Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Mia Bakes: Lemon Blueberry Loaf Cake

Seeing that the best before date on my lemon curd is nearing, I decided to do another bake with it in order to finish the remaining few tablespoons of it (once and for all). But seeing how much my family end up loving this extremely light and yummy loaf cake, I might just need to buy more lemon curd instead. HAHA! >.<||

This is going to be a super easy, one bowl recipe that takes less than 10 minutes to whip up and another 20 to 25 minutes to bake. So let's get over with the ingredients so we can get started!

For 1 (8 x 4 inch) loaf (10 servings), we'll need:

140g all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
80g castor sugar
(I replaced 60g of it with baking stevia)
60g unsalted butter, soften at room temperature
50g greek yogurt
(I used low-fat)
2 eggs
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
(may add another tbsp if you'll prefer more lemon flavour)
2 tbsp lemon curd 
(for swirling, may use more)
80g fresh blueberries 
(you may use dried blueberries too)

First up, add your soften butter and sugar into a clean large bowl and beat it with a whisk until it turns pale and fluffy. Then, beat in the greek yogurt before beating in the eggs, one at a time, until well combined. Add in the lemon juice and give it another whisk until combined, before adding in all your dry ingredients (except for the blueberries) and folding until you're left with just a few pockets of flour before adding in the blueberries and giving everything a few more folding until just combined.
The batter is going to be pretty thick so the blueberries shouldn't be sinking too much, but if you're worried (and using dried blueberries/fruits), you may stir in a tablespoon or so of flour (from the 140g) into the dried fruit before folding them into your batter.

Once your batter is combined, spread half of the batter into your prepared loaf tin (sprayed down with cooking spray and lined with baking paper) before dropping dollops of the lemon curd all around the batter. Then, pour in the remaining half of the batter and smooth out the surface before sticking a chopstick into the middle and swirling it around to mix in the lemon curd. My 2 tbsps of lemon curd didn't show up much in the cake, so I'll suggest that you use more if you're a fan of a more citrus-lemony flavour.

Lastly, give your loaf tin a few taps on the counter to remove any air bubbles in your batter and send it into your oven that's pre-heated to 175 degree Celsius to bake for around 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Mine baked for 22 minutes.

With the addition of greek yogurt, the cake turn out extremely tender, fluffy and moist. Together with fresh lemon juice and blueberries, gave the cake a citrus touch and made the taste lighter and refreshing. 

But perhaps I could have used a smaller loaf tin to get a taller (and skinnier) looking cake. Heh!

Till then,
Mia Foo

Saturday, 25 May 2019

NZL Travelogue: Whangarei & Bay of Islands

With a cruise ride set to leave at 130pm that's a good 2 hours' drive away, we started our day quite early and left the holiday park right after topping up our fresh water & dumping our grey water at around 730am and set off for our first destination of the day, the Whangarei Falls. 

Situated to the North of Whangarei city, the spectacular Whangarei Falls is a 26m high waterfall surrounded by a park with native New Zealand bush and walkways. The GPS's route was a little confusing and we actually missed the turn to the car park. Just remember to follow the brown road signs to the Whangarei Falls – off Ngunguru Road at the NE end of Whangarei. There is plenty of parking, a picnic area and free entry. We can view the waterfall from a choice of 3 platforms above the falls or by walking down a well-maintained gravel track to the bottom. From the Whangarei Falls, we can also embark on longer walks to AH Reed Memorial Kauri Walkway (1 hour return), Mair Park and Mt Parihaka (2 hrs return) or the Town Basin (4 hrs return).

The viewing platform was just a 5 minutes walk from the car park (with public toilet nearby), which seems to be a good place for a free overnight's stay in our Jucy Chaser if we didn't need to top up fresh water/dump grey water. We chose to stay at the top of the falls and didn't venture down the walkway to view it from the bottom (although now on hindsight I felt we should have). So after hanging around for just 30 minutes, we headed back to our CV and set the GPS to Kiwi North, only to find out we needed barely 20 minutes to reach, which means we're going to arrive way before their opening hours at 10am. HAH!

So with a slight switch in my itinerary, we headed to Mokaba Cafe located at the Quayside for breakfast instead.

Stunning location, delicious food & coffee, gorgeous cakes & pastries including gluten free, friendly service, licenced, free wifi, plenty of parking. Delightful all day cafe overlooking the bustling Whangarei Town Basin where boats from all over the world are moored. Fabulous food (including gluten free options) and delicious Chiasso coffee are served all day by friendly, welcoming staff. After an exciting Mokaba experience there is a wide range of excellent boutique shops, artisans and craftsmen, museums, parks and a boardwalk along the side of the Hatea River.

