Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

By now I’m sure you’ve heard of Aziz Ansari, the man behind Master of None and of Parks & Recreation fame. And if you haven’t, which rock have you been living under? Can I join you? I’ve become utterly obsessed with Ansari as of late. I watched all of Master of None within a handful of days and it was easily the most relatable TV drama I’ve seen in a while. One for the multi-cultural millennial for sure!

Anyway! I just finished reading Modern Romance and thought it’d be the perfect time to share a little review of sorts here. My tiny, tiny forays into blogging about dating and singledom on Daisybutter have always gone down well and this book almost entirely encapsulates a whole wealth of my thoughts towards dating. I’d like to think I’m beyond playing mind games via the modern medium of text message but, you know, even not playing games is a game in itself.

I’d heard much about the tome from my well-meaning colleagues who get to hear about my misguided endeavours every Monday and kinda pushed it aside as an embarrassing self-help book as I’d never heard of Aziz Ansari a month ago! Far from being a dating guide, self-help book or celebrity memoir, Modern Romance is a witty, clever, well-researched and compulsive look into the different facets of dating today and dating from the past. It’s also worth noting that I finished this in three(?) days and ended up downloading (and subsequently deleting) Tinder in the process.

Modern Romance is full of Ansari’s own thoughts on dating in the modern world, one cluttered with technology, not only phone calls and text messages, but social media, read notifications, dating apps, online dating profiles and the wealth of opportunity out there. It discusses at length – guided by interesting, hard facts, interviews and focus groups – concepts like ‘why is the phone call so elusive?’ and how as millennials, we have almost too many opportunities available to us, something I covered briefly in a post here. It’s a lengthy number but full of wise quips, genuinely hilarious anecdotes and plenty of reassuring facts and case studies. I can’t even pick a favourite chapter! I found myself nodding along – laughing out loud, even! – to almost every page and particularly enjoyed a part about ‘whoever receives the last message bubble, wins!’ because, let’s face it, that’s the game we all play. I do think that I reached a level of realising that romance needs to leave your phone (even if they’re already your boyfriend/girlfriend!) to persist, but this is such an insightful and witty take on the phenomena of dating today in the age of Tinderella. He even covered some of the things on my To Blog list – dammit… A definite must-read.

Gift Guide: From Independent Boutiques with Love

Another Christmas gift guide installment, featuring my favourite (and affordable!) independent boutiques and creatives.
Something that I’ve always liked to do on my blog is to support independent creatives and shops. I think the Internet is the perfect platform to develop and grow your own business – I mean, I did the same! – and I’ll forever support my favourite ladies. This gift guide installment is, therefore, a bit of a mishmash of sorts, suited to best friends, parents, family, colleagues, Secret Santas…

Of course I couldn’t compile a post like this without including Ella. Ella creates all manner of illustrated things and I couldn’t rave about her online boutique enough. Not only did she completely illustrate my magazine from start to finish, but her original prints are SO gorgeous, witty and ideal for cultivating a happier home.

Shop Ella Masters here. Proceeds donated to Asthma UK.

Crown & Glory is a long-time favourite of mine. Run by the lovely Sophie, Crown & Glory is the home of beautiful, handcrafted headwear. Think floral crowns, elevated animal ears, clips and more. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I recommended her shop to my friends whilst we were at Uni or in the lead-up to fun events. They’d make a great little ‘bonus’ gift for hampers or stockings.

Now that my friends and I are at the age of faux-adulthood, gifts and conversation routinely end up at homes. I’m a huge fan of Lily Rose Co. for perfect first-home gifts or presents for couples. Often I buy gifts for my coupled-up friends as a couple and then an extra gift for my pal. Highlights at Lily Rose Co. include this custom gold foil print and this polished black terrarium.

Gift Guide: The Best Friend Hamper

The first Christmas gift guide of 2015, designed for the best friend.
Yes, it’s that time of year again already – gift buying and giving. I’ve decided to dedicate these two weeks on Daisybutter to introducing some darn good gift ideas because, if you know me, I’m a serial gifter. I’m that girl who brings just-because gifts to catch-up meals because I saw something amazing in a store. For my best friends, I usually work on creating hampers of little things for them. It makes it a little more fun to open and ekes out the feeling of actually opening a present too!

