Sunday, 31 January 2016

Mia's Taiwan Travelogue: Jia's Inn Liouhe


This is my 2nd time travelling to Taiwan and yet again, it's a brief (overnight) stop at Kaohsiung after we touched down at Taoyuan airport before we head off for Alishan. After researching intensively on our accommodation, we decided on Jia's Inn Liouhe. 

Located somewhere in between Formosa Boulevard Station and City Council Station on the Kaohsiung Metro, you can choose to change lines at Formosa Boulevard station to get to City Council station (if you're coming from the TSHR/TRA) and exit from Exit 4 for a slightly shorter walking route. Otherwise, take Exit 11 directly from Formosa Boulevard, locate the Liouhe Tourist Night Market (towards your left) and walk right through the entire bustling stretch of stalls and Jia's Inn will eventually be on your right.


You'll be greeted by a couple of white statues that's the perfect combination of creepiness and quirkiness as you enter from the main door.
After a confirming on the breakfast location and wifi password with the friendly staff at the concierge, we headed up the lift to our rooms, and like most boutique hotels, it was relatively quiet and peaceful along the corridors and lobby. A big reason why I shun 'big hotels' is because of the crowd that can get pretty rowdy when vying for the precious, limited space in the perceptually full lifts.



We were extremely happy with our rooms, that's both cozy and pretty! Really love the small couch beside our bed. It's a shame that we're only staying here for one night. 

TV was clear and had a decent selection of Mandarin & English (movie) channels. And yes, that's my pink luggage that's very easy to spot on the luggage belt. T actually spotted it 3 belts away (but I actually said it's not my luggage). 

Didn't get to try out the complementary drinks, but those salted veggie crackers actually do taste pretty good, like the double decker crackers. 



The bathroom, though without a bathtub (meaning no playing of bath bombs), was still well equipped with standing rain shower and the necessities like hair dryer, disposable toothbrushes, shavers and shower caps. 

And the breakfast place (the hotel's bistro) is just plain awesome. 

The setup can totally get it listed as some top 20 hipster cafes in Singapore or something. 

The choice of food was pretty limited and mediocre. It doesn't really bothers me much through, since I'm more of a buttered toast with coffee morning person. 

A plus point of Jia's Inn Liouhe is that you have the Liouhe Tourist Night Market (almost) at your doorstep! The crowd at the night market is also much more bearable as compared to the night markets in Taipei. And for Liouhe night market, I'll highly recommend visiting for a seafood feast! 






The garlic scallop on shell was a big disappointment due to an overload of garlic with extremely fishy and slightly undercooked roe. It was quite a horrifying experience for me and I gagged on it. Fortunately there was a big cup of bubble milk tea for me to wash away the nausea. The clam also tasted slightly raw, but it wasn't unpleasant for they're really fresh. As for the salt-grilled big head prawns and mantis prawns, they were simply heavenly! If you're passing by Liouhe Night Market, do not forget to grab a few of these yummy prawns for supper! 

For booking of Jia's Inn Liouhe, visit booking.com, hotels.comagoda.com or expedia.com for better deals!

Till then,
Mia Foo

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Mia's Review: Mane 'n Tail [Sponsored]


Did you know that Mane 'n Tail was originally created on the Katzev family horse farm in the rural New Jersey, meant for horses? Straight Arrow was born when Mr. Katzev's parents created Orignal Mane 'n Tail Shampoo & Conditioner that were specifically targeted for show horses with long flowing manes and tails. The formulas were outstanding and soon, the line took off with the equestrian folks, but with a very important twist - the horse to human factor. 
The shampoo formula contains high lathering and ultra-cleansing agents that are fortified with moisturizers and emollients to help leave hair soft and ultra clean. Followed by a conditioner that helps nourish and aid healthy hair growth, leaving hair looking lustrous and silky. These micro-enriched protein formulas help to prevent hair breakage and repair split ends, achieving the goal of longer, stronger, fuller hair. In addition, there is still an underground rumor that the Mane ‘n Tail encourages hair growth.

Other than the original formula, there are 4 other formulas on sale in Singapore, going at $15.90 each:
Herbal-Gro
Deep Moisturizing
Gentle Clarifying & Replenishing
And Anti-Dandruff, which is only available online at their E-store Maimee's Corner

Herbal Gro

Micro-enriched protein formula that is designed to prevent breakage, frizz and split ends, leaving hair stronger and longer. Formulated with natural herbs blended with an olive oil complex to nourish, strengthen and fortify hair from root to tip, it gently cleanses, moisturises and conditions, leaving hair shiny, silky and healthy looking.
Safe for relaxed, permed, colour or chemically treated hair. 


