3.31.2014

Monday MOTW

  
I'm going to try something new. I've been notorious for putting makeup on the go. It's my time-saving trick! As the result, I found make up items absolutely everywhere: in the Toddler's diaper bag, in my purse, in the car's glove box, in medicine cabinet, kitchen drawer (I swear, I didn't put it there), gym bag, and shoe rack (hey, that one must have fallen off my coat!).

Enough denial, I'm slowly consolidating my makeup in one place. In order to give each items in my collection a use without spending 10-15 minutes thinking each morning on what to wear, I will pull out a set of makeup items that I will wear for the entire week. Yes, #MOTW, Baby, Makeup of the Week!

This week's rotation:
  • Chantecaille Just Skin in Bliss. I've forgotten how good this one is!
  • Stila CC in Lillium. I'd be so sad if they d/c this color. A long-forgotten staple.
  • Aerin Lipstick Sunday Morning, as good for Monday morning.
  • Pixi Endless Silky Eye in Brown, your boring basic.
  • Revlon ColorStay Eyeshadow In the Buff, another boring taupe-leaning-pink basic.
Sounds a bit boring but with these, I whipped a simple brown smoky look, dewy cheeks and nude-pink lips. Missing in the picture is my mascara, Little Witch Motte tubing mascara.. which is in my glove box -- head hangs. I know, a girl can try, right?

What's on your rotation this week?
 

3.30.2014

Risi E Bisi


I think every culture has its own version of rice and beans. No wonder that when the Toddler first started eating solid food, Risi e Bisi (rice and green peas) was, and still is, one of his fave, as if it is already ingrained in his DNA.

Risi e Bisi is the quintessential Spring dish. It only looks ritzy, but like any other rice and beans variety, it can prepared from humble, simple ingredients that can be easily and affordably found anywhere. Well, of course, you can make it as ritzy and as authentic as you like: imported Arborio, butter, even freshly shelled petit pois. But as I hope you will find that my humble version, which is made from any short-grained rice (in fact, I use Kokuho variety here), frozen petite peas, and "Better than Bouillon," isn't half as bad. In fact, I dare say it is as good as any renditions I've tried.

Unlike the time-consuming risotto, Risi e Bisi is the set-it-and-forget-it type of dish, making it that much more appealing for busy moms like me. 

Finally, the proportion cannot be simpler. I can shop and make Risi e Bisi on a whim: one pound frozen peas, one pint broth (that is one carton), one cup rice and one shallot (which can be easily substituted with onion or spring onion).

Risi e Bisi

Makes 1 good-sized pot

1 large shallot, chopped or 1/4 medium onion, finely minced
2 Tbs butter (or sub with 2 Tbs olive oil for lighter version)
1 cup short-grained rice, such as Arborio
1 lb frozen petit pois/peas
Salt & pepper to taste

1 pint chicken broth + 1 cup water
or
3 cups water + 2 tsp "Better than Bouillon" (basically to make 3 cups total liquid broth)

Handulfs of parmesan to serve.


On a small pan, bring the broth to low simmer while preparing the other ingredients.
On a heavy pot, melt butter and saute shallot/onion until translucent. Once translucent and fragrant, stir in rice, frozen peas and pour the simmering broth all at once. Season and bring everything to a simmer, stirring once or twice. Cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
At the end of 20 minutes, check the rice: it should be thoroughly cooked but not a mush/has not turned into porridge. It can be a bit dry so if you want it a bit more soupy, you can add some water. 
Serve with a handful of parmesan. 


Buon Appetito!

3.27.2014

Overseas Trip with Young Children

This is how we travel in Asia, "Look, Ma, no car seat!!"

There are many many blogs out there that cover the topic of overseas traveling with young children, but I thought I present a real-life what-worked-for-us tips based on our recent experience.

Firstly, as with any trip with young children (I'm talking 5 years or under), you need to get this extremely clear in your mind: this trip is NOT about/for your children, it is about you (parents, relatives, if you are visiting them) and the huge inconvenience these little people will have to endure because of it. Let's face it, I hardly remember what I did for vacation when I was 3 years old. The same will apply to any children; the younger they are, the less the trip will become significant part of their childhood memory.

