Ten Things to Write Down Before The New Year

O.k. I cheated. I got this inspiration from Oprah, right here. The idea is to write these down, then look back sometimes in the future to see where we have been. This list is thought provoking, but not too sappy/wishy-washy type of way.

Here goes mine, the select ten:

1. Watched/Read-It List.
I read loads of parenting books (cue the yawns..) but one that really grabs my attention is "Unconditional Parenting" by Alfie Kohn. He describes me perfectly: why I do the things that I do now because of how I've been parented. Loads of money from years of going to the shrink saved! Also, a very revealing point that I no longer read for pleasure :-(
Movies: I watched Skyfall finally, two days ago with PapaLorp, Anna Karenina by myself, and our holiday movies.

2. Words of Wisdom.
My Oma told me, "A girl should never go out without at least powdering the cheeks, combing the hair, and spritzing a little bit of perfume." I grew up sort of a tomboy, now I heed her advice daily.

3. My True Happiness.
At home, with BabyLorp and PapaLorp, eating good food. Equally: first thing in the morning, in bed, playing pick-a-boo.

4. The Mistake I Never Want to Make.
Using reward/punishment, especially material reward/punishment, to parent.

5. To-go Recipe.
I found this super easy & tasty Fish Pie video by Jamie Oliver a while back. I can make it in a jiff & hardly need to remember the recipe.

6. The Most Unexpected Compliment You Ever Got.
Hmm.. this is a hard one. And another very revealing question as I do tend to minimize compliments.

7. A Deep Dark Secret.
I'm a cosmetics/makeup/nail polish/perfume addict. Bottom line: quite vain.

8. That One Quote.
"What you don't have you don't need it now." - Bono, A Beautiful Day.

9. An Amendment to the Bucket List.
Ten years ago I would have had one, but thankgoodness I don't have one now! Why on earth would you want to have yet another list to be checked off?

10. Last Night's Dream.
More like 2 days ago: I was in vacation with BabyLorp & PapaLorp, they were both waiting in the car while I was in the shop purchasing some pastries and speaking French with the shop lady.

Finally, my own addition:
11. Fave Makeup Item of the Year.
I think that would be Horizon de Chanel blush for me. The one that I wear almost daily (if not at least once a week :-D) for the whole year.

Phew.. I think 10 is long enough, don't you think? What are yours?

May your New Year be filled with joy and our best wishes from the Land of Lorp.


Maquillage Crystalizing Lip Compacts

I dig into my makeup stash in this dark, cloudy December day, trying to find some inspiration of what to blog. With a dearth of natural lighting (and a poor indoor lighting as well), I need to find a subject that I can blog without swatching. I always admire makeup bloggers out there who produce beautiful photography, blog post after blog post, even under artificial lighting. I need to learn some more in this subject for sure.

I came across these lip palette from Maquillage, a Japanese brand under Shiseido. I've almost forgotten how much I love them. I got them during one of my trip to Asia a few years back, and I am still using these palettes, as evident from the abuses they take.

In the world of makeup, Japanese brands are the purple unicorn of the cosmetics world: hard to get, but highly desirable. I read somewhere that the standard for cosmetic products in Japan is very strict, even more strict than those in the U.S. and the E.U. In addition, the colors are universally flattering, even for those who are not Asian. Note the pink palette above, ever so dusky, just a touch of beige and enough pink that won't make the lips look dead. Finally, the texture, shimmer, sparkle, etc. (you name it), are said to be superlative. Notice the rightmost well on the picture above -- it puts Bobbi Brown's Brightening Lip glosses to shame.

In these particular lip palettes, the four wells consist of (from L to R): lip balm base, lipstick, non-shimmery lip gloss, and shimmery lip gloss. The textures of all of them are excellent: they are moisturizing, comfortable to wear, and the glosses are non-sticky. So comfortable and moisturizing, I wear these when my lips are chapped and the lips end up better after I wear them. The only down side is the sheer pigmentation, which I think is the aim of these palettes. I initially bought the middle one, a pinky-beige color. I love it so much, I went back to the store the next day to buy two more of the palettes, one in nude beige on the left, and pinky rose on the bottom.

My katakana reading is quite rusty, but I think it says "Maquillage Crystalizing Lip Compact"
Despite of the "age" of these palettes, the product hasn't gone bad yet, thank goodness! If so, I don't know where and how I can get a replacement of any of these (and I don't think these are still in production).

Each palette comes with a very functional dual-ended lip brush: the short-bristled end for applying the waxier products, the long-bristled end for applying the glosses. These lip brush are very well made, not the wimpy-kind that you'd toss right away. I found this to be the case with most of Japanese makeup.

