12.30.2014

The 2014 Beauty "Haul"



Ho ho ho, I hope you all have had great Christmases and Santa was kind. As we are approaching the end of the year, I guess no beauty blog is complete without reviews of new beauty purchases. Since my family has been keeping me quite busy, I haven't been able to sit down and properly ponder about my purchases throughout 2014, so let's cozy up and join me as I review these new products that I purchased throughout the year.

Keep in mind, some of these products has been featured in many of my previous posts or even discussed in MOTWs, so please bear with me for any duplication (I will try to link previous posts on each product as I have time).


Charlotte Tilbury


CT is one of the brand that I thought I'd buy more once it landed in the U.S. but the lack of in-person availability detered me from venturing further, since I was especially interested in her base products (turned out most of them are pink-neutral based, so I think I can pass). 

The Classic Powder Eye Pencil in Audrey is a repurchase from the original one that I bought direct from U.K. (which also cost an arm and a leg compared to this one). If you are a regular to my blog, you know how I feel about powder pencil liner. I used up one Audrey already, I love it, I use it almost if not daily. It is a dupe of Elizabeth Arden powder pencil but alas, as EA is not as readily available, CT is it for the convenience.

Colour Chameleon in Amber Haze is perhaps the only color you need if you are thinking of buying either the Dolce Vita or Golden Goddess palette, especially if your makeup collection is quite extensive already. This key color is that sparkly, shimmery bronze which coordinates nicely with browns, taupes, and beiges you have already in your collection. I never have any shadow creasing problem, so I can't vouch for the tenacity, but sufficed to say, this one lasts until I take it off at night. The bronze has a slight reddish tone that brings out the green in my hazel eyes, which I quite like. Since the day I got this (which was back in early December), I have this and Audrey pencil in my purse for a quick bronzy-smoky look that applies in two minutes. 

Filmstar On The Go in Breakfast at Tiffany's is supposed to be the side-kick to the Colour Chameleon mentioned above. Well, half-sidekick. The blush is lovely: it is meltingly dewy and the slight milky apricot really is a fresh alternative to my go-to pinky-peach blush. It is also rather comfortable and flattering worn as lip color (on top of some balm/gloss, but not by itself) with its MAC-like vanilla scent. The texture is less waxy than Bobbi Brown's Pot Rouges but not as soft as say, LMdB Creme Fresh. Perhaps almost similar to Stila's Convertible Colors.
The shadow is another story.. sufficed to say, it is rubbish. I never have any shadow creasing problem due to dry skin, until this one, which managed to crease and migrated, so bad that it accentuated every folds on my eye lids. I also don't think shadow primer will solve the problem as the shadow is quite emollient and made from a greasy base (think of RMS shadows, all of which also crease badly on me, but with even more slip). Now, to be fair, the color is quite lovely, I'd say a tame-er version of the Amber Haze with less sparkly shimmer, and it can, theoretically, be layered for more intensity. Sadly, sadly, it does not translate well. Do peruse other blogs, I am most certain I'm not the only person who have the creasing problem with this beauty.
So, if you think $55 worth a small stripe of cream blush, I'd say go for it. Otherwise, you can safely pass on the whole Filmstar On The Go collection. 

By Terry


My relationship with by Terry comes in phases. Sometimes we get along well, sometimes we don't. The two that I purchased in 2014 turned out to be loves. I've written before about the Ombre Blackstar in Frozen Quarts; it proves to be a worthy successor to my beloved Chanel IdO in Emerveille. The color on this one is a little cooler than Emerveille, but applies easier and dare I say better than IdO. I've reached for this many times throughout the year, definitely the staple product for a little something on the eyes on the days when I need something fast. The Cellularose Blush Glace in No 1 Rose Melba is also a winner; good-skin-in-a-pot type of product. A tiny bit patted on both cheeks gives a dewy sheen and lovely pinkish glow, again, for those days that I need something fast. The problem with this is the strong, soapy, rosy scent, which thankfully tends to go away quickly -- the very same soapy-rosy scent is the reason why by Terry and I will never get along in the lip product arena.


Dior


Rieuse (above) and Tiny Pink (below) are the two Fluid Sticks that I managed to purchase in 2014. The soapy scent is the only downside to the otherwise stellar lip products. I've worn these two many times, and either one of them actually resides in my purse for a quick touch up. I've been really tempted to jump the gun on some other colors but somehow these two have kept me satisfied. 


Asian Haul


Had I been more organized and without the Tod, the size of the Asian Haul could easily occupied half of my carry-on suitcase (can you tell I still kick myself in the rear for not buying more?). Of the few that I managed to purchase, the Lunasol Skin Modelling Liquid Foundation is almost used up. I love the consistency and the coverage: so thin yet so potent with a good punch of pigment. It layers extremely well with the sillicon-loaded sunscreen that I use, and the yellow-tone hits just the right note. It does not come off until I remove it (but then again, my skin is dry so I never have problem with makeup worn off before the end of the day). My shade is OC02, which fits my summer skin (maybe NC15-20?). I don't think Lunasol is that well-known for its foundation but if the middle-of-the-road Japanese foundation is this good, I can only imagine the quality from the tuna brands such as Suqqu or Addiction. Lunasol Sand Natural Eyes in 04 Cool Sand is from their Spring/Summer 2014 collection. Those who are looking for a pigmented quad will be disappointed with this one, as this only yields an ethereal, shimmery veil of color (read: sheer!). But, I think it is the intended look of this whole collection so I go with the flow. The sparkling top-right taupe (bottom-left on the picture above) color actually layers well with the Burberry shadows that I owned, so I sometimes put that as a topping which gives my otherwise-boring look a little something-something. 
Innisfree Eco Tint in Camelia is a lip-and-cheek product that I regret not purchasing in more colors. As a lip tint on its own, it is drying, but top the stained lip with balm and it stays put almost forever. The gel consistency allows ample of playing time and the scent is minimum. Moreover, the price was right for a product of this performance (I forgot how much exactly, barring currency rate and all, but I remember I was surprised on how inexpensive it was).
SkinFood Good Afternoon Honey Black Tea BB SPF 20 PA+ is another stellar Korean product. It has that signature Korean movie star dewy-finish, great coverage, and texture. Such a shame that product this good has to be heavily and artificially scented. I wouldn't recommend this on oily, or perhaps oily-normal skin, but it goes on smoothly on dry skin.