If you start trip planning with this tenet in mind, then your priorities will fall easily in place. For example; instead of agonizing whether or not to go to the next attraction, we realized it was time for the Toddler to nap, so we chose nap and relaxation for a more refreshed day-after.

Budget

This is our foremost consideration: we could possibly afford a week trip to Japan/Korea or a three-week trip to three countries and we chose the later. Japan can wait. Taiwan and Singapore are not exactly the cheapest place in Asia, either, but we have family members there, so that helped a lot narrowing down our destination. In fact, the side-trip to Bali was surprisingly affordable.

The majority of travel budget goes to airplane tickets and accommodation. Some airlines do offer half-price for children under certain age and you should take advantage of it. If your children is slightly above a year old but not yet two, seriously consider buying them a place for their own, or a bassinet, especially for long-haul flight. Even with young children traveling, airlines will not automatically give you the bulkhead row (the front-most row) due to a variety of reason. If so, don't fret, find out what their policy is and just follow along. Turned out, the middle seat was not really all that bad either.

Airlines also have different policy of leaving children in their own seat for us parents to take care of ourselves. This is especially crucial to take note if you are a single parent traveling with 1+ children. I know a friend of mine who had to hold peeing during the 11 hour flight from Germany to Seattle, just because she was traveling with TWO toddlers and none of the stewards can "watch" over her children while she ran and took a bathroom break due to airlines' policy (in fact, on her trip back, she wore diaper herself. True story). So, do your homework and save yourself the trouble.

A few words about accommodation: many hotels that we researched in Asia provides baby crib/cot for a fee. It is worth considering even if your child is older/a toddler. In Singapore, when we stayed at a hotel, we took out the crib mattress and put them on the carpeted floor for the Toddler to sleep and that resembles his toddler bed set up that he has now at home.

For more in-flight tip, please see this guest blog post that I published earlier here.

Destination

Consider the mobility of your children and select travel destination appropriately. At 2.5 year old, ToddlerLorp is definitely able to walk but has limited endurance so he definitely required stroller for the bulk of our travel. In selecting travel destination, we chose places that has good transportation system. Both Taipei and Singapore have excellent MRT and bus system that we enjoyed throughout our trip. This is also why we crossed out China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia (Bali was a side trip of 2 nights-3 days) when narrowing down our choices. We found out it was almost impossible to travel by foot + stroller in Bali as the sidewalks were not really stroller-friendly.

Another consideration is the availability of toilet and food; major necessities for children and adult alike, but more so for children. We found that so long as we are traveling in major touristy area, bathrooms and food are quite easy to find. Be prepared, though, by bringing your own supplies such as toilet paper, wet wipes and hand sanitizer. We found the majority of bathrooms in Taipei were not stocked with toilet paper or even running water and soap, even in major tourist attractions. Singapore was markedly better in terms of public restrooms. It was hit-miss in Bali.

Attraction

Think about what you would enjoy as family. For example, there are many attraction in Taipei: the gondola, National Palace Museum, etc. but realistically, the Toddler is very much into panda. So, we made every effort to see the popular panda enclosure.
Every now and then, it is fun to visit local non-touristy attraction such as local park and playground. We did that on occasion and the Toddler were enjoying his time bonding with his distant cousins.

