Tuesday, March 15, 2016

5 things you may (or may not) know about Ricola!

Sponsored Post

I’m quite sure when you guys read the title of this post, you would immediately think of sweets or lozenges when you read the word – 'Ricola'. After all, it's a well known household brand that we grew up with and for the “older” generation like me, some of us will remember having these little boxes of Ricola sweets in our school bags (which I would secretly pop into my mouth during class, lol) Till today, I LOVE the pearl series which is a chewy version of the original lozenges! I remember I will stick the sweet onto the roof of my mouth using the “suction method” (because of the pearl shape) I don’t know really know how to explain it in words but you just have to try it yourself if this is the first time you are reading about this, HAHAHA.
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Anyway, I have 5 things to share about Ricola which I thought were pretty interesting and you probably won’t know! We pretty much know about their wide ranges of flavours which are displayed prominently at the sweets section of every minimart and supermarket in Singapore. What else do you know about Ricola?
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#1: Ricola Original herb drops are made up of 13 different herbs
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Numerous positive properties are attributes to the 13 herbs. They are Horehound, Burnet, Speedwell, Marshmallow, Lady’s Mantle, Elder, Mallow, Peppermint, Sage, Yarrow, Cowslip, Plantain and Thyme. Probably 80% of these herbs sound unfamiliar to you but most of these herbs help in soothing and relieving coughs. Did you know that marshmallow is especially soothing for soothing irritable cough??? Now you have an excuse to tell your mum! But please don't quote me, HAHA.
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#2: ”Riiiiicolaaaa” It all began in 1993

Who can ever forget the internationally renowned “Riiiicolaaa” tune that we heard from their advertisement? It all began in 1993 when a TV ad featuring two farmers calling ‘Ricola’ to one another. After which the ‘Ricola call’ became an instant hit and since 1993, no Ricola TV ad has been released without the ‘Ricola call’.
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#3: Ricola uses no artificial colorings or flavourings
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Did you know that Ricola’s herb fields are located in the Swiss mountains? Ricola uses both modern technology and traditional methods of manual cultivation of their herbs. The cultivated herbs, once passed quality inspection, are carefully dried, cleaned, chopped and blended using their secret recipe and finally heated and mixed with other ingredients. After cooling, the mixture is shaped to form the herb drops. Ricola pays particular attention to the quality and natural condition of other ingredients and uses no artificial colorings or flavorings.
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#4: Famous self-confessed Ricola fans
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Ricola products are famous worldwide for their soothing effect on the mouth and throat and for aspiring singers. Did you know the secret that sucking Ricola herb oils drops 'oils' the vocal chords? Maybe from now onwards, you might want to have some Ricola candies around you before any vocal performances.
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#5: It's Ricola Original`s 75th Anniversary!
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See that Ricola Original herb made of real gold in the image above? Well, in view of Ricola Original's 75th Anniversary, you stand to win it in a one-time sweepstake! Basically you have 75 seconds to answer as many questions as possible and for each correct answer, you get one entry in the sweepstake! More info on the sweepstake here.

Well, how many out of the 5 things i mentioned above did you know about Ricola beforehand? I've already joined the sweepstake (since i now know so much about Ricola, MUAHAHA) and who knows, i might just be that lucky winner! *cross fingers*. Do let me know which is your favourite Ricola product and which flavor you love most by commenting on my Instagram post! Last but not least, Happy 75th Birthday Ricola Original! :D

I partnered with the brand to write this article but every word is mine.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Instagram #Flatlay 101

I've always been a fan of Flatlays and i tend to like almost every other #Flatlay photos that i see on my instagram explore page. Sometimes i get so amazed by how much time and effort is being put in into each photo and there are some ig accounts that are purely dedicated (or 90% of their posts) to flatlays like @elpuswr, @Walids, @Designbyaikonik just to mention a few ig accounts that i follow and i never fail to like each and every of their photos.

