2.28.2013

Aerin Beauty Multi Color for Lips and Cheeks in 03 Sweet Pea and 02 Freesia

Aerin Beauty team must have worked very hard to get their products known out there. Much of the reviews on the blogosphere are from PR samples and none of them so far, that I know of, is independently purchased, like my reviews!

That also means the products reviewed are limited to those the PR people wants you to know and perhaps rarely those that you want to know (aka buy). E.g. none of the reviews compares the different shade of the lipsticks, glosses, or blushes side by side perhaps because the PR people only give one of each product type for each blogger. I hope by writing these reviews I'm helping someone out there to objectively evaluate their purchases.

I'm lucky enough to live near a Nordstrom counter which carries Aerin Beauty products so I can go there and play in person. They carry most of the Spring 2013 Garden Color Collection with the exception of Tulip lipstick (which I will review on the later post, available from Aerin/Estee Lauder website). Sufficed to say (and I won't belabored on this), the eye shadows are sorely disappointing. The pigmentation is non-existent and the texture is quite chalky. Google yourself and find some swatches out there, see if you'd agree with me. The only thing enticing about them is the pretty packaging.

Where Aerin Beauty excels, in my opinion, is in their lip and/or cheek products. As I mentioned before, I'm a fan of the formulation and also the scent.

Having dry skin means almost all of my blushes are in cream form now, and I'm always on the look out for a good cream blush. I've been quite satisfied with the ones that I've got (Bobbi Brown, Becca, Canmake, and some other odd brands). Keep in mind that my criteria of choosing a cream blush is based on blend-ability, color (translated onto skin, not on packaging), and texture. I don't care so much about longevity in makeup -- I like my everyday makeup to look lived-in and realistic, not perfect all-day long like a plaster mask.

Aerin Beauty Multi Color for Lips and Cheeks in Sweet Pea (left) and Freesia (right), in natural light.
I have reviewed the previously released color 01 Natural here and these new colors are nice additions to the line. To recap, the formulation is a bit on the thinner side. Where Bobbi Brown's is waxier, almost lipstick-like, and Becca is on the gel-silicony end of the spectrum, Aerin's is rather thin, melt-on-your-finger oily-cream that can be quite drying on the lips (hence, I don't use it by itself). Just think of rubbing your warm finger on a piece of chocolate, some of it melting underneath, it is almost like that.

03 Sweet Pea is a peachy pink without shimmer. The swatch color representation on the website is rather poor. It is not cool toned the least bit, on contrary it is quite warm. Pigmentation is rather sheer and transparent, allowing much of your skin tone to show through. The thin texture is very easy to blend on the skin and layer on top of the foundation without rubbing it off. I've used these with fingers and stippling brush with good results. Bobbi Brown's Pot Rouges are far more tenacious than these to blend. The color is very pretty and I enjoy wearing it a lot.

02 Freesia is a peachy pink with peach/golden shimmer. On the picture above, it seems that Freesia is lighter than Sweet Pea. Tonally, they are both equal, but the shimmer particle reflects the light and as such it reads as lighter on the picture. The shimmer is quite refined (micro-shimmer if you will) and the texture is somewhat drier than that of Sweet Pea. Unfortunately, the shimmer particles do transfer. One time, I found BabyLorp's cheeks and downy hair covered with some shimmery/glittery particle -- no doubt from all the cuddling, kissing, and hugging.

Here's the arm swatch taken under the shade of natural sunlight.

Sweet Pea (left), Freesia (right).
A pan shot under direct sunlight (sorry for lack of focus, this was done while BabyLorp was sneaking up behind me).

Sweet Pea (left), Freesia (right).
Arm swatch under direct sunlight:

Sweet Pea (left), Freesia (right).
... and again at another angle:

Sweet Pea (left), Freesia (right).
Notice how both are tonally equal, but with shimmery Freesia reads as more peachy & lighter. I think Freesia will look nicer on tanned skin (like Aerin's own -- I notice that this seems to be the trend in Aerin Beauty products, many are designed to look good on tanned skin) while fair skin will probably do better with Sweet Pea. There's something in the golden shimmer that enhances the tan.

The obligatory ingredient list -- practically identical:

Sweet Pea

Freesia
Finally, unlike the previously released Natural, these two seem to be unscented. My next project, when the sun decides to come out and BabyLorp decides to take extra long nap, is to do a comparison swatches with other cream blushes that I have.

THM: very nice additions, especially if you are looking for a new peachy-pink cream blush.

On a side note: I read up somewhere that Estee Lauder is not cruelty free, and so happen I noticed the ingredient on the very last line: "Carmine." As you may have known, carmine is ground up pigment, produced from a type of insect.

