A Year of Gratitude

Anyone has any recommendation for online collage maker?
When I look back throughout the year, there are many things that stuck in my memory. Winter comforts like hot tea and soups, cherry blossoms in the Spring, lots of outdoor play during hot Summer days and walks in crunchy leaves during Fall. I am also grateful for so many of you who have visited my measly blog throughout the year, dropping by with your comments, tweets, and collaborations (here and here).

For all of you, my warmest wish for the New Year. May it brings you peace and blessings, in obvious and not-so-obvious places.


Season's Greetings

Twelve selections we'd love to hear at the Land, in no particular order. Get your Spotify ready, here goes..
  1. Welcome Christmas from The Grinch. A childhood classic.
  2. All I Want for Christmas is a Real Good Tan by Kenny Chesney, a favorite of PapaLorp, a summary of how I grew up spending Christmases: somewhere in the beach, getting a good tan.
  3. All We Like Sheep from Handel Messiah, the Dunedin Consort version. Notice how each part of the chorus is meandering here and there, really lost like the sheep!
  4. Somewhere in My Memory from Home Alone Soundtrack (this one is a good youtube video with nice sceneries from Quebec).
  5. Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney reminds me of my first Christmas away from home, where I found myself in a plush country club in Bexley, OH, slathered head to toe with Country Apple toiletries from Bath and Body Works.
  6. Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley, a Christmas when my mom, my sister, and I spent karaoke-ing at a tropical resort.
  7. It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas by Michael Buble. In case you haven't gotten into the holiday mood yet.
  8. Last Christmas by Wham. Who can forget this??
  9. Silent Night from the Los Romeros, best enjoyed near fireplace with your loved ones around.
  10. Christmas Swing from Django Reinhardt and St├ęphane Grappelli, for all the fans of "Hot Club" jazz.
  11. Winter Wonderland by Diana Krall -- or anything from Diana Krall, really. I just close my eyes and imagine myself looking gorgeous and chic, in some swanky, grown-up party, sipping some grown-up drink, nibbling on some grown-up hors d'oeuvres, having some grown-up conversations, before I am brought back to reality by...
"More, more, Mama!!" The final selection, the most favoritest of the ToddlerLorp himself (before he discovers Alvin and The Chipmunks Christmas -- which I will spare you). I present you, the Las Vegas Brass Band Jingle Bells:

I wish you a merry Christmas and a blessed New Year of 2014, from our Land to yours.


drybar: Sake Bomb and Hot Toddy

Do you notice the hand-written thank you note that was included in my drybar order? I thought it was a very nice touch!!

This is my second installment of drybar product review (see the first here) and I waited this long to share with you the result, just to be sure that 1. I use the products regularly to notice any kind of improvement or lack thereof, and 2. I use it in the winter months when my hair is really dry and in need some serious nourishment on top of the occasional insult of blow-drying. Links are included below, not affiliate, just for convenience and for those who'd like to see the ingredients.

I knew I had to order Sake Bomb Nourishing Shampoo right away when I ordered the Happy Hour 'poo + cond. Happy Hour set is really designed to give a long-lasting blow dry, so they cannot be too moisturizing, right? My routine is normally to double-'poo: once with Happy Hour and once with Sake Bomb, then conditioner. As a nourishing shampoo, Sake Bomb is noticeably more moisturizing than Happy Hour. My wet hair does not get tangled as much as when I used Happy Hour. It suds a lot and I can feel my hair and scalp feel quite clean. I like that it is sulfate-free; however, my hair is not colored so I cannot vouch to whether or not this actually strips color away. Overall, not bad for a moisturizing shampoo.

After Sake Bomb, Hot Toddy is a natural add-on, esp if you heat-style. This product acts as a leave-in conditioner before blow-drying or using hot styling tools. My HG heat protector has been Kerastase Nectar Thermique and if you also are a Kerastase fan, I think you are in for a bit of a disappointment. I found Hot Toddy does not even hold a candle to Nectar Thermique. Just to give you an idea, I had to use a bit more than a quarter-size dollop of Hot Toddy, compared to just maybe less than a dime size of Nectar Thermique (really, just a size of a pea), to achieve that glossy, silky, frizz-free strands on my mid-length hair. I found that if I don't apply enough Hot Toddy (the quarter-size dollop, per recommendation, was about accurate in my case), my hair looks a bit dry and easily tangled due at the ends. But on the flip side, if I use Hot Toddy too much, it actually weighs down my hair, whereas with Nutri Thermique, I only use but a smidgen so my hair is very bouncy and weightless. Not that Hot Toddy can't do what it supposed to do, in my case, I need a lot more to achieve it. Apart from that, I think this is probably best suited to those with good hair condition (aka, not overly damaged/processed), or perhaps for occasional use.

