25 February 2015

chinese new year


Happy Chinese New Year! Even though it's a few days late, but better late than never eh? I know technically it's called the Lunar New Year and not Chinese New Year - but it's what I grew up with and celebrate since different cultures have different traditions, even though we're celebrating the same occasion.

chinese new year flowers

chinese new year flowers

Fresh flowers are a must, according to my mom anyway. If the weather outside wasn't inhospitable, she'd probably cut her own freshly grown flowers from the front yard!

chinese new year decorations

chinese new year candy box

Red and gold decorations also go up, though some of these are displayed year-round.

chinese new year orchid

Mom has this orchid (I think it's an orchid) that always blooms around this time of year. I never noticed that before until one of my relatives pointed it out: "Big sister's plant is always the prettiest around the new year." She technically isn't my mom's sister, but rather my mom's brother's wife, and honestly one of the sweetest people I know.

chinese tea set

It's also the time of year where mom busts out all her fancy teacups and dinnerware.

red envelopes

And probably the most exciting thing for the unmarried kids: money given out in red envelopes! My relatives keep on telling me to get married but I'm only 22, which is too young for me personally. They also keep on nudging me to bring James here so they can meet him :P

(Sorry mom, I stood on the table to get most of these shots while you were out shopping.)

21 February 2015

life, lately #5

starbucks you are here san francisco mug

Hey guys! I apologize for the severe lack in posts for the past couple of days. I like posting 3-4 times a week/every other day but recently I found that it's tough to balance school, work, and a blog so I'll have to whittle it down to 2-3 posts a week instead. I haven't found time to reciprocate to all your kind and sweet comments either - it feels really overwhelming to have a backlog of comments to respond to and blogs to check out (I feel like it's my personal duty to reply/comment back on your blogs). But I'll get to that soon!

artbox planner

artbox cat and mouse planner

In the other random parts of life: I got a new planner! I know I got my other one less than half a year ago, but I felt like it was time for some change. Maybe half a year later, I'll get tired of this one and go back to the old one :P It tells a story of a cat and mouse with their travels in Spain throughout the pages. I'm getting some major inspiration from Angela at Paper Love Story, even though my pages look like a hot mess compared to hers. I really like writing down what I have to get done for the day so I gauge how far along I'm getting in my daily to-do's. Whether I actually get stuff done though, is a whole other story...

lush haul

I went into Lush planning to get just Love Locket and No Drought and... I ended walking out with a lot more. I think that's the curse of walking into Lush: plan on buying two things, end up with ten more than you expected. I did give Tisty Tosty to one of my girlfriends as a cute Valentine's gift though. Her name is Ciara and we've been friends since elementary school, can you believe that?! We always saw each other in middle school, high school, and at our old college but we never really hung out or talked because we always had something to do or somewhere to go. She's in one of my classes this semester and it's pretty awesome getting to know her again. We still talk like we haven't been separated, though!

david's tea haul

To say that I am currently obsessed with tea is an understatement. A few days after this order from David's Tea came in I went to Target with Pramod. I picked up another tin of tea and he gave me a look and said "You just spent $50 on tea!" I justified it with saying that I didn't get any green tea.

window frost

It's been soooo cold for the past few weeks. It's snowing pretty much every other day/two days and it's insane. I don't even remember the last time New York got so much snow. Sometimes it physically hurts to go outside because it's so bitterly cold and windy. James keeps obnoxiously reminding me that it's so beautiful and sunny every day in California, there usually isn't even a cloud in the sky.

15 February 2015

neon ♥ love

urban decay electric palette

A day too late to label this as a Valentine's Day makeup look, but I doubt anyone would actually wear this out for Valentine's Day. Lately I've been super inspired by some of the crazy makeup that Sugarpill features, and Dominique's work as well. When I finished my eye makeup, the colors reminded me of those bright neon signs and they're kinda romantic? I can't get over how stoic I look in these pictures, though. I swear I try to smile, but I end up looking like a doofus so I don't.

13 February 2015

red velvet oreo truffles

oreo truffles for valentine's day

Aka the easiest and tastiest truffles you will ever make. They're also great because you can decorate them to suit whatever occasion you're making them for, not just Valentine's Day. Fun fact: I don't like white chocolate. But I do like salt with dark chocolate!