Update 3/13/2013: Recently, it has come to my attention that Bobbi Brown just released a peachy-pink Pretty Powerful Pot Rouge to benefit charities. If anyone wonders how this compares to any of the Aerin blushes above, PPPR is a lot warmer than Sweet Pea but a tad pinker than Freesia. PPPR is a good alternative, but not the exact same shade, to Freesia sans the falling-out shimmers.
BUT! There's more... before you purchase makeup because it benefits charity, please flock here and read up all about it. 

2.26.2013

Double Cream and Cleanser

My skincare line up is quite boring, really. I have been using Paula's Choice products for years. Her products are affordable and they deliver. On the plus side, her distribution warehouse is right here in Seattle, so shipping is lighting fast and I am proud to be supporting local company.

Every now and then, however, I need something that her product range does not offer. Such is a good cream-based cleanser (and thus my foray to Boots No. 7 products here), and these new finds.



As I mentioned before, my skin is dry and dehydrated. It is prone to eczema and psoriatic patches especially during winter time. In addition, I also have hormonal acne during TTOM. In the past, I've been using Paula's Choice RESIST Barrier Repair Moisturizer. I like this because the packaging is air-tight and sealed all the good antioxidants in it. But this cream does not really seal in moisture. In fact, I woke up with dry skin everyday when I used this during winter time. 

I came across these product recommendation from a local dermatologist. I didn't go to her personally, but I read her blog and website when I'm in search for new product or have questions about my skin maladie. Each product name links to the manufacturer's site (click away as none of them are affiliate -- I wish!).

Ingredient list of SkinMedica Facial Cleanser
SkinMedica Facial Cleanser claims to be gently foaming and it is rightly so. The lather is so soft and easily rinses off. This cleanser is that it removes makeup plus sunscreen on one step -- it is quite a potent cleanser with just a quarter-size worth! But the downside as one may suspect is drying. I have been using this cleanser for about a week now, each time I follow it up with Hyaluronic lotion from HadaLabo to decrease the dryness. I have a feeling that my search for a good basic cleanser will continue.

Ingredient list of Vivite Replenish Hydrating Cream

The second product is Vivite Replenish Hydrating Cream made by Allergan. It is an emollient, rich cream, designed as a post-procedural cream or to be used in conjunction with retinoid based product -- which is notorious for causing significant peeling and dryness.  It claims to add hydration in non-glycolic base. As you may know, Allergan is the maker of Latisse, Botox, Juvederm XC and I suspect many of the chemical peel solutions/gels that your spa/medi-spa may use as well.

The cream is basic, but works fantastic on my dry skin. It is rather thick and goopy, so I work about a large pea size amount on my palm before spreading it gently on my skin which has been prepped with layers of other skin care. It makes a nice eye cream too. Finally, I purchased this one on 50% sale, I should have stocked up. Love!

Ingredient list of Kate Somerville Goat Milk Cream

The final product is Kate Somerville Goat Milk Cream. I've never tried her products, but this recommendation came from a trusted friend. Nothing impressive from the ingredient list, but it works quite well due to ingenious pump design that dispense the right amount of product on one push (check out KarlaSugar's post about it right here).

This cream is thinner than Vivite, in fact, it is more lotion-like. It spreads out nicely, but it is not as moisture-sealing as Vivite. I use this underneath my sunscreen in the AM when my skin needs a bit of slip. It has a nice feel on application and once applied it seems to be absorbed nicely. It becomes a surprising staple on days when I need some moisture boost.

I hope you've enjoyed this review. Any products you'd recommend for dry skin?



2.18.2013

Kimchi Nabe


The only fermented food I grew up with was yogurt. My uncle owns and operates a small, local yogurt company and it's been in our family diet for as long as I can remember. However, when I was pregnant with BabyLorp, my first caving was kimchi. Yes, kimchi! I don't even have any Korean blood in my vein, but the next morning, PapaLorp dutifully bought me a take out of kimchi fried rice which I inhaled within seconds.

Winter is letting up here in Seattle but the wind is still quite cold and we still have rainy days and what better to prepare than a one pot dish. I came across the recipe for this kimchi nabe from this blogpost, which I pinned them right away on my Pinterest board and adapted to suit my kitchen. Unfortunately, I do not own a nabe, so I cook everything in regular pot.