All drybar product are priced sort of mid-upper range, not cheap, definitely! I'd probably wouldn't use these on regular basis, but for those special occasions when I do blow dry, I'd definitely use them.

Have you tried drybar products?


Thankful Tuesday: A Mindful Holiday

Each of these tags contains a wish from someone who can't afford it for themselves.
Consider finding one in your local mall near you.

When I start hearing Christmas muzak played in local grocery store, I know we are deep in the Holiday season. The thing is, at least here in the U.S. holiday season = shopping season. Let's not deny that there is a place for gift giving and spending. Truly, this is the time of the year when everyone should feel free to do so.

Here at the Land of Lorp, we discern what would be an appropriate tradition to pass on to the littlest of Lorp. Since I become a parent, I think much about our lifestyle in general, and micro-lifestyle around celebrations in particular. This is why they say you grow up when you become a parent, because you've never done the growing up thus far, until you have to!!

Well, you don't have to be a parent to learn from my experience. In this installment of "Thankful Tuesday," I will share some ideas of how to spend the holiday season mindfully. Most of the ideas below requires little money, some requires spending money but I assure you that they worth the feeling you will have in return. The idea of giving is to affirm the goodness that are already abundance around us, a symbol of thanks and gratitude to people who we take for granted throughout the year. Even if we only do it once a year, let it be a mindful, meaningful one.
  1. Give thanks.
    How can we acknowledge the goodness and abundance around us if we are not aware of it? Giving thanks is one of the way that we become aware of how plentiful our lives already are.
    I know a family who keeps a "gratitude jar" whereby they write on a strip of paper what they are thankful for each day for the whole year. During Christmas time, they made a chain decoration out of it and hang it on the Christmas tree. ToddlerLorp is a bit too young this tradition, but I'm thinking of a gratitude Advent Calendar maybe next year when he's old enough to participate.
  2. Give experience.
    I'm sure you've read somewhere that given the same amount of money spent on a purchase or an experience, most people reported more satisfaction buying an experience. So why not give one? We gave the Toddler's nanny-share buddy a year's pass to Teddy Bear tea party, hosted by us. Not only I know she'll use it (after soliciting idea from her mom), but it ensures that our children develop friendship & her parents have break throughout the year. A gift that keeps on giving!
  3. Give time.
    My most needed "gifts" are quite simple: a time alone for myself so I can read for leisure, a time to go out and enjoy a leisurely lunch, an extra time to sleep in. Do I get nods? Giving time is the simplest thing you can do for your loved ones.
    Giving your time can also mean volunteering at a local place. Volunteering has always been part of our life and we have met wonderful people along the way. Most importantly, volunteering is a way to keep our lives in perspective. It is a real eye-opener to experience first-hand that it does not take much to make someone else's day. This year, I'll be volunteering at Toddler's preschool to make some Christmas decoration which we will deliver to a local nursing home.
  4. Give to the "Giving Tree"/"Adopt a Family."
    The giving trees are cropping up this time around, and you can just pick one tag that suits you. This year, we picked one tag for a little girl, the same age of the Toddler, who is in need of potty training stuffs (elastic pants, training diapers, portable potty, etc). Just to think that another parent cannot afford any of the basic necessities such as potty training equipments made me realize how fortunate we are to not even think about it.
  5. Give of yourself.
    One Christmas, my Oma and Opa told all of us, their grandkids, that we could ask them anything at all about their lives. So I asked how they met. What a wonderful story that was, one that I will forever remember -- I realized how far they came to provide for their families and where my personality traits came from!
    Sure, loved ones can make you anxious during holiday gathering, but with judicious question, try to reconnect with your choice of family member and see what they have to share in terms of their lives. Their gift may surprise you.
  6. Gift of nature.
    One of my most treasured gift is actually a potted orchid from my father. He inherited a greenhouse-full of orchids from his father that he propagates further. Every time I look at the orchid, it reminds me of my family, how so much care are put into this such humble plant. Consider giving a snip of your plants to your neighbor, perhaps a sprig of life herb in a small yoghurt pot. If you have friendly, outgoing pets, consider bringing them to preschools (whose residents will shower your pets with love), children hospital, or nursing homes. Getting in touch with nature, however small, is a gentle reminder that we are all connected and life can be found in so many different living beings.
Happy giving to everyone and I invite you to share other mindful holiday ideas.


