7.23.2013

Thankful Tuesday

Thankful Tuesday probably won't exist without the woman who started the phenomenon of it all, Sarah Ban Breathnach. I discovered her bestseller book, Simple Abundance, back in the mid 90s; a sophomore in college, sitting in the comfy chair of the departmental Social Worker's office, utterly depressed with I-don't-know-what-anymore. I read that book cover-to-cover and gave it away to Goodwill. To be honest, I couldn't relate to most of the "suggestions" in the book back then (afterall, I was only interested in Oprah after/during OJ Simpson's mega trial), but one thing stuck with me: to write gratitude daily with hope that I can someday see the abundance.

Fast forward to this past weekend, when I watch Oprah's Super Soul Sunday and I was surprised that Sarah had gone tremendous change, from riches to rags (read here for summary). In my life, teachers come in many shape and form and Sarah certainly planted the seed of being aware about abundance around us. It doesn't matter what her story is, all I know is that I'm grateful for what she had to share back then.

Now, whenever I write my gratitude list, it instantly puts my life in perspective. Even when I'm down or angry or just out of touch with reality, I can go back to these lists and realize that life is full of abundance. The list does not have to be long, it doesn't have to be "deep" or meaningful, or spiritually-sounding. As Eckart Tolle puts it, "Acknowledging the good that is already in your life is the foundation for all abundance." If the good in my life that day was a scoop of half-melted ice cream, let it be the gratitude! I also love reading other people's gratitude list. They affirm that this world is really full of goodness, not just for me, but for everyone. Absolutely everyone.

With that said, here are few things I'm thankful about today/this week:

  • A simple, good potato salad that we enjoyed for dinner
  • Another chance to work tomorrow (so thankful that I still have this job)
  • ToddlerLorp's antics
  • A (relatively) clean house
  • Vacation plan
  • The luxury of being able to bake for fun
  • A new pair of sandals for ToddlerLorp
  • Strangers that become friends
  • Malls with AC!
  • A cool evening after a scorching day
What are you thankful for this week? Please share with us.

7.22.2013

Lots of 'Cones: Hot Day Makeup and Three Minute Make Up Challenge


Good morning! It sounds like the day is going to heat up again. Our hot days in the Land of Lorp can be summed up by lots of 'cones: ice cream cones for the Toddler and silicones for Mama. 

Many of you must have watched Lisa Eldridge's last video installment on summer weather makeup, but I personally won't wear that much make up in this heat. My goal for a hot day makeup is to look pretty with undetectable makeup under the intense sunlight. Pardon the pun, but I found products with silicones work seamlessly on the skin without that noticeable made-up effect. While normally is a staple, I skip highlighter: no matter what brand (even the holy-grail Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector), it always looks quite obvious under intense sunlight. Besides, perspiration and oil will make my face slightly dewy anyway, so one less step/product to put on. Finally, I also skip under eye concealer. Again, another cannot-live-without, but regardless the brand, it always looks powdery/creamy/cakey under natural light.

My no-makeup makeup now becomes simpler with these products five products (clockwise from top left):

  • EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
    I need a (mostly) physical sunscreen that is quite stable and somewhat long-lasting (with the emphasize on somewhat since we all know sunscreen needs to be applied regularly). The lightweight texture is a plus: although my skin is dry, I usually layer hyaluronic lotion, then serum, then moisturizer before the sunscreen itself. This sunscreen fits the bill with a reasonable price, too! With octinoxate and zinc oxide, the otherwise bland formulation is enriched with niacinamide. It has a nice pump applicator for easy eye-ball measurement of 1/4 teaspoonful for face and neck. I purchased mine from dermstore.com which occasionally will have discounts/sales for EltaMD.
  • Giorgio Armani Maestro Foundation (shade #4.5)
    I bought this foundation when it was the hype last year, I never found its full utility until now. This foundation blends seamlessly on my already emollient base of the above-mentioned layers so it doesn't emphasize dry patches and pores. In reality, I can even wear shade #2 (which is my normal non-summer GA shade) but shade #4.5 is warmer and the coverage is so sheer and forgiving. A drop is all I need to even out my skin.
  • Soleil Tan de Chanel Bronzing Makeup Base
    A broken record here. I love this stuff. A thin layer all over or on strategic places to give just the bonne mine glow.
  • Becca Beach Tint in Lychee
    I wear this blush everyday since I got it, what took me so long?? Hello, radiant flush! Two tiny dots are all you need. Works great on that just-tanned skin or pale skin alike. 
  • Burberry Effortless Mascara and Shiseido Eye Lash Curler
    I don't see lots of rave reviews of Burberry mascara and honestly, this is not the best mascara I found but not the worst either. What sets this mascara apart is the look that it gives: somewhat wet, lush but natural-looking lashes. This one is not waterproof, and for that, I will steer you to Majolica Majorca's.
On the lips I have a good rotation of Burberry Mallow Pink (still love this one), or Maybelline ColorSentational Vivids in Vivid Rose (reviewed here by Temptalia) layered on top of my Jack Black Lip Balm SPF 15. When I need a nude, I go with Chanel Plaisir Glossimer or one of the Aerin's Lip Gloss (reviewed here, and here).