In case you are curious, here's what I use:

3/4 lb paper-thin sliced pork belly (the cut that looks like streaky bacon)
1/2 Tbs sesame oil
3 garlic cloves minced
Approx 4 cups of water
6 oz napa cabbage kimchi, chopped (about 1/2 of 13 oz package kimchi) along with the kimchi water
3 Tbs sake
handful of assorted fresh mushrooms (button and shiitake)
one pack natto
1.5 Tbs miso
2 Tbs soy sauce
one small pack of kamaboko, sliced
one pack of firm tofu, cubed
few sticks of carrots, thinly sliced
3-5 sprigs of green onion, sliced


First, I "marinade" the pork belly with kimchi water and minced garlic while I prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Get all the other ingredients ready to go, mise en place.
Heat nabe or pan, pour sesame oil (I use a lot less since the pork belly is quite fatty), and fry pork belly in it for 2-3 minutes until opaque.
Add water, bring to boil. Add the next 3 ingredients and bring to boil.
Add the next 3 ingredients, mix well and make sure the miso is all disolved. Bring to boil.
Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to boil/until all heated through. Serve with steaming bowls of rice.

I suppose you don't need to use natto, but I think it adds depth in the flavor and I just love natto (again, I might have been living in Asia in my previous reincarnation.. all these peculiar fondness of fermented Asian food). Even PapaLorp, who detested natto, couldn't tell the difference and gobbled up the stew happily. If I were to do it again next time, I'd add a teaspoon or so of Tobajan hot sauce, just to kick it up a few notches.

2.17.2013

iPhone: A Whole New World

I am probably the last person on this planet that just owned an iPhone. I feel like such an ancient being! My Blackberry Bold has served me quite well and it is still functioning very well, but alas, many of our friends and family are moving on to the newer, sleeker thing and I reluctantly say good bye.

I'm now on Instagram and Vine and very excited to learn these new apps. Definitely a whole new world of sharing bits and pieces of information out there. Meanwhile, if any of you have any tips or suggestions please let me know.

Also, I'd like to know, what are your favorite iPhone apps?

2.10.2013

Rosy Glossy

It seems to me the trend for Spring 2013 is bright glosses. Burberry seems to lead the pack with several great choices, but alas, I'm not fond of their gloss formula nor the Parma Violet scent.

From Front to Back: Burberry Lip Glow 04 Blush -- Estee Lauder Pure Color High Gloss 07 Flashdance --  Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss 22 Rosy -- Aerin Beauty Lip Gloss 04 Cassis -- Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss 03 Petal.

Next on my list is Aerin Beauty whose gloss formula and scent I came to like. From all the three offerings this Spring, I chose Cassis. Lo and behold, it is an exact reincarnation of Bobbi Brown Rosy Lip Gloss (circa.. oh, I won't bother, that was back when BB lipgloss was still in chubby container with splicing brush). 

Dig into my stash I went and found these glosses of similar colors: 
  • Burberry Lip Glow in 04 Blush, a dusky, sheer, rosy hue.
  • Estee Lauder Pure Color High Gloss 07 Flashdance, a GWP but looks so great that I kept it.
  • Bobbi Brown Lip Glosses in 22 Rosy and 3 Petal -- updated: they are now available in larger size, newer format here.
  • Aerin Beauty Lip Gloss 04 Cassis from her Garden Color Collection -- my recent acquisition.

Swatches under shadow with natural light, same order as above.
Practically identical! All of the glosses have the same pigmentation, except for the EL. As you can see above, EL is more sheer and has shimmer on it.

Swatches under direct light, same order as above.
My preferred lip gloss formula is that of Bobbi Brown's: it is long lasting but also thicker than the others. EL formula is really not bad at all, but thinner, and I need to reapply often. Aerin is perhaps in between, as is Burberry. I feel I don't need to own both the Bobbi Brown Rosy and Aerin Cassis, so one has to go.

Am I glad I shopped in my own drawer!

2.04.2013

A Case of Monday..

... more like a case of Monday night. Well, who needs Friday when you have The Cure?


2.03.2013

Soupper Bowl Sunday (Bruinebonen Soep)

We are still in the dead of the winter, are we? Well, what could be better than a steaming bowl of soup for Super Bowl Sunday. I'm talking about the Bruinebonen Soep that I featured a while back here, still a fave in the Land of Lorp.



My Oma was an old-fashioned housewife. She made a living being a seamstress and baking cakes and snacks to be sold at movie theatres -- anything a housewife would do to help out with family expenses. But far from being a passive, dutiful wife, Oma was a charming, intelligent, and quick-witted woman of her own. And in the domestic area, she is one who never regarded them as chores and thoroughly enjoyed what she does. She taught me how to sew, knit, crochet, cross-stitch, cook, or other domestic skills that she did so well, and although I didn't share her talents and skills, I do share her enjoyment in all that.

Enough bragging about one's own Oma, let's get down to the chow! My grandmother's cooking is largely passed down without any specific measurements or recipes (except for cake or baked goods). I've adapted to my modern kitchen and varietal that are available in regular grocery store.