And here's our scrumptious breakfast for the day! Prices are pretty decent, similar to an average cafe pricing in Singapore and the food portions are pretty manageable as well. 

I was a little torn between french toast or pancakes and in the end decided on the latter, while the BF settled on some boring toast with scrambled eggs. HAHA!

And here's my "birthday cake" only after demanding one from the BF. If you still didn't know, I planned the NZ road trip as my birthday trip. Yeah, self-planned and paid birthday trip, and still need to demand for a birthday cake. SIGH...

Anyway, after a hearty breakfast with an awesome riverside view, we hopped back onto our Jucy Chaser and headed back to Kiwi North!

Visit the nocturnal Kiwi House & see the resident kiwi foraging for food as they would in the wild. Learn about Kiwi conservation, spot our native Gecko and Tuatara. 

The Whangarei Museum is home to nationally significant Taonga (Maori treasure), early settler displays and changing exhibitions.

The Clarke Homestead, built in 1886 & lived in by the Clarke family until the 1980’s, is a museum in itself, displaying the family’s treasures through the generations. Other heritage buildings on site include the first Women’s Jail, Jane Mander’s Study, Oruaiti Chapel (made from a single Kauri log & believed to be New Zealand’s smallest church) & Riponui Pah School House.

So at just NZD $20 per adult entry, you get to enjoy THREE different attractions and I'm going to call this a pretty decent deal. While we're there, they were also having a special Anne Frank's exhibition up at the museum, which was also included in their $20 entrance ticket.

As the kiwi feeding time was at 11am, we first headed up to level 2 and took a look at the museum, which didn't have much interesting things unless you're a big fan of the Maori culture and history.

Unless you managed to bump into their feeding time, if not the kiwi enclosure may end up being a disappointment because it's so hard to catch sight of the kiwi birds. As they're nocturnal, to better mimic their natural habitat, the enclosure area was kept dim and filled with bushes and small trees for them to hide in. So do double check on their feeding times and make sure to plan your visit wisely.

The little gecko was pretty active while we're there, seemingly planning its great escape. 

And because the kiwi bird enclosure was way too dim to take any decent photographs, here's a shot of the kiwi bird model. HAHA!

As for the Heritage Park, I quite enjoyed walking through the Victorian heritage buildings and taking random shots here and there.

And after bidding the kiwi birds goodbye, we hopped back onto our Jucy Chaser for an almost 2 hours' drive down to Paihia for our Hole in the Rock Dolphin Cruise with Fullers GreatSights (NZD $192.60 for 2 adults with 10% discount for online booking). They do have a combination of other cruises and with some combo deals (add-ons for lunch on board etc) and alternative set-off location from Russell, so do check out their website for more details.

But before that, we actually stop by randomly by the beach along the way and had the takeouts we got from Mokaba Cafe for lunch! 

The cruise ride was actually pretty fun, but super COLD as the wind was just insane! There's time I really felt my glasses are going to be blown off my face and into the sea.
But here's a shot of the "hole in the rock".

We're pretty lucky to be able to pass through the hole in the rock, as the morning session cruise wasn't able to do so due to the weather/tide.
And here's a video of it! :)

And guess what, we saw a pod of dolphins too! LUCKY!

Some others on board also managed to catch a glimpse of a whale and a seal, but I wasn't quick enough.

And after the freezing experience, it was about 5pm and I was craving some fish & chips and a quick google search pointed us in the direction of Mangonui Fish Shop, which was about an hour's drive away (according to GoogleMap, which we've learnt is always too optimistic) and closes by 7pm

Their menu is pretty decent with not just fish & chips, but also burgers and other hot snacks available. But it's all in an ala-carte style where per slice of fish (of approximately 100g) ranges from NZD $5.60 to $11.70, depending on the type of fish and per scoop of chips at $4 (approximately 350g uncooked), which means it does get pretty pricey if you're an average to big eater.
But for the overall food quality, and ambience of the place ("glasshouse" setting that overlooks the sea and with tons of seagulls flying around, albeit with a handful of rowdy kids too), I'll still deem this a well-paid meal!

And I have to say, a single 100g fish fillet on its own can barely fill your tummy up. 