Trip Management


  • Sleep begets sleep.
    Not only for daily life, but also for traveling. Sure, give opportunities for them to stretch their little legs in the airports/during transit, but also be mindful of their internal state. Making your children run around wildly before long-haul flight will just make them wired even more. Tired, wired children and long airplane ride does not mix well. Same goes with dealing with jet-lag; denying your children naps are going to backfire during night time sleep. We listened to your body and took small naps when we were tired and found that the trip was more enjoyable/less stressful that way.
  • Be flexible.
    So many times I thought I'd be disappointed if I couldn't visit X, but realistically, traveling with young children require a much slower pace. Be kind to yourself and your children (remember the first "rule" above). In the end, I didn't feel like I miss a thing.
  • Always have back ups
    That means: back up plans, snacks, clothing, anything. Such was the case when the Toddler in badly need of diaper change while we were in the middle of the long immigration line at Chang-I airport.
    Also, on our first day in Singapore, we woke up super early due to jet-lag. Most attraction open at 10 AM local time when we all would fall asleep, so we utilized that early morning time to go to parks (such as Gardens by the Bay), part of which is open to public all day long.
  • Stay healthy.
    We packed up zinc spray/lozenge and take them at first sign of cold. As the Toddler loved airplane's bathroom, we let him pushed all the buttons and checked all the latches before wiping his hands with sanitizer. We also ate lots of probiotics (many can be easily find locally). Don't forget to sleep (see above).
  • Car seat or CARES Harness?
    During the majority of our travel, we were able to use our FAA-approved car seat (Britax Marathon). We flew Boeing 777 from/to Singapore/Taipei and 747 from/to Taipei/the U.S.; the car seat fits nicely on those airplanes without difficulties. Another perk to having a car seat: the Toddler is used to it already and was able to sleep in it for a longer duration of the flight. Car seat doubles as stroller in the airport and although it is heavy and bulky, it was very handy at times, especially when he needed to stay put during long lines at the immigration, baggage check, etc. when none of us could have allowed him to roam around.
    The downside about car seat is that many Asian countries are not used to it. More often than not, we run into difficulties convincing cabin crews that we need to use the carseat on board and we are able to install the carseat ourselves. I'm not surprised: in the countries that we visited, children are not required to travel in car seats even in cars. Nevertheless, we were able to convince the cabin crews in each trip and dare I say, I even had envious glances from parents of small children who squirmed in their laps during the long-haul flight.
    Now, to CARES harness. From FAQ on CARES website, there is weight limit of 22 lbs or above to be able to use the harness. The Toddler is well above 22 lbs (he is around 29-30 lbs) but I feel the harness is really designed for older children -- more like 3-4 years and up. The travel to/from Indonesia was done with an older Airbus model and we used the harness on the Toddler with ill effect. He kept sliding off the chair and since he sat in C-curve torso position for prolonged period of time, he puked several times during the flight.
    If we were to do it all over again, especially at the age that the Toddler is, we would definitely bring our carseat on board and make sure the airplane can accommodate carseat. If your children are older, you may be able to get away with harness alone.
  • Essentials.
    Wipes, wet and dry variety, always.
    Diapers are surprisingly easy to find anywhere in Asia (they even sell smaller pack of 3 and I think I even saw a diaper vending machine once).
    Food: luckily, the Toddler is a champ eater, so I have no problem, but stock up on snacks that your children are familiar with (in our case, Gold Fish Crackers). There are always western-style McDonald/KFC abound, but they may not taste the same (we found McDonald's chili sauce while in Singapore). If you are more adventurous, you can certainly go for local food, which are fabulous. When in doubt, go with the crowd: always go to crowded places since the food turnover is high and when the place is crowded, there must be a good reason why!
    Toilet: beware & be prepared (see above).

Lastly, I found people in Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia are very friendly with children in general. The cabin crews were extremely nice and accommodating to the Toddler and they never forgot to coo whenever we went by. People that we met readily greeted the Toddler with eager smile & curiosity. They often yield the elevator, bathroom, or seat in MRT readily if they saw me walking towards it with the Toddler in the stroller. It is so refreshing to see a whole different culture which has quite sunny attitude toward family and travel is about discovering new cultures.

I hope my tidbits have been helpful and I wish you a happy travel with your little ones!


3.25.2014

Thankful Tuesday

Stuffing his cheeks full of ice cream. I want more days like this.

I've thought back and forth about whether or not to post such cliché Thankful Tuesday post. Nobody likes to talk about tragedy; we live in a modern world inundated with bad news anyway. Skip away if you will, we'll save tomorrow to talk about something else more cheerful.

Never once a news about an airplane disappearance consumed my awareness. I'm of course talking about Malaysia Airlines flight 370 which is still missing and is presumed somewhere in the vast Indian Ocean. I do believe in noticing small things, especially small nagging things. Rather than brushing them aside like pesky insects, as painful as it may be, whenever I'm ready, I try to give it a chance to come to my consciousness.