Fun-Loving Friends

For fun-loving friends, it’s easy to pick up a few novelty things and plan something to do together. Take a day out of your diary – this is the reality of twenty-something life! – and go shopping, for afternoon tea, explore a castle, visit some botanical gardens, hop on a ferry and visit an island. The little extra gifts can be themed around the day or simply be cute little treats to enjoy over the holidays.

The Girl Who Has Everything

I’ve included this one because my friends and family often note that I’m the kind of girl who wants something and then saves to get it herself. And I’ve reached an age where I don’t necessarily want “things” as gifts. (I have nowhere to put them…) For the girl who has everything, I recommend selections of pamper bits, a decorative bauble (for her next tree!), pretty collectibles of her favourite book or a really ridiculously extravagant bag of tealeaves or coffee beans.

Finally, if you have a friend that’s always on a mission, perhaps she’s working on her dissertation or has just started a new job, maybe she’s a businesswoman, or maybe she’s just an overall boss, this little hamper is a good idea. I included these sh!t hot pompom shoes, a handful of notebooks, a pot of camomile tea leaves and some sweet treats because a girl still needs chocolate when conquering the world!

Spoiler Alert

I'll have some life spoilers please.
Guys, I'm having a moment. A real moment. One of uncertainty.

If for every Game of Thrones spoiler I saw, I could exchange it at the Unfair Internet Shop for a Life Spoiler, I'd do in a heartbeat. Like, can someone give me a sign of any sort than things are going to turn out okay for me, for my family and for you? Please.

What is it about our twenties that is shrouded in secrecy? Is there a code we missed the memo on? A side quest that we were supposed to complete that one time we walked home hungover and could barely see? Did I MISS the side quest for my twenties because I was too busy pretending to be a Fresher and enduring a two-day hangover?! Dammit Cactus Jack and Sailor Jerry.

Was it something I said? Was it because I spent all morning liking bunny photos on Instagram one time? Was it that text I never sent? Or worse, was it the one that I accidentally sent when it was meant to be a 'draft and delete for cathartic purposes'?

Reality check: you’re not alone in thinking all the things you do when you’re walking home after work or hopping into the shower. I’m 99.9% sure that some of the things you question could easily slot into your own reality show! I sit and wonder when all of the drama and odd coincidences will slow down all the time, and then I realise that I don’t want it to. It’s character building, after all ;)

But really, once in a while, please can we swap television spoilers for real life ones? I’d love someone to tell me what to make for dinner tomorrow instead of reminding me about Dobby.

“Your 20’s are your ‘selfish’ years. It’s a decade to immerse yourself in every single thing possible. Be selfish with your time, and all the aspects of you. Tinker with shit, travel, explore, love a lot, love a little, and never touch the ground.” – Kyoko Escamilla

Life (& Links) Lately

{ s i c k a g a i n & other musings}
一. It doesn't feel much like a Sunday today. Perhaps it's because I was forced (it's a hard life) to have two four-day weeks or perhaps it's because I'm ill again. For someone who never used to fall ill with colds and the like, it it fairly ridiculous to be on my 11th cold/flu of the year! How does this happen?! I've prescribed myself plenty of bed rest (except from right now, where I'm sat at my desk typing this and watching Arrow) and have been spending my weekend reading and sleeping. Excellent.

二. Yesterday evening I took my godmother Cecilia to the Charlie Brown Café in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. She ADORES anything to do with Snoopy and Peanuts and after walking past it so many times on Cameron Road, I knew her birthday would be the perfect time to visit. The décor was expectedly adorable and it's surprisingly roomy inside! Hong Kong eateries and indoor spaces in general are notoriously tiny. The food and drinks were average, but adorably stamped with motifs of Peanuts characters... which is pretty much why we went anyway! If you're also a Peanuts fan, I'd recommend popping in for a coffee and some cake. We also took a little walk around TST and spied some Christmas lights! The set-up on the harbour right by Harbour City is insanely pretty; it's sponsored by Disneyland this year and there's a little street set-up full of baubles and glittering lights!