I don't have an exact recipe for this since 1) I ate some of the Oreos before and during making this and 2) I didn't keep count of how many I ate. I referenced to this recipe though I do believe I used around half the amount of cream cheese they did. If it helps, it was half an 8-ounce package of cream cheese with a little less than a package of the red velvet Oreos. 

oreo truffles

To make up for my uselessness in providing actual adapted instructions, here are some tips that might help:
  • The Oreos don't have to be super crushed if you don't have a food processor - as long as pieces of it don't stick out too much when you're rolling them into balls, it'll still work fine.
  • I scooped a little less than a tablespoon with a tablespoon to make the balls more uniform in size.
  • Letting the Oreo and cream cheese mixture sit over a night or two will make the texture softer.
  • If your chocolate has trouble melting into a dippable consistency, try putting a little bit of oil to thin it out. I used coconut oil, but I think any vegetable oil will work.
  • Here's an alternative to dipping truffles if using forks is too messy for you.
  • Edited to add: Soak everything in hot water for 5-10 minutes for east cleanup!

red velvet oreo truffles

Apparently red velvet Oreos are all the rage right now, according to my Facebook friends.

11 February 2015

valentine's day gift guide, sorta

My first attempt at a gift guide, though most of these are oriented towards a girlfriend or yourself. Mostly yourself. Kind of a wishlist, kind of not because I already own a few of these things. It's really just a collection of stuff I came across and thought "I like this and it fits a Valentine's Day theme" and bam, gift guide slash wishlist.

I'm terrible at picking out gifts for the conventional man. Except for chocolate. If your man (or woman) doesn't have an appreciation for theses types of gifts, maybe you can buy it for them in hopes that they'll never touch it so you can have an excuse to use or ingest it for them.

09 February 2015

origins clear improvement active charcoal mask

origins clear improvement active charcoal mask review

origins clear improvement active charcoal mask

Quite a few of you guys noted that you'd be interested in a more in-depth review for this mask, so here we are. I wanted to get some more use out of this before I wrote my review for a more well-rounded opinion (I thought this was too good to be true!), but it's stayed the same since day one :)

I'm usually not a fan of Origins skincare - I've only tried their microdermabrasion and GinZing moisturizer and they irritated the heck out of my skin and broke me out, respectively. But since my sister had this when she visited in December and I desperately needed a clay mask, so I gave it a try.

origins clear improvement active charcoal mask before and after

Freshly applied, and about ten minutes later. The area I put the mask on instantly became smoother and softer after I washed it off. I didn't notice it at first, because I usually jump in the shower to wash it off and go straight into my facial cleanser.

The results: I love this! It's the first mask I've tried that doesn't irritate my skin, which is the pickiest when it comes to face masks. I've tried some well-loved masks, from Queen Helene's mint julep mask to Ren's glycol lactic radiance renewal mask to the Korres greek yogurt sleeping facial, and even Glamglow Thirstymud, they all gave my skin a burning feeling. Not this one, though!

origins charcoal mask review

I use it mostly for spot treating. If a pimple starts peeking out, I'll put some on it as soon as possible. I also use it for the area where the bottom sides of my nose meets my face because it gets clogged up pretty easily and starts feeling tender to the touch. The results aren't instantaneous, but there's a major difference by next morning, if it hasn't disappeared by then. I rarely do my entire face, but when I do I notice it looks brighter. This mask is definitely a keeper.

origins clear improvement charcoal mask review

Last-minute fun before washing it off. If you can even categorize this as fun.

05 February 2015

lush love locket bath bomb

lush love locket review

Metaphorically, breaking hearts is a bad thing, but literally breaking this one is good ;) You can break this huge bath bomb in half, and inside is a smaller heart - making this useable for three baths, or so Lush says. Love Locket is scented with vanilla, jasmine, and neroli essential oils and even though I generally don't like anything vanilla scented, Lush knows what they're doing.

lush love locket bath bomb

I took a kitchen knife, stabbed it in (carefully!), wiggled it a bit, and took it out to poke it in another place until I could break it apart. Word of advice: definitely have some old papers around because the mess will be inevitable.

lush love locket bath bomb

lush love locket bath bomb review

Dropping one of the halves in - how pretty! It fizzed away much quickly than Northern Lights or Sparkler did, though those were designed for a better show. The outer halves are embedded with light pink paper hearts, which slowly dropped to the bottom of the tub. I was surprised at how moisturizing this one was! I didn't even feel the need to reach for my body butter once I stepped out of the bath, though I did have to slather some on my feet a while afterwards. But whatevs, my feet always need the extra attention anyway.

I had the luxury of taking TWO baths over the weekend for this post, and can I just say it's sooooo relaxing. Also, it seems like turning on my very orangey bathroom light makes the lighting better post-processing? Anyway, back on topic...

lush love locket bath bomb review

The middle part of the bath bomb. I thought maybe the inside would be jam packed with oils and fragrance since it's so tiny compared to all the other bath bombs Lush had to offer, but that wasn't the case. The middle piece is definitely not enough for a bath, so I'd suggest using it with another bath bomb or melt (even though I haven't tried those yet haha). Or maybe as a foot soak. I just chucked the other half in.

lush love locket

lush love locket bath bomb

The hearts from the middle are darker than the outer halves, and those float. They're made of the same squishy material the stars from Northern Lights were made of.

lush love locket bath bomb

The aftermath, which was easily washed away with a quick rinse from the shower.

