In the middle of June, i was one of three judges alongside Loshini John, Brand Manager for Nespresso Malaysia, and Jason Loo, Malaysia Barista Champion for three alternate years and Top 7 at the World Barista Championship 2017; for a mini barista competition held at the Nespresso Pop-Up in Pavilion KL.
The #BaristaCreations Competition rounds consisted of:
Round 1: 4x Participants Create one Mocktail Recipe.
Judging Criteria: Taste, Aesthetic, Creativity on usage of ingredients.
Round 2: 3x Participants - To make a Nespresso drink using ingredients that people in other parts of the world use to make coffee like cinnamon, cardamom, gula melaka, edible flowers, mint, etc.
Round 3 FINALE: 2x Participants Create latte art using milk foam and stencil on two drinks.
Plan, design and form stencil.
Judging Criteria: Texture & taste, latte art creativity, rationale.
While the contestants worked on their drinks during rounds, i sat cute and played being a big kid in the children's corner of the pop-up. While having more coffee. I was definitely on a coffee high that day!
I love elements that complement each other - whether it be ideas, concepts, human connection, other forms of beings - the list is endless! This is reflected aesthetically in my space, as I tend to group objects and gadgets according to form and function.
Val just got me those cats on the right, saying it's us. Meow!
The best things come in pairs 😉
I also just received an Aeroccino milk frother which I never knew existed... to further extend the abilities of my Nespresso machine!
Now I can combine freshly frothed almond milk with my coffee at home with incredible ease and speed!
Milk coffee isn’t a novel concept by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s not something one can easily make at home by just splashing in a dash of milk. There's a major difference when it's heated up to the right temperature and frothed wonderfully (with zero effort on my part).
Where once I was only indulging in milk coffee outside at meetings, now I'm constantly using the frother to include almond milk to smoothen up my afternoon cuppa. It's such a fun and nifty gadget to use, and pretty small so it doesn't take up much countertop space.
I start off by pouring some almond milk into the Aeroccino milk frother.
Inside, there are some embossed markings showing the minimum or maximum amount I have to pour in.
Then I just pop the lid on, press the button once and let it run for a minute.
Facials fall to the lower rung of my priority list when i'm busy... and i feel sorry for my poor facial treatments peeps who constantly remind me to go for my monthly apps to no avail!
I've been going to Astute Clinic since last year and adore all its elements - the space, vibe, treatments, team, and their professionalism. [Disclaimer: I'm sponsored by them, but trust that i went through a few options before effortlessly making my decision.]
It's a state-of-the-art aesthetic clinic dedicated to providing forefront medical services not typically found in other centres in Malaysia. Established and helmed by aesthetic specialist Dr. Jason Yip, clients get to experience Astute Clinic’s unique approach to holistic skincare within the comforts of DC Mall. Convenience to park and head straight up via the elevator helps a lot as well!
Dr. Jason and his team are extremely warm, professional and likeable. You'll get what i mean when you go to him for a consultation, which i did for my first appointment so he could study my skin and provide a personal evaluation.
I recall being a little self-conscious when he peered closely at my facial skin. Dr. Jason was gently forthright in his feedback, with my main takeaway being him saying my skin is ruddy.
Ruddy is a word i remember picking up from Enid Blyton books.
Ruddy is NOT a word i'd like to continue being used to describe my facial skin...
It's so easy to push aside little inflammations or discolourations cos make up covers up imbalanced skin tones, but age(ing) and surrounding factors (pollution, weather, stress, etc.) will only amplify this ruddiness i don't notice cos it happens gradually across time.
His skin, of course, looked amazingly smooth and blemish-free. Like a baby's bottom. Just realised i'm connecting his face to a backside, but this is a compliment in the best way possible! *I* want my skin to look like a baby's backside!
But first things first, i had to work on my general skin health and go back to basics with regular facials.
Cue my responsibility to get myself there routinely.
The clinic has received recognition for their facials from the 2018 Harper's BAZAAR Spa Awards, and Jelita Anugerah Belai Diri.
So far, i've been going for their best-selling medical facial - the Astute Premier Facial - which utilises proprietary serums combined with sophisticated hi-tech equipment to clear congested skin, remove dead skin cells and impurities, restore moisture and hydration, even out skin tone, minimise pores, promote healing and improve skin texture.
I just went for another facial yesterday and caught myself off guard while brushing my teeth this morning. The results are so obvious that i ended up admiring the radiant difference it made to my skin.
Steps for Astute Premier Facial:
step 1 - Double Cleanse
step 2 - Hydrodermabrasion
step 3 - Ultrasound Scrub
step 4 - Antioxidant Serum
step 5 - Deep Hydration Mask
First step, Double Cleanse, has Emily (my regular therapist) cleaning my skin with to remove all dirt, oil, makeup and impurities.