With BabyLorp approaching toddlerhood, it is quite impossible for us to do any type of traveling anytime soon, but someday, when we can go to Japan, no doubt I'll be depleting his college fund by stocking up on some these cosmetics.

Obviously, if you are already familiar with Japanese cosmetics, this post is a moot point. But for those who are not familiar with this genre, yet, I hope I've provided you with an enticing amuse-bouche. What are some of your favorite Japanese makeup brand? And where do you get them (if you don't live in Asia)? I read that there are a couple of online stockists but they usually don't carry the full line and the mark-up is significant.


Joy and Peace

May you find your gifts, under the tree or everywhere you look around in this holiday season. Our best wishes from the Land of Lorp.


FACE Stockholm for J.Crew Lipstick: Chili Flake

I surprised myself, again! And like I mentioned before, that does not happen very often (well, I admit, maybe it happens more than I'd like to think). But, I found a perfect warm red lipstick in a clothing store.

As so often, I opened up J.Crew catalog and found the models posing with either A: I'm super happy, look at me! or B: nonchalantly with the I'm-so-cool-I-don't-even-care -look in the eyes. Please padron the crappy screen shots below as I chucked my current J.Crew catalog already.

But almost always, they sport bright red, orangey lips and those red lips made me curious if J.Crew has a collaboration with a brand to produce it. After all which company wouldn't capitalize on such things? Sure enough, it does, and on the check out counter of my local J.Crew store, here it was: Chili Flake lipstick by FACE Stockholm.

Chili Flake is just that, bright, warm, bordering orange red. So bright that it is almost neon under some artificial light. It is very pigmented: a little goes a long way, with semi-matte finish that is quite drying. Indeed, the texture is quite hard to work with: it has very little slip, and application with a brush is a must for precision. But boy... it is soo pigmented that it leaves quite a tenacious stain afterwards. Perfect for red lipstick application technique à la Lisa Eldridge (where you'd take a small amount and brush brush brush, getting the pigment to saturate the "root of the carpet" of your lips, blot, and repeat).

Under direct sunlight, L: one swipe, R: four swipes.

The picture above belies the semi-matte finish, which is more evident once on lips. Normally I put on 3 thin layers, blotting in between, and top the lipstick with some type of matte lip balm like Nuxe Rêve de Miel. It lasts quite a bit, but the addition of lip balm will make the color transfer somewhat.

Under the shade, always a more accurate representation of the color.

Finally, so many warm-red lipsticks out there can turn fuchsia once on, this one doesn't.

In case anyone is wondering about the French Martini shade, also from FACE Stockholm for J.Crew, it is almost identical to Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Flirt, circa Spring 2012 (Horizon de Chanel collection) -- in fact, the difference is hardly detectable once worn. With far superb formulation of Chanel's I passed this one. Both colors are now available at J.Crew website and stores.

THM: Love the color but not the formula. Has anyone else tried this or found any dupe with better formulation? Perhaps from Giorgio Armani?


Silent Night

I'm a bit ambivalent about posting this blog post, but the tragedy last week at Sandy Hook shook me to the core.

As parents will attest, we all share the same invisible bond: being a parent makes us a little bit more compassionate, a little bit more caring, and look at live a little bit more vulnerably. We may think that such event will never happen in our backyard, but we know we lied to ourselves. We know that the safety of our children is paramount and something like this is beyond dreadful.

My emotions need my reasons to explain why, so I searched high and low. I don't want to think the unthinkable, yet I also want to think what I can do to prepare myself, to protect my family, to help the victim. So many questions, so little answer.

Then came along this quote from a parenting blog that I subscribed to, and I found a little shelter from the angst:

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” - Mr Rogers

I am thankful that my life thus far has been blessed with so many caring people, in big and small ways. May I be the channel of that care and help, whenever someone else needs it, now or in the future. And may those people who are affected by this tragedy find help and care that they need, whether it be from me or from anyone else.

I am still contemplating on how to best help the victims at Sandy Hook. I know there are so many ways to do so. Meanwhile, I will hug BabyLorp tightly today, grateful for the privilege of taking care of him for another day.


Tom Ford Eye Color Quad Enchanted

I surprised myself and that does not happen very often. I thought my first Tom Ford purchase would have been one of the lipsticks -- perhaps one of the reds, or the Black Orchid -- but somehow they don't move me. Not because of the lack of quality, color or the off-putting price point, but because I am quite happy with my current lipstick wardrobe.

On the other hand, I have not been tempted by the shadow quads, simply because I don't like sparkle on my eyes and the colors are quite fashion-forward that it is hard justifying spending that much money on a non-classic item.

