A Mini Hiatus

Dear Friends,
The next few weeks (or months -- who knows?) will be quite busy ones for us at the Land, thus my posts will be very sporadic. I will try to sneak up on your blogs or other social media places as I am able.

Wishing you all blessings and peace.


Thankful Tuesday

On my way from a dental appointment this morning, I drove by a nearby Little Caesars pizza. In front, there's a moving mascot robot waving the pizza sign. The Tod and I would often guess if the robot is indeed a robot or if there's actually a person inside.

But the Tod wasn't with me when I drove that morning, he was at his preschool. Suddenly, I miss him a lot and thought of the love that I've experienced with him. I thought of the various kinds of love I've experienced in my life: as a daughter, a granddaughter, a sister, a friend, a girlfriend, a lover, a wife, and a mother. In fact, I realize at that very moment, my whole life is about love: receiving love, finding love, getting love, giving love. Love in people, in things, in plants and pets I cared for, in my job, in the chores that I do, the quest of finding love in all the right and the wrong thing.

They said that God is love, and that we are love. It is so, so cliche that I'm often cynical by the very notion of it -- sometimes, my whole day is not at all about love, love is the last thing in my mind. But love drives me so far in my life, whatever I do is out of love, out of seeking for love, or giving love, or finding love.

I am grateful for that glimpse of reminder once again -- for all the love I receive and give, and all the love that moves through me. Today, I invite you to take a notice throughout your day when you can feel love, or in the state of love -- it does not matter from where, what, or what kind. Take the time to notice that and give thanks. May the love you find today will be multiplied.

Share your love today, what do you give thanks for?


Addicted to Blush!

Totally, shamelessly... remember this from a while back? Yep, that's me. Still, when Monika from Rocaille Writes tagged me, I felt rather privileged and honored, I mean someone would actually listen to me yaks and yaks about blush?!?? Besides, I much rather talk and write about subjects I like than something dry like.. sunscreen (I have a post that has been brewing for months, ugh).

O.k. so blush, eh? I think the first makeup item I owned was an Elizabeth Arden lipstick from my Oma that I used mostly as blush and not as lipstick. Oma would use whatever lipstick she has on as a blush as well, that's how I learned about the pinched-cheeks look sans the pinching pain. But makeup was strictly a weekend thing, a visit-to-Oma's house thing. I went to an all-girl Catholic school from kindergarten all the way to high school and back then, the nuns were super serious about their business, namely absolutely no makeup in school, forever and ever!! But yes, I did wear a blush and a smidge of lipstick for my First Communion, thanks to Oma. The rest is history..

1. What color blush suits you the most?

I have three that are most used up: Stila Convertible Color in Lilium (old version) and Canmake Cream no 11 are pictured above. The third one is Becca Beach Tint in Guava, which is now rendered an ugly, half-cut-up tube in a zip-lock baggie that is almost completely used up. They are in the family of pinks but Lilium is a bit peachier, duskier, Canmake is cooler, leaning baby pink, and Becca is probably in between with the clearest tone among the three. 

In general, something of a light pink would suit my complexion best, something clear without much brown in it (albeit the photograph above). I think I can take colors leaning slightly warm/peachy-pink and slightly cool/baby-pink just fine, and I do like to tailor my blush to different eye look as well.

2. Pressed, cream, or loose blush?

I have it in my mind to convert my whole blush collection into creams, but alas, I think there is a virtue in any blush textures so I really can't pick just one. O.k., maybe I'm leaning more towards creams. Speaking of loose blush, I just can't get over how cute a blush packaging is sometimes. These two loose blushes from "vintage" Ettusais are all used up but I still keep them because they are sooo cute!

3. Favorite shimmery blush?

I tend to shy away from shimmery blush but I think these exemplifie shimmer done to perfection. Chanel just does the best shimmery blush, hands down. Charlotte Tilbury comes second to my mind, and by Terry Blush Cellularose Blush Glacé is, like I said many times before, good skin in a pot. They are all glowy, rather than shimmery.

4. Favorite matte blush?

Ugh, they are so dusty! All these pictures were taken in a hurry, as always.

For mattes, I tend to reach a lot for Burberry. I used to own a sizeable NYX blush collection before Burberrys -- don't get me wrong, I'm not at all a high-end snob, but I've owned those NYXs since forever that when Burberry came along, I thought it was time to overhaul my blush. Chanels also make some superb semi-matte/satin finish blushes (Rose Initale, Orchid Rose, Rose Ecrin to name a few).

Speaking of another good mattes, these are from Bourjois. I have had these for years and they are still every bit as lovely.