Step 2, Hydrodermabrasion (Aqua), uses an exfoliation machine that gently sucks at my skin via a ‘vacuum tip’. It's a very satisfying sensation cos the sucking sound allows me to envision all the blackheads, sebum and debris being efficiently removed! This tip also gently removes dead skin cells, stimulates collagen, and gives skin a smooth texture. Cleansing the pores has anti-inflammatory and antibiotic effects that allow for better penetration of moisture and nutrients to come after!
Relaxing with that view makes you feel you're being pampered as close to the heavens as possible, and working on my phone from the bathtub felt pretty sick (with me sternly telling myself NOT to drop it into the water)!
Went through the body scrub, steam room, massage and bath routine.
Amused myself with sunrays in the water, and felt absolutely spoilt being waited on hand-and-foot complete with a snack of fresh fruit + tea while i sat in the tub.
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A few weeks ago, i tried this new Japanese physiotherapy treatment called So Stretch. The Malaysian team is trained by Japanese physiotherapists to assist clients in improving flexibility, joint range of motion, blood circulation, body performance and muscle stiffness, amongst a whole list of benefits you can read about online.
This was the spotless centre i went to, but the staff mentioned they are moving to Mont Kiara very soon. I was asked to don a soft loose shirt and pants provided before i lay down and let therapist Fatin do her thing.
I simply had to relax my body while she did the work, slowly stretching my limbs in what seemed like extremely simple motions; but ones that i never thought of doing myself, or had done to me before, or even knew about!
What surprised me most was the amount of pain i felt in my stiff joints as she worked. I thought i was pretty healthy and active as it is - i go for massages and work out regularly. I asked her heaps of questions on how i would be able to do it by myself and she said i could use a wall. At this rate, i think i just have to go back to them regularly cos my first session exemplified how i'm not broadening my body's various ways and ability to stretch and move.
If you think about it, we've been walking and sitting a certain way since we were born. We don't move as much as pre-civilization human beings had to as we're a way more comfortable species now (we can make a living while sitting down for hours... in front of a laptop).
When she got to my legs, i thought, "Oh boy, i am gonna suck at this," cos i've not been able to touch my toes since i was in school. Because my flexibility was pretty terrible, Fatin got me to measure how far my fingers were from the ground via this toe touch test contraption...
One of my favourite countries in the world, to the point that it lists as one of the places I would move to for its effervescent culture and lifestyle. My first time in Italy was so long ago that I couldn't find pictures of it because while digital cameras has already existed, cloud storage did not. XD
My dad took us to Venice in the early 2000s, and I continued exploring the rest of the country and its many unique spots many years after. I love Italy so much; I have a gigantic tattoo of Italian gelato on my arm, and a sailboat representing the catamaran which I traversed Southern France and Italy in.
I always tell people that once you eat pasta in Italy, your standards will increase to heavenly heights and the only way to taste it again… is to go back! Sometimes, I dream of the pasta in Bologna because it's that special, being handmade by little old Italian ladies in the afternoons day after day, year after year. No new chef can replicate the energy that goes into food to taste like how local veterans make it!
Besides flavours, Italy is just so RICH in culture.
These are photos shot from more than a decade ago, hence the super short hair!
Buongiorno! Grazi mille!
The remnants of Italy's history linger proudly in the 21st century with its current music, architecture, people, and food. Italy was even the main port through which all coffee passed before being sent across the continent, first receiving beans that came from ancient Ethiopia and subsequently mixed with Indian Arabica.
Legends say that 18th-century Venice saw intellectuals and artists socialising in coffee houses whilst indulging in music and literature. Imagine what a time to be alive back then!
We can't travel back in time, but we can evoke historical atmospheres via taste and scent, like how Nespresso's Coffee Houses flavours hope to capture. Through complex flavours of their new limited edition coffee blends, each Nespresso Coffee Houses flavour transports us to two distinct moments in history where coffee culture has since thrived, paving the way to the coffee we enjoy today.
I was gifted the Caffè Venezia and Café İstanbul capsules to try, which you can get at their boutiques in Gardens Mall, 1 Utama, or online!
Caffè Venezia, recognizable from its golden baroque capsule design, is potent, complex and fruity with wild and floral notes. Lots of depth for someone who loves their coffee strong but not too intense!
This Inissia machine has been a godsend - it's been so quick to prepare coffee for guests the past few months, and I don't have to pop outside for a pick-me-up anymore!
The rich, generous foam naturally formed during the brewing process is called crema, and is a main characteristic of Nespresso coffee.
Apparently, that is my naughty face when I'm up to something, according to my photographer Mr. Valentine.