So, with these minimal products, I wonder how fast I can put these on in the morning. I've seen "Three Minute Makeup Challenge" going around at YouTube (here's a hilarious one by Tanya Burr). Can I really do it in three minutes? With a stopwatch on my phone, I timed the following. O.k. Here's the 3 minutes make up challenge. Ready, set, go!

00:00 Start by putting on sunscreen
00:15 Sunscreen done
00:27 Drop one drop of foundation, blend only on nose, chin and other select areas, done
00:45 Shake Becca Beach Tint, put on two pin-size dots, blend, done
01:04 Blend in Soleil de Tan using brush on the number "3" zones, done
01:27 Curl eye lashes
02:04 Put on mascara
02:29 Put on lip gloss (Chanel Plasir for today)

Ta-da! I was 30 seconds under and that is really makeup + sunscreen done. Told ya, the 'cones make everything easy to blend with fingers. 

Have a nice day and I hope you enjoy the hot weather wherever you are.

7.19.2013

Je joue continue...


As I mentioned earlier, I had a lot of fun playing with this JOUER Blushing Beauty Palette, I didn't mention that I got it for 50% off from JOUER's website. How? Well, if your sign-up at the website for the first time, they will send you a coupon for 50% off your first purchase. JOUER also has various sales, posted on their facebook page, so be sure you subscribe to that, too, if you are interested in this brand.

Yes, it is a steal for $29, but first off, I noticed how tiny this palette is. Tiny I said!


The whole thing is less than an iPhone. Pretty tiny, eh? That's a Burberry lipstick above the palette. In terms of the amount of product you are getting, this is very little. My guess is your money goes toward the nifty packaging, which I must admit is very nifty.

Now, does the product perform? This little palette consists of three small detachable compacts and a lip gloss. Let's review take a look at them one by one!


Cherish Moisturizing Lip Gloss
First off, it looks quite bright on the picture, but actually, it is a rather milky peachy pink with pink shimmer (see swatches below). The shimmer is pink opaline that flashes fuschia/purple at some angle. This opaline shimmer reminds me a lot of Bobbi Brown's Brightening lip gloss. I have a slight aversion to glitter/shimmer on my lips, this one is no exception. The shimmer particle stays on the lips after I wipe the gloss off. The texture is rather thin, somewhat watery, but it is unscented (good in my book) and it does not bleed. It has a nice, cushy feel when you first put it on that slowly disappear as the gloss wears off. I'd say the coverage is medium-sheer, but can be layered (albeit gloopy). It is quite moisturizing, but I never depend on lip gloss alone to moisturize my lips. Oddly enough, I get an overall sensation of Chantecaille Compact Lip Gloss form this gloss. Maybe they share the same ingredients?

Chocolat and Peach Powder Eyeshadow Duo
The texture of these shadows are finely milled and soft, but the color pay off is about medium. Peach is matte pink-peach, almost too sheer and powdery on my hand (which is now about NC25, thanks to impromptu park visits). Chocolat is mid-tone brown with bronze shimmer that looks beautiful on the swatch but looks flat on the eyes. Again, I think because the pigment pay off is not that strong. Nevertheless, these two combos are very easy to use and all I need is a wash for everyday use. 




Feather Highlighter & Whisper Tint Duo
These cream blush-highlighter is probably the star product of this set. The texture is creamy, somewhat waxy with silicon-ey feel to it. Not as waxy as Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge, but not as creamy as Le Metier Creme Fresh. It reminds me more like the new Le Blush Creme de Chanel. You can gauge the texture a bit based on my fingerprint impressions above. They are both shimmery, but very easy to blend and sheer out. The shimmer is very refined, I'd say similar to Becca's quality. These are also unscented. Love!



Matte Touch Powder/Bronzer Duo
I'm having a hard time swatching these powders and to get them to show up on my camera, but sufficed to say, it works well for pale-light-light/medium skin tone. I'd say, if you are darker than NC30, the powder will look too chalky and the bronzer will be too light for your skin. Too bad because I think the highlighter/blush duo above will work well with darker/tanned skin tones. These two are completely matte. The bronzer is straight up brown with a good balance of red and gray in it, so it does not look orangey. Since the surface area of the bronzer is tiny, I like using pointed brush like Hakuhodo yachiyo or J5521 which works well for contouring (i.e. one of the intended use of this bronzer). The finishing powder is sheer and just enough to mattify the skin.