For a pot of soup, you will need:

1 small onion
1 celery stick
1 medium carrot
1 lb stew beef/shoulder meat, cubed

About 1.5 - 2 cups of cooked red kidney beans (see bean note below)

1 leek chopped
2 medium carrot, cubed
2 fresh tomato peeled (if desired), and chopped -- if tomato is not in season, use 2 T of tomato paste
1 bouillon cube (see seasoning note below)
salt & pepper to taste
parsley or green onion as garnish.

A note about bean:
My grandmother would cook her soup using dried beans that she soaked the night before and boiled in the soaking water to the point that the beans started to burst, just before the soup was made. She never rinsed the bean after soaking nor threw the soaking liquid. She'd add more water if the beans seemed to soak almost all of the liquid. I don't know if this is the proper way of using dried beans, but I found that cooking the soup with the bean's soaking liquid add a richer flavor to the soup that can't be replicated with using canned beans. In a jiff, canned beans can be used, but I always rinse them from the goo that comes with it.

A note about seasoning:
Oma is typical of her generation: post World-War II where convenient food were first introduced and readily available. She would put bouillon cube on pretty much everything. No shame in that, I suppose, but if you'd rather skip, I found that a splash of soy sauce/Worcestershire sauce will give that umami taste/depth that the soup may be lacking. Another seasoning that she would put is a heaping teaspoon of sugar, to balance the savory beef and to bring out the tangy taste of the tomato.

How to prepare:
First, make the beef broth: roughly chop the onion, celery, carrot. These will be the sacrificial vegetables to flavor our broth with. Oma would also include trimmings of other vegetables she happened to cook that day, to add to the flavor. She would use a pressure cooker, but since I don't have it, I usually use slow cooker. Add enough water to cover everything to about an inch, then simmer until beef is tender. You can skim the foam while cooking, I know she would but I'm too lazy to do this.

When the beef is meltingly tender, take the pieces out and set aside. Toss the now-limp vegetables out  (Oma would puree this with some potato for her own version of Hutspot) and save the broth.

Next, sautee the leek and the carrot until fragrant. Tip in the tomato, cook until it renders the liquid (skip if not using fresh tomato). Then add the beef pieces, saved broth, and cooked beans (along with its soaking liquid). Add enough water if you feel like it, perhaps another 3-4 cups or so. Bring everything to a boil, simmer for 15-20 minutes or so or until carrots are done. Season to taste (and this is when you'll add your tomato paste if not using fresh tomatoes), and serve.

Traditionally, the soup is pureed before the addition of the beef, but my grandma would always serve it chunky. Besides, if you cook the beans to the bursting point, they will disintegrate somewhat in the pot, making it rather sludgy.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. Please share with me your favorite comfort food.




2.01.2013

Things I miss for being a mom..

Last night, I had a dream where I was chatting with my old school girlfriends and we were all going out to a movie and had a good time, but then I suddenly remembered I've left BabyLorp alone, sleeping at home by himself. I woke up in mild panic, and relieved knowing I indeed have not gone out in a long time.

So, these are simple things that I missed, now that I'm a mom to a young child:

Going to public bathrooms, alone. 
Imagine, you and baby go out for an outing and you need to use the toilet desperately. Big problem: where do you put the baby when you go? Some public toilet don't have big enough doorway to fit a stroller or worse, a big enough stall that can fit a stroller. Most of the ADA requirements for handicap stall can only fit a wheel chair, but most strollers are usually longer and wider than that. So? You hold until you got home.

Eating out or going to the movie. 
Enough said: who will watch after the baby? If you are lucky enough to have grandparents nearby, well, you should thank them profusely. Most nannies will pick and choose when they are "available" for date-nights coverage, certainly not when we need them. And when nannies are available, they cost around $15-$20/hour where I live, so 3-hour outing (which is not long) becomes almost close to $100 -- even though their job is only to watch the baby monitor after the baby goes to sleep.

Eating undisturbed. 
Baby wants your food, constantly, and BabyLorp particularly likes to grab food. They like to do what us adult do, including eating our food. Repeat this three times daily.

Vacation. 
Even the simplest vacation become a logistical challenge. For example: most babies/toddlers usually go to bed around 7-8 PM, or way earlier than us adult, especially on vacation when us adults like to indulge in staying late. So, imagine you are in a hotel room, baby falls asleep, now what? We certainly cannot go out, that would be against the law to leave sleeping baby alone, yet we can't even chat or turn on the light or watch TV in the room.

Doing errand when you need it done. 
A simple grocery run mostly needs to be plan ahead of time and can become a total production.

Showering or using the toilet with door closed and not having to sing (to the baby, that is), or playing pick-a-boo.

I'm sure there will come a time when BabyLorp no longer needs me all that much. As my favorite mantra says,"This too shall pass." So, moms, what are things that you miss?