Adventures, Entertainment, Lifestyle

The Happiest Place In Penang … – Tan Lili

… for cat lovers, that is.

So, the Material World team were in Penang, Malaysia, last week for Deborah’s epic wedding. It was six days and nights of (drunken) debauchery – but that’s a story never to be retold. What I can share is about the cafe I dub The Happiest Place in Penang.

A day before the wedding, Vanessa and I were aimlessly walking about Georgetown. I thought I’d seen it all when I was there with my best friend two years ago, but I fell in love with the culturally rich city all over again. Wall art is still wonderfully prevalent around Georgetown, with even more amazing works by Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic exhibited at the disused Hin Company Bus Depot. Besides murals, this hidden gem also features artistically arranged old-school street items and discarded toys.

Vanessa does an impressive back bend.

Vanessa does an impressive back bend.

This time around, I also noticed many new “hipster” cafes around the city – and I use the word “hipster” very loosely, because the vibe these cafes give off is hardly pretentious but positively hip. One great cafe is The Twelve Cups along Beach Street. Their signature mille crepe cakes come in an assortment of yummy flavours, and they are served alongside adorable chocolate sauce art.

Check out the amount of effort that goes into each chocolate sauce art!

Check out the amount of effort that goes into each chocolate sauce art!

The next interesting place Vanessa and I stumbled across is a cafe along Muntri Street called Purrfect Cat Cafe (yep, it’s the aforementioned Happiest Place in Penang). Friends know how crazy I am over cats, so you can only imagine my sheer delight when we chanced upon the cafe.

After a moment of squealing and stumbling, we all but sprinted into Purrfect Cat Cafe, eager to play with the kitties. Opened in January this year, the ground floor is a retail store selling all kinds of cat paraphernalia, while the second floor is divided into two sections: a cafe, and the fun zone involving eight cats. I’ve been to a few cat cafes in Asia – Japan, Taiwan and, of course, Singapore – and I must say Purrfect Cat Cafe is my favourite one so far. You don’t have to pay a cover charge; you just have to order a drink and you are free to get cosy with the cats for however long you like!

Enjoy a cuppa at the cafe before entering the fun zone.

Enjoy a cuppa at the cafe before entering the fun zone.

As with most cat cafes, Purrfect Cat Cafe has certain house rules – no feeding and no carrying – and at least one staff member is always on hand to make sure the humans are obedient. The second Vanessa and I plonked ourselves down on the cushions, a couple of curious cats came towards us. Vanessa was immediately drawn towards the real-life Garfield, while I was particularly taken with this little fella, who kept trying to sniff at my face!

DAT FACE.

DAT FACE.

I can’t remember exactly how long we spent at the cat cafe, but it was one of the most relaxing moments of my life. Any worries I had before seemed to dissipate when I stepped into the fun zone; what was left was a state of peace, quiet and unadulterated joy. Vanessa, a dog lover, was also blissed out from the company of cats (“I want to curl up and take an afternoon nap with Garfield,” she sighed in lazy contentment).

Vanessa and Garfield.

Vanessa and Garfield.

If you adore cats or animals in general, be sure to check out Purrfect Cat Cafe at 53 Jalan Muntri, Georgetown, Penang. You’ll leave the cafe feeling incredibly light-hearted, for sure!

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

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Beauty & Shopping, Makeup

Beauty Review: Sulwhasoo Snowise Whitening Essence BB & UV Compact – Tan Lili

Sulwhasoo has recently introduced two new makeup products to its Snowise Whitening line – Snowise Whitening Essence BB and Snowise Whitening UV Compact. Lili puts the products to the test.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never wanted to have skin as white as snow. My ideal complexion is something like Jessica Alba’s – smooth and clear with a healthy-looking sun-kissed glow. But of course, reality is often bitter; my skin is dehydrated and has strong yellow undertones, which makes it look dull and rather sun-dried.

When I received the new Sulwhasoo Whitening makeup products, I figured I ought to give them a shot despite their whitening claims because, hey, better fair than dull, right?