But they are yummy, and comes with a great view too. So I shan't complain much about the price/small portion. 

The initial plan was to take another hour's drive up to Pukenui Holiday Park (NZD $16 per pax), which is another 1 hour's drive away from Cape Reinga Lighthouse, as it was already getting pretty dark by the time we're done with dinner at around 7 plus, almost 8pm. But the BF was pretty confident of managing a 2 hours + drive (133km away) further up to Tapotupotu Campsite (NZD $13 per pax) instead, which is just 15 minutes drive away from the lighthouse. And so, we reached the paid campsite pretty late, past 10pm, and it was pitch black with no source of light at all (except for very faint source of illumination from some of the CVs), and was pretty crowded with many other CVs. Although it's not a free campground, there was nobody manning the campsite to receive payment. Instead, there's a box in the middle of the site, near the signboard and you are supposed to fill in the registration form and drop your money into the box upon entry. Then, tear off a piece of the form and display on your CV for random spot-checks from the DOC staff (some reviews state they will drop by once every 3 days).

It was stated on CamperMate app that the campground has fresh water tap and cold showers, but we didn't see any and it was way too dark to find them either. There's drop toilets (with no lights) at a corner of the site though, that's pretty clean, in terms of smell, as I can hardly see anything inside with just a small torchlight.
At $13 per pax, I felt that this campsite is not worthy the money at all. Perhaps the view here is amazeballs, just that we arrived way too late (after sun's down) and left way too early (before sun's up) to see anything. But still, $13 per pax for just a spot to park your CV with the chance to use drop toilets with NO lights is still a rip-off, so unless you're like us and want to save on sleep and chase the sunrise at Cape Reinga Lighthouse, you're better off paying an additional $3 per pax and make use of the facilities at Pukenui Holiday Park. A small brownie point for this campground is that due to the extreme darkness, you can see ALOT of stars on a cloudless night. The sky was like a starry poster when we first arrived and walked to the toilet. But after we've all washed up and wanna chill, the clouds came out and covered all the stars... MEH.

Day 5 is up HERE

Till then,
Mia Foo

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Althea Korea: A'bloom Launch

Yes, Althea Korea has yet another awesome launch, A'bloom, bringing to us a series of great products at a very affordable price. 

The newly launched A'bloom collection is still relatively small, consisting of 4 different facial masks, meringue make up puffs and a blackhead blaster stick. And do I need to further point it out that their packaging is just so ridiculously adorable? 

A’bloom BHA Blackhead Blaster is an easy and quick triple treatment for blackheads, whiteheads and dead skin for daily care. It contains natural ingredients to help gently deep cleanse the pores and removing dead skin cells while preventing any irritations or redness on the skin.

The product comes in the form of a super convenient and handy twist-up stick and using it can't get any easier. Just dampen your face, twist up a little bit of the product and just roll it away on your face. You can just keep to your targeted area with blackhead & whitehead issue, but I went around my entire face and focus more on my t-zone. After washing off the product, my skin felt thoroughly cleanse but without the tight, squeaky clean feeling.

The 4 main ingredients in the BHA Blackhead Blaster are:
● Natural BHA ingredient to deep cleanse our pores by exfoliating the dead skin cells.
● Apricot seed powder to remove excessive sebum.
● Charcoal to absorb the dirt in the pores.
● Tea tree leaf oil to soothe as well as prevent any redness and irritations on the skin

A'bloom Fruit Mask Packs, $0.60 each, $5 for 10 pieces. 

Peaches are rich in moisture and vitamin A retinol components which helps control the oil and water balance of the skin. It helps normalize the skin turnover cycle with retinol by preventing troubles and taking care of dead skin cells and provide smooth, hydrated skin. The mask contains tea tree extract to help sterilization and takes care of trouble spots and pores.

The watermelon fruit has 92% of water which is excellent for moisturizing and soothing for the skin during the hot weather. It contains natural aminoic acid called Citrulin and Betain that forms a natural moisturizing membrane on the skin, leaving it moisturized as well as a smoother skin that does not dry out. The mask also contains lavender extract which helps soothe sensitive skin and provides liveliness.

Lemon and lime contains high vitamin C ingredient to help repair and protect the skin from UV damage. The vitamin C’s function of inhibiting melanin production provides a clear and
transparent skin. This mask contains green tea extract which is also rich in vitamin C ingredient to assist in controlling melanin production and skin care.