Gentle Clarifying & Replenishing

Gentle cleansing and purifying formula designed to remove excess build-up without drying or stripping the hair for a renewed, healthier look and feel.
A gentle cleaning and replenishing formula that restores, revitalizes and reconditions for a naturally clean scalp and healthy hair. Gentle enough to use everyday while completely removing daily build-up such as petrolatum, grease, pomades, waxes and other hard to remove styling products, which helps reduce incidence of flaking and itchy scalp. A blend of essential oils, proteins and amino acids nourishes and fortifies the hair for a more refreshed, clean, silky, moisturized feel. 
Safe and gentle for color and chemically treated hair.

Original

Exclusive micro-enriched protein formula to fortify the hair shaft, preventing breakage and split ends. Natural oils nourish and condition hair and scalp while delivering essential moisture to dry, damaged, neglected hair and keeps hair tangle free, soft, manageable, renewed and healthy while achieving longer, stronger, fuller looking and feeling hair.
Safe and gentle for all hair types. 


I can't really decide on my favourite of the 3, especially between Original and Gentle Clarifying & Replenishing. But if I really have to choose, I guess I'll go with the trusty original formula because the scent is slightly more pleasant. I'm not saying that the Gentle Clarifying & Replenishing formula smells weird, but comparatively I will prefer the subtle scent of the Original formula. 

Mane 'n Tail retails at only $15.90 and is readily available at the following places:  
Watsons, Guardian, major Cold Storage, Robinsons, John Little, BHG, NTUC and E-store Maimee's Corner

You can also grab your free Mane 'n Tail sampe from SampleStore.com HERE
Mane 'N Tail is giving away a pair of return air tickets to Hong Kong and many more prizes from now till February on their Facebook page HERE (Don't forget to give the page a 'LIKE' too!)

Till then,
Mia Foo

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Mia's Review: Skinfood Pore Fit Cushion Bottle

It's been a while since my last update. I've been busy tying up loose ends at work before I fly off to Taiwan for 9 days of holiday! But before I move on with my series of travelogue, let me put up another beauty related review first!


First it was the BB cream craze, then it went on to CC creams, then the BB cushions. And now, you have a cushion bottle, which is in fact, a BB spray! 

 Skinfood Vita Water Pore Fit Cushion Bottle, retailing at between $22+ to $28 online at qoo10 or althea. 
I've got this for quite a while back, but I didn't want to put up a review with just a few times of using it, hence dragged on until now to put up this post. 


  
With SPF50+ and PA+++, it will give you pretty decent sun protection. Being the usual No. 2s in all the Korean make up line, I stick to the usual and it was a pretty good fit. 


The cooling effect of the product was the main pulling factor that made me want to try it out despite the fact that Skinfood bb creams break me out like some miracle breakout causing product for me back then. 



It comes with an extremely small puff that still does its job decently, with an equally small sized mirror that really serves not much purpose. It's impossible to rely on such a small mirror to do any sort of make up, be it just touch up. 


Using the product is really quite fun, as you have to shake it vigorously with the cap turned to OFF for a good 10 to 20 times before you twist the head to ON and pressing down on the cap for 5 times to spray the product directly onto the small puff. Only after you're done with the recommended 5 pumps, open up the cap and start patting the product soaked puff onto your face.
And the cooling effect is no myth. I'll even say it's an icy feeling at first few pats, which is the main reason why I enjoy using this product. 
Scent wise, there is a slight chemical-alcoholic aerosol spray kind of strong underlying smell, which the light fragrance of the product is unable to mask. It doesn't really bothers me much though it might be something unbearable for those with really sensitive sense of smell.  

Coverage wise, I will say this is really light and barely covers anything at all. Let me show you with the trusty eyeliner test!

 This is how much it can cover when I directly pat on 2 thick layers without much blending. 

And after proper blending with a thin, 3rd layer. 

Due to the spray nature and with cooling effect, I feel that the finishing is more to the matte (and very very natural looking) side, but yet not very suitable for oily-skinned ladies due to pretty poor oil control, which results in low staying power. 
And after using it continuously for a few days, I did develop these tiny bumps (I like to term them clogged pores) at various spots of my face. So if Skinfood make up products tends to break you out, this probably will, too. 