三. Right now as I type this, I'm eyeing up the words 'Put up Christmas tree' and 'Wrap Christmas presents' on my to-do list. Yup! Long-term readers of Daisybutter will know that I am a Christmas obsessive, a festive fiend if you will. But as I'm flying home for Christmas on the 15th, I figured that if my tree goes up now, I'll get more 'use' out of it. You know? I'll keep you updated over on Twitter if I decide to do the deed...

四. This week I've been reading Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. After watching Master of None, it seemed like pretty apt reading material and I've found myself nodding and chuckling along to so much of the first three chapters! Isn't it odd how times change and whoever doesn't text back at the end of a conversation has the upper-hand?! I don't know about you but I'm now a firm believer of 'text if you want to, don't text if you don't' mantra. Like, why should there be a whole game around who texts first, who texts last and how many minutes to wait in between?! Life is too short for that!

五. In boring household news, my TV and my fridge are both still broken. I'm fairly concerned but thankfully Hong Kong makes it easy to be fridge-less. I'm getting slightly sick of having to eat out or order in though -- please can I be able to cook again?! Should be getting my repaired fridge back on Thursday and then I can finally resume recipe posts and preparing features for A for Aesthetic! I'll never take that thing for granted again (nor will I take for granted the ability to breathe sans mouth).

Links Lately
  • Rae curated a post full of photographs of treehouses and camping alternatives on her blog earlier in the week that made me miss Secret Island Party and camping on the beach.
  • This (vegan!) supper club that Lily went to and posted about sounds so fun! The food looked amazing and I'm itching to recreate a dish for myself.
  • We launched G for Gifting over at A for Aesthetic which is a series of curated, shoppable gift guides. My little team has been working in overdrive across four cities and they're looking tip top!
  • Gem's recipe for Apple Pie Cookies (yes, you did read that correctly!) is giving me all sorts of joy. In fact, her second blog Mother Cooker is a definite must-follow.
  • This gift guide by Lauren is a great reference point for gifts that are a little more ethical. Each idea is thoughtful and centres around the idea of gifts that give back. Love!
  • Jenny shared a list of Festive Film Ideas which I've bookmarked for some Sunday evening viewing.
  • In this post, Rosie utterly knocks it out of the park again for her incomparable food photography and delicious homemade pizza recipe. Once I'm back in England with a proper kitchen, the little cub and I will certainly be attempting this!
  • Finally, this DIY hot beverage pin from Mei is SO adorable! It'd make a delightful little gift for a coffee-loving friend this Christmas!

On Considering Luxury Purchases

Tips and tricks before buying luxury things you probably don't need. By a girl with no self-control.
Something that I’ve been considering posting about on the blog is considering – and making – luxury purchases. I’m not sure why I’ve been so hesitant on the subject but seeing as I started this blog on very humble beginnings of a meagre student loan and, six years on, can finally “treat” myself, I figured that plenty of my readers might be too. My parents always taught me that if I wanted something, I could work damn hard for it. I used to get 50p pocket money in return for wiping down the dining table, taking out the empty milk bottles, helping to wash up, etc.

PS. I’m really not doing a humble brag here, I just wanted to make some points for you to consider if you’re hankering after a little somethin’ somethin’!

Be Rational
It’s very easy to get caught up in trends and It bags and while the latest bag might be good for everybody else, it might not be for you. Set aside your adoration of the object in question and think about your lifestyle. Perhaps you’re dreaming about a clutch but you don’t like going out-out or you’re a serial hoarder considering the Celine Trio… try and be rational and think about how it’ll work in your collection. If you like pockets and compartments, I would recommend Anya Hindmarch, Chloe, the Chanel Classic Flap or Prada Saffiano. If you like sleek and sophisticated, something like Sophie Hulme is good. Saint Laurent Paris are excellent for evening and dark glamour aesthetics. Mulberry and Louis Vuitton are almost untouchable in terms of BEST QUALITY EVAA.