Sulwhasoo Snowise Whitening Essence BB (30ml, $74)

Sulwhasoo Snowise Whitening Essence BB (30ml, $74)

Sulwhasoo Snowise Whitening Essence BB (30ml, $74)

This serum-based BB cream provides sheer coverage and leaves the skin looking radiant, thanks to its light-reflecting powder. Apart from its colour-correcting properties, the Snowise Whitening Essence BB also has skin-loving benefits. Featuring the Tri-White Complex, which shares 46 percent of Sulwhasoo’s star product Snowise EX Whitening Serum, the BB cream is said to block UV rays and infra-red rays; prevent pigmentation and glycation; as well as reduce skin dullness. It’s available in two shades: No. 1 (bright) and No. 2 (natural).

My Review

Most BB creams I’ve tried often leave my face looking three shades lighter than my neck – yes, even those that come in different shades. The Snowise Whitening Essence BB in No. 2, however, blends well with my skin tone and gives my complexion a natural-looking finish. It also effectively minimises the appearance of my pores, which makes me very, very happy.

Before (left) and after applying the Snowise Whitening Essence BB.

Before (left) and after applying the Snowise Whitening Essence BB.

I wish it had a better hydrating effect, though. Its serum-based texture is quite easily absorbed by the skin, but on dry skins like mine, it takes slightly longer. If you have combination or oily skin and are after a matte finish, this is definitely for you.

Sulwhasoo Snowise Whitening UV Compact (9g, $74)

Sulwhasoo Snowise UV Compact (9g, $74)

Sulwhasoo Snowise UV Compact (9g, $74)

This compact powder contains White Balance Powder, a formula that helps retain moisture on the surface of the skin while keeping your sebum production in check. It’s also got other ingredients to brighten the skin tone as well as minimise the appearance of pores and wrinkles. Coupled with its high SPF sun protection (SPF 50+/PA+++), the Snowise Whitening UV Compact is recommended for women who are always on the go or enjoy being outdoors.

My Review

Because the powder comprises 40-percent finer and clearer particles, it doesn’t cake up on my dry skin – a big plus point for me! I also like that it provides very sheer coverage. The powder is barely visible when you first apply it on your skin, yet it instantly brightens your complexion and minimises the appearance of pores.

I applied the Snowise Whitening UV Compact after the Essence BB. Yay to brightened - not fair - complexion!

I applied the Snowise Whitening UV Compact after the Essence BB. Yay to brightened – not fairer – complexion!

This post is in no way paid for or advised by Sulwhasoo. The writer was given the Snowise Whitening Essence BB and Snowise Whitening UV Compact for review purposes. You may read our advertising policy here. Sulwhasoo Snowise Whitening Essence BB and Snowise Whitening UV Compact are available at TANGS Orchard & VivoCity, Takashimaya Departmental Store, and Robinsons Orchard. 

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets

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Character & Soul, Opinions, Self-Improvement, Tan Lili

Are You Being Critical Or Are You Looking For Flaws? – Tan Lili

Fact: Being hypercritical does a whole lot more harm than good. Here’s why.

Go on to Facebook and take a look at the comments posted on any of the links shared by a media outlet. How many of them are thinly-veiled (if at all) criticisms? Be it about an upcoming movie adaptation of a kickass book, a call for action against global warming, or the debate between science and religion, there’s always something to pick on. In today’s Internet culture, our hypercritical approach has become socially acceptable – and that is causing a huge problem.

hypercritical flaws 2I’m not saying we should live in la-la land filled with rainbows and unicorns. We need to be able to discern the good from the bad; it’s called self-preservation. I’m not saying to remove our critical lens altogether, either. Constructive criticism – critical suggestions that add value, encourage a positive change, and inspire intelligent discourse – is always welcomed. The line blurs in today’s hypercritical culture in which, more often than not, we criticise for the sake of criticising. Even a seemingly harmless situation gets nitpicked just because we can.

And here is where the main problem lies: Rather than seeing both sides of the story, we lose perspective as we develop tunnel vision. We become so obsessed with finding and playing up the flaws that we are inadvertently trapping ourselves in a bubble – along with other likeminded individuals with whom we have formed a bond when we first made our assertions about a certain subject matter. Within this bubble, our perceived truth is based on beliefs, not facts; anything outside of the bubble – even facts – is irrelevant. Of course, an even bigger problem arises when we try to impose our beliefs on others.

