Deep thoughts – Consumerism, makeup, project panning, and all that jazz

2017 was the year where I told myself I had to use up everything I had. I was getting bored of the few makeup and skincare items I owned, so I went on a buying spree in end 2016 during the Black Friday/festive season periods and in early 2017 when some websites had some really good deals. It wasn’t a lot compared to what I see other people talk about; I didn’t buy thousands of dollars’ worth of products, but it was a lot for me. Initially I was excited and eager to use the new things I had, but slowly I felt overwhelmed.
Combined with the ticking clock aka me having to move out by March 2018, I decided the time to use as much as possible was now. I brought in more products over the year – mostly Korean skincare because western products hadn’t done much and I desperately wanted to have the glowing, clear skin of my dreams – but I used up a lot, too. Looking back at what I bought, there were few things I regretted purchasing this year because I did intensive research on the products I was interested in and I did much less impulse buying. I think the only things I bought impulsively in 2017 were masks from Europe (a heating mask sounded cool don’t judge me), a setting powder from Amsterdam (supposedly “anti-acne”), and sheet masks.
This year I decided, again, to save all the items I had used up and take a good look at them at the end of the year. It helped me a lot when I did this in 2016. I saw a lot of things I didn’t really enjoy and when looking at all the products of a specific group (e.g. Moisturizers) I had used up in a year I learnt what worked for me and what didn’t. But in 2017 I took it to the next level and created a simple inventory. That was a sobering document, seeing all the things I bought and how much I had spent. I think looking at that total and how many items I had also deterred me from making impulse purchases for many product groups. If I already had 7 moisturizers, did I really need to buy an 8th one just because people are recommending it? Certainly not until I had used up some, if not all of what I owned.
Thanks to the inventory,  I learnt that I’ve used up 96 products amounting to $769.12. That cost is the nett price I paid for products. It doesn’t include the cost of any gifts or free samples, and any deluxe/travel sized products I bought were divided according to the price I paid e.g. If 5 products were in a pack for $20, I considered each product to be $4. I didn’t do the complicated process of calculating based on the price of the full sized product. I think if I did that the total would be higher.
So at the end of last year I took out everything I used and laid it all out:

(The ziplock packets were full of masks and samples, I couldn’t bring myself to take those out because it would become very messy very quickly. Also, 4 cotton pads packages not pictured)

My first reaction was “Holy shit this is a lot of stuff”, because for some reason even though I saw the numbers in the inventory it didn’t seem like a lot physically since it all fit in the top shelf of my vanity. After the initial WTF moment I felt proud that I finished all of this because I’m the idiot who saves good things instead of using them and then the good things go bad. This year I mostly overcame that mentality except for a few instances (pretty eyeshadow palettes, I’m looking at you). I wanted to use up as much as I could and I achieved that.
Then came the thought: This is a lot of packaging.
Last year when I did this, I didn’t finish up as many products so separating those that could be recycled  wasn’t anywhere near as tedious as what I had to deal with now. Doing that this year was a full blown exercise. Washing all the empty packaging was really no joke – especially pesky moisturizers in tubes that were a real pain in the ass to scrape out. And after washing all of that, I prayed that everyone else in my estate washed their items too before tossing them into the recycling bin because it just takes one item to screw up the whole batch and it all goes to the landfill.
Looking at what I used:
1) Sheet masks are nice to use after a tired day at work and you can get some for as cheap as $1.50 but it’s no longer “cheap” when I buy 15 of them, they aren’t recyclable and almost all that I tried didn’t do anything for me. Some even broke me out. Moving forward, I’m only going to purchase a sheet mask if it’s a sample for a mask in a tube or tub.
2) I need to find a hair dye that I can keep for more than one use because I only need to do my roots most of the time and the Liese one, even though amazing, is a single-use product. I found myself throwing the excess dye down the drain at least once.
3) Minis are a great way to try things but I need to be certain that I want these minis and not buy them for the sake of buying or because “it’s a deal” (I’m slowly curbing this! #proud)
4) There are things that I forced myself to finish because I was caught up in the hype or I saw it on the shelf and it looked great. Never again. The pain to use up products you hate is real. Somewhere along the way last year I decided I was just going to toss something I hate using because life is too short, but for a good period of time I was angrily slapping shitty moisturizer on my body.
My recycling spree got me reading up on a zero-waste lifestyle because I do want to reduce the waste that I’m generating, but after reading a few blogs I realized that the zero-waste life is not for me. I’m all about recycling, buying things in bulk and cutting down unnecessary items, but I cannot live a life where I bring a metal straw to a restaurant. Maybe I might be that in the future, who knows, but not right now. I am interested in some things that I’ve seen zero-waste bloggers do but I’m going to take baby steps towards the right direction.
(I think the zero-waste/sustainable living situation deserves another post…otherwise this is going to be a novella length post)
In 2017 I also decided to try my hand in doing Project Pans. While the Project Pans did help me to use up a lot of products, I got sick of wearing the same lipstick for four months straight. This wasn’t because I only put in one lipstick into the project – I think I had three, but the other two were lipsticks I didn’t like. One looked like a sickly purple on me and another smudged all over my face every time I ate.
In retrospect, I should have put in things that I liked or could tolerate using instead of things that I used maybe three times a year when I wore purple. I thought I could actively use up things that I wasn’t too keen on so that I could move on to the things I loved, but I now know that I’m not that person. More importantly, I had things that I liked sitting around doing nothing because I was using up things I didn’t like. This makes no sense. So I also got rid of things that I just didn’t want to see in my drawer anymore. I gave some away to friends and family, others I tossed. And I’m glad that I did that because now I feel less overwhelmed and annoyed at what I own.
As such, I’ve decided to end the two Project Pans that I was doing. One was supposed to end in December but I had no time to do a closing post and I felt so uninspired. So this year, while I would still like to continue to do something related to Project Panning, I need to figure out what works for me.
A quick run down of the status of the products in my 2 projects, if you’re interested:
Finish 17 in 2017