Miscellaneous


Josie Maran Coconut Water Color Cheek Gelee in Poppy Paradise has been a staple product during summer month. I love the cooling sensation, the sheer, super blend-able gel application and the cheery coral pink color. The small pot is quite hard to dip in, I use a thin spatula to get product out and I already hit pot with this one. 

NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Luxembourg is a present from Santa. I will write a separate post on this.


Wishing you all a happy, healthy, blessed New Year of 2015. 

12.16.2014

Adios, Adieu, Arrivederci!

The Tod and I are embarking on our latest airplane adventure tomorrow. I forecast no improvement on the blogging front, but we just want to wish you all the warmest, blessed Holiday Seasons.

12.04.2014

The Makeup-Addict Tag



I am continued to be humbled and flattered that my fellow bloggers considered my tiny blog to be worthy of a tag -- thanks to Monika from Rocaille Writes, whose blog has more substance and beauty than mine, now I am officially inducted in the Makeup-Addict tag.

First of all, even if it does not seem like it, let it be known that I am a makeup fan, an addict if you must, yes! I enjoy makeup, I love makeup, I love playing with makeup and makeup enhances my life. These collections really elevate my otherwise bland days into a daily reminder that life deserves the best of me. I cherish putting on makeup in the morning, playing with various looks, pouring over glossy editorials to look at makeup trends, techniques and geekeries. Makeup for me has been quite a metaphor/journey in life; maybe someday I will write a blog post entitled "Makeup as Spiritual Journey."

'Nuff said, let's get on with the goodies! Pardon dim lightings, these pictures were taken at night.

1. Which product do you still keep buying more of despite having plenty in your collection?

What is the gateway drug to any makeup brand? Lipstick/lipgloss, of course! 

Ironically, I don't wear lip products all that much: I eat on the run, I kiss the Tod lot, heck, I even drink from his water bottle sometimes. Lipstick ring on a toddler's flip top bottle? Yuck!

Most of the time, I stash my lip product in my purse to be worn maybe. The majority of the colors are nudes/browns/pinks/mlbb. Something vampy/magenta may be nice for a certain look, but it may also send the wrong message to the preschool teachers -- thus the futility of stashing more trendy lip products.

All my lipsticks fit in one Ikea Dragan box. The top tray consists of lipsticks I wear most regularly in rotation.

2. What's the one product you can't live without?

Brightening concealer makes me look awake and not half-dead. I like the Clinique Airbrush and Burberry Sheer Concealer (either or layered together).

3. Favorite makeup brand?

Having been around the makeup block, I consider myself equal-opportunistic makeup buyer: drugstore, dept-store and anything in between. You can see my collection is heavy on Chanel and Burberry, but as of late, I have not bought anything from these two lines -- in fact, no new Chanel/Burberry purchase for almost a year. I certainly would like to venture out to new brands, I like to explore new technologies, textures, color palettes, etc. My favorite makeup brand is yet to be discovered!

4. How big is your makeup collection?

For those of you who are a frequent, I've boasted many many many times that my collection is tightly curated. Truth be told, my collection is nowhere near austere. In fact, it is quite bountiful.

Now, to the boast, or what I've been poorly try to convey, the excitement. I am very happy to be where I am right now makeup-wise because my collection used to be ginormous. I was one of those who would contemplate hauls with no ends, easily spend four-figure amount annually in makeup, and then agonize about what to do with the 100th nude lipstick that I just purchased.

My relationship with makeup now is a healthy one: I don't feel the need to rush out in getting new stuffs, I thoroughly enjoy the stuff that I have, and when I'm finally done with an item, I don't feel the hesitation to let it go. With the makeup that I own, I can recreate/create any look that I want yet never feel deprived. All the items that I have are the best quality that I can find (barring Suqqu or other unicorns out there), and the colors suit my skin tone. Imagine you have all that in your collection -- wouldn't you feel excited, too?

Dresser from Ikea (old), about 26 by 14 inches, with 4 drawers.

5. And how do you store it?

All my collection fits in one of the drawer of the above-pictured old Ikea dresser. The few things that do not fit are the lipstick box, three cups that hold my pencil items and brushes, and a Paul & Joe loose powder box.

Makeup organization for me has been divided into two great eras, that are, my friend, before and after the Tod (see opening picture above). As you may know, toddler + makeup = DISASTER! Let us dissect this even further.


As you can see, there is method in this madness. Behind Dr. Sear's Baby Book, The Wonder Weeks, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (don't laugh, this book saved my life!), and the stack of ladies magazine is my makeup, camouflaged where the Tod cannot see. This fortress of makeup is further reinforced with a perimeter moat filled with toys and other toddler supplies which hopefully enough to keep him busy while I put on the actual makeup. The result: minimal makeup casualties with maximal peace for everyone.  

Below is a recreation of the before picture, when everything was still nicely accessible to me. This is not real, in real life, the dresser is turned into the makeup fortress seen above.


The bamboo organizers are from Ikea (old-discontinued, sadly). Clockwise from upper left: my vintage Stila collection, odd-sized eye products (Tom Ford quad, Dior quint, various Japanese-brand eye palettes, BB gel liner pots, Chanel IdOs, various decanted items). The old Jo Malone box that house all the Chanel quads and JCs are in the middle of the drawer, followed by Burberry eye singles (also housed in the said Jo Malone's box lid), base products, lip glosses (my least organized pile), odd-sized lip/lip-cheek products (Becca Beach Tint, Maquillage Crystalizing Lip compacts, etc), and finally the blushes



From Left to Right: A votive holder from a Scandinavian designer housed skinny brushes for eyes and face, a Delft Blue Tulip Vase holds pencil items, and a Bonne Maman jar contains face brushes and eye lash curlers.

6. How many items of makeup have you got in your handbag at the moment?

For those of you who have been following my MOTW, that is pretty much what I've got in my makeup grab bag. I put on my makeup on the run, which is outlined below.

7. If you could raid another blogger's stash, who would it be?

While I'm with Monika (I'd love to raid Kate's unicorn stable), I may just save some plane ticket money and fly over to the East Coast to visit Bellyhead instead. With the most admirable Suqqu collection this side of the pond, she also has her own herd of unicorns of Surratt and sizable brush-goodies, not to mention that the Tod will be thoroughly entertained by her two lovely little Bellies and the plentiful of wildlife around her home. Then, maybe, just maybe, after all that makeup playing and raiding, we could all head out for some good ol' fried chicken somewhere in the neck of the wood... 

