Friday, November 29, 2013

Last burst of productivity.

I thought I blogged this last year but can't find it. Anyway I'm doing it again. Just as it seems the year is winding up and nothing more is going to get done, BAM BAM you sneak up on some bothersome job and tick it off the list!

This sounds like a stupid idea, because in a way we are already too busy at the end of the year. Carols are eating my life, for one thing. BUT! Because everyone is in a bit of a rush doing Christmas things in December, it's a great time to do other things without so much of a queue! Why not go to Medicare? Get your eyes checked? Or just do something at home, finish crocheting the thing you got bored of, or clean the windows, or shred some papers or something. Let me tell you it's a very empowering feeling to take a moment out from all the obligations of the season and shoot some random personal chore right in the head when it wasn't expecting you.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Soundtrack to a board game.

I think this should be a thing, finding the perfect soundtrack to a board game to heighten the drama. I had a quick google and of course a few other people on the internet have noticed it. I played Cluedo with friends a couple of weekends ago and I think an iPod was playing the soundtrack I call Gabriel's Oboe, which has lots of suspense. But it would have been quite different playing with the Gosford Park soundtrack which is a bit more vintage and Miss Marpley. Soundtracks are all about background music and creating mood. Tension and release and general drama. It really enhanced the game experience.

Look, you can get Sherlock Cluedo.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Real estate report.

I've followed real estate with interest since I was a teen. Window shopping for houses, basically. I liked the red-brick federation homes with wrap around verandahs and french windows and bay windows and so on. Those days are gone and I've realised I'm too poor for nice houses. These days I just love an smh article about real estate with lots of gloomy comments. I will spend my whole lunchbreak reading comments. Half the world things thinks Gen Y are lazy and live at home and spend all their money on overseas holidays instead of saving for a mortgage, the other half think property is genuinely too expensive and blaming everyone—the Chinese and the boomers and the government. People who think there are affordable suburbs in Sydney are pointing to half a million for 2br apartments in Hornsby. I leave that to the judgement of the reader, but I don't really think half a million is "affordable". I agree it's the cheap end of the market, but it's not cheap.

But I think both sides of the argument are have some truth.

"Generational" spending habits are an issue. I'm Gen Y, and I am relatively frugal. No car, no internet, no bought lunches, and I mostly holiday in Australia with friends. But I live in the Eastern Suburbs, eat out about once a week and I've had a nice overseas trip (after uni and 6 years of FT work, and it cost half as much as my braces). However my parents haven't had ANY overseas trip (or braces). And takeaways or restaurants were only for birthdays. My grandparents were even more frugal, buying a house with savings, or building a house themselves, growing food, recycling clothes. The generation before, I don't know, they probably thought themselves lucky to own a second pair of shoes and only got lollies at Christmas time. People have historically lived pretty lean lives and home ownership has never been a walk in the park. But the trouble is, when the bar is set too high, people don't try. If it was a matter of struggling to afford a unit, I would happily struggle to afford a unit. But no amount of struggle will afford me a unit in Sydney. The gap is too wide between what I could struggle to afford and what things sell for. And if there's no hope, why bother?

"In Sydney" is an issue. I think a lot of people are in my boat. I'm torn between wanting to stay where I am with the friends and church and the support of lots of single friends and stuff to do, and wanting live somewhere near my family where I can grow veggies. And the thing about my profession is there aren't many jobs in other areas anyway. I glance around from time to time when I feel discontented. Number of page views for a design job in Newcastle recently: 1600. That's slim pickings. There is some kind of grant paid to people who leave Sydney and go to a regional area, but what good is that going to do if you don't have a job out there? Decentralisation is a bigger issue than helping with moving costs.

Anyway, nobody ever said you can have it all. It's not some unfair conspiracy, just a massive supply and demand discrepancy. Baby boomers downsizing into units in the city at the same time as Gen Y want to get a foot in the market buying those same units in the city, and one of those groups has a lot more money. Meanwhile people with nice detached houses don't want their streets razed to make way for ugly flats. If the demand is coming from investors, which is apparently is, the bright side is that they'll rent out their properties, and the more rentals the cheaper the rent will be and we'll still be able to live where we want for the time being.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Review of 3 BB creams

I'm really into Japanese products, especially their BB creams. What I love about Japanese drugstore products are that they're cheap and very good quality, meaning you get excellent value for money. The Japanese cosmetic market is a tough one, so you have to be good to survive!

Here are three Japanese BB creams I've tried. You might find them in Sydney, at really expensive prices. I bought mine in Japan, or got them sent over to me.