Blame this on the scientific wiring of our brain, if you will.

According to Loretta Graziano Breuning, Ph.D., author of Beyond Cynical: Transcend Your Mammalian Negativity, when something riles you up, it activates a certain circuit in your brain. “When you see familiar problems, your brain lights up effortlessly because your past cortisol paved those neural pathways,” says Breuning. “Activating the same circuit over and over builds it up to the point where it activates easily. It takes effort to activate new circuits, that’s why so many people are in the habit of focusing on their usual critiques and ignoring the rest of the story.”

Translation: Most of the so-called flaws that incite our inner hypercritics are what we ourselves have created in our own brain. Because of those conditioned neural pathways, we choose to see what we want to see and filter out the rest of the potentially educational information.

At the end of the day, we are all entitled to our own opinion. In fact, never mind that by being hypercritical, we are essentially limiting our own growth. But if you had intended to “educate” the impressionable and, to put it bluntly, stir shit with your personal critical views, you might want to keep them exactly where they belong – private.

Can't we all at least agree on this?

Can’t we all at least agree on this?

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets

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Body News, Health & Fitness, Wellbeing, Workouts

Let’s Get Moving! – Tan Lili

Astronomers say the universe is expanding. Apparently, so are the humans living on planet Earth. Why is obesity becoming a worldwide trend, and why should YOU be worried? Read on for all the need-to-know facts.

material world obesity 2

It’s no news; obesity has been recognised as a global epidemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) since 1997. But according to the latest statistics from Overseas Development Institute, nearly 1.5 billion adults around the world are obese or overweight. That’s one-third of the world population or, to really put things into perspective, one in three adults.

The two main contributing factors shouldn’t come as a surprise – 1) according to the United Nations, the global consumption of fat, salt and sugar has increased exponentially over the past 30 years; and 2) our increasingly sedentary lifestyle (a recent study found that only one in three people in Singapore exercise on a regular basis!).

As much as we love to eat unhealthy processed foods and hate working up a sweat, the serious health implications – cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, etc. – of obesity ought to reshape the way we live. In fact, a WHO report states that nearly 2.8 million people worldwide die each year as a result of obesity.

Just recently, in a bid to fight obesity in Singapore, the Health Promotion Board launched the 1 Million kg Challenge – yep, the challenge is for Singaporeans to lose 1 million kilogrammes collectively. Coca-Cola Singapore has also recently launched Movement Is Happiness, a campaign that aims to highlight the emotional benefits of physical activity. But while it’s great that such initiatives are being rolled out, they would only be effective if we also adopt a positive attitude towards healthy living.

From now until the end of April, expect to see Coca-Cola's "Movement is Happiness" pop-up activity stations across Singapore.

From now until the end of April, expect to see Coca-Cola’s “Movement is Happiness” pop-up activity stations across Singapore.

We speak to Dr Abel Soh, Specialist in Endocrinology & Consultant, Raffles Diabetes & Endocrine Centre, to find out more.

The Health Promotion Board recently launched the 1 Million kg Challenge in a bid to fight obesity in Singapore, whose rate has risen significantly over the years. What do you think has caused this spike?

The increasing rate of obesity is not only seen in Singapore alone but around the world. Many factors contribute to this trend but the two most important ones are dietary changes (consumption of a high-fat diet and overeating) and reduced physical activity or lack of exercise.

Apart from heart-related problems, what are some of the less-talked-about consequences of obesity?

Some of the less-talked-about consequences of obesity include high blood pressure (hypertension), high blood sugar level (diabetes mellitus), high cholesterol level, increased risk of stroke, gout, sleep apnea, arthritis of the knees and ankles, and urinary incontinence in women. Obesity is also associated with a higher risk of developing certain cancers – colon, prostate, breast, and endometrium.

For those of us who are overweight, what are some lifestyle changes we should adopt to lose the excess kilos?

In order to lose weight, lifestyle modification is crucial. This includes dietary changes with reduction in intake of calories with or without the use of meal replacement. Increasing energy expenditure through increased physical activity and exercise is important not only for weight loss but also for subsequent maintenance of a lower body weight.

What can friends do to help encourage us to do something about our weight without coming across as brusque?