8. How long does your usual makeup routine take and how many products do you use?

Gone are the days when an uninterrupted chunk of time is available to me to put on a good, decent makeup. Those of you with small children will know that the minute you say, "Mama needs to use the bathroom" they will cling to you like bricks, more like monkey-bricks that move and try to prevent you to do whatever it is you are trying to do.

So, I prioritize. I leave the house with at least base makeup on: skin care + sunscreen + maybe foundation. If I can entertain the Tod a bit longer, then I put these on, in the following order:
  • undereye concealer, maybe a bit highlighter to make me look more alive
  • eye shadow base/wash
  • mascara
  • eye liner 
  • cheek color
  • complete the eye makeup look
  • lip color

Whatever step I cannot put on at home, I put them on in the car after I reach my destination but before I get out. Usually, I finish putting on my makeup after I drop off the Tod at his preschool -- many days I do school run/errands with only sunscreen on. Hey, at least I'm 100% presentable at pick-up time, right?

9. Have you ever bought makeup knowing you wouldn't use it?

I used to, but not anymore. I have some makeup that I keep without any intention of using it frequently and those are my vintage Stila collection. Maybe if I come across some old Stila item, I may consider purchasing just for collecting. 

On rare occasions, I purchase back-ups. These are items that is an absolute staple and often discontinued. In fact, I only have 3 back-ups and I do count on using these.

Revlon ColorStay In The Buff (discontinued, a nice, pink-toned neutrals), Paul & Joe Poudre Libre (because I don't live near any place that stocks P&J), Maquillage Crystalizing Lip Compact (also discontinued).

10. Tag a few other makeup addicts to do this tag! 


I'm tagging GummyVision and Bronzer Bunny! Look forward to the posts from these lovely ladies.


11.27.2014

Everybody Eats When They Come to My House


Before the mad dash of Black Friday, before they play the Christmas muzak at the malls and other public places, let's take time to cherish the fact that giving thanks knows no season.

Wishing you and your family a blessed Thanksgiving day.

11.17.2014

Banish the Monday Blues with Bellycorn!


We had a super fun weekend at the Land here where we went to birthday parties and visiting friends compounded by the incredibly good, crisp Autumn weather. Then Monday Blues comes knocking on my door...

Thankfully, while trying to declutter my desk, I came across the Bellycorn I had the luck of winning from my dear friend Bellyhead, who had waited patiently to be baked. At first, I tried to save this to bake together with the Tod. But, I think he'd most likely be more interested in touching the buttons on the oven than the baking, so I decided to bake the Bellycorn and have the guilty pleasure of seeing him shrinking all to myself.. *cue in the evil Mommy laugh*


Obviously, my Shrinkydink-baking mojo has gone out the windows, the Bellycorn wrapped his two front feet around himself and stuck there permanently. It is only natural for him to reside as a zipper pull on my otherwise-plain Aveda cosmetic bag so he can remind me always of the wonderful real people and the real friendship I made through this little blog. 

Wishing you a Happy Monday!

11.13.2014

Throwback Thursday: Matte Lipsticks



I don't know when matte lipstick trend started. Not long ago (that is to say in 2012), Burberry released Lip Velvet. I'm even surprised that Aerin Lolabird is still in my lipstick wardrobe and get used every now and then.

All of which tells me that fashion and beauty have a trend to recycle themselves; if you pay attention to this, you may.. may just happily skip the Tom Ford Lip Color Matte or the impending import of Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution.

11.11.2014

Clay Cleanser, part Deux




I am a fan of clay cleanser: even though I have dry skin, I found that the addition of clay improves the cleansing power and balances my skin. I'm still searching an affordable option to REN Clearcalm 3 Clarifying Cleanser that I love. I just feel, regardless of science or magic or else, that an expensive cleanser is a waste of money; literally down the drain it goes after a matter of minute on the skin.

Upon further squinting of the eyes, REN cleanser is nothing but a lotion cleanser with a good amount of kaolin clay thrown in. That's exactly what I have been doing lately: throw in a heap of kaolin clay into whatever water-based lotion cleanser that I have on hand.


Kaolin (or any other clay for that matter) is dirt cheap, y'all. One pound of various cosmetic-grade clays runs from $5-$8. That is a whooping pound. I only bought about 2 oz from local Whole Foods and it still lasted me quite a bit from daily use since summer. I keep a small amount in baby food jar, to be scooped and mixed with Cetaphil, Avene, or whatever lotion cleanser I have on hand for a nice, refreshing rinse in the morning. You can go as fancy as you like without breaking the bank: mine is French Clay, there's also pink, white, rhassoul, moroccan, bentonite, etc. Most of all, you know how much clay is in your product and not just wondering if it has any trace of clay in it.

I think this solves my dilemma about clay cleanser for now. I'm very happy with this semi-DIY. Speaking of DIY, here's another thing that is cooking in the Land:

Yes, those are poke marks on the batch on the right, just to test the consistency.

Please excuse the fluorescent lighting of my kitchen but I was cooking a few batches of cleansers and tweaking a few different recipes. The end product is, hopefully, a creamy, non-surfactant based cleanser that has a good slip, lots of cleansing power and loaded with humectants (especially heading towards drier months). Stay tuned.

11.02.2014

Daylight Savings

Spring forward, Fall back... thank goodness for Daylight Savings! It's been quite a whirlwind month here at the Land and I expect it to be a bit worse in November with lots of sickies (yes, that time of the year), no-nap-rainy days (nightmare of all stay-at-home moms with energy-bursting toddlers), and other engagements.

I hope you all stay well inside and out. We will see you soon!

10.27.2014

The "Alphabet Cheek Dictionary" MOTW: W is for Pink


Phew, after recovering from the bizzaro blush world of last week, the W for Wink, er.... Pink is an unexpected conclusion to this ABC series. Again, the theme of using a blush for something else other than a blush, such as highlighter, contour, and in this case bronzer, continues.


The Tuto




The playful and cute alternative to bronzer: this technique mimic the placement of natural tan, where the sun hits the face. Use matte pink powder blush to achieve this look, i.e. NARS Blusher 4039 New Attitude (a cherry blossom pink). Alternatives include Paul and Joe Face Color CS 089 Azalea, Les Merveilleuses Ladurée Creamy Cheek Pot 103 and Jill Stuart Mix Blush Compact N 07 Sweet Primrose.

From the highest point of both cheeks, trace a U shape, then connect both on the bridge of the nose.