Harikan Perfect Cream
Blah: I first discovered this in Japan about two summers (their winter) ago. I bought it on a whim, loved it and bought two as a back up. When I went back last summer, I couldn't find it anywhere! It's also really hard to find on the internetz. I only have one tube of this stuff left.  
Cost: Roughly AUD10
SPF: 33 PA++ (not sure about ingredients)
Coverage: Sheer.
Rating: 5 stars. If you are looking for sheer coverage, and your skin is in good condition, it will make your skin look more luminous.
This is the website on the back of the tube:

Heroine Make Protect UV Mineral BB Cream
Image from
Cost: JPY1,050
SPF: 50+ PA+++ (See Ratzilla for ingredient listing)
Coverage: Light to medium.
Rating: 4 stars. This only comes in two shades and I have the darker of the two (02 Natural - Natural Beige). This shade is not bad for winter, but lately, it makes my face look way too white. Lovely, creamy texture. I'd only recommend it if you have quite pale skin.

DHC BB Germanium BB Cream Foundation

Cost: JPY3,500
SPF: 20 PA++ (mineral, if it's the same as this one)
Coverage: Medium
Rating: 5 stars. This is a very close match to my skin tone. Probably my current favourite BB cream. Gives medium coverage, makes my skin more even toned. This is what I'm using now (as well as La Roche Posay in 02) since my regular BB creams are all way to light for me.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

After a Living Single seminar.

My overall feeling is that singles seminars shouldn't happen just for singles. I think how singles fit into church is an issue for the whole church. Don't always put singles in a closed-off place and let them shout about their problems without bothering anyone. In the same vein, don't have all the marriage and parenting things off in their own seminars either. Encourage everyone to come along, because whenever I've heard anything about marriage, I mean gritty day-to-day stuff not ordinary sermon stuff, I don't feel jealous, I feel like I understand other people better, and marriage is sort of demystified. I think it'd be helpful for marrieds to be reminded of what it's like to be single, or to learn what it's like to be single at an older age. My church did a good thing at our 5pm weekend away recently. All women at different stages of life in one room, all men in the other, a panel of singles and marrieds and parents in each room, DISCUSS. It's that easy.

The way NOT to discuss singleness is to ask a single person why they are single. That's not something that happens to me often and I hadn't worked up any rage, but a single person rarely has an answer they feel good about. Unless they CHOSE singleness, the answer has to be "nobody loves me" or "there aren't enough men/women" or "was in a relationship for a while" etc etc. If the answer is "God's will", that begs the question why ask them in the first place? Why is anyone married? Why is anybody born? God's will.

Also, people can get really tense about negotiating dating. I haven't had many issues but I could see others feel extremely hurt and frustrated. The older you get as a single person, the more difficult it is. You've got a few rejections under your belt. You've got some scars and sensitivities. Behaviour of both men and women can be confusing. People get shot down for being too direct, too vague, too keen, too stand-offish. Guh. No wonder people stay single. There isn't this one formula that everyone approves of and feels safe communicating within... things that say "this means I like you as a friend" and "this means I'm asking you out for real". I guess there never will be, and that's why we have romantic comedies. I don't know if I've said this before, but a matchmaker would save a lot of bother.

And I think it's possibly harder to be a single man than a single woman. I've blogged this before, but last night reinforced it. I won't speak for them, you should ask them yourself.

Anyway, the big thing is breaking down stigma to care for each other better; less pity, more understanding; the little niggly details of singleness aren't something I'm going to spend time on, because I'm going to let go of my hang-ups and be awesome, as per my earlier blog post.

Review of 5 BB creams.

I have tried some of Elsie's BB creams. There have been times when Elsie has been into something like, say, oils, and raves on and on about this oil for hair and this oil for hands and I'm nodding on the outside and on the inside I'm thinking "oils are oily, whatever". But this time, our obsessions have aligned and we rave at each other about BBs and both of us are interested! It's amazing. I haven't gotten deeply into the world of makeup, I feel like makeup has branched out and met me where I am with something practical and easy.

I'm looking for BB creams that have sunscreen, and make my skin look better without looking like makeup, and that stay OK all day. You might have different needs. This is a summary, but there are plenty of lengthy reviews around the www, with videos and stuff. You're probably not that interested though.

Cost: $34, yikes.
SPF: 30+ (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, so physical sunscreen not chemical)
Coverage: Good, but clings to dry skin and makes it look flaky.
Rating: 5 stars. The smoothest and lightest thing I have ever touched, not at all greasy. Pure magic.

Loreal Nude Magique
Cost: $16-27 (depending on Priceline sales)
SPF: SPF 12 (not a real sunscreen)
Coverage: Not enough to my liking. More of a tint than a proper cover, but smooth.
Rating: 2.5 stars. Not enough sunscreen for me in summer, but good enough in winter. Available everywhere though.

Canmake Perfect Serum
Cost: 800yen (try ebay etc) about $10
SPF: 50 (chemical I assume, ingredients list is useless.)
Coverage: Good.
Rating: 4 stars. Feels creamy. Very happy with this product, great for the price if you can find it.

Skin79 Chiffon BB Mousse
Cost: I don't know
SPF: 30
Coverage: Good.
Rating: 3 stars. Elsie gave me this because she has better ones, and I think I have better ones too, but the whole point of reviewing this is that it squirts out as a mousse and it smells chocolatey so it's like spreading cupcake cream on your face. That's funny. It's not easy to get smooth application though.