Anyway if you still have no idea what #Flatlay is about, it's all about laying out your stuff and taking a photos from directly above, basically giving an overview of everything that is laid out. You can go search "#Flatlay" on instagram and you can see a gazillions of examples. Flatlays are amazing but not a lot of people understand the whole process behind each photo which is what i aim to give you an guys an idea of the entire process on how we get the end #flatlay image :)

If you have following me on my instagram (@andystorm) you will realised that my color scheme or theme is pretty much monochrome nowadays. I've always enjoyed doing #Flatlay but i kind of "unable" to do it because it must sort of be monochrome and also because i'm kinda lazy to do it, HAHAHA Anyway, i thought since pretty much all my Adidas shoes are in black and white, why not do a #Flatlay with the shoes and show you guys how it's being done!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post by Adidas. But Adidas PR, if you ever see this post, i just wanna say i love your shoes! LOLOLOL

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Step 1: Gather the things you need for the #Flatlay. So in my case, i chose 4 of my shoes which are black and white since i already know the color theme i want, and i also prepared some marble inspired paper which i bought from Art Friend ($0.90/ A4 piece) as the background. You can also use Mahjong paper or just spread normal white A4 paper on the ground. Bonus if your floor or table is already white or the color you want (then you can pretty much skip step 2!)
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Step 2: Lay out your background. In my case, the A4 marble-inspired paper.
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Step 3: Artistically arrange your items. Trial and error until you feel that it doesn't look messy and all over the place. Tip: Do allow some space between each item so the overall image will look aesthetically pleasing. Keep adjusting.
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Step 4: As most #Flatlay are mostly square, you can use your iPhone's square camera to see if your arrangement looks pleasing. This is the part where you have to keep adjusting your items to make sure that it fills up the square but at the same time, with enough spaces between them. I felt that my image is a little boring with just the shoes so i went to dig out more accessories to fill up the bigger gabs. Tip: Try to find "relatable" items of the same color scheme,definitely not something bright and bold that might steal the limelight from your main items.
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Step 5: Once again, keep checking if the overall arrangement, adjust if need be. For my "accessories", i managed to find my old Adidas watch which is black and gold, a pair of black socks with white stripes and i used the stray paper which came along in my Adidas shoe box. Don't you think with these add-ons, the entire photo looks so much better???
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Step 6: The most tedious part. Once you feel that you already got the perfect shot. It's time to put everything back to their original place. Imagine you have items from all over the house, that's when you have to spend some time...
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Step 7: Most #Flatlays requires post editing on the computer, simply because one does not spend so much effort in taking the shot but not beautify it. LOL You can expect to see duplicates of your images,in different arrangements, different lighting etc from the collection. Scrutinize one by one and pick out the one that you think is the best of all.
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Step 8: Photoshop. The above is the image i have chosen out all of the photos i took previously. There are some obvious flaws in the image which needs to be rectify. For example, the joint-lines cause by the overlapping of my marble paper. I also thought i can blend in the "stray paper" with my background. Edit the lighting of the image, Tip: Use "Dodge" tool to lighten, and "Burn" tool to darken. Smart sharpen the overall image after done editing. You're done!
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Step 9: Save and Share! The above is the final product of my #Flatlay. I did not mention one thing that i edited which might not be very obvious but it will definitely affect the overall image if i didn't do it. Maybe you might have realized it, HAHA Clue: Stripes. So what do you think of the final image? Is there a big difference before and after?
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Let me put the before and after side by side.

That's all i have for my simple #Flatlay 101 post. Hope you like it and appreciate every flatlay that you see on instagram! Likes are free anyway so i guess it doesn't hurt to double tap on every flatlay you see! (unless it's really poorly done that maybe not, lol) Follow me on my instagram @andystorm for my monochrome shots and @_akwh for more personal photos! Till the next post, i will try to update my blog more often! :)

   Happy New Year,                                  

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Travel: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Honestly speaking, Vietnam has never been in my "list-to-travel-places" list mainly because one, i don't know much about the place as a tourist destination and two, i think i won't be able to get used to the local food (because everything there seem to be served with veggies, and i don't take veggies at all.) But anyway, i was looking to get out of country for a short getaway during December "time to clear annual leave" period but airfare to practically anywhere were pretty steep. Even a return fare to BKK would cost me around $300! Usually it's only $160 for non peak period :( 

I was then randomly browsing one night and i came across VietJet advertisement and they were running a promotion to Ho Chi Minh City at only $130. Not the ideal getaway i had in mind but better than nothing, LOL Told K about it, blocked our leaves and booked the tickets to Ho Chi Minh City! Accommodation booked at Liberty Central Saigon Hotel! 
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Departure at Changi Airport Terminal 3! Flight time: 2 Hrs 5 Mins.