27 before 27


Say yes to the dress(es)

We went to LA Bridal’s showflat last week to choose our two outfits…and I managed to choose my pieces in half an hour. My mother was skeptical and thought that I just chose some random gown, but surprise! For the first time throughout this entire wedding journey, I knew what I wanted and they had what I wanted.

So I got to try 4 outfits total (2 for nikah, 2 for sanding), and we chose the best from there. While initially I thought that I should be able to try more outfits, narrowing it down to the top 4 made it a lot easier to decide which two pieces I wanted.

The lady was super helpful in narrowing down the options. It’s good to have an idea what you want – I wanted a Arab/Indian fusion outfit for nikah (since he’s part Arab and I’m part Indian) and a coloured gown for sanding. She asked if I wanted a white outfit or a colourful outfit for nikah, I said white, and she went to town pulling out all the possible pieces. She also pulled out some pastel pieces when I hemmed and hawwed at the white abayas, and one caught my eye immediately. Surprise, surprise, that was the one I ended up choosing. Like I said – really helpful. Just come with a plan and she will lead the way.

(I would also highly suggest you bring a girlfriend or cousin when choosing your outfits because men are useless with things like these. They’re great ego boosters – “You look great in everything yang” – but not helpful AT ALL)

There’s not really much else to say…except that I got the gown that I fell in love with a year ago and I am so excited to wear it. Probably 50 brides have worn it before but who gives a shit I look great and I feel great in that gown. It also fits my hips just nice so I can’t gain any weight otherwise we’re going to have a problem. So I guess it’s salads and juice throughout the last month…and then probably some wild weight gain post-wedding when I shove prawn crackers down my throat.

Weirdly enough it was harder for the mat to decide what he wanted?? He was already keen on one of the suits when we went the first time before booking LA Bridal, and luckily it wasn’t taken so he got that. But the baju kurung for nikah was tough because I had chosen a cream outfit instead of a white one. They had a cream baju kurung with all these beads and I took one look and I knew he was 100% not going to put that on. Thankfully the lady dug out a plain baju kurung set that was being altered for another groom.

Now that the outfits are chosen, we need to buy some things to complete our looks. LA Bridal doesn’t provide shoes for both bride and groom, shirt, cufflinks and belt for the groom (if he’s wearing a suit), and songkok (if he’s wearing baju kurung). I was also advised to get a bodyshaper, which made me sad because I thought that meant I couldn’t eat but it turns out I can eat and the bodyshaper will hide the food baby. I am down for this.

Over the weekend we went to Tanjong Katong Complex to get the custom songkok, since he wants a cream one to match the outfit…just that we couldn’t remember which cream the outfit was. Thankfully the pakcik was so kind and told us he would prepare the rangka of the songkok first and after the final fitting we could let him know what colour we wanted. I can’t remember the name of the shop, but his store is on the first floor a few shops away from Begum Boutique. You should be able to find his store – and many other songkok shops in the TKC/Joo Chiat area – if you Google. That’s how the mat found this one.