Weight loss can be difficult for many individuals who are overweight or obese as it involves changes in behaviour and habits that have been formed over many years. Encouragement from family members and friends can certainly help to reinforce the new lifestyle changes needed for weight loss and weight maintenance. Family members and friends should avoid making judgemental statements about the individual’s weight or body shape. They can encourage the formation of new, healthy lifestyle changes by joining with the individual in eating healthily and engaging in regular exercise.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets 

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Entertainment, Lifestyle, Opinions, Tan Lili

Movie Review: Her – Tan Lili

What is it about Her that’s won the hearts of even the harshest of film critics? 

her feature

The premise sounds stupid. Man falls in love with an operating system and – lo and behold – the feelings are mutual. They develop a human-AI relationship and, as Sophisticated Siri finds herself evolving and experiencing emotions a sentient being would, their relationship starts to fall apart because, you know, humans tend to screw things up quite a bit.

But after watching the movie, I realise the premise is as real as it is absurd. For this review, I’m not going to talk about the flawless performances of the actors or the breathtaking cinematography or the Oscar-nominated soundtrack (“The Moon Song” is a-m-a-z-i-n-g); instead, I’ll be focusing on the story. Her is one of the most heartbreaking, poignant movies that will send you reeling for days after you’ve seen it. It raises questions, questions that make you ponder on our over-reliance on technology, the wonders of artificial intelligence, the complexities of human consciousness, the limits of free will, the definition of love. But as more profound questions arise, the one theme that binds them all together in this movie is ridiculously simple – the innate need for connection.

Writer-director Spike Jonze and his production team did a stellar job constructing a believable not-so-distant future of Los Angeles, where technology has taken precedence over human interaction. Call it a forewarning if you will; the depiction of every individual attached to an earpiece and appearing content with zero human interaction already doesn’t seem that far from reality. The opening scene of Her introduces you to Theodore Twombly’s (Joaquin Phoenix) job as one of the many writers at Beautiful Handwritten Letters. He writes love letters for lazy busy humans via a voice-recognition software that translates whatever he says into handwritten words, prints the letters then mails them out to their waiting recipients. This business concept seems cold, unfeeling, yet at the same time, incredibly sad – the fact that there’s a demand for such a service says a lot.

A glimpse into the happier times between Theodore and his ex-wife.

A glimpse into the happier times between Theodore and his ex-wife.

And then there’s that odd relationship between Theodore and an operating system, who named herself Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). Before he “met” Samantha, he was barely hanging on by a thread. A man lost in his past, Theodore’s mind constantly replayed Instagram-worthy snatches of interactions he had with his estranged wife (Rooney Mara) as he refused to acknowledge the present – which would involve his signing of the divorce papers.

A date idea for human and OS, anyone?

A date idea for human and OS, anyone?

After he purchased OS1, the world’s first artificially intelligent operating system, he finds himself entertained and thoroughly intrigued by Samantha. Their unlikely love story is one that will remain etched in my mind. In the span of 126 minutes, I went from “WTF!?” and “aww …” to “noooooo!” and “whoa”. To put it more eloquently, it was one hell of an emotional rollercoaster ride. After getting past the initial disbelief, I – along with other characters in the movie – started to realise their relationship was just like any other in real life. From the get-go, Theodore never appears bothered by the idea of dating a computer software. It is only later, much later, when Samantha learns to evolve and feel like a human (mega props to Johansson for her excellent voice inflection) that problems start to arise between the couple. And we all know how this movie is going to end.

We all crave connection; without it, what’s left is an emotion so fundamentally human: heartbreak. No matter how complex the technology and how far the human mind has evolved, emotional pain is what it is. And what makes Her so heartbreaking is this sense of clawing loneliness that permeates the film from start to finish. A must-watch, especially if you’re into heartfelt tearjerkers.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

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Beauty & Shopping, Fragrances

Beauty Review: Keith Haring Art by DKNY – Tan Lili

There are few fragrances I’ll actually splash out on; the DKNY Be Delicious fragrance family is one of them. A perfect balance of fruity and floral, its crisp, refreshing scent is my everyday fragrance of choice for whatever look I wish to channel – from the sweet girl next door to the sleek and sophisticated.