Supposed you have the same thing going on in your life: a nagging voice that you have to contact your mom, or to forgive your friend for his/her past wrongdoing, or to spend less, or to exercise more. Whatever that is, it will keep coming if you don't give those voices a chance to surface to the top.

Somewhere in the South China Sea, March 8, we were in an airplane and my priorities were how to keep my toddler from kicking the seat in front of him, or at least get him to sleep so I could try my new Sisley mask. Somewhere that night, a mom, just like me, probably holding on tight to her toddler. Perhaps knowing what was to come. Perhaps didn't. God, I do hope, I really really do hope it was the later, and that somewhere out there, both toddler and mom were fast asleep.

My heart breaks with all the families who are and have been in agony for almost three weeks. My heart is also filled with gratitude for another chance to keep my life in perspective -- not at their expense, but from a realization that theirs are as precious, yet sometimes mundane, as mine and everyone else's. We are all, in so many ways, the same. It is only human nature to be in denial, to sink below mindfulness, making the biggest fuss over the most simplistic, silly things. But, what I wouldn't give to hear the Toddler's chatter another day, to enjoy the blooming cherry blossom tree around the block, to savor another sip of my favorite tea, to sleep in the warmth of my own bed, to worry about what to buy, what to eat, where to go.

I know for sure that death is just another transition in life. Stuffs that I have here, that I write, that I fuss about in daily basis, are just stuffs that get me "from here to there." This realization alone won't stop me from keep fussing about stuffs, but to experience that moment of clarity in my humanness, no matter how brief, I am profoundly grateful.

Mohen Wang, the youngest passenger of flight MH 370. Source: twitter via @jonathanwald

What's been nagging at you lately? What comes to your awareness recently? What are you grateful for? I warmly invite you to share them in the comment.

3.23.2014

Liebster sans Lobster



Every now and then, I got so lucky to have come across unknown strangers who fast becoming virtual BBFs. One of them is Belly from Wondegondigo, whose makeup & other opinions instantly just "clicks" (even down to baby poo and potty training incidences).

Being a relatively new blogger & a tiny one without much ambition (other than my personal satisfaction - how's that for intrinsic motivation, eh?), imagine my bewildereness when Belly tweeted me that I've been nominated for the Lobster award, which I quickly tried to recover from (ahem, a bit of PR damage control):

Clueless

Being nominated with Liebster award is an honor and a nod that someone else actually read what I wrote. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Belly!! Sure, I wish she'd sent me a round-trip ticket to Maine, perhaps meet me at the airport, then a scenic drive in search for the perfect bite of that lobster roll, maybe her two mini Bellies would play the Toddler for a bit while we savor a perfect bite of lobster roll. Well, enough dreaming, let's get cracking with the assignment that entails this award.

1)  Your favorite fried chicken joint?  Bonus points if you can deliver it to my house.  You don't eat fried chicken?  Negative points for you.

Boy, don't I have a good one for you. The one we, the Lorps, frequented.

A Seattle institution (image from Esquire.com)
... which comes, not only with Oprah's endorsement, but also its own scandal and drama. Mr. Ezell's himself apparently was deep in disagreement with his family members over the ownership of the restaurants and the recipe when he decided to open a branch of Ezell's (which, ironically, couldn't be named Ezell's because that name was already taken).
Heaven Sent is actually closer to our home. Now it has been re-named, as "Southern Fried Chicken." (image from Cheap Eats Seattle)
Read all about it here at Cheap Eats Seattle. P.S. Skip the biscuits but get the coleslaw. PPS. I think the may deliver to the Eastern seaboard. PPPS. How many extra points will I get?

I cheated, this image is from Esquire.com again, but when we ordered some, we'll post them pronto!

2) Cake or Pie?  Choose carefully, my friend.  There is only one right answer.

Oh my. I'll settle for this.

image from wikimedia commons
3) What makeup product category is challenging to blog about and why?

Perfume, because of my poor writing skills; this is why I depend on other bloggers like Bois de Jasmin. It is such a hard item to describe and olfactory sensation is such a personal experience.