That is until I met Enchanted. It was, I admit, one of those semi-impulse buy during a promo that Saks had a while ago and after doing a little bit of blog research, I decided on this quad.

There are several reasons why I decided on purchasing Enchanted quad. First, the cool-toned color combo (of pink, taupe, and purple) in this palette works quite nicely on warm-toned skin. Some of the best pinks or taupes or purples that I own are of the warm toned and I find it quite hard to find a balanced cool colors that would work on warm-toned skin. Second, the sparkly accent color is more subdued than most of other quads. Third, the colors can be toned down or amped up. I know many reviews out there mentioned that the colors in this quad is very sheer/subdued, but I digress. Check out this blog post where the model is wearing quite bold smoky courtesy of Enchanted, and a makeover here, also featuring a bold Enchanted. The promo pictures themselves showcased Enchanted applied heavily smoked. I think this palette is quite versatile.

The packaging is quite luxurious and I don't expect anything less for $75. It comes with one double-ended sponge applicator and one dual sponge/brush applicator that I have yet to use. 

I also like the wide and functional mirror. It is useful not only for applying the shadow but also for everything else in general. My makeup habit is quite nomadic; I need to be able to put it on quickly, whenever and where ever, so packaging with functional mirrors are always appreciated. 

The texture of the shadows are quite dry and waxy compared to some of the buttery, powdery smooth Burberry that I'm used to. But the color pay off are quite good and I grow to like the slight waxiness of it. With my brush, I can pick up just the right amount for a wash that is buildable, without leaving behind a lot of crumbly mess. They blend seamlessly and I hardly need any primer to make the color shows up or stays put. 

Under direct sunlight. From L to R (clockwise colors from the palette): beige -- sparkly pink -- deep plum -- taupe
I don't know if I have dupes of colors from my existing palettes. I doubt because my collection is quite small. So far, I've been wearing the taupe color alone, with smoked up plum shade near the lash line and a touch of the sparkly pink on the center of the eye. On days when I want to be more subdued, I just use the blackened plum to line and a touch of the taupe on the socket. On the lips, I pair it with either Aerin Dahlia or one of the nudes. They are simply divine and they work seamlessly. I'll be watching other blogs/bloggers for some inspiration on how to put this quad to work.

Under the shade with natural lighting, same order as above.
THM: Love. If you have $75 lying around somewhere, get it.


Five Fave Movies for the Holiday

Happy 12/12/12! Is it only 12 days to Christmas? or maybe 12 days of Christmas starts now? Anyhow, in the Land of Lorp, we usually spend Christmas and New Year at home, being the introverts that we are. Naturally, movies are big hit in our household, especially holiday movies. We are not movie connoisseurs, so you won't see Godard or Truffaut, but here are a few that we love (all images from amazon.com -- click away as I'm not an affiliate link, or whatever they call it):

Bad Santa

Santa sooo bad it is so good to watch! A classic in the Land of Lorp. Although very sarcastic and satirical, you can't help but to want Santa to win in the end.

Love Actually

The ultimate feel-good movie for us who won't or can't travel during Christmas. The idea of Christmas in London is very appealing, especially when all can be enjoyed from your own living room.

Home Alone

Especially the first one! We'll watch the sequels sometimes when there's no other movies to watch. It is a great example of American Christmas at its excess but it has its moments, too, such as the scene where the children's choir sings.

Bridget Jones's Diary

Technically not a Christmas movie, but the movie started and ended on Christmas (or rather, around Christmas time), so yeah, why not! Besides, who can resist Colin Firth?

Groundhog Day

The perfect movie when we are snowed in. Bill Murray is hilarious and I actually love Andie MacDowell here.

We are always on the look out for suggestions of holiday movies to add to our repertoire  What are some of your favorite?


Thankful Tuesday

Thankful Tuesday comes early to the rescue. Let's be honest, holiday season hardly inspires a feeling of gratitude among us. It's all about wish-list (want, want, want!), or sale (want, want, and more WANT), or expectations from yourself (I wish by now I would have been ... = want!) and loved ones (I wish ... would have gifted/called/visited/... = want!). Sometimes, the expectation is so high, so many people are not looking forward to the holiday season itself. No wonder anecdotally the increase of suicide rate has been associated with holiday season (although several articles has debunk this). Who can live with such high of an expectation? And why all of it has to come down to just one day/week/month of the year anyway?

Still, I'd like to think that we can all find a little respite from all the endless wanting and find a glimmer of gratefulness. Here are a few of my favorite things to get the ball rolling:

  • A morning hug and kiss from BabyLorp.
  • A good cup of tea in the morning, aaahhh!
  • The good feeling after I put on makeup and do my hair. 
  • Two friendly corgis who came to greet me and BabyLorp on our outing today.
  • Bare branches of my thunder plum tree (and finding a small bird nest in it!).
  • A time for myself to write this blog.