However, in light of my lack of a steady income, I’ve been saving my last few spritzes of DKNY Be Delicious for very special occasions. Sad, but true.

material-world-singapore-dkny-be-delicious

So, you can imagine my excitement when the Keith Haring Art by DKNY press kit landed in the Material World HQ. This limited-edition scent series pays homage to the iconic artist Keith Haring, whose work first appeared in the subway stations of New York. Celebrating Keith Haring and DKNY’s shared love of the Big Apple, and concocted for a woman “who loves the city life, culture, and art that breaks boundaries”, Keith Haring Art by DKNY is at once rebelliously bold and feminine – not only in its packaging (each DKNY apple-shaped bottle is marked with Keith Haring’s signature dancing figures), but also in its edgier blends.

The iconic Keith Haring

The iconic Keith Haring

DKNY Be Delicious Art, which, at its core, is a crisp green apple scent, is now accented with blackcurrent and lychee; DKNY Fresh Blossom Art sports a more feminine touch with the bouquet of freesia, magnolia and rose; finally, DKNY Golden Delicious Art is a daring, rich blend of exotic fruit and white flowers – raspberry, bergamot, mango, gardenia, and orange flower petals.

BDG_FY13_HARING_PACK_GOLD_2W75

What I got was the DKNY Golden Delicious Art and, I must say, it smells the most different from the original. Its opening notes of raspberry and bergamot are enhanced with mango, which gives the scent its exotic kick. It quickly mellows to a heart of white flowers, before drying down to a sensual blend of apple blossom, sandalwood and crystal amber. All in all, this very wearable scent is bolder and slightly richer, but quintessentially a summer fragrance all the same.

Breathing new life into the DKNY Be Delicious scent series, Keith Haring Art by DKNY will be a welcomed twist for existing fans of the original – though there’s a slight chance some of you may not enjoy the tweaks. If you’re entirely new to it and you’re partial to fruity-floral fragrances, I can bet my bottom dollar you won’t be disappointed.

Keith Haring Art by DKNY, $82 for 50ml, is available at all major department stores and leading perfumeries.

DKNY Golden Delicious Art was passed to Material World for review. All opinions are the author’s own. You may read our advertising policy here.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

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Arts & Events, Lifestyle

“People Have Jumped Over Expressway Barriers To Save Cats!” – Tan Lili

material-world-cats-of-the-world-cws-banner

The Cats Of The World Photo Exhibition and Purrzaar are about two months away – and, as their official media partner, the cat-loving team at Material World can’t be even more excited!

From now until the launch of the exhibition on August 1, we will be running weekly articles for all you feline lovers out there. This week, we spoke to Veron Lau, the president of the Cat Welfare Society – the adopted charity of Cats Of The World Photo Exhibition and Purrzaar – on the situation of cats in Singapore.

Material World: As the adopted charity, how is CWS involved in the exhibition and Purrzaar?
Veron Lau: We are invited to set up a booth for education and fundraising through selling of our merchandise. We also publicise the event to our network of supporters.

MW: What can we expect at your booth?
VL: Cat toys, cat-themed stationery, cat-themed apparels, Cat Welfare Society T-shirts, decals, and lots more!

MW: In what ways would Cats Of the World Photo Exhibition and Purrzarr help enhance the welfare of cats?
VL: The event brings many cat lovers and cat-curious people together. This is always a good thing in nurturing a growing community of people to help cats, save cats and adopt cats. The stories behind the photos in the exhibition are also always inspiring, and can encourage a greater love for cats. Through the work of Sixth Sense Communications & PR Consultancy, the event also gets fantastic coverage in the media, reaching out to a larger audience and hopefully even those that do not care for cats to remind them that there is a sizeable community that does!

MW: On the same note, have you noticed any improvement in the welfare of cats over the years?
VL: Through the efforts of over 1,000 caregivers all over Singapore in sterilisation, fostering and rehoming, our stray cat population has been more than halved. The culling rate has also dropped from 13,000 cats/year 10 years ago to less than 4,000/year now. Of course, there is still much more to do before we reach our goal – where no cat goes uncared for as pets or community cats.

Many estates already experience the joy of living with a well-managed community cat population, but abandonment remains an issue in disrupting this progress. That is why more focus is now placed in ensuring that cat owners play their part in keeping their cats responsibly.