Now for some swatches:

Under direct sunlight: Peach e/s -- Chocolat e/s -- Whisper Tint blush -- Feather Highlighter -- Cherish gloss


You can see how the bronze shimmer on the Chocolat eye shadow and the refined shimmer on the blush/highlighter. I cannot capture the opaline shimmer on the gloss but I hope you can see that the gloss is somewhat thin in texture.

Under the shade: Peach e/s -- Chocolat e/s -- Whisper Tint blush -- Feather Highlighter -- Cherish gloss


Again, so hard to capture the opaline shimmer under the shade. You can also see how the shimmer in the eye shadow looks flat. Anyone has any photography tip on this ?

THM: I think this set is a good value at $58 (full price). Especially handy for traveling due to the size -- I can see myself stashing this one in the diaper bag for on-the-go touch up but nothing else.

7.17.2013

Je joue avec...


This is what happens when I got trapped in the Toddler's room since he decided to nap downstairs in the living room where everything are (and you only have two main rooms in the entire house). Not to worry because I have several new toys that I can joue with: JOUER Blushing Beauty Palette, A Beautiful Mess and Fuzel apps from iPhone.

First, there won't be any swatches this time (leave me a comment if anyone is interested). There are few excellent blogs that write reviews of JOUER such as Best Things in Beauty.

Second, the little engineer girl in me cheered with joy when I received this. Not only these are make up -aka a grown woman's toy- but they also have nifty packaging. Each compact comes with tongue-and-groove sides and snap-on backing (much like LEGO) that you can configure to your heart's content. This one toy I better not share with ToddlerLorp knowing he'll love to play with this, too.

Finally, the new iPhone apps are also equally addictive. Thanks to Gummy from Gummy Vision, she recommended A Beautiful Mess app as a fun way to edit a picture. I love the quirky fonts, bubbles, doodles and configurations that this app has, but at some point, editing on iPhone gets quite difficult because I cannot re-scale the doodle/clip art small enough using my two-already small fingers. Does anyone have any tips on how to navigate this app easier?
I then made the collage using Fuzel app. Fuzel is a free app, I found this to be one of the nicer collage maker. Anyone else has another collage maker that they like?

Well, the Toddler is almost up now. I better wrap up and enjoy these last few minutes of freedom playing with my new toys.

Update: for your enjoyment, click on my Vine video here. Anyone knows how to embed Vine in Blogger post?

7.15.2013

Thankful Tuesday

Another round of heat wave is supposed to come starting today. We are enjoying our lazy times in the Land of Lorp here and especially thankful for:


  • New neighbors and friends we make
  • The jobs we still have
  • ToddlerLorp's tuned two last weekend
  • Quiet time
  • Plentiful sunshine
  • Working AC and window fans

What are you thankful for today/this week?

7.12.2013

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2013: My Beauty Pick

Having lived in the -arguably- Nordstrom mecca for about 8 years, I slowly noticed that women here are quite serious about the Anniversary sale that happen usually in mid-summer. Case point: some of my co-workers filed vacation requests to attend the Beauty Event so they won't get any shift assignments on that weekend, and a friend of mine actually sneaked out during her lunch hour to get into the Early Access tent. Yet another friend arranged to have a babysitter on the first day of sale just so she could shop alone.

Last year, I thought the gifts and the special sets were excellent (with Chanel featuring the Asian exclusive). I was surprised earlier this year to find Chanel's Asian exclusive being sold at Saks instead and my suspicion is confirmed: I'm less impressed with the selection of this year's sale. I feel less brands are offering sets (some of them like my favorite Burberry doesn't even offer anything -- apparently still under much wrap and restructuring from the handover business), and if they are, they are less value than it was before. I guess other department stores are catching up with Nordstrom's idea fast (like bringing the Asian exclusive collections) and it seems like Nordstrom has some real competition.

Regardless, I went there on day 1, the first day that they opened the sale to card members, and the store was packed. It was 3 PM, I just got off work, and parking was already hard to find. Personally, I don't shop sales like this but when I do, I look for things I've never tried, wanting to try, or things to replenish to accumulate reward points. So here are a few that went home with me (all images from nordstrom.com -- if you click on the image, it'll link to nordstrom.com page but they are not affiliate links):

Clarisonic Mia2 ($149)

I may very well be the last women in the planet who doesn't own this, and I don't think the price is any cheaper anywhere else, but they have several limited edition colors to choose from and I pick up this mosaic one. Still charging in my bathroom, so can't review this yet.

