The first day of autumn was exactly one week ago, but in my mind today was the last day of summer. After finishing studies and work in the UK during June, July and August, I've been fortunate enough to spend September on the island of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, where my husband's family lives. Today is the last day of our stay here, and tomorrow we fly to Paris (more on this later). It's been a little surreal wearing a swimsuit in hot weather during a period of the year that I associate with changing leaves and rainy afternoons, but I am so grateful to have had this late summer holiday. This past year has been the best but also the most stressful year of my life, so a change of pace and scene has made a big difference. Now I'm refreshed and ready to tackle the next stage of life: moving back to the US. For now, here is a little bit about what I enjoyed this week, featuring the last tropical island photos I'll be posting for a while!
I've seen the "boyfriend" or "husband" tag on countless blogs, and it's always a fun (and funny) one to read! So I finally roped my husband into answering the 19 questions. He made me promise to write down exactly what he said, and I'm warning you now: some of these answers are spot-on, and some of them are a little goofy! (PS: he is French, hence the sweater.)
1. She's sitting in front of the TV. What's on the screen?
Made in Chelsea
(not anymore... but at one point yes, I admit to watching all of the last season... yes, I know this is shameful.)
2. You're out to eat. What kind of dressing does she get on her salad?
Olive oil and vinegar, or something spicy
3. What's one food she doesn't like?
There's no food she actively dislikes; it's more like what she refuses to eat... that would be Pizza Hut.
(true, I'm a bit of a pizza snob... traditional Italian thin-crust is how pizza should be!)
4. You go out to eat and have a drink. What drink does she order?
(guilty. I had the best virgin cocktail ever in France... it had coconut milk and strawberry sorbet in it!)
5. What size shoe does she wear?
(that would be a US 7.5)
6. If she were collecting anything, what would it be?
Shells or Hello Kitty toys
(he thinks I'm Hello Kitty obsessed... I was as a child but I'm not anymore, I promise!)
7. What is her favorite type of sandwich?
Pret-a-Manger spicy prawn and avocado wrap
(I did have this a lot when we lived in the UK, but my favorite would probably be some sort of grilled sandwich... with avocado yes!)
8. What would she eat every day if she could?
(I love sushi so much that for an xmas present last year I bought us 2 tickets to a sushi-making course...)
9. What is her favorite cereal?
Fitness Chocolat Noir
(the French version of Special K chocolate...mmm)
10. What is her favorite type of music?
11. What's her favorite sports team?
"Um... is there a sports team for cats??"
(LOL. I am clueless about sports.)
12. What's her eye color?
Brown with yellow flecks
(aka light brown)
13. Who's her best friend?
(CLARIFICATION: NOT the alcohol. He's referring to my mother-in-law's cat, named Vodka. The cat is not my best friend. The truth is that I have a few "best friends" scattered around the world, and at the moment we're staying with my in-laws who are far away from all of them, so yes, the cat and I have bonded.)
14. What is something you do that she wishes you wouldn't?
Bite my nails
(He bites his nails when he is stressed...don't get me started...)
15. What's her heritage/where is she from?
(Aww hubby, how creative... in truth, I'm half Korean and half caucasian.)
16. You bake her a cake for her birthday. What kind of cake?
Chocolate cake covered with marshmallow bears
(I'd take it!)
17. Did she play any sports?
No... ballet but it's not a real sport.
(Ballet is a real sport!)
18. What could she spend hours doing?
Writing her blog, painting her nails
(Blogging, yes. Painting my nails... no, about 30 mins is the most I can take!)
19. What is one unique talent she has?
She makes me laugh.
1. What is your daily routine?
I am someone who loves routine. But at the moment I don't have a daily routine because I'm traveling in Guadeloupe. Until I leave on Sunday, my days are occupied with job applications, sight-seeing, working a small side job as a college counselor and watching Revenge (my latest TV addiction).
2. What's in your beauty regimen?
This isn't everything in my beauty regimen, but I think it's a pretty well-rounded depiction! What you see: Nuxe Reve de Miel lip balm, Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser with Cottonseed, Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet, Clarins Hydraquench Lotion SPF 15, strawberries (what you eat is just as important as what you put on your skin), Origins Clear Improvement mask (great product, though I've currently run out), Coconut Oil (all-natural body moisturizer), Maybelline The Falsies mascara, water (staying hydrated is crucial for your skin!), Neutrogena make-up remover, Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Skin Perfector, Burberry Body Perfume (okay this isn't actually part of my beauty routine, but good-smelling things are, and this one tops my wish-list!), YSL Glossy Lip Stain, vitamins (does anyone else love gummy bear vitamins??), St. Ives Green Tea Scrub.
3. Are you a morning or night person?
If left to my own devices, I'm a morning person. But as a student, I converted myself into a night person so I could stay up to write essays!