4) Red pill, blue pill.  Pick one and why?

Why pick one when you need both? For a super long flight, that was. Did I tell you my Toddler was also trying to climb the front seat for the 100th time?

It DOES exist! Er... sadly no more. Tylenol Rapid Release Gelcaps were recently discontinued. Good stuff that one..
O.k. I took my freebie of skirting the question with the Boston Cream Pie above.. well, everyone need both, right? Right? But truth to be said, I must side with Neo. Painful as it is to swallow, it is the only reason why we all are here.

5) Current music in high rotation.

Caspar Babypants, ad nauseam. Warning: do NOT click or this will also become your earworm.



6) In junior high / high school, what was super trendy that you had partaken in that you sincerely regret.  Extra bonus points for pictures.

No way, Jose! I wouldn't be caught dead posting pictures such as this:

I have a sister, I tell you that much.
7) On your burger (veggie/ meat/ whatever), what is your cheese topper of choice.

Monty-jack or American.

8) On a quiet evening all to yourself, what three things would you be doing?

Drinking tea, cuddling up in a sofa, watching K-drama.

9) Where is the farthest flung place you have traveled?  Where is the next place you plan on traveling to  (far or near)?

I think South East Asia is the furthest I've traveled. I hope we won't travel that far for a loooong while (the jet-lag really kicked ass). I think we'll do domestic traveling next; our families are in the Bay Area.

10) What's better, a beach vacation or a walking cultural vacation.

Goodness, Belly, why do always I have to choose? Can't life be both cherry and cake? O.k... beach beats cultural vacation anytime now, simply because lately, all I want to do is just to lay down and do nothing. Absolutely nothing. A sad decline from a cultural-fiend-old me sans family.

11) Since blogging, has your taste in makeup changed in any significant way?

Yes, I'm more and more curious about Asian-brand makeup, thanks to several indie bloggers out there. Not because Western-brand makeup doesn't suit me anymore, but because I'm in search of something different in terms of texture, color combination, taste, style, etc.

Well, I guess an honor does not come without a responsibility to nominate other bloggers for Liebster award. Sad to say, I know only a few of new beauty bloggers. Fear not, hat actually gives me a motivation to befriend other bloggers out there to nominate them for the Liebster, so I hope I can take a rain check on passing on the Liebster nomination.

Or, are you one of those new bloggers? Please write on the comment and I'll definitely pay your blog a visit!

3.22.2014

Hayashi Rice

After our recent travel to Asia, my resolve to cook more Asian food is renewed with gusto. Alas, I think I've traveled to the wrong countries where the standard of a good dish is kicked up to exponential notches. Fear not, friends, I am in the process of re-creating dishes I enjoyed in Taiwan & Singapore so I hope to share with you more of that in the future.

Right now, I'll stick to a more familiar territory of Japanese food. When I was staying in Japan, a long time ago, my host family used to cook me western-style Japanese dish (youshoku, 洋食) which was a bit ironic since I always have had deep curiosity and appreciation of traditional Japanese culture and cuisine. When asked why, my host mother said that many of them were considered comfort food, especially for children, and since her children loved these dishes, she thought of making some for me.

Years later, I appreciate what she said. The Toddler loves the flavor of ketchup, butter, cheese in his food. Similarly, although youshoku are eaten with chopsticks and rice, these western-style Japanese dishes, which often are not found in Western countries, are laced with familiar western flavors: ketchup/tomato for that sweet/sour combination, Worcestershire sauce for that western-version of umami (as opposed to using soy sauce, although soy sauce is also used to some degree), and butter for that rich, roundedness on the tongue.

Perhaps the most popular youshoku is Omuraisu (Omu-rice), thanks to the unforgettable Tanpopo movie. Hayashi Rice (the word hayashi supposedly came from hashed beef) comes a close second in my mind due to the same flavor combo: tomato & demi-glace sauce. Even the parsley that usually plays an afterthought role is front and center here: it enhances the western-ness of the dish as without it, it would be just another "beef in tomato sauce."