MW: That’s really great news!
VL: It is, and it is really due to the perseverance of volunteers and caregivers who never give up on their sterilisation and caregiving efforts even in the face of resistance and hardships. Some of them started what they were doing even when it seemed so impossible, when the cat population was large and no one believed a humane method would work. 

Even when progress was finally at hand, they faced a huge setback during the SARS period when there was an overreaction towards cats; their efforts were washed away by mass culling efforts around the country. But they never wavered and continued to help, save, sterilise and rehome cats. And now, thanks to them, our society is taking a positive turn towards placing more emphasis on animal welfare.

MW: What can the public do to help further improve the situation?
VL: They can …

  • Adopt pet cats and not buy them
  • Sterilise their pet cats and not let them roam (so as not to add to the stray population)
  • Be tolerant towards community cats and recognise that they are sentient beings
  • Be part of a movement towards humane treatment of animals
The Public Adoption Bulletin Board at catwelfare.org.

The Public Adoption Bulletin Board at catwelfare.org.

MW: What’s the most heartwarming experience you’ve had at CWS?
VL: We have seen people go to great lengths to save a cat – jumping over expressway barriers, crawling under trucks, communities coming together over an abused or injured cat, etc. Cats inspire us with their beauty, their intelligence, their dignity and their vulnerability. However, it is the people that love them and their quiet heroism that inspire us to carry on with our everyday work.

MW: Give us three reasons why cats make the greatest pets, ever.
VL: Cats have a great capacity to love and reciprocate; they are easy to toilet or litter train; and their purrs have been proven to lower blood pressure in humans!

Cats Of The World Photo Exhibition will be held from August 1-29, 2013, at The Arts House. This year, due to the amazing response, there will be three Purrzaar markets held over three Saturdays – August 3, 10 and 17 – from 11am to 6pm. Rental proceeds go to CWS. 

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets

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Character & Soul, Self-Improvement

3 Stress-Busters That Actually Work – Tan Lili

A new US study found that people with a predilection for bedtime browsing – reading an e-book, surfing the web – reported higher levels of stress than those without.

Well, that explains a lot.

Ever since I discovered the magic of fan fiction a few years ago, my life has been irrevocably changed. I don’t read it every single night, of course – Saturday nights are Movie Night – but when I do, it’s usually hours before I regretfully put my iPad away. If this new study is any accurate, then it explains why I get so easily rattled these days. Trivial issues, like knowing I’m going to be five minutes late, throw me into a tizzy.

But, I’ve also found some awesome stress-busters. No, none of them involves a stress ball. (Is it just me, or does squeezing a stress ball stress you out even more? You see, I tend to imagine the source of my stress turn into a tiny ball of foam rubber. So when I attempt to squeeze the life out of that little bugger yet it never fails to revert to its original form, it can be very frustrating.)

Without further ado, here are the tried-and-tested ways that help calm frayed nerves.

1. Download The 9Gag App Onto Your Phone

material-world-singapore-9gag-stress-busters-2

If you often find yourself harbouring murderous thoughts on your daily commute, well, you’re not alone. But you can prevent a further decline of your karma points by checking out 9Gag on your phone (it’s available for download on iPhone, iPad and Android phones). I guarantee some of the pictures will replace that morning scowl with a grin. I’ve lost count of the number of times I actually laughed out loud while browsing 9Gag! Just a word of warning, though: One does not simply become a 9Gag fan without acquiring the ability to speak in memes after a while.

2. Go For A Short Run

Or a swim – whichever sport that doesn’t elicit a string of profanities from you. Regular short workouts help reduce cortisol levels and, instead, release feel-good chemicals like endorphins, dopamine and serotonin. Translation: You’ll feel lighter and happier after just 20 minutes of exercise … plus you’ll be one step closer to achieving an even hotter body!

3. Look At Happy Pictures

A collage of some of my happy moments. What's yours like? :)

A collage of some of my happy moments. What’s yours like? 🙂

Create a new photo album in your phone and fill it with pictures that bring back happy memories – they could be of your favourite vacation, your best friend’s surprise party, your cat snuggling against you, a topless Robert Pattinson, etc. There’s nothing wrong with leaning on old memories for support; these photos are a visual reminder that you were free of stress in those moments – and that you can most certainly feel that way again.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets. 