Swipe on grey-gradation shadow on the upper lids, brown liner on the bottom lashes and pink lipstick to round up the look.


Products Used



  • Burberry Complete Eye Palette in 01 Smokey Grey is the only Burberry quad I owned and perhaps the most underused eye palette in my collection. The shades themselves are quite lovely and I'm glad that I can use this palette for at least a week straight with this look. Not shown but also used is Burberry Eye Shadow in Pale Rose (discontinued), a pearly pinky base.
  • Chanel Le Crayon Yeux in Gris Scintillant, a sparkly grey liner that is stunning paired with matte greys of the Burberry. If I were to stay true with the tuto, I'd also line my bottom lids with taupey-brown liner like LMdB Champagne pencil, for example. 
  • Maquillage waterproof comb mascara (discontinued).
  • Since the look is all matte-matte, I think a nice slick of YSL Rouge Pur Couture Glossy Stain in 17 Encre Rose will give it a bit of a twist.
  • The blush! Oh, it is a vintage Ettusais circa 2002.. Guava is actually a shade of pure baby pink. Alternatively, I can use something like Burberry Peony or Chanel Blush in Tweed Pink.

My Impression

I would think that using bronzer in W-shape across the bridge of the nose would produce a more natural result than baby pink but the opposite is better for me (I don't tan, I burn whenever the sun hits my face and thus the pinkish-reddish burn in the W-shape). The cool grey eyes offset the saccharine baby pink and giving it a slight rock-chic edge, it is surprisingly tomboy & yet sweet at the same time.


The end! I've had fun preparing this series and I hope you have gleaned some tips/tricks on achieving the perfect cheek look for this Fall. Adaptations? Well, I can tell that I'll be wearing this W-rock-chic look for a bit, and the J-look is great translated into deep russet blush of the Fall.





10.20.2014

The "Alphabet Cheek Dictionary" MOTW: T is for Orange



Just when I thought we've finished visiting the bizzaro world last week, this week's feature is even more, well, bizzaro. "T is not for Orange, Ma. T is for Tiger!" I think the Tod is right, although tiger is often orange-looking. Oh well, who am I to argue with a three year old? To further the bizzaro-ness of this look, I think the "orange" they are referring to is more of a coral for my taste. What do you think?


The Tuto




This "cheek look" starts from the under eyes area, which at first glance seems to appear introspective (?) (想定内) yet the juicy orange turns the look coquettish. O.k. I have to admit, this translation is a bit outlandish, but I think the look is supposed to be the playful-yet-shy-innocent type.

Directly on the under eyes area, draw a horizontal line using medium-size blush brush (the model uses something that very much look like an elongated-version of SUQQU blush brush), approximately the corner-to-corner width of the eye. Next, draw a vertical line on the middle of the cheek, using the side, narrow part of the blush brush.

The featured blush is Les Merveilleuses de Ladurée Face Color Rose 102 (mini), with alternatives from Elegans Cosmetics, Shu Uemura (Silk Cushion Blusher in Orange Quartz) and Lunasol. 

Finish the look with gradation of shimmery brown (Estee Lauder Pure Color Five Color Eyeshadow Palette 28), black liquid liner (Majolica Majorca BK999), and sheer orange gloss (RMK W Crayon & Gloss Lips 05).


Products Used



  • Tom Ford Quad in Enchanted palette needs a bit of love so I use that. In reality, perhaps this palette is a bit warmer than inspiration EL palette, but I like the contrast of slightly cooler-eye to offset the warm cheeks and lips. Note, on the model, the eyes are lined both top and bottom (maybe bottom slightly smudgy using the darkest shade from the eye palette).
  • Lunasol Liquid Eye Liner, mine is in brown-black, paired with the Little Witch Mote Mascara, my fave tubing mascara (hoarding every single drop of this!).
  • RMK Mix Color Cheek in 02 Coral has the top orange bits that fits the look.
  • NYX Butter Gloss in Appel Strudel is perhaps a bit too milky, but it has that peachy look that I need.

My Impression

Whoa, this look does not work on me at all! Something about drawing the T-shaped coral right underneath the eye makes me look like a clown, er.. a bizzaro Mama Lorp, perhaps? I try blending it more into a triangular shape, still does not work. The closest that I can achieve with this look, keeping the spirit of cute-innocent-coquettish is placing the blush on the apples, slightly higher up than I'd normally do.

I guess I'm not that innocent, but it does not mean you can't rock this look! See it for yourself and if you do decide to try this one, maybe an instagram?



10.18.2014

Breakfast Porridge



There's nothing better in a chilly Autumn morning than a bowl of freshly prepared breakfast porridge. The Tod, especially, since it affords him an independence of choosing his toppings and the inevitable consequence of freedom to eat only the toppings. Steel cut oatmeal is our favorite but my version today is made crunchier with addition of quinoa and amaranth. I follow the ratio of 1:3 of grain to liquid, with any combination of grains I have on hand.

A time-saving tip for a busy mom like me is knowing when to hover around the stove and stir; not the entire 25-30 minutes of cooking time, but only for the last 5 minutes, when the grain has turned sticky and has more potential to burn on the bottom of the pot. Before then, just stir the pot every 5 minutes or so while keeping your little ones happy. In the end, perfect porridge is achieved without much elbow grease or accidents happening in the living/play room.

Toasting the grains take an extra 5 minutes at the beginning but it is so worthwhile. It really elevates a regular, oat-mealy porridge into something quite fragrant and earthy. I toast my grains dry but I think you can use a pat of butter, too.

Finally, don't skip/skimp on the salt. I use 1/2 teaspoon of salt, but many will find this too salty. I adore the contrast between the sweet maple syrup, the tartness of the fruit and the saltiness of the porridge. A little bit of salt will turn your porridge from just ok, to WOW!



Breakfast Porridge with Steel Cut Oats, Quinoa and Amaranth

makes a pot enough for one hungry family

1 cup of grains (I chose 1/3 c of each steel cut oats, quinoa and amaranth)
3 cups of liquid (milk, or water, or in my case 1 1/2 cups of each water and whole milk)
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoonful of salt.

If using quinoa, wash it thoroughly under running water to get rid of saponin (a substance that coats the quinoa and makes it taste bitter).

Toast the grain over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes or until it turns a bit golden and smells nutty. This step also helps to dry the quinoa which we just rinsed.

Once toasted, pour in the liquid, crank up the heat to high. Bring everything to boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes to desired doneness (we like our porridge crunchy, so I stop around the 25-min mark) -- stirring occasionally & judiciously.