The Classics
When I started buying luxury designer bags and accessories, etc. I already knew that it’d be for a capsule wardrobe full of classics with a Michelle edge. And when I say classics, I don’t mean buying old-timey styles or the-one-everybody-else-has, I mean that I wanted to create an edited selection of bags/clothing that I could pair with any occasion or outfit. For example, I don’t own a Mulberry Bayswater because it’s too stuffy for my own taste but I do own the Shoulder version. It bridges the classic Bayswater style with the edgier PS11 by Proenza Schouler that I’m arguably not edgy enough to pull off. (It’s still in my list though!) My ancient Alexa is in Petticoat White with rose gold hardware which suits me more than most things I own. I opted for my Chanel Boy over the 2.55 or Classic Flap – for now – because it retains that classic simplicity with a youthful edge. I injected a splash of colour with my red Celine Trio for ‘running errands’ (i.e. a bag I’ll wear with black leggings and tees) and my Chloe Drew serves as my girlier, polished number for day-to-night. Each of my bags has a “purpose” behind it and they all go with my already-established style.

Cost per Wear and 5 Outfit Rule
I don’t 100% recommend working this out because it’ll freak you out but do also consider how much you’ll wear the bag. It’s easy to say, “oh my gosh, I spent so much on it, of course I’ll wear it every day” but realistically, you won’t want to take it to work, the supermarket, etc. ALL the time, eh? I have bags that I’m planning to rehome because, three years on, I certainly don’t do enough going out to warrant this amount of clutches! Hand in hand with that, I also try and style the piece with 5 outfits that I already own, whilst I’m in the store. If I can’t match it with things I already own, then it’s a brutal no.

This one might seem odd but having worked in luxury fashion for more than a year, I’m a bona fide expert when it comes to the quality of luxury things. Just like how not every Topshop item is a dud, not every designer piece is of out-of-this-world quality. Look at things like lining, the seams, the type of hardware (plated will last you hella longer than non-), bases, strap fixtures, the leather grain, the leather treatments. RTW-wise, consider the washing and care instructions because, y'know, dry cleaning problems. If you want, you can drop me an email or Tweet and I’ll help you as best as I can!

Hope this helped some of you out!

Further reading/viewing:

My picks for first buys:

Small Steps To Better Confidence

Hello I’m Michelle and I am much more shy than you think.
Sometimes I take the whole ‘strong independent woman’ thing in my stride and other times I simply fail to string together a coherent sentence. (Made all the more difficult by currently living in a country where I’m only about 70% fluent in the language.) When I was little and all the way through to secondary school, my shyness meant that everybody commented on it and it’d make me even more self-conscious, it was a bit of a spiral, basically.

In real adult life, you can’t really sit at home and be all, ‘I’m too shy for that,’ though. Like I’ve previously touched upon, my shyness sits alongside my anxiety and the two are often at odds with each other. I recently went through a period where I simply didn’t leave my apartment for 3 weeks – except from for work, because I have a company car that I can take – because I was seemingly unable to.

I wanted to share 5 small ways to conquer niggling anxieties and everyday shyness that have helped me both a little and also to coax me back out of my anxiety shell. Let’s go!

Smile at a stranger
There’s nothing like the kindness of strangers sometimes and it’s so odd how you can instantly feel happier on the basis of the actions of others. So challenge yourself to smile at a stranger, a genuine, with-your-eyes smile. Happiness is contagious and even if you don’t feel particularly happy, a warm smile can do wonders to relax your face, ease your mind and sneak in some happy vibes.

Practice yoga
Okay, so this one is cliché and obvious and all the rest of it, but as someone who genuinely hated exercise sometime two years ago, I can hand on heart shout from the rooftops about the benefits of yoga, running and light exercise (ballet! My current obsession!). I like to use an app on my phone, crank the A/C up, open a window for not-so-fresh air and slot a 15-minute practice to your day. I’m in the routine of a morning run and then yoga in the late afternoon (weekends) or evening (weekdays), plus a workout video of some sort if I’m still energetic.

While you might not be at your most confident right now, think back and reflect on one moment where you felt content, safe and happy. I often find that taking a moment to remember when I did manage to branch out helps me to go after that moment and try it out all over again.