Loving Right Now

Loving Right Now, Late Fall 2013

A few things I've been loving right now, late Fall leading into Holiday season:
  • The dainty yet glowy shade, aptly name Love Glow by Charlotte Tilbury, paired with a fresh, bright pinky red of Chanel Rouge Coco in No. 31 Cambon. Both go very well with either glamorous or subdued eyes.
  • A second Simple Pleasures hat that I knitted using a hand-dyed cashmere of the duskiest grey hue from Ireland.
  • Lavender + Eucalyptus essential oil drops, hanging from a washcloth, that transforms an ordinary shower into a luxurious one. Even the garden-variety essential oil brands from your grocery stores will do!
  • Smith Teamaker Meadow blend no. 67: an intoxicating melange of chamomile, rooibos, rose petals and linden blossoms that keeps me company in chilly nights.
  • Bernardaud tea votive (similar version that I bought from Paris a long, long time ago), the votive that I give as gifts to commemorate milestones such as weddings, engagements, birth of a baby, etc.
  • Handel's Messiah, especially the Dunedin Consort's version which is impossibly, impeccably, incredibly angelic, perhaps what Handel would have intended. Click here for Spotify link.

What have brightened your spirit lately?


Burberry Nails: General Comparison

Burberry Nails No. 105 Mink - a true minky color.

Burberry has came out with new line of nail polish. When a new product launch, I scour the internet not only to see swatches but also to learn product performance: texture, pigmentation, dry time, what base/top coat would be compatible etc. etc. and so far such reviews are lacking.

I will leave it up to other bloggers to take swatch pictures, color comparisons, etc. but here I'll present the technical aspect of the product.

Lipstick on the Left, Nail Polish on the Right.

Comparison size with other brands.

Size/Price Point
Notice how TINY the bottle is. Next to the nail polish bottle is Burberry lipstick. They are practically the same in size. Eight mL of product equals to $21, so that comes down to $2.62/mL of nail polish, a higher price point than Chanel at $1.77/mL or even Dior at $2.46/mL. But really, when do you actually finish a bottle of polish to the last drop? If you do, then maybe Burberry Nails is a splurge.

Left Dior, Right Burberry. While Dior brush look wider than Burberry in the picture, notice how much nail polish Burberry brushs soak up and thus fattening it up a bit, versus the Dior brush that hardly has any polish on it.

Brush Size
The wide brush measures at 4 mm across, the same as Dior's (although Dior's is tapered on the tip). It feels denser than Dior and a bit stiffer. Wide brush is hard to maneuver on my pinky finger (I had to hold the brush sideways to paint my pinky). Also, it is not as directional to paint around curved nail bed. But the thicker bristle is quite appropriate since Burberry's polish texture is considerably thicker than Dior's (if not the thickest polish I've tried so far). Which lead us to...

If Essie is runny like skim milk, and Dior is like whole milk, Burberry is like heavy cream. My preference is somewhere along the line of Chanel and OPI (2% milk?). Thick consistency means goopy polish around the smaller area of the nails (such as around the nail bed of my pinky). Also, if you don't perfectly line up your second coat on top of your first, it'll leave a demarkation area, sort of like two layers stack on top of each other.
Apart from that, it is self-leveling. I tried some of the pale colors in person, like Nude Beige and Nude Pink, they were also self-leveling with no streaking after it dried.

Dry Time
It claims to dry in 2 minutes and hardens in 6, which actually pretty close. I waited about 1 minute per coat and when I brushed on the second one on top, the first one already almost completely dried. Not bad for such a thick polish. However, again another down side of thicker polish, it stunk of solvent for two days. (Butter London, for e.g. hardly smells of solvent after just one night).

Wear Time based on Different Top+Base Coat Combo
I'm not sure if I qualify to offer any reviews in terms of nail polish wear time. I'm a part-time stay-at-home mom (read: changing diapers 5-6 times daily, cooking, bathing the little one, washing LO's hands, etc. etc. that require frequent and prolonged contact with water, the archenemy of nail polish), so polishes usually last around 2 days on my index, thumb, or other fingers that I used often. However, I compare wear time between different top/base coat combo so you can gauge if a particular combo is a good one or not. The comparisons below are based on my ring/pinky fingers.

Deborah Lippmann Hydrating Base + CND Super Shiney Top = 5 days wear, good combo!
DLHB + Chanel Top = 3-4 days wear, a bit of shrinkage on the tip, not a good combo.
DLHB + Dior Gel Top = 4 days wear.

Burberry Nails also comes with their own top/base coat-in-one.

THM: I feel Burberry excels in color. Their colors are always wearable, sophisticated, hard to emulate. There are so many taupes, but some are too yellow, too grey, too pink, too whatever, Burberry's is just right. Other than that, the texture is too thick and the brush is too wide for my taste.

Hope this helps! Visit other reviews of Burberry Nails at Gummy Vision and Cafe Makeup.