Topping ideas include:
Brown sugar, maple syrup, a bit more milk to thin out the porridge or cream to make it richer, fruit compote, figs, honey.. practically endless. We used up our last precious homemade peach compote that we canned earlier in Summer.


10.13.2014

The "Alphabet Cheek Dictionary" MOTW: J is for Coral




The J-Coral look is perhaps the most no-brainer look in the series but with a little bit of a twist. Again, we see flip-flop placement of (colored) blush in lieu of highlighter in the J-section area around the cheek bone up toward the temple -- a doppelgänger of the red blush on the cheek hollow from last week's look. Bizzaro universe, indeed!

In Bizzaro Seinfeld, did Elaine probably wear her blush as contour and highlight?



The Tuto



The soft-coral blush (Chicca Flush Blush Powder in 05 Peach Mission, other alternative products included matte-peach from THREE, Ipsa and RMK) on top of the cheek bones creates the air of healthy "charm." Continue blending the blush upward towards the temple to give a more "lifted cheeks" effect by accentuating the J-curve.

The tutorial features powder blush using medium-sized, stubby cheek brush, not unlike Tom Ford's blush brush (although the tutorial does not specify the kind of blush brush used). 

Start in the center of the cheek, from the highest point when smiling (I assume this would be the apples), glide along the cheek bone upward. Then resting the brush on the temple, brush lightly in short strokes near the hairline.

Shimmery golden wash on the moving lids (Addiction Beauty 3AM eye shadow, from Eivissa Dream collection 2014), pinky-shimmer on bottom lash line (Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in Sea Shell), slight-winged eye liner and a nude mouth (MAC Close Contact lipstick) finish the look.

Products Used

  • Burberry Eye Shadow in Pearl White is used as an all-over base, along with Burberry Eye Liner in Midnight Ash. In retrospect, I could have used the golden-shimmery champagne shade from Chanel Mystere quad on the upper lid and By Terry Ombre Blackstar in Frozen Quartz for the bottom lid, but I think, again, the point of the look is not the eyes but the healthy-looking cheek.
  • Chanel Joues Contraste in Espiegle, the perfect apricot-coral (as opposed to pinky-coral) for this look. Note that the look is achieved using matte/non-pearl blush, I think JC has somewhat of a low-wattage pearl which fits the bill.
  • Aerin Lipstick in Sunday Morning is my go-to nudy peachy lip.

My Impression

An easy, very wearable look, despite the bizzaro placement of blush on the highlighter area. Definitely give this a try!


10.12.2014

Tamagoyaki


Tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette) is one of those deceitfully simple dish that needs a bit of an experience and skill to do. Here, I'll share with you mine so you won't have to waste a perfectly good egg mixture.

Tips for success:
  • Use non-stick pan if you have one, it does not need to be the rectangular-special tamagoyaki pan (as you'll see below). You don't need a non-stick pan but if you use it, it'll make things a lot easier.
  • Use plenty of oil: the right amount is when you can see beads of oil on the pan floating around but not swimming, it is quite a bit of oil!
  • Use medium-high heat. The egg will cook very fast but it needs to be on rather high heat.

Tamagoyaki 
(makes 3 servings)

3 eggs
3 Tbs water/dashi
1 tsp mirin
1 Tbs sugar
1 tsp soy sauce
a pinch of salt (optional)
minced parsley or chopped green onion (optional)

Mix all the above ingredients together, set aside.
Heat the pan on medium-high heat and smear generously with paper towel-soaked oil (see above tip for oil). Test the pan for readiness: a smidgen of egg mixture should bubble vigorously when dropped on the surface.
Pour about 1/3 of egg mixture . Swirl it around the pan -- the egg should be a bit thicker than a crepe but thinner than a pancake. Wait until the surface is almost set and custardy-looking before rolling the egg toward you. Keep rolling the egg then slide the rolled egg on the other side of the pan. Oil the pan generously and repeat the same process until all egg mixture is used.
When properly done, the egg will look like this:



Shape it gently into a log while still on hot pan. When the surface is lightly golden brown, transfer the egg log onto cutting board but let it cool for about 10-15 minutes before slicing.


I serve tamagoyaki as part of breakfast, but I think you can eat it any time of the day.

10.09.2014

Living Below your Means, Part 3

Dearly beloved, somehow this post got buried under "scheduled" post that never got published. Yikes! Only recent virtual convos with other fellow bloggers remind me of these ideas of living below means that I go back to again and again. As I wrote my comments on these lovely blogs, I have a deja vu feeling... did I already write about that before?

Without further ado, I hope these ideas will be useful and inspiring. All of us are work in progress, if we are done, we won't be here, right?

Mariah's Shoe Closet (from instyle.com)

Will this object improve the quality of my life?
If you can answer YES wholeheartedly and honestly to this question, then the object is worthy of your possession. Say, you want to purchase something, and you find yourself reasoning with the answer of this question, then wait a day, a week, a month, as long as you can. Most of the time, purchasing something does not really improve the quality of life -- it is quite the opposite: ownership of something, anything, comes with a burden of using, maintaining, storing, and eventually disposing the item, not to mention future opportunity lost because money spent in this particular item, right now. When you think of all that, every items you bring into your home adds up to that burden of ownership. If nothing else, they become background clutter of energy and things. Multiply that by 3,000 pairs of shoes that you owned, that is a lot of energy/time/money/space that you can possibly spend on something else. 
The more I appreciate objects that surround me, the stronger my resolve to only obtain and keep things of highest quality that I can afford, that will really add value to what I already own. Owning a few excellent things, rather than a lot of mediocre things, are quire liberating, not only in terms of space, cost, but most of all, peace of mind.
The opposite is also true, that when an object cease to add quality to your life, give yourself the permission to part with it. Objects, as anything else in life, are here to serve a purpose: maybe a blouse that your mom gave for your Birthday no longer suits you but you are reluctant to let it go. It is the memory that you hang on to, not the blouse -- the love of your mom somehow "materialized" into this ugly blouse that no longer adds value to your life. Cherish your memory and give thanks to your mom. Let go of the blouse and let it be a blessing for someone else instead of becoming a burden in your life.

Toyota Headquarter in Japan (from wikimedia commons)


Just in Case v.s. Just in Time
I heard this concept about "Just-in-Time" Toyota philosophy many years ago in college while studying economics. The idea is so simple but quite revolutionary in commercial goods industries. Why can't we apply the same concept to our life? Here's an inspiring article by Martha Beck about "Just in Time" application in real life.