Compliment others
I realise that this one is more difficult in practice, but compliment somebody. It’ll brighten their day up and yours too. Whether it’s your friend, your Mama, colleague or somebody on the street with really good hair/shoes/skirt, tell them. Spread a little positivity and confidence around and it’ll certainly come back to you.

Do something that scares you
… and now for the big one. Do something that scares you everyday. I did this a lot last year – I committed my 2014 to making the most out of every single day, whether that was by embracing the fact that I was sleepy and thus needed to nap on a Friday night or by hopping on a flight with Lily to film a TV ad with Bose or book a spontaneous weekend away with my best friends. I absolutely LOVED 2014. Whether it’s something like catching a bus on your own or attempting a new recipe or shooting an outfit post in public, try something that scares you: you’ll soon realise just how confident you CAN be and are.

What are your tips for better confidence?

I Solemnly Swear

The one when Winnie came to visit and I reminisced on all things ENGLAND.
This post could be so much more but basically it's a post written in homage to the humble Jaffa Cake and my friend Winnie's amazing illustrating talent. AND THAT CARD. It's everything in life. The Scream Eggs she brought over either a) didn't survive the flight, and b) didn't survive an evening with me and Netflix.

Things I miss:

  • Jaffa Cakes (but no longer!)
  • A cheeky Nando's. Not even sorry
  • Wearing coats
  • TEA. MY FRIDGE WOES o____o
  • Costa Coffee
  • Boots, as in the shop
  • Supermarket sweeps with my brother

Things I don't miss:

  • Gross grey rain
  • Feeling terrified by The Youth in Nando's
  • Contemplating taking a hot water bottle on my commute
  • Missing Hong Kong ;)

Right now...

  • Feeling: Like a fraud for wearing a turtleneck tank top instead of jumper... #HOT
  • Eating: A brie and ham croissant
  • Drinking: Starbucks' festive Peppermint Mocha
  • Watching: Master of None (well, I was, I just finished the last episode T^T
  • Wanting: A decision fairy to come and live with me

Life Lately

{ l i f e l a t e l y :: fluctuating hibernation and extreme productivity }
Happy Friday!

I brazenly scrapped my post for today and thought I’d have a little sit down and ponder some other things instead. (Although, it is currently Thursday evening in Hong Kong as I type this. Ain’t nothing like some scheduling and time zone magic.) Sometimes it’s nice just to unload lots of thoughts and memories all at once, right? Pull up a beanbag/other soft furnishing and grab a hot beverage, it’s a long one!

Pho with my auntie earlier in the week! & yum cha with my work girlies.
So I’m currently fridge-less, which is easily the most frustrating thing in the world, give or take ;) Honestly, I had no idea how much I depended on that thing! No milk for a morning tea, nowhere to stash chocolate (because it WILL melt) and no freezer drawer to stow ice-cream for Singles’ Day. Who even decides these holidays in Asia?! For the record, I spent it eating pasta in my underwear, watching Arrow and following dogs on Instagram. Real talk.

Today – as you read this, anyway! – I’m spending the day with my girl Winnie! I’ve been SO excited for her arrival: thankful for the blogging world bringing two near-identical souls together. Can’t wait to show her my new favourite places, eat and ‘gram lots of food, swap gossip and share stories! Let’s all convince her to move here too ;)

Really into matte nails (again) at the moment. A quick Google tells me this probably isn’t a huge beauty trend right now but matte burgundy tips on my short nails/tiny hands feels so elegant and polished. My favourites are the Barry M ones!

It was World Adoption Day on Tuesday, a movement designed to celebrate international adoption and highlight just how amazing adoption is. My beautiful friend Michelle shared it on her Instagram and of course I wanted to read up on the cause just to be in the loop but I wholeheartedly support it. I think adoption, particularly international adoption, is often taboo and it can feel like something celeb types do, but take a moment to think of the abandoned and/or orphaned kids around the world. Whether because of natural disasters or personal reasons, every human deserves a loving life. I’m an avid follower of this blog by Shay, who, with her beautiful family, adopted a little girl from China at the start of the year and it’s so humbling to see her once-shy daughter develop a huge personality and start a new chapter in her life.