Lush says you can use the entire thing at once for the most luxurious soak imaginable, but I found that just half of it was more than enough :) I'd purchase it again, for sure - in fact, I think I might need to stock up on these before they sell out!

03 February 2015

january favorites

origins active charcoal mask, fresh sugar lip serum advanced therapy, urban decay revolution lipstick in naked2

Three favorite products from last month. It's not a lot, but I'm keepin' it real here ok?

I'll start with the one that isn't mine, which is the Fresh Sugar lip serum. My mom bought it sometime in December, and I've been using it since day one. We agree that it's not particularly useful alone (because it is a serum after all), so we layer it under our favorite lip balms - mine being the Korres lip butter in Jasmine and hers being Shiseido's protective lip conditioner. I pat it on my lips at night, coat it with lip balm when it sinks in, and when I wake up the next morning my lips are feeling super soft, hydrated, and nourished. The woman has expensive taste, I tell you... but I'll return the favor by repurchasing that serum when it runs out.

Next up is the Origins active charcoal mask, which was introduced to me by my sister. Normally I wouldn't willingly buy anything from Origins because the few products that I've previously tried from them either broke me out or irritated my skin/eyes, badly. This one is the gentlest face mask I've ever tried. It doesn't sting, doesn't tingle, and most importantly doesn't burn, which unfortunately a lot of face masks tend to do to me. If I feel a pimple about to surface or my skin feels clogged, I slap some of this on the area and by next morning it's as if nothing was even there in the first place.

urban decay revolution lipstick in naked2

Last one is a lipstick I picked up while returning something in Sephora. Not because I actually wanted it, but I feel bad whenever I return something so I feel the need to buy something to make up for it. Plus I'm getting some money back in return too, so it's kind of like hitting two birds with one stone. Except not really.

urban decay revolution lipstick in naked2 swatch

It's an Urban Decay lipstick in Naked 2, and surprisingly it's just what I was looking for. It's lighter than my lip color without being too light, but it's a little brownish as well so it leans more towards nude without making me look dead washed out. The formula is really nice as well - not as much slip as the YSL lipsticks but still quite hydrating. I wish they had more colors that I'd be into, but I guess it's a good thing they don't cause I'd be all over those.

01 February 2015

lush haul | valentine's day edition

lush valentine's day collection - love locket, sex bomb, prince charming, and cupid's love. rose jam from their christmas collection.

First off, can I just say that Lush has its vanilla game DOWN. Never in my life have I liked anything remotely vanilla scented - it's so sickeningly sweet to me, even in small amounts. I walked into Lush not thinking I'd get any of the vanilla-y things in there but hot damn even the vanilla-boasting Butterball smells divine.

So pretty much the only thing I planned to get in there was Unicorn Horn, and one of their soaps - I didn't know which one yet, since there's so many of them! Aaaaand I walked out with many more things than that, minus the Unicorn Horn which makes me feel slightly better about myself.

lush love locket bath bomb, lush sex bomb bath bomb

First up, the bath bombs! I've only tried two so far - Sparkler and Northern Lights, which were part of their Halloween collection but were extended to the Christmas collection (I think). While they weren't as moisturizing as I would have hoped, they still make for a relaxing and luxurious bath experience so I went back for more. Love Locket is part of their Valentine's Day collection and even though it's more expensive at $11.95 compared to the regular $5 or $6-ish ones, it can be broken and used for three baths.... Which I mean, I guess justifies the price. The other one Sex Bomb - it's so pretty, and the flower reminds me of a decoration on a cake. Kinda makes me hungry, actually. It's part of their permanent collection, but it's fitting for Valentine's Day!

lush cupid's love soap

Cupid's Love soap, which actually looks nothing like what's shown on the website. This is how it's supposed to look (skip to 0:49 if you don't care about how they make it), with cute heart inserts. As you probably can tell, I did not get a cute heart insert and instead got one of the butt ends. I'm slightly disappointed but at least it smells good!

lush prince charming and rose jam shower gels

And the last two things, shower gels. Prince Charming wasn't even on my "might try it" list because it includes vanilla in the scent description. I gave it a whiff in the store and WOW it's actually much nicer than I expected. Rose Jam was part of their Christmas collection and I got it a while ago during their buy one, get one free holiday sale. I got two of them, and gave one to Vennesa. Please tell me it comes back every year, because we both love the scent!