My fellow blogger Bellyhead has put it so eloquently in her blog about buying "just in time" v.s. "just in case." Do I buy bulk/do I buy when there's sale even though I don't really need it? Or do I buy later when I really need it and pay full price for it? Sadly, I think we are a nation of "just in case" buyers. I buy this, just in case I need it, while there's a sale/coupon/... going on. That's why there's Costco, known for its BIG huge, giant package sizes of toilet papers, diapers, even smoked salmon. That's why we clip coupons and buy in bulk and rent a heated storage space somewhere so we can free up our garage spaces and buy more stuff to be stuffed in our garage, etc.

The opposite is actually quite true. By purchasing things "just in time" not only we eliminate the superfluous items that takes up the space of our home, we reduce the burden of ownership (see above). In return "just in time" mentality gives us so much freedom: freedom to choose how we will spend our money in the future, freedom from guilt of not using up things we don't use, freedom from waste, etc. etc. We will cherish and enjoy things that we own more because those things are the ones that we really, truly need and love to use everyday.

Patience and Forgiveness
When I was young, my piano teacher used to tell me that it was my own fault of not spending enough time practicing that I was not moving on with my lessons. And with such stern advice, am I a concert pianist now? Far from it..
Sounds familiar? Well, slip ups are bound to happen, after all we are only human. Remember this, and this? I tend to beat myself up/blame myself when things happen, but that will not solve any problem. Worse, it will make me feel even more guilty and bad and when I feel bad, I spend. Patience and forgiveness is the essential part of growing. Give yourself permission to make that mistake and the patience to practice the mindful ownership. Just like muscle, the more you use it, the easier it gets.

If you care to share any that resonates with you, I warmly invite you to do so.


P.S. For my readers who are makeup fans, some creative ideas of places that receive used-makeup donation: local women's shelter, high school/local drama/theatre production, even preschools/art schools/alternative schools (yes! Toddler's preschool accept makeup donation that they'll use for art project: melt lipsticks for making waxed-paper "stained glass," break shadows pigments for finger paintings, used makeup brushes, etc.). Most importantly, check with the school/institution that you plan to donate your items, many have certain rules/regulations.



10.07.2014

Joy


I reflected our misfortunes at the Land this past summer, a whirlwind to say the least! But I know that our life experiences are here to teach us something. What I've learned through these tragedies is joy.

Feeling of joy is real, no matter how or where it comes from. Whether it comes from laughing from a joke, or feeling inspired from watching a movie, or playing with your puppy, the feelings are equally real. Joy is an equal-opportunity contagion, it is not exclusive to anyone or anything. One doesn't need to earn anything to feel joy.

Joy happens so sneakily. It happens when we realize that the small stuffs are not important anymore, when we breathe a sigh of relief at the end of the long day knowing we still have a warm house and food on the table and people who love us the most. It sneaks upon us when we hear an old tune on the radio that causes us to sing with abandon, or in the form of a smile when we see the abundance of flower at the florist. It comes in a form of corn in a cob, so surprisingly sweet that it gives the cheeks tingle with each bite, or that first sip of cold drink in a hot day.

If we let it, joy will come. It may disguise itself as "doing" but it is already within us; like a melted chocolate center in the molten chocolate cake. Let it ooze and savor it slowly; otherwise, it is just another gooey mess of a half-baked cake.

Joy and gratitude are sisters. Wherever there's one, the other one will soon follow. They come when we let this moment be and wanting to change nothing.



Wishing you all joy, here and now.

10.06.2014

The "Alphabet Cheek Dictionary" MOTW: A is for Red


This tutorial features rosy red/bright red blush in a side-way "A" application. As a self-professed blush addict, I'm sorely lacking bright, rosy reds in my collection, gasp! Here's my entire blush collection for your perusal. The recent addition of the Josie Maran Watercolor Cheek Gelee comes to the rescue for this look. If you don't have a red blush, you can always use a red lipstick in a pinch -- if your lipstick is too pigmented, you can "thin" it down with lip balm, face balm, or even a bit of foundation.


The tutorial features Le Blush Creme de Chanel in Chamade 67

The Tuto

A strong, red blush demands clean lines to enhance and contrast the complexion, thus the A-sideway shape. Somehow, a Japanese-version of sensibility always combines cuteness/sweetness/charm with feminine, grown-up feel which will be the underlying theme in this series (or in fact, in any of Japanese makeup look). 

The key success to this look is to blend it generously under the cheek bones to give a facial framework, so to speak. Notice this type of placement normally is done with contour shade in our Western beauty world (say.. Burberry Earthy, or Chanel Notorious), thus using an actual bright color to "contour" or give a facial framework is quite an interesting idea!

Using red-hue cream blush, start from the hollow of the cheek just in front of the ear lobe, patting towards the center of the face against the cheek bone. Then from the side of the nostril, blend the contour following the hollow. 

The look is finished with goldish-beige shadow and sheer red glossy lips. 

Products Used



  • Chanel Quad Mystere, for that sparkling, golden beige and the middle bronzy shade of Chanel Ombres Matelassees circa Holiday 2013 for more definition. You can play around with the shadow as you see fit as this is not the focus of the look. I opted for a simple wash and crease color.
  • Bobbi Brown Gel Liner in Black to line
  • Le Volume de Chanel Mascara (not shown)
  • Josie Maran Coconut Water Cheek Gelee in Getaway Red (oops, I mistakenly photographed Poppy Paradise instead, but Poppy Paradise, too, is a red variation, leans slightly more coral).
  • Stila Lip Pots tinted lip balm in 01 Fraise. Peeps, don't try this at home, this product is very, very old... oldie but goodie, use your own sheer red balm of choice.

My Impression

I thought contouring using bright blush may look odd but the result was not as odd. First, it looks like my cheeks are naturally blushing from the exercise without that clowny/cutesy effect that "pop" on the apples often creates. Second, since the placement is not at the apples but on the hollow, it creates a blank canvas on the apples and the cheek bones, acting as a "natural" highlight. Third, the placement, combined with my own facial shadow from sunken cheeks creates a very slimming effect, something I read over and over again is very appealing to Asian beauty sensibility.

Let me know if you decides to give this look a try -- I'd love to hear your thoughts on it!