I’m gonna have bimbo bride-to-be moment right now and tell you that I’m super excited to put on those two outfits and become his wife. I still can’t cook properly and I still haven’t met the decor person to confirm the decor and I don’t even have my berkat settled but I’m ready for this part.

Long overdue update – Wedding planning

SO. This is going to be a LONG post because I have some real grandmother story to tell.

It has been a hot minute since I’ve been here. I’ve been pretty unmotivated and at one point bored to death with how life was going. There was this itch underneath my skin that only vanished when things that were high risk (for me at least) happened, e.g. when the mat goes at 115km/hr. Past me would cry, new me was like YES I FEEL ALIVE FINALLY.

It was a strange period but now it’s more or less gone, I’m now back to glaring at him when he goes at 100km/hr. But I feel the itch coming back a little so I think I’ll have to come up with some less dangerous activities to keep myself in check. Like maybe an intense pilates class where I’m less likely to die.

ANYWAY. There has been some major changes to this wedding thing since I last wrote here. I think I was in that state of “meh” because I was kind of bummed out that we were using vendors that I wasn’t super excited about. So for all you creative types out there – don’t go for a package. I thought it was going to be easier but it isn’t and I’m not entirely thrilled with what’s happened. But with the changes that are happening/have happened comes a sense of purpose and urgency and now that we are 2.5 months away I am fully getting on board this wedding train….and I feel like I’m kind of becoming a little bit of a bridezilla? Does the shade of gold used in my decor and my signages really have to be the same? Do I really want to do a feature wall full of greenery to make the place less basic? I’m still struggling to answer these questions. My bridesmaids have been kind enough to bring me back down to earth a few times already.


Let’s start with the biggest shocker, shall we? I’ve been trying to get on board with FM being my bridal for almost an entire year. Her company has never been in my top bridal companies list – not because she’s terrible or anything, but the styles I see on their Instagram never wowed me. I never looked at an outfit that wasn’t customized and thought of wearing it. Her style wasn’t my style, and so I struggled to accept this because everyone was telling me that she was established, that the makeup was good, that it was a good deal to have her company as part of my package. And because I didn’t want to spend unnecessary money, I decided to go with it. Surely there was something that I could choose from their outfits. Surely there were two outfits that would suit my tastes.

Towards the end of the year, I gave them a call to set an appointment for the first fitting and was told that my fitting was only in January next year because I was getting married in March. That was a bit of a shock, but I figured they should know what they were doing since they’ve been in the business for donkey years but I asked if I could go down to take a look at their dresses so that I roughly knew what I was getting myself into when I went for the fitting in January. The lady who took my call said that wouldn’t be a problem; I set an appointment and let the mat know.

So we went there and split up – I saw the dresses, the songket, the baju nikah. I was kind of surprised at how there weren’t that many options but maybe all of them were like that how would I know, I’ve never been to any Malay bridals before. I saw two that I would consider wearing – one baju nikah that I thought was nice and one gown. He went to see the men’s outfits. I never went to that side of the room. After going through the outfits, the lady asked if we would like to look at the exclusive pieces upstairs. If I wanted to wear any of those, I’d have to top up. I was like ok sure since I’m here right?

I would have to top up $800 to wear one of those dresses. Because most of them were only worn by models for photoshoots. $800. Eight hundred dollars.

No. Not paying that money to wear a dress for 3 hours, thank you. I know some brides will do it, and gurl if that dress is the dress of your dreams I say you do you, but I would rather spend that money on food. $800 can buy me 360 of that great fried chicken rice from Golden Shoe. That is chicken rice supply for a whole year. (That will also be how I develop high cholesterol but that is another story altogether)

So I left the place deciding that okay, I’ve got two outfits I saw I liked, I’m gonna hope that it will be available for me.

Then the shocker came. The real, honest to god shocker.

The mat was not happy with what he saw.

This changed the game entirely. I was like hold up, pause, rewind, what did you say??? Because the mat doesn’t really care about these things. The mat is the kind of man who goes to Bata, finds the cheapest shoe on the rack, and if they have his size and it fits he buys it. So when that kind of man says he’s not happy with the outfit selection, this is a real problem.

What was the problem, I asked. He said that he didn’t expect the mens’ outfits to be so few. And because there were so few, they looked like they’ve been worn.

He started talking about tailoring his suit. And at that point, all intentions of me using FM as my bridal just went poof. Because I had convinced myself to use FM since he was okay with FM. But now that HE wasn’t ok with FM and wanted to get his own clothes, why should I settle?