Avocado is known as the butter of the forest with rich protein that prevents aging and provides strong antioxidant with vitamin E tocopherol. The excellent absorption of skin-friendly unsaturated fatty acid provides shininess and elasticity to the skin. It is mix with hibiscus flower extract that contains Antocyanin, an antioxidant to prevent the skin from aging.

I love these little diagram at the back of each mask, telling you the main benefits (and its efficacy in comparison to each other) of the mask. 

The mask sheet is of an extremely soft and smooth texture that sticks over my face like a second skin, while the essence that's soaked up in the sheet is of the right consistency that's neither too watery (that it drips everywhere) nor too thick (feels too heavy on the skin). Popping the pack into the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes before taking it out and applying on your face also makes masking a super refreshing experience, especially when the days/nights gets unbearably hot!

And now, get ready for some ultimate cuteness!

I literally squealed upon pulling these out of the box, especially those baby ones. They are so adorable, and in different shades of PINK! These cute little meringue sponge puff design was inspired by none other than meringue cookies! The giant meringue puff will provide quick and smooth makeup application on wide surface of the skin while the baby meringue puff will provide fine and detailed makeup application on small surface of the skin with its pointed tips.

The meringue puffs are made out of non-latex sponge with hydrophilic properties which will
grow 1.5 times bigger than normal size when soaked with water allowing makeup to be applied
perfectly on the skin.

There is two ways to use these puffs to achieve a flawless make up look:
1. Soak the puff in water (and squeeze out the excess, of course) to get a moist and glossy skin
2. Use the puff dry to get a matte and flawless looking skin

A'bloom collection is now available on Althea Korea

Till then,
Mia Foo

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Guest Post: 3 Useful Content Marketing Tips for Beauty Bloggers

Is your make up review not garnering much traction online? Did you spend hours perfecting that makeup tutorial, only to have your viewers increased by a few in the past weeks? Well, it’s time to get your beauty blog up to par with some content marketing tips!

Connecting with cosmetic brands worldwide is a prime consideration for a successful blogger. However, successful content marketing for beauty blogs does not only rely on a business collaboration. In order to boost online presence, beauty bloggers must leverage on effective content marketing strategies to get ahead of the game. We’re talking about successful social media campaigns and search engine optimised content that is in line with what your audience is looking out for.

Read on for some content marketing tips that beauty bloggers can tap on to enhance their online presence.

Exercise the power of social
There is a vast number of people all over the internet looking for beauty inspiration or simply searching for new products. By tapping on this pool of interested audience, big and savvy brands meticulously plan engaging content for their consumers, especially when they understand their audience profile and what they are searching for. For instance, social media star Kylie Jenner tapped on millennials and Generation Z who are highly receptive to new trends. This profile of netizens grew up in the realm of social media, which made the social
media marketing of Kylie’s line of beauty products very successful.

However, apart from constantly promoting your products, you should also portray a kind of personality to your audience who would then be able to connect with you on a personal level. If you’re able to speak to the inner side of women (or even men), your audience will realise that you are able to relate to them and be more interested to learn more about you.

Nonetheless, content marketing on social media cannot reap success without the basic element – attractive visuals that are share-worthy. Ensure that each makeup review on your blog is accompanied with high-res images of the products. Videos of your makeup tutorials must be engaging yet concise – you have to make use of a good video-editing tool for this.

Take part in storytelling
Anyone can be an influencer in the beauty business – you don’t need celebrity power to be one. Social media has provided everyone with an equal platform where any individual can be an influencer of their own brands. If you’re a beauty blogger, you’re also an influencer as your thoughts and opinions on beauty products and trends are meant to drive discussions among those interested in the subject matter. As such, you can establish connections with beauty brands worldwide who are often supportive of influencer marketing as they help to boost their brands through content. The content must be SEO-friendly such that the right keywords are used to tell the story of the brand which consumers typically search for when they are looking out for the brand’s products. Therefore, be it a sponsored or an original post, your story about a beauty brand can get you ranking online. On the other hand, if you do have a makeup line, link up with the right influencers who will tell genuine stories on your behalf.

Keep your customers on the spotlight
If you already have a pool of consumers engaging with your content, be it a review, makeup tutorial or beauty product, you can use their stories as part of your marketing strategy. At the same time, you can invite your followers to have genuine conversations with you on your blog or social media platforms. When you share beauty tricks and tips, you can get viewers to comment on their experience and provide them with a platform to ask questions. This way, you show that you care for your audience. Engaging your audience on specific occasions such as International Women’s Day or initiating a beauty challenge as part of your content marketing strategy can help to grab the attention of your audience.