10.02.2014

The Alphabet Cheek Dictionary: A New MOTW Series



Happy Fall, everyone! Starting soon, MOTW is back with the "Alphabet Cheek Dictionary" which was originally featured on Maquia Magazine Feb 2014.

Fall is probably the least likely season to think about cheek and blush. Naturally, this article was featured on Maquia's Spring edition. But, I really think blush is the most-often used makeup product, only second to mascara. I know some ladies who don't like putting on lipstick/gloss in regular basis (me included), so blush + mascara have become de rigueur. Regardless, these techniques can be used any time of the year with any color of the season.

This series will also include a brief tutorial and my explanation/take of the general feel of the look. As always, I will gladly include translations of the actual products used. I really would love your input, especially if you decide to try on the look; what you use, how do you adopt the look, whether you like it or not, etc.

Finally, in the spirit of MOTW, I will give you some ideas of products that I use or substitutes in case you don't have any in your collection. Again, the whole idea of shopping your own stash is to go after the feel of the makeup look by using things you already have at home.

I hope you will enjoy this series as much as I have prepared them. See you soon!

9.29.2014

MOTW: Addiction AW'14 Tokyo Story

Rila Fukushima for Addiction by Ayako. Image from AFPBB
Sometimes I'm baffled as to why Japanese (or Asian) women eagerly adopt to the Western standard of beauty while many (from East or West) consider features such as porcelain skin, almond eyes, and full lips as beautiful. That, complete with the inspiration behind "Tokyo Story" (Ozu's movies are some of my faves, particularly "Good Morning") by Addiction is enough to get me riled up to copy the look for this week's MOTW. Granted, this is one of those fake MOTW, not suitable for school run and such, but this is what I do when I get a chance to play with makeup this week.

I ponder and ponder on how to make this look not looking like a pinup look. Case comparison: the impeccable Dita von Tesse.

Image from stylebistro
Certainly these two have a lot in common: red lips, winged liner, porcelain skin. But decidedly, the Japanese Beauty theme of Addiction favors softer brows -- both in terms of color and angle, unadorned lids and lashes, and wing at a gentle slope (which is so much more eye-friendly to droopy lids like mine). While the skin is porcelain, it is kissed with a gentle pink, almost as contour, and the lips are glossy, instead of the matte pinup, reminiscent of Japanese lacquerware.

I must say iPhone camera is really not that bad, considering my measly photography skill with the real camera, lol!

My version (sans any actual Addiction product, lame, I know):

  • Base: the flawless, velvety, porcelain skin is the key feature to this look. I came across this YouTube video of Addiction makeover to see what kind of base product was used. First, the Porcelain Skin Primer was used, much like Chanel Le Blanc if you have that. Then, Porcelain Skin Foundation, which is a powder foundation, was applied with sponge for a full coverage.
    I can already tell, this type of base makeup will age me faster than having a kid or two. So, I chose something that is more suitable for my dry skin. First, I applied a thin layer of Ettusais Base Control Yellow from ages ago (I'm sure they have came out with a newer version) -- it negates the natural pink/darkness that I have on my skintone and renders the skin more porcelain. Second, I mixed a dot of Becca SSP in Pearl with the highest-coverage foundation I owned, which is Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Foundation. Third, a healthy dose of pin-point concealing, courtesy of the Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage was warranted if I were to wear a bright red lips. Finally, the face is gently dusted with Paul & Joe Loose Face Powder, which itself is collecting dust, as I rarely need any setting powder. The result was a Noh-inspired base makeup without the actual caking.
  • Cheek: Ayako used two blushes: pale cool pink + light beige brown. I chose something in between: a light contour of Chanel JC Rose Ecrin, on the hollows towards the ears.
  • Eyes: a sweep of Burberry Trench, followed by a sheer wash of Almond for definition, just on the upper lids. A gentle slope wing is drawn using Coffret D'Or Liquid Eyeliner which I love love love: this liner dries glossy jet black, and the brush tip means it never goes dull like the felt-tip. I know Ayako applied mascara but I don't think mascara will add to the the whole feel of the eyes, which is all about the liner.
  • Lips: the lacquered red is another key feature of this look. Although the inspiration does not feature ombre lips, per se, I thought I'd throw it in there -- after all, a subtle ombre equals lip enhancement. I use Burberry Lip Cover in Oxblood to trace the corners of the lips and to outline, followed by FACE Stockholm Chili Flake to fill in the rest. I really love the combination of these two colors for an ombre: the cool, dusky, plumy tone of Oxblood really makes the orange-red in Chili Flake pop even more. A wash of Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss in Pink Lily is sheer enough to register the red gradation as I think a red gloss will overwhelm the whole look and wash out the ombre.
I hope you've enjoyed my version and inspired to recreate it. Wishing you a great week ahead!



9.23.2014

MOTW: Burberry Beauty S/S15


As I tweeted earlier last week, it was a nice strategic move from Burberry to reach out to YouTubers/bbloggers to re-create their runaway look. Fashion shows are perennial distraction of my YouTube consumption, Burberry ones mostly for the talented performers that they feature (sorry, not talking about James Bay but more of Benjamin Clementine's performance on the Menswear S/S15 who gave me goose bumps).

And behold! I think I already have almost all the items in my collection to re-create the look, which is quite minimalistic and quick enough to do when you have a toddler hanging from your leg while you are trying to get ready in the morning. I think now I'm warming up to the idea of a little color on my skin. As I get older, I notice that a little color really gives that healthy "vibe" without piling on too much makeup.


  • Burberry Fresh Glow; mine is in the original shade, not the honey shade featured, mixed in with a tiny, pin-head size of Eve Lom Radiance Lift Foundation sample in Honey (a sample that keeps on giving!) to warm up the skin.
  • Benefit Hello Flawless Oxygen WOW foundation in Petal, a shade darker than what I'd normally wear. This one is a sub for the new Burberry Fresh Glow Foundation, which I suspect won't have a good match on my skin tone. However...
  • Burberry Sheer Luminous Concealer in 01 Light Beige has been my staple product since it was launched.
  • Burberry Light Glow blush in Earthy for cheeks & lids, which are prepped by a wash of Burberry Eye Shadow in Trench.
  • Supposedly one of the key feature to this look, apart from the honeyed skin, is the bare lashes. Well, no offense. The model, YouTubers, and bbloggers are at least 10 years younger than moi and at my age, I simply can't have my lashes bare. A pinching curl & a swipe of Le Volume de Chanel mascara will do.
  • Not having the Burberry Lip Cover in Ruby does not send me scouring the internet to purchase it pronto.. but rather, I followed my intuition in that I already have something similar in my stash, and less stinky (yes, Burberry, please de-stink the lip products and I will love you forevah, thanks) Tom Ford lipstick in Cherry Lush.