I told him since he didn’t want to use FM, I didn’t want to either and I explained my reasons. He agreed and said I should go find a bridal that made me happy.

Suddenly, there was this urgency in me because now I could use a bridal that I really wanted. I began scrolling frantically through Instagram, looking at the ones I loved but chose to ignore throughout the year. By then it was already December and I decided to narrow down to two that I really loved. I visited them and was completely blown away by the selection – one of them had a collection three times the size of FM’s. The other had a smaller collection but was still substantial. I saw so many pieces I imagined myself in. Both of them were so kind and lovely and I wanted to sign up with both but that would be ridiculous since my wedding was only 4 hours long. Both of them also told me that I was kind of late since my wedding was in March, whoops.

In the end, I got the bridal I had originally dreamed of – Lulu Alhadad. They were the more expensive option but they had a dress that I was thinking about for a whole week straight (and still am thinking about it now tbh).

Food tasting

This is a really, really, long story so in short: Everything was nice, but almost everything had problems. Some items the taste was nice but diluted, some items tasted nice but didn’t taste like what it claimed to be. Now all I can do is pray, because my mom’s friend attended a wedding at Red Velvet last week and the food was fine.

This was also the time we found out we needed to settle our pelamin by end of the year, aka about a month to go. How lovely.


Because I was so intent on getting the bridal right, I didn’t have as much time to think about the decor when I first met the decorator, Juliana from Sentimentals. She had sent over a list of items that were in the package, and things that we could top up to make our wedding look better/nicer/grander/prettier. I secured the pelamin I wanted, thankfully, but it wasn’t a very fruitful meeting decor-wise because my brain was on bridal and the contract draft I had to prepare the next day. We discussed no. of tables, where to place the berkat table, the reception table, centrepieces and decor for the walkway leading towards Red Velvet. She’s a really down to earth lady and now that I have a better idea of what I want my wedding to be, I hope she can execute it.

Since we are on the topic of decor – ladies. Do not expect your man to be interested in decor. Do not expect him to have any input aside from “don’t need this la so expensive”. You can be angry at him for like a week but eventually you have to realize that this is not of importance to him so move on and handle it yourself. Continue to ask him for propriety’s sake but don’t be mad when he says “up to you”. (Isn’t it good, though, if it’s up to you? You get to do what you want, gurl! Unless you have a mother who’s planning her dream wedding for your wedding then that’s another story and also my condolences)

Also tell your mother to not expect your man to be interested because for some reason she would have forgotten that your father didn’t give a shit about decor back in the day too. She should take about two to three weeks to calm down about this.


Let it be known right now that there is a 95% chance your parents will be more invested in the berkat than you. This is what they are going to give their judgemental guests when they receive duit salam, so to them it must be good.

My mother has been talking about tea the moment the mat put a ring on it, so I decided to not even bother to venture out and consider other things. Sometimes she’d say just buy Toblerone and give to people but eventually tea will come back into the picture. The mat and I did check prices of Toblerone and other chocolates but after the first 2 times giving tea came back into the picture we decided to just stick with tea regardless of what she said. It’s not offensive, people with diabetes/high cholesterol/insert illness of choice can drink it, it’s something we both drink so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that we’re giving it.

For the past half year since we started our search it always led to a dead end. One tea supplier didn’t pick up their phone and a Google search showed a residential address. Redmart ran out of one type of tea we were keen on getting. The mat found a company that does customized tea but it was out of our budget. We kept saying we were going to JB to check out the tea there but never ended up getting there.

Then my friend got married in early December and gave us cookies in pretty packaging. There was an Instagram account printed on the package. It turned out that she ordered them from a company based in KL. I started going through Instagram, hoping to find something unique from JB that wasn’t tikar sembahyang or nuts or popcorn or the biscuits I buy in bulk for $1 – and by some miracle of God, I found a vendor in Johor selling cute tea favours. I contacted her to send over a sample and now we’re waiting for it to come so that my parents can test the tea and give their seal of approval. I am hoping very, very hard that it will be approved otherwise I’m going to have to DIY some magic and that is going to take up a lot of time.

In conclusion

I have 2.5 months to go. There is still quite a bit to settle so I’m just really hoping that work isn’t going to throw me a ton of things because I definitely need as much time as possible to settle all this wedding stuff.

My colleague once told me that he’d rather make his marriage work so that he never had to do a wedding again. I’m going to agree with him 100%.