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Health & Fitness, Love, Relationships, Wellbeing

In Defence Of Masturbation – Tan Lili

material-world-singapore-in-defence-of-masturbation

Doing the two-finger tango. Flickin’ the bean. Pushing the hot button. Party of one. Date with BOB. Finding your happy. Oh, you know what we’re talking about … It’s International Masturbation Month and, here at Material World, we’re all about sharing the good stuff.

But, first things first: Why is female masturbation still a taboo topic? It is, after all, a healthy expression of female sexuality. I was 14 when I first came across the subject of self-pleasure – Divinyls’ “I Touch Myself” was mentioned by Buffy in only my all-time favourite TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Obviously, 14-year-old me had no idea what that song was about at the time, though it definitely piqued my curiosity. It was only later, much later, that I discovered the true meaning of solo sex – and, boy, did I wish I had discovered it sooner.

Everyone’s entitled to happiness; no shame in that. And the great thing is, while you’re blissfully lost in your happy land, you’re doing your body and wellbeing a whole lot of good. Here are some of them.

It’s A Natural Pain Reliever
Oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, helps lower your blood pressure and increase your pain tolerance. A US study found that in masturbation-induced orgasms, “the pain tolerance threshold and pain detection threshold increased significantly by 74.6 percent and 106.7 percent respectively”. So now you know what to do the next time you feel that migraine coming on …

It’s Good For Your Heart
Studies have shown that women who experience more orgasms – with or without a partner – are better protected against heart diseases.

It Helps You Sleep Better
Post-orgasm, calming hormones oxytocin and endorphins are released, lulling you into a jelly-like state and encouraging a deeper, more restful slumber. Why, masturbation might just be the antidote to your late-night Candy Crush addiction!

It Improves Your Overall Wellbeing
A study found that women who masturbate regularly have higher levels of self-esteem than those who don’t. Sex therapists also stress that masturbation helps relieve emotional stress because you’re allowing yourself to indulge in some me-time in the midst of the drama surrounding you.

It Improves Your Sex Life
Because your pleasure is, quite literally, in your own hands, you’ll gradually learn what feels good for you. And, as your sexual confidence soars with your self-esteem (read point above), you can guide your partner to those sweet spots.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction.

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Character & Soul, Self-Improvement

Would It Kill To Be Courteous? – Tan Lili

singa-the-courtesy-lion-material-world-singapore

During his happier days.

Whether or not it’s a marketing gimmick, something in his epic breakup resignation letter resonated deeply with me: “It’s not that we aren’t a gracious society, or that kindness is not innate in all of us. But some days it feels like not very many of us believe in or care about expressing kindness.”

Damn straight. I cringe whenever tourists remark how friendly and courteous Singaporeans are, because, collectively, we aren’t.

Try this experiment: Wherever you are – on the train, inside a shopping mall, at a cafe, on the road – observe the people around you. How many of them markedly ignored store assistants who wished them a nice day? How many pushed and shoved to get onto the train? How many gave the evil eye when someone accidentally bumped into them amidst the crowd? How many got lost in la la land, walking at a snail’s pace and completely disregarding the world behind them?

I know of people who, for some reason, think it’s their prerogative to be rude to wait staff and shop assistants. This misplaced sense of entitlement has got to go. Don’t get me wrong; there are kind souls among us. They help pick up someone’s dropped item and return it to them; they give up their non-priority seats for a pregnant woman or the elderly; they smile and thank store assistants; they share their umbrellas with those without one when it’s pouring and they’re heading towards the same direction.

It’s heartening to witness such acts of kindness and compassion – but they shouldn’t be out of the norm. Here’s the thing: It only takes a smidgen of effort to be courteous. Smile, say “thank you”, give way, be considerate, show some compassion – these are little things that can brighten up someone else’s day.

While Singa has given up on us, that doesn’t mean we should give up on one another. Thank you for reading! 🙂

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction.