The Cherry Lush does look pristine, doesn't it? Well, only from the front; I use lip brush with mine and get the color from the side. I do wonder if anyone out there does this with their lipstick. One of these days, I'll swipe it right off from the bullet, for sure. I love this color and I may as well enjoy it, like daily.

Wishing you all a productive week and happy first day of Autumn!


9.16.2014

Thankful Tuesday



  • Lisa Eldridge's new Plum Chic tuto. C'mon, let's be honest, who's with me? Every time she released one, I scour my makeup stash to re-create the look.
    My version (clockwise from upper left): Burberry Bright Plum blotted as berry-bitten stain, Charlotte Tilbury Love Glow for pink with gold-glow, dark, clear aubergine shade from my vintage Stila Toile Collection mixed with aubergine tone from Chanel Kaska Beige, Pixi Endless Silky in Oyster Glow (had this forever, use this for inner corner of the eyes, now makes a great contrast liner) smudged with the pearly beige shade from Kaska quad, Burberry concealer 01, Maybelline the Falsies, Bourjois healthy mix serum foundation.
  • PapaLorp's new job! I used to think that I'm pretty mindful about our living arrangement, but not having a steady income for a while takes that mindfulness even a step above. 
  • The Tod's back to school; bitter sweet, really but glad that he's adjusting well and thankful for the time he is at school.
  • With school comes meeting with friends new and old.
  • Time for myself for shower & write this post.
  • A slice of Tres Leches cake.
  • Chestnuts on our sidewalk.
I wish you all a great week ahead. Please share with us your gratitude for this week/today!

9.15.2014

Goodbye Summer



A little end-of-summer convo that I had with the Tod, inspired by Mie's post here.

How old are you?
Three

Where do you live?
At home

Who is in your family?
Mama, papa and me!

What's your favorite color?
Orange

What's your favorite food?
Peaches (he was eating peaches at that time)

What's your favorite drink?
Ice water

What is your favorite toys?
Elevators

What do you want to do when you grow up?
I want to ride elevators!!

Who's your favorite friend?
Mama, Peppa and George.

What's your favorite thing to do?
Blowing bubbles


We will miss rolling around on the green, green lawn, ice cream and waffle cone, green juice and cold soba we often had for dinners. I hope you have had a blessed summer as we did.

9.11.2014

Hada Labo Masks Recap


I hope you have enjoyed my reviews of the Hada Labo masks. They can be found here:

  • The moisturizing Gokujyun
  • The "whitening" Shirojyun
  • The carrot-flavored Gokujyun Alpha


I forgot to mention, all Hada Labo products are now easily available through their online shop here. A few helpful tips about using paper masks in general:
  • Pull the paper apart at the cut-junctions prior to opening it fully
  • Squeeze out the fluid left in the pouch and spread it on your neck and chest
  • Take time to smooth out the air pockets from the mask
  • Don't put too close around the eyes, small creases and fine lines on your eyes act as channels and will draw liquids into your eyes
  • Don't throw away the pouch, put your used mask into the pouch and discard along with it to prevent tangling up in case the garbage is being rummaged by unsuspecting pets/small children
For those who live in Seattle, Chinook book regularly has two coupons of 20% off for any one item in Uwajimaya gift section (Health & Beauty included). Do check it out and take advantage of this offer to try out these masks.

Are you hungry for more Hada Labo? Recently, I tried all three of their sunscreens!! Yes, they made sunscreen, although not available at the online shop (they are available from amazon.com).

None of these Hada Labo masks reviews are sponsored.

9.04.2014

Hada Labo Gokujyun Alpha Mask



In the final installment of Hada Labo Masks, I present you my most favorite mask from the line, Gokyjyun Alpha.

This mask, thankfully, contains no alcohol. Indeed, although it has the same refreshing gel-feel, this one feels a bit richer. I'm not sure what's the claim on this mask, but there are obviously two derivatives of vitamin A in this one: beta carotene and retinyl palmitate.


A bit of a detour about vitamin A. Beta carotene is a form of vitamin A that is also called "Pro-vitamin A," in that it has to be converted into retinol/its dervative before it can be used by the human cell. The conversion happens in liver (in the case of mammals). The liver converts beta carotene to retinol derivative and store them for future use. Retinol and its derivative is toxic if ingested in high amount, beta carotene is not (that's why a rabbit can eat pounds of carrots without getting OD-ed). So far, evidence only points out to retinol derivative as the topically "useful" derivative of vitamin A -- it is taken into the cell to increase cellular turnover. Beta carotene in this mask is practically useless -- the skin is lacking the enzyme needed to convert it into the useful form. It does not mean that beta carotene has no topical activity -- I think one paper I came across studied beta carotene use in acute sunburn.
  • Slight yellowish tint to the mask, due to the beta carotene
  • Slightly fragranced? I detected a hint of waxy smell
  • Feels v. thick and moisturizingly rich
  • My favorite among the sisters, although again the effect does not last overnight
On the next installment, I will close with a recap of these Hada Labo reviews.

9.02.2014

Thankful Tuesday



We had a relatively calm weekend here at the Land but so much sweet gratitude, in no particular order:

  • Peaches-- the kind that were ripened on the tree, with heady perfume and so juicy, the juice runs down your elbow when you eat them.
  • The equally delicious chuckle of the Tod being mischievous with his friend, playing fort at a recent playdate.
  • Sweet, sweet rosy cheeks of a four-month-old. 
  • Equally sweet, sweet smell of babies, I mean, really, they just can't stink, can they? (unless they poop, I guess..)
  • The light on the Tod's eyes when he saw his green beans shrub finally came to fruition. What an honor it is to be there in such life-affirming discovery as this one -- to witness this with my son is truly priceless.
  • The Tod and PapaLorp saying, "Thanks for the dinner!!" when I finally cooked a pot of Kimchi Nabe. My family eats lots of kimchi, perhaps a record-breaking kimchi consumption in the block.
  • A basket full of the above-mentioned peaches, courtesy of a friend's family orchard.
Sometimes I can't believe how lucky I am -- I may not live a large, grandiose life, but my small life has brought me so much joy. My cup is overflowing and I'm sending it all to you. May you all be blessed where ever you are.