No doubt, money can buy nice things, but some of the best things in life are free. It is my sincere hope that you will find them big and small wherever you are. 

What are some of the things that you are thankful for today?


Aerin Beauty The Mini Lipsticks 02 Love

Love is the last installment of Aerin Beauty The Mini Lipsticks that I bought. This is one of those post that I thought, "why bother.." but somewhere in the blogosphere, someone wrote something along the line of, "I try things so you won't have to" and this certainly qualifies for it.

From L to R: Aerin The Mini Lipsticks in Love -- Lolabird -- Dahlia

Love Mini Lipstick is part of Aerin Holiday Collection (check out my other reviews of Lolabird and Dahlia) and it is one of the two nudes in the collection. 01 Winter Rose has shimmer in it and 02 Love does not.

I love nudes, and I want to love Love, but I demand a lot from my nude lipsticks. First, the color has to work. This is a no-brainer; noone wants a dead-looking nude, unless the aim is to go to a Halloween party. This is why there are so many variations of nudes out there to suit every skin tone and natural lip color. Unfortunately, Love makes me look dead, or at the very least, it gives me the concealer-lip look. It may look better on someone with tanned/bronzed skin (like Aerin herself) but I am embracing my fairness especially during winter months. Second, the nudes have to enhance the lips, not accentuating lines, dry bits and pieces of skins. Let's face it, most of us tends to neglect our lips occasionally, and this is when lipsticks come in to help us give that illusion of perfection, right? Unfortunately, Love settles on lip lines and dry bits on the lips. Finally, the formula itself has to work. Aerin creme lipsticks are relatively comfortable: they smell nice, glide smoothly, but alas! My Love smells stale! Yep, the smell of old, stale oil that has been sitting in the sun. This lipstick goes back straight to Estee Lauder Return Department.

Let's make good use of the pictures taken in the dearth of sunshine. Here I present you the swatches compared to my other nudes.

Under direct sunlight. From L to R: Burberry Lip Mist Nude Peach -- Aerin Mini Lipstick 02 Love -- Aerin Sunday Morning -- Edward Bess Secret Desire-- Giorgio Armani Rouge d'Armani 105

Love is decidedly nude-er than Aerin's previously released Sunday Morning lipstick. They are of the same creme formula. Notice how Sunday Morning has a tad more pink, making it a bit more flattering on my lips. The difference is subtle but it translates noticeably on my lips. Burberry Nude Peach is far more pinker than both of the Aerins. I don't know why I included the EB and GA, for completeness I guess. Another picture:

Under the shade with natural light. Same order as above picture.
THM: Love DOA, not worth your money.

On a side note: Estee Lauder has quite confusing return policy in U.S. It says on the website that shipping and returns are free, but when you receive the invoice with your shipment, it will say that return fees are not reimbursable. Should you wish to return EL products, you need to contact their customer service and they will send you a UPS shipping label, either via email/snail mail, that you can use for return. I found this a bit misleading and quite a hassle. I'm hoping that EL will fix this for the future.


Loving Right Now

Loving Right Now

Loving Right Now by declairelegenou featuring lip makeup

As the day gets shorter and weather gets cooler, I'm leaning more and more toward something warm & brightening, something to look forward to when I don't feel like getting up in the morning.

  • Chanel Malice. I'm not usually a dark nail polish wearer but this one is a stunner. Absolutely classic on tips. Visit Sabrina's blog here for her wonderful review and extensive comparison to other Chanel shades.
  • L'Eau d'Hiver from Frederic Malle's Editions de Parfums. If there's such a thing as a quiet fragrance, this is it. It conjures up the stillness of winter, the white, snow-blanketed scenery and the absolute stillness of it. Very quiet and comforting as well.
  • Nuxe Rêve de Miel lip balm. I slather this thickly before I go to bed as an insurance for supple, crack-free lips in the morning.
  • Eucalyptus essential oil. I place about 10-15 drops of eucalyptus essential oil (mine is from Whole Foods) onto a small towel and place them underneath my hot shower for a wonderful aromatic steam in the morning or night. It makes my shower that much more luxurious, plus it clears up the nose and winter stale air. If only I can restrain myself to take as short of a shower as possible (it is vile to my dry, eczema-prone skin).
  • Aerin Beauty The Mini Lipstick in Lolabird (reviewed here). I grow to love this magenta on my lips, perhaps because it is less silicony than Burberry Velvets (which I love anyhow), and perhaps because I just crave brighter colors but not red, yet.