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Entertainment, Lifestyle

15 Songs You Never Knew Were Covers – Tan Lili

One of life’s greatest pleasures is to do absolutely nothing on a lazy Saturday afternoon, humming along to your favourite songs. Well, at least until you find out your whole life has been a lie, and you get clouded by the fog of betrayal – an oppressive feeling of shattered confidence, broken trust, unmet expectations.

Okay, perhaps I’m being a little melodramatic here. But for some music lovers, this is akin to a grown man finding out the almighty Optimus Prime and forever-sadface Eeyore were voiced by the same guy (I kid you not). Brace yourselves, for you won’t be able to un-listen what you’re about to hear.

1. “Love Hurts” by Nazareth The Everly Brothers (1960)

2. “The First Cut Is The Deepest” by Sheryl Crow Cat Stevens (1967)

3. “Without You” by Mariah Carey Badfinger (1970)

4. “Always On My Mind” by Elvis Presley Brenda Lee (1972)

5. “I Want Candy” by Aaron Carter The Strangeloves (1965)

6. “I Will Be” by Leona Lewis Avril Lavigne (2007)

7. “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor The Family (1985)

8. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper Robert Hazard (1979)

9. “Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia Ednaswap (1993)

10. “Emotion” by Destiny’s Child Samantha Sang (1977)

11. “The Tide Is High” by Atomic Kitten The Paragons (1967)

12. “Killing Me Softly With His Song” by Fugees Lori Lieberman (1972)

13. “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley Leonard Cohen (1984)

14. “Respect” by Aretha Franklin Otis Redding (1965)

15. “Mandy” by Barry Manilow Scott English (1971)

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction.

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Food News, Lifestyle

Food Review: Jewel Café + Bar – Tan Lili

If all-day comfort food and specialty coffee are what you’re after, look no further than Jewel Café + Bar, a gem located right in the heart of Little India on Rangoon Road.

Brought to you by the same people behind artisanal coffee house Jewel Coffee at 1 Shenton Way, this casual dining and cafe concept boasts an extensive menu and a much bigger space, making for a great hangout option away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Whet your appetite with French Onion Soup, $8. The rich, flavourful soup is infused with the sweetness of caramelised onions, and capped with a generous layer of Swiss cheese, parmesan and Gruyere – it’s heaven at first bite!

A burger that makes you scream, "OMG!"

A burger that makes you scream, “OMG!”

With tongue-in-cheek names like Praise the Lard, $18, and OMG!, $20, you know the burgers are going to be something special. We tried OMG! – a mammoth burger made up of crispy bacon, luncheon meat, beef patty, cheddar, lettuce, onions, tomatoes and a sunny-side-up. Too decadent? You bet. But it’s so satisfying, it’s worth the extra gym-time.

Miso Presa Iberico - a must-try for meat lovers.

Miso Presa Iberico is a must-try – even for non-pork fans.

For mains, you’ve got to try Miso Presa Iberico, $34. Marinated with miso and mirin, the Presa Iberico pork is oven-baked to juicy, pink-centred perfection – this, coming from a person who isn’t even a fan of pork! Jewel Café + Bar also serves pastas, including the scrumptious Umami Prawn Capellini, $22.

The main dishes come in sizeable portions, but don’t let that stop you from ordering Scotch Egg, $9 – a side dish comprising deep fried eggs wrapped in Kurobuta pork sausage meat. 

If you’re bored of the same ol’ dessert offerings, try Pan-Seared Watermelon Steaks, $9. Made of pan-seated watermelon slices with balsamic glaze, sea salt, basil leaves and homemade pineapple sorbet, this unconventional dessert is not only a healthier (albeit pricier) alternative but also a great-tasting treat!

Perfect for hot, humid days!

San Francisco – the perfect drink to beat the heat!

Of course, what’s a visit to Jewel without having a cup of joe? Apart from coffee pulled using the Italian La Marzocco Strada machine with single origin beans, you can also look forward to Portland, $7, a black cold drip coffee, and San Francisco, $7, a creamier alternative mixed with half-and-half cream.

Jewel Café + Bar also has breakfast and brunch offerings, as well as a full-fledged bar that serves up original concoctions, like the very refreshing No. 1 Yuzu, $16, a mix of vodka and yuzu juice. 

Jewel Café + Bar is located at 129 Rangoon Road, Tel: 6298 9216.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction.

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