La Roche Posay Uvidea Melt-in
Cost: $18-30.
SPF: 50 (I think a mix of physical and chemical)
Coverage: Good, but when you look closely it's not super even
Rating: 4 stars. LRP is a skin care company as opposed to a cosmetic company, so I trust the ingredients more than Canmake. It's also available locally. Texture is like Invisible Zinc sunscrean, sort of greasy. If you're fussy about having a greasy face, Elsie suggests a light brushing of setting powder. I normally need the lightest shade of a BB but with this brand the lightest is rather ghostly, it's basically a grey sunscreen, so Elsie and I think the second lightest is a bit better, it's distinctly golden.

For funs, I stitched together two face halves. A face from a few months ago when I wasn't wearing BB cream or lipstick (and had a bad skin reaction to something but that's the less puffy eye, but that's why I look sad and bleagh on the left) and my face today, with Elsie's La Roche Posay and some lipstick. I don't think the colour is accurate and the lighting would also be different on different days so this is a bit exagerated, but I think you can get an idea of how "made up" I look with BB, ie, not very. It just evens skin tone or something. I should do a same day photo experiment actually.

Monday, November 18, 2013

How I'll be single.

I had a revelation today. I'm single, and yes that is a bummer cos if I had the choice I would want to be married, but:

I'm going to be single in such a way that people don't feel sorry for me, and I don't feel sorry for myself. I'm going to be self-reliant, loved by a lot of people, live life to the fullest and make the most of every opportunity. I'm going to try and not moan about the disadvantages, not blame all my problems on being single, not be jealous of people who are getting married (esp young cute people), and generally avoid thinking and speaking negatively. I want people to look at me and see someone living a valid and fulfilled life. I've lived almost 30 years as a single, and I'm used to it, and it's fine.

Some catalysts:
  • Bec's blog on Crazy Cat Ladies that made me angry at the disdain our culture has for single people.
  • Single people I know who really hate being single. I want to love being single, and I want others to love it.
  • One line from the speaker at Engage this year: "marriage isn't singleness plus some better married stuff, you lose singleness when you get married", I forget the exact words but it was about not idealising marriage.
I just wanted to sort of declare it somewhere. Neither marriage nor singleness is without difficulties, but neither is without blessings either, and I'm going to focus on really thriving in singleness and blasting away that corrosive pity, or whatever it is, with the rest of my awesome single life, God-willing.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

List that amused me today.

This is a weird list: what straight men think is handsome in other men. Never heard of a lot of them. But I like the things they've put under the photos. Like "Just the right level of salt and pepper". And "The kind of man that will chop down a tree, make a table out of it, and then pull out the chair for you." And I like the fact that they don't even bother to learn the name of the guys they vote for. Poor "Guy who plays Bones in Star Trek". I know you were Eomer in Lord of the Rings.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Healthy ad.

I love this ad. It's my favourite ad since the Kangaroo Island one with the Eddie Vedder song. I'm a little bit disappointed that it has a corporate voiceover and it's for private health cover and not just some kind of "Life: Be in it" campaign, but it's still 45 seconds of happiness in the ad breaks of my life. I think it's nice that it doesn't feature fit, tanned, shiny-toothed beautiful people being "healthy" by doing cartwheels on the beach in bikinis, but instead it's normal-looking people. That resonates. Lovely footage, perfect song, I go along with it.

On a related note, I'm really enjoying oranges at the moment. They've always been the least of the fruits, the only fruit more boring to me is pears, but I'm really into them now, they are up there with nectarines.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Age numbers.

Everyone is always surprised at how old everybody else is. People don't seem old, but they have old ages. I think the reason is that an age sounds old, because it's a big number. 31. 45. 60.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Giftcards on sale.

This is a website that tells you what gift cards are on sale. I subscribed to the rss emails, which is good because every week or two, not often, I get told where the iTunes cards are on sale and what percentage off they are. It's really useful and not spammy. I told my flatmate and she loves it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

My favourite snack that I have not yet had

I love thinly-sliced biscotti with lots of nuts. If only I could buy it dipped in chocolate. That would be my most favourite, most perfect snack. Dipped in fondue. Dipped in Nutella. Dipped in ganache. Yum!

Music lover.

Listening to Tom Odell on Spotify. If I needed to go to more gigs I'd go to his. But I find gigs noisy. I can enjoy music better through my headphones sometimes.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Getting out of the house on my own to do something fun is hard.

I enjoy doing things on my own, but I find myself unmotivated to actually get out of the house and do things unless I have an appointment to meet someone to do it with. Like, whenever I think "I could see a movie this Saturday" I just never get round to going. That happens all the time. But if I've made a plan with someone, I go. I'm happy to go by myself, but sigh, when Saturday comes around there's a 99% chance I'll stay home and read a book instead.