A bit about demi-glace sauce: it is apparently not the same as the regular, gourmet-kind demi-glace that you can find at your épicerie fine. In essence, the real demi-glace is 1:1 mixture of broth reduction and sauce espagnole (another sauce made from meat + veggie reduction + tomato product of some kind). Straight up, it tastes very rich in beefy (if it is beef demi-glace), meaty flavor with a background of aromatics. The Japanese demi-glace sauce is more of a "sauce," to me, it tastes like a very much like tomato sauce with a kind of beefy flavor added in the background. For the most authentic taste, see if you can find Japanese demi-glace sauce -- the dish should taste rather tomato-ey. If you can't find Japanese demi-glace sauce, don't waste your $30/oz gourmet demi-glace; my adaptation below requires nothing but common ingredients that can be found in regular grocery store.

Hayashi Rice

Makes 6 servings
(loosely adapted from Cooking with Dog and other recipes. See the video here.)

Dark roux:
4 Tbs butter
6 Tbs flour
1/2 cup beef broth (or a touch more)

1 lb thinly-sliced lean cut beef (like round steak)
a bit cooking oil, if needed

1 medium onion, sliced
2 medium carrots, match-stick sliced
4 oz button mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large ripe tomato, peeled and seeded, diced into cubes. If not available, you can use approx 1 cup of diced canned tomato.
1/2 c red wine
3 Tbs ketchup or tomato paste
2 cups beef broth (more or less)
1 Tbs honey
1 Bay leaf
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce (the regular kind or Japanese kind)
1 Tbs soy sauce
salt, pepper to taste

A handful of chopped parsley

First, make the roux as follows (also watch Cooking with Dog video above):
Melt butter over low heat. Once all melted, add flour and stir constantly for 8-10 minutes or until butter-flour mixture turns deep brown -- not as deep as the color of dark chocolate but maybe as deep as caramel. Watch carefully as once browned, it gets brown even quicker!
Take the pan out of heat. Pour the broth all at once and mix vigorously, being careful that the mixture can bubble over. If you've done this right, you'll end up with a mass of dough and nothing sticks on your pan (even if you use a regular, not-non-stick pan like mine). Set the roux aside.

Season beef lightly with salt and pepper. Brown them in batches with a little bit of oil. Set the cooked beef aside.

Pour off pan drippings, if any, then add onion and carrots. Saute until onion is soft and slightly caramelized. Add garlic and mushrooms, saute about 3-5 more minutes until fragrant. Mix in the cooked beef, ketchup/tomato paste, and red wine. Turn heat down to medium, reduce the wine until almost all is evaporated, about 2-3 minutes.

Next, pour in broth, honey, bay leaf and diced tomato. Simmer for another 10 minutes or so or until the sauce reduced somewhat. Add the roux in the middle of the mixture, whisk until the roux is all melted and combined. At this point, add your seasonings: Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste.

Finish with the freshly-chopped parsley and serve with steaming hot Japanese rice.


Although using quite a bit of butter, my version is less oily-tasting on the tongue. The fresh tomato plus tomato paste helps brightened up the dish. If you prefer a sweeter version, substitute the tomato paste with ketchup and up the honey a bit more. 

I hope you've enjoyed this post and happy cooking!

3.17.2014

Sisley Paris Black Rose Cream Mask



For those who travel regularly, duty-free shopping must be a major attraction, especially in airports around Asia. It is quite unheard of that discounts are offered for name brands and these discounts can be quite steep!

During my flight from the U.S. to Taiwan, my body was desiccated to prune. The dry air was brutal and the long duration of flight (almost 12.5 hours) just sucked every moisture out of my body. I actually had to covering my nose with a scarf to breathe as the air was so dry. Before our flight back to the U.S., we arrived early at Taipei Taoyuan Airport only to find that they were having big promo and discounts for many makeup brands.

I purchased this Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask for approximately $86+ USD! In hindsight, I would have bought more items but I knew I'd regret impulse buy. This product is not something I would normally purchase back home without much research and recommendation. Besides, with a toddler on the run, beauty shopping was always a grab-and-go occasion.