5. Favorite cream blush?

Oh my... I have lots. My definition of a good cream blush:
  • Has enough slip to be spread around
  • Is not too wet as to lift the foundation beneath it, or worse, to ball up with the foundation
  • Stays put for a while and not migrating around or sinking into pores
  • Has a glowy, dewy finish (because if I want matte, I'd go with powder)
Stila Convertible Color (the old formula -- I haven't tried the new Stila CC, yet, mine are all at least 5-10 years old, don't try this at home, kids!) ticks every single box, followed by Becca Beach Tint. Others that I have, such as Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge, Canmake, Aerin are also decent but they differ in blendability (Bobbi is on the waxy side, Canmake is on the powdery side, etc.). Le Metier de Beaute makes Creme Fresh blush which is a true cream. Although nice and dewy in finish, I found them to be slightly sinking into the pores, especially at the end of the day.

One formula that I don't like is cream-to-powder blush. Cream-to-powder blush is quite a conundrum to me: it does not synergized with my base as I have to rub it of somehow (instead of just patting it on) and it is not quite a powder as application with brush will also scratch the surface of the painstakingly-applied base. I found this kind of blush to be loaded with film-former, acrylics, and silicons that tends to just rub off the foundation that I wear underneath. Examples of these are the ones from Armani and Chanel (sad, because their colors are gorgeous). Mind you, I tend to wear quite moisturizing/emollient base makeup, thus I found oil-and-wax based, gel-based, or anything in softer texture to be better -- anything that can be just patted on and blended with minimal rubbing.

Finally, one non-blush items that doubles for very good cream blushes are Burberry Lip Glows (old formula). They truly have a nice, dewy/glowy finish and colors that flatter the skin!!

6. Favorite drugstore blush?

Definitely NYX. If I lost all my blush as it is right now, I can build quite a nice collection with just NYXs. 

Maybelline used to make liquid blush that rival Becca in terms of the refined shimmer, it has long gone been discontinued. Revlon Photoready also have great cream selection, like above. The texture is a bit on the harder-waxy side, but the colors are vibrant, transparent, and it stays put a looong time.

7. Favorite high end blush?

I really, really love Chanel Joues Contraste -- they are my unsung heros. If I ever got stranded somewhere and only have one shot to buy one blush from a department store, that would be from Chanel. Hmm... I just have an idea of doing various MOTW with all my Chanel JCs much like the Chanel Quad Series.

8. Favorite bright blush?

For bright blush, I much prefer cream, liquid (tint), or gel formula. Becca Beach Tint and Josie Maran Cheek Gelée are super blendable and transparent, suitable for many skin tone and oh, so easy to use. The middle one from RMK is another good option for powder. 

With that said, I never like Benefit Benetint that much. I don't know why, perhaps because, again, my base makeup is quite emollient and water does not really meld well with oil. The addition of silicone or a thicker-gel texture like the JM helps the blush adhere to the moist base.

9. Biggest blush disappointment?

I feel I've tried so many blushes in my life, I'm trying to think of brands whose blushes I have never owned. Just because they are not featured here, it does not mean I have not tried them in the past, e.g. I used to own a few MAC, Clinique, Laura Mercier, Paul & Joe, Shiseido, NYX, Maybelline, Revlon powder, etc. I mentioned above about Benefit Benetint. I also don't get NARS blushes, which are supposedly the star product of the line. I owned Orgasm/Laguna duo that I kept "just in case," well that just-in-case never came, so I happily gave that up and never missed it. 

Another blush line that I don't "get" is from Tom Ford, and not for a lack of trying. Somehow they are either too much or just so-so, or maybe my expectation is unreasonably high? Yet other disappointments are blush from Chantecaille, Hourglass and Jouer.

10. Best blush packaging?

I'm with Monika, I like compact blushes. RMK above is about perfect, so is other packaging that does not have a slot for the obligatory-but-useless brush.

11. Blush wishlist

With so many blush that I currently own, I have very little on my wishlist. I mean, there are always new brands & new things that I want to try, such as from Suqqu, Surratt, Charlotte Tilbury, new Clinique, new Armani, even new Bobbi Brown. I may purchase them when I either use up a blush or feel the need to revamp my collection, but for now, I am happy with what I have.

12. Number 1 Holy Grail blush

Whaaaatttt??? That's like picking favorites among your children, no good mom will ever commit such crime!! O.k... if I have to pick one.. just one? That would probably be Stila Lilium -- I look fifteen again when I wear this.

Thanks, Monika, for the fun tag! Now, I tag Gummy from Gummy Vision for the #blushfiends.


Spring Renewal

A few happenings from the Land..

Instinctively, once the sun is out in a more consistent basis, I try to nurse my houseplants back to health. The succulents were in dire need for sunlight, the fern of moisture and the spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum)... well, those are the plants that keep on giving (we are nursing the two new babies on the upper R picture.

I'm also glad that my local Whole Foods now carry yogurt from Saint Benoît Creamery. This is perhaps the closest-tasting commercial French-style yogurt available in the U.S. to the ones that I used to enjoy when I was growing up, the ones my uncle made in his home/farm-factory.