It’s time to get cracking on your content marketing strategy for all things beauty!

By Parveen Kaur

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Mia's Travelogue: ScootBiz to Qingdao

If you follow me on my IG, you should probably know that I've recently went to Qingdao for my pre-wedding photoshoot! 
After a quick search for air tickets, I came to realised that only Scoot provides direct flight to Qingdao, and with a very small fee for upgrade to ScootBiz. Hence, it's decided that my first experience with Scoot shall be ScootBiz!

-credits to

First up, there's no secret that on ScootBiz, you will get bigger, roomier seats. However, for my personal experience, I feel that Scoot doesn't really try to hide that their aircrafts (or just so happen to be the aircraft I boarded?) has seen better days. The armrest that holds my pull-out table has unidentified stains and the buttons to recline my seat has a big corner broken off. But these aside, I can't deny that the seats are definitely way more comfortable compared to the usual economy seats for a budget airline. 

And now, to their (miserable) food. 

I really didn't expect Scoot's flight meals to be this bad. Apparently, if you're on ScootBiz you will be entitled to a premium meal that comes with TWO "sides" (snacks/tidbits). However, this wasn't made known to me as I was choosing my meals (that the premium selection will get you two snacks instead of one). And as the one and only premium selection for my flight was some random chicken dish with rice, I obviously went for Nasi Lemak, thinking that it will be of a quality that's comparable to Air Asia. 

And.... obviously not.

The extremely miserable portion size aside, the rice tasted just like plain white rice with no hint of "lemak" (coconut milk) at all. Pairing white rice with a few miserable pieces of rendang chicken, a few strands of long beans and a bite sized otah fishcake doesn't turn the entire meal into Nasi Lemak, Scoot. Why don't you get some pointers from Air Asia? 

From other reviews, it seems like Scoot uphold their rules of no outside food on board very strictly, which is why I guess they're comfortable with serving food of such quality (and quantity). You've no choice, especially if you're on a longer haul flight (and not on ScootBiz, which gives you "complimentary" meals). You either starve, or you get ripped off by them to pay a ridiculously hiked up price for such crappy food. Or maybe you're better off with buying cup noodles instead, at least you know it's not going to taste like crap. 

And back to the premium selection meal on ScootBiz. It was pretty strange, that we were only informed upon check-in at the airport, that the BF's seat is faulty and will be unable to recline. Hence, the counter staff offered to switch him to another seat, but can't put us together because the flight is "very full". And so I boarded the flight thinking that I will be sitting alone, but I ended up sitting to a random aunty, who has a premium selection meal, which you need to pre-book during air tickets purchase. Hmm...
But anyway, the premium selection comes with a small can of pringles and a bag of dried raisins, unlike my normal meal with comes with just a Ritters Sport chocolate. 

And now, to the main reason why I decided to upgrade to ScootBiz. Their in-flight entertainment!

Other than the complimentary meal and in-flight power, ScooTV will the be last complimentary service you'll be getting on ScootBiz. Do note that other services such as WiFi and even a "comfort pack" of blanket & cushion will require further add-on purchases. 

If you're using Android, then you'll be safe as access to ScooTV will be directly on your browser. But for iOS users, do remember to download the ScooTV app on your device before your flight, if not you will probably need to buy their WiFi service to download the app before you can gain access to your complimentary ScooTV, which is pretty ridiculous, I know. 

And here's the selection of movies during my flight. 

Other than a few pretty recent movies, and a couple of pretty old ones, there's also a small selection of drama and variety shows (which totally didn't catch my eye at all). 

The experience on ScooTV was very smooth, other than the fact that any PA announcement will pause the movie and I experienced difficulty with continuing my movie from where I was cut-off (had to reload the whole movie from the beginning). As in-flight power is complimentary (with a 3-pin plug for each seat), there is no worries of your device dying on you halfway through your favourite movie! 

And so, my final thoughts. Is ScootBiz worth it? I'll say it definitely depends on how much the add on fares is. For Qingdao, it was only a mere $50 add on from FlyBag so it actually makes sense to add on that amount for a better, roomier seat, complimentary meal, in-flight power and entertainment. For other routes, the add on fares can get up to a few hundreds and in those cases, I do feel that you're better off with just a FlyBagEat or even just FlyBag if you're on night flight. 

Till then,
Mia Foo
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