I’m very much a hermit these days – perennial lack of friends – but managed to sneak in a Sunday excursion with one of my friends last weekend. We had a long, overdue catch-up over sushi and I forgot just how much fun I always have with him. Felt good to swap stories, be my true nerd and then sit out on a rooftop overlooking the skyline, drinking beers and having one of these weird deep, existential crisis conversations.

Hong Kong has finally dropped to the mid-20s, temperature wise, which means I can crack out the long sleeves and boots. I would do ANYTHING to have an autumn again, I’ve missed two now and that ain’t ideal. I’m really into camel jumpers and leather skirts right now. Tell me something I don’t know. After an entire 6-month summer of prancing about the city and its various beaches in white, pale denim and blush pinks, I’m welcoming black and navy once more. You know me ;) Also, I’m pretty much switching between my Chloé Drew and Mulberry Alexa, bag wise. Dreamy.

I don’t think I could faithfully write this post without a gratuitous mention of little A! You might have noticed that I’m often missing on social media and that’s because all of my spare time is once again going into my beloved magazine. I’m so proud of its relaunch and I’m already working on elevating it to a whole new level. SOON. Watch this space. And in the meantime, come read along and subscribe here! Mwah.

With all of that said and done, this has been my week of hibernation. I’m SO tired after work and fatigued overall from anaemia that I usually get home and nap. Started watching Arrow at long last after having it in my Netflix queue for so long that it was making nervous. I’m already obsessed, FYI. The flashback scenes are my favourite! In similar news, I’m also watching Master of None and 10000% recommend it! I loved the episode about parents and related SO much to it. It’s Aziz Ansari’s new Netflix exclusive – go go go! Should I even go into all the anime I’m also watching? I know, I need a life…

What have you been up to lately? Gold star and black forest cupcakes for you if you actually made it this far!

PS. I fly home in 33 days YASSSS.

Alexa again

PSA: Hong Kong is having its fortnight of autumnal weather!
Shot these on a lunch break last week and thought I’d share them here for some sort of finality and to keep things in one place. I had this weird moment on Skype at the weekend where, in between interpretative dance sessions, my sister and I reminisced on old posts and photos and pinpointed precise memories behind each ‘shoot’. (For the record, most of it was my sister being all, ‘I was practically lying down on the floor for this one!’ We usually shoot with her closer to the ground so I don’t look too short!) #shortgirlproblems

I didn’t miss that Essena O’Neill saga, I just wasn’t sure how to contribute my own opinion of the matter, but what I will say is that if I didn’t like social media and sharing my life with strangers, I simply wouldn’t do it anymore. I realised while browsing old, embarrassing posts that my blog has been the one constant in my life for more than six years. It’s filled with memories good and bad, outfits good and bad, online friendships, a (very) haphazard assemblage of the things that inspired me over the year. I can pinpoint (with thanks to my MySpace mindset of titling outfits with lyrics!) my favourite songs, my mood. Personally, I continue writing here not because I’m popular* but because I adore this more raw platform to create, perhaps inspire and hang out with like-minded people.

I digress. Let’s get to the frivolous.

It’s finally chilly in Hong Kong! I’ve cracked out the boots and my sandals are safely stowed in shoeboxes and/or suitcases ;) I was SO excited to wear my new Topshop Unique boots that this entire look was built around them. I adore this aubergine shade for November -- it feels rich and warm and complements my light olive skintone! Win. Lately I’ve been reaching for my trusty Mulberry Alexa again and again. I’m so glad I went for white and rose gold all those years ago, seems like I had some sort of psychic feeling about blogging favourites in 2015, eh? Kidding, kinda. Makes my Alexa feel new every single season.

( TopShop Womens **It's A Wrap Lace-Up Blouse by WYLDR - Red • Topshop • £42;
FOREVER 21 Darling Drop-Waist Skirt • Forever 21 • £6.99;
Toe Cap Reptile Boots Black • Missguided • £45;
Carvela Slither Black Snake Effect Block Heel Boots • Carvela • £150;
Mulberry Alexa Satchel Bag - for Women • Mulberry • £1,100.)

* Post coming soon re: online popularity and fading out ^_~

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