Ingredient List
I thought this mask is just another cream moisturizer in disguise but surprisingly, it has the consistency of a lotion. It has a gentle rose scent that quickly dissipate. You are supposed to apply it thickly all over your skin (by that, the SA told me, a visible layer of lotion) and you can wipe the excess off after 10-15 minutes. During my flight, I applied the mask sparingly as to not smear it on myself or the Toddler, and I found that I did just the right thing: the mask is quite tacky, no doubt due to its high glycerin content. The tackiness is definitely magnet for lint or anything else near your face! Luckily I wore my hair pulled back but still, when I arrived home, I couldn't believe the amount of dirt that ended up on my skin. Nevertheless, the mask performed well as my skin felt plump and moisturized during the entire duration of the flight.

Besides being sticky, this mask has another surprising downside. I tried the mask again shortly after I arrived home, on freshly cleansed and toned skin (using the Hada Labo Hyaluronic lotion toner lightly), following the instruction to apply visible layer of it. I left it for about 15 minutes but when I try to "wipe" the excess off, the mask balled up all over. I thought the balling-up may be due to the Hada Labo toner, so the next night, I tried again on freshly cleansed skin, no toner. Again, after 15 minutes, when I tried to remove the excess off (the little that was left anyway), it balled up, again! Massaging the leftover mask onto the skin is also not an option as any type of rubbing will cause the mask to ball up. What a conundrum.

Leaving a layer of this mask on is actually quite impractical. As I mentioned, the mask is rather tacky due to the glycerin. Suppose you are going to put on your makeup base after the mask, it can feel rather gooey and maybe even make your base slide off. If you are going to sleep with the mask on, I suppose you'll have to tolerate having sticky pillowcase and hair stuck all over your cheeks.

As a solution, I apply the mask sparingly so everything is fully absorbed in the amount of time that I have. Say, I have 30 minutes - 1 hour before bed, then I'll put on the mask sparingly. By bed time, the tackiness has been down to minimum and I can either apply my regular night-time cream or go straight to bed. Similarly, you can just apply a layer of the thickness that you want and go to bed when the layer becomes bearably/reasonably "dry" to the touch.

THM: The jury is still out for this mask. It does deliver a dose of moisture and it does not bother my skin, yet the formulation can be a bit more user-friendly.

Coincidentally, Lisa E. featured this mask on her video here. Have you checked out this mask or the other Sisley mask that she mentioned (Express Flower Gel)?

3.15.2014

Trip to Asia

Top L-R: Merlion overlooking Marina Bay/Toddler enjoying Milo, dubbed the "national" children drink in Singapore/one of the hawker food center.
Middle L-R: Fresh seafood eaten seaside at Jimbaran, Bali/offerings to the sea Gods/enjoying our idyllic hotel pool
Bottom L-R: lazy panda at Taipei Zoo/one of the many feast we partook with family in Taiwan/hand-pulled noodle that the Toddler loves

We had a good fortune of almost 3-week traveling in Asia. We went to Singapore and Taipei to visit PapaLorp's extended family with a side trip to Bali, Indonesia. It was the first overseas trip for ToddlerLorp and it was quite an adventure. Traveling with a young child definitely shift our perspective and priority. When I was there, I wish I could tour all the shopping malls, as these Singapore and Taiwan are mecca for beauty shopping, but in the end, I'm glad that I spent more time with family and just hanging out, enjoying the new places.

Sorting through the pile of pictures that we took during the trip was a daunting task, compounded by kick-ass jet-lag that we still suffer (waking up wide awake at 2 AM only to zonk out shortly after breakfast). I present a few that I think summarized what this trip was all about: animals, food, and family. I will write more trip-related posts later.

In the light of the missing Malaysia Airlines, I still cannot get over how lucky we are to have arrived back home safe and sound. We were flying out of Singapore to Taipei at about the same time, no doubt over the same territory. My heart goes out to all the families and people on board as the search continues.

3.12.2014

Lunasol Full Glamour Lips 17


News flash, I'm in the middle of a divorce... with the Burberry lipsticks that is.


It ain't me, babe.