Butter London Backstage Basics Set ($24)

I've forgotten how much I love Butter London. Sure, the formula is all over the place (it depends on the color) but I found that BL varnish stinks less than any other nail polish brands. Have you noticed how your polish still smells like the solvent hours after you painted it (or even the next day)? Not so with Butter London. This set is a steal! It includes a nail file, full sizes base, top, varnish in the color Thames (not my color, but if it is yours, then it is a double steal!, and a mini size varnish remover. If you would like to complete the set with your own choice of color, Nordie will charge you full price of $15, but if you head to BL's own website, they are having a sale now for 20% off (code FLASH13, 20% off entire order plus free shipping, not sure how long this will last, so hurry!). My fave: Fash Pack (aka Chanel Particuliere's dupe), Yummy Mummy, Shandy, Hens Party and Blagger. P.S. Butter London's Handbag Holiday Cuticle Oil smells like the most delicious pina colada ever.

Diptyque Baies and Figuier Set ($120)
I believe I've seen this set somewhere but this is another chance for those of you who would like to owned two of the most popular Diptyque scents along with the cute wick trimmer. 

Guerlain Precious Light Radiance Essential Kit ($57)
If you haven't tried Guerlain (who hasn't??) this is a good set to try their most popular products. If you are a Guerlain user, you can't resist this mini pot and serum bottle for traveling. Guerlain also has GWP for purchases $150 and above.

Now's your turn, what do you think about this year's sale? What items caught your attention? Or will you pass this sale entirely?

7.04.2013

Beachy Hair: DIY Salt/Surf Spray



Summer has finally arrived here in full-force (although as we speak, it is cloudy and quite windy outside). In the pursuit of looking like a chic, beach goddess a la Diane here, I've been using up my second bottle of Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray at $25/bottle. That means, I've spent $50 and summer has just started, yikes!!

Since I can't surf the real beach, I surfed the internet for DIY surf/salt sprays and found a bunch of recipes. A few trial and errors later, I came up with my own perfect mixture. Here are the tweaks:

  • More salt will give you more texture but too much of it can be drying, so instead of straight-up sea salt, I use Epsom salt to keep the ends looking less fried. It really depends on your hair. For my medium hair, I use 1 tablespoon; for fine hair, I'd probably use a bit less; for thicker hair a bit more, or you can add more hair texturizer in the mix (see below).
  • Coconut oil in the spray translates to greasy roots and lint/dust magnet on the hair, so I opted for commercially made conditioner (with cationic, or is it anionic, surfactant that repels dust). It makes the overall hair/do looks cleaner, too.
  • Add a squirt of your favorite hair texturizer (I added Kevin Murphy's Hair Resort that smells just like the coconut-y beach) to give a bit more hold.

The recipe:

1 c. warm water (not boiling, just tap-warm)
1 Tbs. Epsom Salt 
1 squirt hair conditioner (about 1/4 tsp. I use Kevin Murphy because that's what's available in my shower)
1-2 squirt(s) hair texturizer/hair gel

Pour all ingredients in an empty jam jar or bottle or container of choice. Shake it like a polaroid picture. If the solution looks cloudy, strain it using a paper towel-lined sieve -- important to do least you want your spray bottle to get clogged up and stop working. Pour the strained liquid into a spray bottle. Style your hair.


The result: 
The spray smells fantastic, thanks to KM Hair Texturizer. It gives enough texture and grip to style, but not too greasy. 

Happy Fourth to everyone and be safe!!

7.01.2013

Thankful Tuesday

It's been a while since I wrote a Thankful Tuesday. It goes to show that gratitude is much like muscle, you need to exercise it often in order to get it stronger.

Today has been especially bad day for me. Not bad in terms of catastrophe, but more like annoyance: the record-breaking heat, the cancelled shift at work (means no income coming in, again), signing up for an exercise class and actually FORGOT to attend it (and thus got charged for nothing, hrrrumph!!!), etc. So, what better thing to end this day on a high note than writing things that I'm thankful about today:

  • My great new neighbor who moved in and already offered to help me with the garden/yard
  • PapaLorp who came home early from work and now is taking ToddlerLorp to his beloved park, so I can enjoy a bit of time alone and eat dinner in peace
  • ToddlerLorp who is just extra cheerful and giggly today
  • Having enough money to go to Starbucks to buy a slice of banana bread and an iced latte and not having to worry about it. Once I heard that the goal of having money is having enough of it to not worry about spending it, what a luxury indeed!!
  • A working AC and window fan in this sweltering jungle of heat
  • A working car so I could take ToddlerLorp to the mall to pass the time there from the heat
  • A delicious dinner of Takikomi Gohan, made using my brand new rice cooker (this must be THE BEST freebie I've got from my credit card perk)
And here's an extra perk for you, the video on how to make Takikomi Gohan!