, but you can buy up to UK 9 online.
  • Steve Madden: Stores in Singapore only goes up to a US 9 and the occasional  US 10, but you can get up to US 11 online, or in the stores in the US.

Luxury brands like Christian Louboutin, Chloe Jimmy Choo, Lanvin, Miu Miu, Brian Atwood [my favourite!!], Giuseppe Zanotti, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, and Marc Jacobs go up to an EU 42, and the occasional 43. If you're traipsing to Europe, the States or the UK and coveting a pair of shoes, get a local boutique to ring up one in the city you're going to, and do your research and pick the one closest to your hotel to check if they have your size. Alternatively, you should hit up shoe floors at department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and discover wicked shoes up close and personal. My blood pressure goes up every time I'm there, it's so much bloody fun!

In Singapore, other than high street shops, you can hit SOLE 2 SOLE in Millenia Walk and look for shoes by Meher Kakalia and Shumoo. These shoes go up to an EU 44!

Also - outlet malls and stores like DSW are my favourite places to buy shoes because it's self serve and nobody has to dampen your spirits and tell you the shoes that you're coveting doesn't come in your size!

Your Cobbler is Not a Magician There's just so much magic a cobbler can do. The stretching service cobblers offer only really works if you're having your shoes widened. Slingbacks can have more holes punched in them. But if they don't fit, or make you want to reach out for drugs or tequila [or both!], return them while you can!

Out Damn Spot Quickie how-to for stains on various types of shoes. If these fail, take 'em to a professional cleaner:

  • Black shoes: Spruce up black leather by rubbing it with the inside of the rind of an orange.
  • Suede: Protect your suede shoes with a spray by 3M that's easily available at hardware stores, and some shoe stores. Bring suede back to life with a steam over a hot kettle for a minute and then quickly brush it with a suede brush.
  • Patent: Give patent shoes a good gleam with a rub of Vaseline. If your shoes are expensive, then spend some more money on some patent leather cream. Patent is a bitch to upkeep, and when it's scuffed or stained, more often than not, it's time to retire them.

Treat Your Feet With all the running for the bus, stilt-walking, and shoe-stuffing your feet need to put up with, here are some ways you can treat your feet.

  • Pedicures: I hate people touching my feet, but after four months of not having one since I'm petrified of someone touching my broken toe, I realise how much difference pedicures make.
  • Wash them right: Make a point to wash your feet [and between your toes!] with a washcloth carefully and regularly. Yes, that means bending over in the shower to soap them up; if you can't balance safely, use a long-handled shower brush or sit on a chair outside the tub as you wash your feet under the faucets. Be sure to dry feet completely, including between the toes. This wash-and-dry system lessens problems such as athlete's foot, odor, bacteria and fungus.
  • Soak your feet: I love soaking my feet in warm water, especially after traipsing in heels all the time.

Now, go forth & shop!

SHOPPING WITH AMERICAN EXPRESS

As promised, American Express took J and I on a shopping trip yesterday evening.

Let me start by saying this - I hate shopping with people. If I have gone shopping with you, I must either really, really love you, or you paid me to do it. I hate having to wait on people while they're in the changing room, and I hate people waiting on me too. I don't like when people tell me they don't like something I like, because I won't get it and then all I'd do when I get home is think about getting it.

I was ready for a challenge when American Express took us shopping. I love men's clothes, and I love my boyfriend, and it helps that AmEx has a ton of retailers under their fab Rewards programme. We kickstarted our expedition in Ion at Topman, under the Wingtai Group, for which AmEx has an exhaustive list of Rewards to pick from. From Warehouse to Pumpkin Patch to Ben Sherman, and even to Karen Millen!

J picked up a slim-cut gingham shirt pretty fast and I was quite pleased. Being American, he's always been wearing clothes that are cut bigger, and since he's been here, he's been discovering Asian and European labels that are cut slimmer, and way more flattering.

We soldiered on. We popped by Paul Smith, part of the Club 21 Group [and also in the Rewards programme!] and I salivated over the suits, and J salivated over the shoes, but we moved on to something more in our budget - under the Charles & Keith Group, Pedro. Yes, you can also claim your points for vouchers at Charles & Keith! Shoes galore!

We picked up these rockin' pair of tan pointy shoes for only $129. J needs a suit for his graduation, and I reckon he should get a navy blue slim-cut suit to match these shoes. Am I the only one who thinks of what shoes to wear before clothes?

I made a beeline for Sephora for my favourite Soap & Glory Breakfast Scrub before we continued. Next on our list - J needed a pair of jeans that cut slimmer. He's not one to pull off skinny jeans [thank God!], but his jeans, I think are all too big for him. It became quite the challenge - we went from FOX to H&M to Levi's and none of them had anything that fit him well.

By that time, I was also famished and exhausted. It was past eight in the evening and I had been running from one meeting to another since noon, and have been on my feet all day. My boyfriend however, was determined to get himself a pair of jeans.

I eased him into Raoul in Paragon to try a couple of shirts, and we moved on to Guess next door, where he finally found jeans he loves and that works for him. Of course, it's from an American brand.

I also tried a dress from Guess, but they weren't part of the Amex Rewards programme, so I figured I should be spendin' my moolah somewhere else... like a pair of hot thigh-highs from La Senza, which was just upstairs!

And at the end of it all, we finished the evening with a cuisine we love and totally deserve - Thai at good 'ole Thai Express. Noms.

We spent $514 in all, and collected a ton of AmEx rewards whilst doing it. Thanks American Express for the shopping spree!