They are certainly not cheap, but a pot is a time-travel luxury for me; the cheesy curds and the slight-tangy taste transport me back to my childhood, drinking raw milk that was often milked that very morning, the sound of machine churning the cultured milk, the smell of the farm and, of course, the yogurt that my uncle made. Yogurt to me was never a silky smooth concoction; it was always curdled, sour, slightly cheesy and "raw."

Spring is time for renewal. Taking care of plants and relishing in good family memories refresh and nourish me from the inside out. What feeds you from the inside out?


Living Below Our Means: The Closet Update

At the beginning of the year, I made a post about clutter-free living, featuring Marie Kondo's Book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up." Now I'd like to write an update to that post, and to share with you my experience thus far. Please pardon the picture quality -- all are taken with my iPhone.

The above is a good representation of how my closet looks like now. Not much has changed from a few months ago. Nothing has been styled or removed; in fact, I left my laundry hamper and a pair of jeans on top of the dresser there to show you how it looks like on daily basis. Notice I hung a skirt on the closet handle because I planned to wear it that day. The perk about this method is that it completely eliminates the needs for seasonal clothing storage. Apart from some shoes and coats I store downstairs, this is all the clothing that I've got.

I've added things on the very top rack and the bottom drawer (that was previously empty), but those are only re-arrangements and not newly acquired things. Let's take a closer look at those.

As you can see on the right-hand picture, I keep the KonMari way of folding for easy viewing of my items but I've got two exceptions. 

On the left-hand picture is the bottom-two drawers. The right-hand drawer used to be empty -- now I use it to store my lounging/playing clothes, various t-shirts and cotton leggings. Living with an incredibly active and normally messy boy, I use these clothing when we cook together, draw, play in the yard/garage, walking about the neighborhood, frolicking in the park, etc. Notice also that I don't use the KonMari way of folding because this drawer is a fast-mover -- I would go through the whole content of this drawer in a week-time or less. The left-hand drawer are my sportswear as explained before -- many are too bulky to be folded KonMari way, so I leave them as such. 

Up on top, I store a green cardboard box that contains my accessories, and I nestle my hats next to it for easy access.

Remember I was going to declutter of the Tod's clothing in the last post? I did it!! This space next to my drawer set used to be full to the brim with bags and bags of clothes (did I say that they were vaccuum bags?? which can contain more things than regular bags?). Now, the small tub is all I keep as momento from the Tod's baby clothing; things that I would not throw away forever such as his first going-home onesie, his first pair of shoes, etc. The flowery box and striped box contain PapaLorp's stuff (and as Kondo said in her book, we do not declutter other people's belonging... although I am incredibly itching to do it!!). I also did the KonMari on the Tod's clothing, let me know if you want to see them.

I offered some suggestions or tips to those who are wanting to try this method. Those tips can be found here. Another tip that I can offer you is: don't be afraid to re-phrase the question "Does this spark joy?" -- which to me, can be quite fatiguing and draining emotionally.

In re-phrasing the question, I pondered of what Kondo means by "spark joy." I recently watched her Talks at Google, in which she described in Japanese what the phrase means. She speaks of things that "brings happiness" or the literal Japanese translation of "shiawase-kureu mono" (幸せくれるもの). One may argue that things cannot bring happiness. True enough. Happiness points to something deeper that does not always correlate to function, novelty, status, trend, etc. In fact, definition of happiness is very fluid. What "brings happiness" to me means different things to what "brings happiness" to someone else, or to me in the future or in the past. As written in the book, one should focus on one's life here and now, owning things that reflects one's current life, one's current definition of happiness. 

If you are stuck with "spark joy," I offer you these alternate phrases:

 "Does this reflect who I am right now?" 
 "Do I want to keep this?" "Which of these do I want to keep," Focus on the keep and not on the get rid (e.g. which of these I want to let go). This slight change in perception will help highlight the true value of an item to you.
"Which of these do I want to live with from now on until the rest of my life?" which is an exaggeration but still capture the essence of the question. 
 "Do I want to be with this item?"
"If this item can speak, what will it tell me?" Not for the unbeliever of the hoccus-poccus but works for me.

When I keep in mind these questions daily on things that I wear or use, naturally things will get donated and new things will be acquired. This is one of the issue that Kondo does not discuss directly in her book; how things are "maintaining" themselves -- what "maintained" things is the mindfulness of choosing which brings happiness or sparks joy in one's life.

In the next installment, I will address some lingering and/or common questions and skepticisms about this method -- some surrounding how to keep self from rebounding, boredom, etc. I also plan a separate post about impulse buy.

Keep in mind that what I share with you is from my own experience. If you are doing the KonMari and blogging about it, let me know and I will link up your blog on my next installment so we can keep the conversation going. Here's one from Monika at Rocaille Writes. Have you done the KonMari? How was your experience? What have worked for you? What do you want to know from my experience with the KonMari?