Prior to our trip, we did some research on where we want to visit, where to eat etc. Important note for those who stumble upon this post while researching on HCMC: Apparently there are two taxi companies that you should take. Either Mai Linh (mostly white with green lettering, though sometimes green or silver) or Vinasun (white with green and red lettering) The others are not to reliable. Fares increases by thousands but is typically quite cheap in HCMC so no harm taking, even for short distances. Exchange rate was SGD 1: 15,500 Dong when i exchanged prior in Singapore.
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I tend to take a photo of the taxi number every time i enter a taxi, just in case. Anyway it took about 30 mins to reach our hotel (Liberty Central Saigon Hotel) from the airport. Sorry, no photos of the hotel but it's highly recommended. The location is right beside the famous Ben Thanh market and the hotel is quite reputable in HCMC, paid about $100 a night? Checked in, and roamed out to the streets. Made a reservation at AB tower Chill sky bar, one of the taller tower which gives you a panoramic view of the whole HCMC. Drinks and snacks are slightly pricey but i guess it's pretty worth it :)   
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Next morning we roamed out to search for a noodle place recommended by Nina. It was scorching hot that day. I swear we should go for a colder destination for our next trip. The noodles was pretty good but i had no idea what the dish is called or what was i eating. LOL We then headed to the nearby War remnants museum because i was interested in the war aircraft static display. Admission to the museum was 15,000 dong if i didn't remember wrongly. Inside you get to learn about the Vietnam war, basically the remnants of war and whatever is left over or preserved lah. LOL
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Bến Nghé, tp. Hồ Chí Minh, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Notre Dame Cathedral Saigon. Not as magnificent as the famous one in Paris but good enough.
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1st floor, 26 Lý Tự Trọng, District 1, HCMC, Vietnam

One of the list of cafes in our list to visit: Loft Cafe. Saw photos of it on Instagram while researching on HCMC and i was like MUST GO because the cafe seem so white and chic, plus there is this huge Roman clock which i definitely must take photo with. HAHAHA i sound so bimbo. Apparently there is 2 Loft Cafe in HCMC so we googled-map ourselves to the other one. I was like, where is the clock, where is the clock. LOL Then the staff told us the other outlet is just nearby. Heng ah. Service was excellent, food was good and it's very cheap for a cafe compared to Singapore. Took my photo!
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2 Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, tp. Hồ Chí Minh, Hồ Chí Minh

Another place in my list of places to go: Saigon Central Post Office. I love both of the interior and exterior of this post office! Even though it's now considered a "tourist attraction", this post office is still fully functional and you can still post parcels or send a postcard. It was pretty crowded that day but i would still recommend people to visit the place :)

Booked a Củ Chi tunnel tour the day before at USD10 which included admission fee, pickup and drop off at our hotel. There are a lot of tour agency everywhere so do survey around before booking your Củ Chi tunnel tour. Some maybe slightly more expensive because it's conducted in a slightly smaller group or they provide lunch, some might be super cheap like USD 6 which probably means it doesn't include the admission fee etc, only transport.

The lady at our tour agency told us to get ready and wait in our room at 8.30am and the guide will give our room a call once they reach. The next morning, we finally got the call at 8.45am and we got scolded by the guide for being late. He was like, "The whole bus waited for you guys for almost an hour. This is not a private tour you know?" I tried explaining to him but no use. Suan le, LOL Then on the bus, we got scolded again not bringing our booking receipt along. HAHAHHA I guess he must be really pissed off with two of us but he maintained his composure pretty well i would say.
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The half day tour was really interesting i would say. Everyone got to learn about the history of Vietnam war and how they fought and utilize the cu chi tunnel. The entrance was really camouflaged well and it was REALLY small. We even got to experience a slightly enlarged 100 meter version of the tunnel at the end of tour. Not easy and very very hot.
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3/F p. q. 1, 27 Ngô Đức Kế, Bến Nghé, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Another cafe to visit: The Workshop. The interior is very nice, service and food was just so so.

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Wanted to try the famous "broken rice" so we got kelvin's friend, Ryan to this place to try their authentic broken rice. IT WAS SO GOOD that i had another serving of rice. It was just BBQ pork with an egg but the marinating of the pork was so good. It was just a stall by the wet market, makeshift area with low tables and chairs along the pavement. I guess only the locals would know of such a place. I wonder if there is a place in SG that would serve such a good broken rice dish.
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In a blink of an eye, 3 days 2 nights was over just like that. The only downside was probably our return flight was shifted earlier so we had to wake up early on the last day, like 6 am to get a cab to the airport. Arrived Singapore in the afternoon. We could have spent the morning having some local food, oh wells. Wait, we didn't even had a single bowl of Pho in the entire trip!

Till the next trip,