4. What do you eat for breakfast? Or do you skip it and go for brunch?
I love brunch, but only on lazy weekends. On normal days I always have breakfast. I usually have coffee and cereal, yogurt, or a croissant. Today I had coffee and madeleines!
5. How do you wind down at night?
I sip herbal tea and read myself to sleep, or I watch something with my husband.
6. What time do you go to bed or what is your normal bedtime?
11pm is the ideal bedtime for me! But my average bedtime as a student was around 1am.
Thanks for reading, and don't forget to check out Natalie's blog for the link-up and other bloggers' responses!
I was driving yesterday and took a wrong turn. Here's where it took me. I have no idea whose house this is, but houses with character make me so happy. As a student living abroad, I've moved a lot over the years, and even though I've wanted to invest effort into my living spaces, the thought of packing everything up again always dissuaded me. So the most I've done in the decorating department is stick photos on the walls (probably in violation of a few "no tape on walls" rules.. shh) and spread keepsakes around the room. I've lived in some pretty interesting places... a refurbished dorm in California, a tiny fifth-floor apartment in Rome, a room above a doctor's office on a busy street in England... but none of these places remained "home" for more than a year. I'm the master of packing my life into suitcases. But this year I graduated and got married, so the vagabond student days are over, and now one wish for the future is to make a home of my own. It won't be quite as pink as this one, but I hope it will be just as full of love and creativity. And luckily, the addictive world of Pinterest gives plenty of inspiration, which I'll be sure to share here!
Familiar traveling frustration: you finally arrive at your destination, jet-lagged and a bit worse for wear, and you want to freshen up, but first you must sift through the contents of your luggage and find all the toiletries buried inside. This treasure hunt for toiletries used to happen to me a lot. But the day finally came when enough was enough, and I decided to invest in something that would help me keep my products organized when I travel. I found the perfect thing: the Cath Kidston Roll Washbag. I wish I had discovered something like this sooner because it makes traveling so much easier, especially if you're like me and you tend to pack the entire contents of your bathroom cabinet in your luggage (okay, I exaggerate, but you know exactly what I mean!). Here's why I never travel without this bag...
I love to eat... a lot. But I also have a sensitive stomach. Through the years, I've found ways of adjusting my dietary habits to keep stomach troubles at bay without significantly restricting the foods I enjoy. Eating yummy should not leave you feeling crummy! I hope to share some of my food philosophies and insights through my blog. One of the easiest and cheapest tricks I've learned is drinking hot water and lemon. Hot water and lemon has detoxifying effects and aids in digestion. Every morning when I wake up, I squeeze half a lemon into a mug of hot water. I sip this like tea before eating breakfast. If you'd like to know more about this magical brew, keep reading!
As a preface, I should probably issue an apology-in-advance for the unreasonable number of photos in this post. I'm usually better at restraining myself. But they say a picture speaks a thousand words... in which case the following 26 images will spare you a 26,000 word dissertation on the beauty that is the Jardin Botanique de Deshaies, Guadeloupe's botanical garden. If you care to keep
reading viewing, you will see: bird-feeding adventures, a crapload of carp, massive tropical plants, colorful flowers, flamingos, baby chicks and a very, very naughty goat...
One skincare item I've always skimped on is toner. While the idea of sweeping a fun-colored liquid across my face is inexplicably appealing, I've never really noticed a difference when using toners, and they can be quite expensive. But one day, I happened upon Lush's Tea Tree Water, a toner made of (surprise surprise) tea tree oil and some other natural extracts. Toners, which are generally used after cleansing, claim to provide a variety of benefits: they can rebalance the pH of your skin, fight acne and remove any last traces of dirt or makeup. This tea tree toner water is gently cleansing and acne-fighting. Tea tree oil is antimicrobial/antibacterial/antiseptic and is therefore a good natural topical treatment for acne and clogged pores. I love this toner, so much in fact that I gifted one to my husband and then stole it from him when mine ran out (shh...)!
|Grocery store picks (les oursons lurking in the plastic tub at the back)|
// postcards, dark chocolate for me and caramel chocolate for my husband
In other news, I woke up today to the pouring rain of a tropical storm. So I decided to seize the moment, run outside, dance around and get soaked. After a warm towel-dry and a big breakfast, I got to work; one of my goals was to send out a job application, and I'm relieved to say I got it done. Later in the day, the rain relented and my husband and I ventured out to the big commercial center in Guadeloupe to buy groceries, postcards and a birthday gift for my sister-in-law. I derive inordinate amounts of entertainment from going grocery shopping, especially in foreign countries. Our purchases (mostly snacks and treats) included: a family-size pack of madeleines, whole wheat cereal, English breakfast tea, coffee, almonds, dried fruit, pink lady apples and a tub of les oursons guimauve (chocolate-covered marshmallows in the shape of bears). I swear, those marshmallow bears are tailor made for me. Besides, David Lebovitz approves of les oursons guimauve, which perhaps justifies this purchase un petit peu? We met up with my mother-in-law for a late lunch at a pizzeria, which looked like a cozy tavern and served delicious, authentic Italian pizzas. After a hearty meal and strong espressos, we hit the road. Simple days can be so satisfying, especially when they begin with a rain dance.