This is no ordinary separation, y'all. Burberry comprises the majority of my lipstick wardrobe. My philosophy on makeup is all about color and color that flatters worth its weight in gold. Burberry color palette and my skin tone is a match made in makeup heaven: their beiges have just enough hint and variation of pinks, yellows, browns, peaches that they create different nude-lip looks seamlessly and without me looking dead. Their brights are of the right pigmentation and balance that they never look garish/clownish while still on trend.

Alas, star-crossed lovers that we are, my idea of the perfect lipstick is unscented and moisturizing or at least comfortable to wear. As I get older, I can't to waste time wearing lipsticks that is just 90% right. It has to be 100% right, so le divorce is inevitable; I just can't stand Burberry's violet scent, plus its formula is not the most comfortable, either.

I've decided that there are other lines out there with both excellent formulation and sophisticated palettes. Besides, what's the fun in makeup without discovering new lines? I'm on a mission to ditch and replace the entire set of my Burberry lipsticks with something equivalent in color, but superlative in formula.



I've been really intrigued with Japanese brand lipsticks, particularly after an old love affair with Maquillage lip compacts. On my recent trip, I picked up Lunasol just because I thought this line is more readily available and reasonably priced (as to not fall in love with other hard-to-find lines).

Full Glamour Lips 17 (dull soft pink) easily knocks off 2-3 of my Burberry lipsticks in the nude-beige range. It is that MLBB, neutral-leaning-cool, dusky-nudey pink, with a touch of brown rather than mauve/copper to render its depth. It's the lipstick I carry daily for no-mirror application. As you can see, it is perhaps the exact dupe of Field Rose and slightly cooler than Nude Peach (both of the Lip Mist formula). On the lips, due to their sheer formula, the difference is miniscule.

Shade, full sun, shade swatches of Field Rose/Lunasol no 17/Nude Peach/Nude Rose (Lip Glow formula)

Now to the pudding. Formula-wise, it goes on like nobody's business. It does feel cushiony for a bit but I can tell that it sucks moisture from my lips (I noticed some prune-y lines emerged on my lips at the end of the day). It lasts maybe 2-3 hours, no shimmer, and goes on semi-opaque to allow my natural lip color to show through. Most of all, no scent, NO SCENT!! Yay!! (virtual cartwheel).

Immediately after arriving home, I regretted not buying a couple more lipsticks from Lunasol. I practically tried almost all of them on the counter (bless the patient SA!) but then I realize, there are so many other brands to try, so the adventure continues. The downside about this line is the lack of brights. Even the latest S/S2014 collection are somewhat muted, beiged-down version of what you see in promo pics.

THM: A worthy replacement for now. Definitely ditching Field Rose and Nude Peach (and maybe even others, like Copper or Cameo).

Have you undergone total makeup overhaul (or one item overhaul)? Would you recommend any other brand to me?

3.09.2014

A Moment of Pause

A picture of the actual aircraft that we took on our trip, just a few days ago.

I was going to post about our trip when I read the news about the missing Malaysian Airlines. The truth is, we were in Asia around the same proximity as where the missing airline was, at around the same time. Profound agony awash as I thought of those families waiting for their loved ones. My thoughts also go to the passengers as well, some of them are children.

I can only wish for peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding. I'm hugging my loved ones tighter today, what about you?


Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.

A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins With...



... finding cheap tickets, boatload supply of Goldfish Crackers and Tylenol Extra Strength Rapid Release Gelcaps (sadly discontinued, why???). O.k., mama Laozi I am not.

We have finally came home jet-lagged after a transcontinental trip that spaned about 10 time zones. Apparently, my lonely tweet was dispatched during the National Day of Unplugging. Gah, who would knew, I haven't been in touch with the world for a few weeks and what a bliss it was.

Lord knows everyone needs a vacation after a vacation, but for now, I'll give you a preview of what's to come, trip-related or not...

Les Goodies Japonaises, probablement avec un tuto...
Giving Aesop a second chance
Definitely must review this before winter is over, eh?
... plus! a little adventure into Asian skincare, perhaps thoughts about trip with a toddler, and maybe an unexpected humble drink sent from a loved one. A mama can only hope that the Toddler will nap long enough for her to take pictures and tell stories.

So, what's been happening in your neck of the wood?