So to sum it up:

1. very light coverage with minimal coverage
2. strong underlying aerosol-spray chemical smell
3. poor oil control
4. low staying power
5. fun way of putting on makeup
6. nice cooling effect during application
7. will most probably break you out if you're 'allergic' to skinfood make up products

If you've dry skin and has also tried this BB cushion bottle, do let me know how did it work for you!

If you do not have a Skinfood retail store near you, fret not! Skinfood Pore Fit BB Cushion is also available on amazon.com or Qoo10.com.sg now!

Till then,
Mia Foo

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Mia's Recipe: Rainbow Cake with Kinder Bueno Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting


Yes, we're getting onto the rainbow cake trend, like.... a couple years later? 

Nevertheless, you will know that such a 'big (tedious) baking project' will not be my solo work. Yup, this is another #bakingdate with J and L! 

First, let's get over with the ingredients. For a small sized cake, about 6 inch in diameter and 6 inch tall, you'll need:

150g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
(you may use 250g if you prefer sweeter cakes)
3 large egg white
280g cake flour
240ml milk
1 vanilla pod 
(or 1.5 tsp vanilla extract)
2.5 tsp baking powder
6 food colourings of your choice

for the cake frosting, you'll need:
1 block cream cheese (240 - 250g)
120g soften unsalted butter
500g icing sugar
milk 
(a couple tbsp, to tweak the consistency)
kinder bueno chocolate bars (6 packets)

The idea of the frosting, is to have half the amount of butter to your cream cheese paired with about twice the amount of icing sugar to your cream cheese. However, you can vary the ratio however you like to get the right sweetness level and consistency to your preference. 
Since I do not like frosting in general, we've use the bare minimum possible, just to get the cake layers to stick together, which is why you see almost no 'white frosting layers' in between the coloured cake layers. 

We've used:
1/2 block of cream cheese (eyeballed it)
60g soften butter
190g icing sugar 
(feel free to increase if you prefer sweeter frosting, and then you'll probably need milk)
6 packets of kinder bueno chocolate bars 
(could have used more if we had more)

So to make the cake, make sure that you have enough bowls in the house (and cake tins too) for you'll definitely need 6 of them. For insufficient cake tins, you can get the paper (muffin cup like) cake tins at $2 for 3 at daiso.

First up, cream the soften butter and sugar until it turns pale and fluffy and add in the egg whites, bit by bit and mixing it in. Slice up the vanilla pod and scrap out the insides, adding them into the mixture. Finally, add in baking powder to the cake flour and sift in the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the milk, mixing until just combined.
Divide the cake batter into 6 small bowls and mix in food colouring of your choice.

Bake at 180 degree Celsius for 12 to 15 minutes (depending on your oven). Best is to check on your cake at 10 minutes with a toothpick to see if it comes out clean, and then at every other minute if it's still not done. You wouldn't want your cake to brown.
To prevent too much browning, bake your cake in a water bath by pouring water onto your baking tray and set your cake tin in the water before you send your cakes into the oven to bake.

Once the cakes are cooled enough to handle, flip them out of your cake tins (very important to flip them out ASAP especially if you're using the paper cake tins from daiso) and let them cool completely on a wire rack before you put them all together.

So while waiting for your cakes to cool, get your frosting ready by first giving the soften cream cheese a quick whip to loosen it up before whipping in the soften butter, and then the icing sugar in small batches. If you find your frosting too thick and un-spreadable, add in teaspoons of milk, bit by bit and tweak the consistency to your preference. Likewise, if you find your frosting too watery, add in more icing sugar to thicken it.
And also, add all your kinder buenos into a ziplock bag and smash away!


If you have a cake leveler or have very steady hands, you might want to level our your cakes and also trim off the sides to make layering and frosting the cake an easier job. 


Yes, I know it looks like a stack of colourful pancakes!

And after frosting the entire cake with the cream cheese buttercream frosting, take out your crushed kinder bueno from your ziplock back and smack them all over your frosted cake.


Yes, the crushed chocolate will cover up your entire cake so there's no need to fret when you can't get the frosting to go on smoothly due to too much crumbs from the cake layers. 

TADAA~ And you're done!

Till then,
Mia Foo
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