A quick preface about the word "superfood" -- as far as we know, the word was first used in Kingston, Jamaica in the following rhyming sentence: "He had changed the tenor of his mood, And wisely written wine as superfood." So, basically, the first superfood was wine. An etymological justification for your next glass of Pinot, perhaps? But gone are the days when "superfood" could designate a food (or beverage) that is super for any number of reasons; now the word is reserved for the foods that are high in vitamins, minerals and other nutritional goodies. Earlier this month, I wrote a post about coconut, which offers several health and beauty benefits. Another current favorite superfood is avocado. Avocado is actually a fruit (a "one-seeded berry," if you can believe it!), but unlike most fruits, avocados are high in polyunsaturated/monounsaturated fats, which can reduce your cholesterol and risk for heart disease, dementia, memory loss and depression. Avocados are also a great source of fiber, potassium, vitamin E and folate. Here's a little information about this fruit as well as my favorite ways to enjoy it!
Yesterday I... woke up too early. Ate a fresh chocolate and custard croissant (confession: it was my second breakfast). Drank coconut water. Discovered Girlie Blog Seattle and got nostalgic for the Pacific Northwest. Bottle-fed my two-month old niece. Visited two post offices. Spent ages writing a cover letter (so few words, so much stress). Tasted breadfruit. Watched the sunset. Helped digitalize old family photos albums. Was reminded of my internet addiction when the internet went out. Chose a new book to read. Painted my nails per usual with Nail Magic nail strengthener. Finally Skyped with my mom. Browsed through newsworthy drama on CNN.com. Lusted after autumnal pictures on Pinterest.
|Autumn in Washington; apple and oatmeal; a dream bedroom (source: Pinterest)|
|From upper left corner: visiting the gorgeous La Toubana Hotel in Guadeloupe; she's adopting human habits; tiny lizard; shells found at Port Louis; my niece Zoe; new morning cereal obsession; getting ready to watch The Cabin in the Woods; tasting La Barquette 3 Chatons cookie; giving foundation a rest with my 3-product face (post soon!)|
Today I went to the Parc des Mamelles (a.k.a the zoo) in Guadeloupe. It is located in a tropical forest in the mountains near Guadeloupe's National Park. The journey there was my first time driving on the island; for someone who once had a phobia of driving, ascending the mountains listening to a radio medley of disco and reggae is more daunting than it sounds. We survived, and the drive was only the start of the adventure...
|Clockwise from upper left: entrance to the park; Guadeloupean racoons; climbing into the canopy; bird eating fruit upside down.|
September is here, and although I have yet to experience autumn weather, I'm already looking forward to spending afternoons cozied up with a good book and a warm beverage. Chai tea is one of my favorites when it's cold outside, and even though I like mine sweetened, it is healthier than a sugary coffee drink. Thousands of years ago when chai was first consumed in India and Siam, it was thought to have healing properties. Today, chai has several alleged health benefits:
|Preparing myself a cup of chai... the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon of essay-writing :)|
Alright, comparing Guadeloupe to a desert island is a pretty big stretch, but you get the idea... a "beauty routine" on an island of beaches and jungles should be low-maintenance. In Guadeloupe, we do a lot of outdoor activities like swimming and hiking, but other parts of the island are fairly developed; days not spent in nature are spent at the mall or the marina, and sometimes you want to put forward a pretty face! I snapped a few pics of the products currently on my bathroom sink to show you some of the things that I've been using for a simple but effective routine.
|From left to right: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Gel Cleanser; MAC Cleanse Off Oil; Clarins UV Plus HP Day Sunscreen SPF 40; Taaj Himalaya Micellar Water; Organix Nourishing Coconut Milk Anti-Breakage Serum; Klorane Mango Oil Nourishing and Repairing UV Filter|
A coconut a day keeps the doctor away? In Guadeloupe, I have traded my daily apple for coconuts. Coconuts have become quite a trendy food recently, for both health and beauty devotees. As someone who falls slightly into both categories, I made a little research about the health benefits of coconut, and here's what I found:
Whenever I travel, I love to try new foods. Yesterday in Guadeloupe, I went to a small outdoor market just off the side of the road where various locals sell fresh produce. We bought several giant bags of fruits and vegetables, and when we got back I was able to taste some fruits I've never seen before! Here's a quick snapshot with the names of the fruits below (most of them are in French, I don't know the English names)!
|On the table (clockwise from top left): mini bananas (bananes figues in French), Guadeloupean apricot, pitaya, quenette, pomme cannelle, guava|