Little Pick-Me-Ups


I'm out and about most days, so I like to keep my handbag well-stocked with a variety of pick-me-ups.  Earlier this week, I did a tiny bit of SOS shopping for some quick fixes I've been eyeing for quite some time!

First, I purchased a fresh tube of my beloved YSL Touche Eclat Radiant Touch Concealer in #2. I bought this for the first time a year and a half ago, and that tube lasted me about a year. This clicky-pen concealer is famous for its illuminating properties, so it's perfect for brightening the under-eye area or accentuating cheek/brow bones. I don't have a major dark circle problem, but I find that just the tiniest bit of this blended out with my finger or a domed brush (not the brush on the concealer itself) brightens up my complexion.

Then I wandered into the grocery store to purchase Bach Rescue Remedy, a homeopathic remedy for stress. Rescue Remedy is a mixture of flower extracts in a 50:50 solution of brandy and water; you place four drops on or under your tongue or, alternatively, place four drops in water and drink up. Good in theory, iffy in practice. I tried it and I'm still skeptical... someone I know swears by it, but when I did a little research, it turns out there's no proof that it works better than a placebo. I thought I felt something, but maybe it was just the brandy? Then again... four drops of diluted brandy? I'm curious to know if any of you have tried this. Did it work? 

You know the rule "never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach?" I did, and some Cocomels sea salt caramels and Norwegian spreadable cheese also ended up in my shopping basket. More on those later... I'm overdue for a foodie post!

Lip Balm Stash


Now that can't stop wearing my favorite YSL #13, I keep a stash of lip balms at hand that are easy to reapply throughout the day. I recently stocked up on some new lip care products, so I thought I'd show you a few of my current picks. I prefer keeping stick balms in my handbag because they're the easiest to apply on the go or at work.

Budget Buy: e.l.f. Kabuki Face Brush


I confess that in my makeup bag at the moment, there are more high-end than drugstore products. But every so often, a cheap product purchased in a pinch wows me so much that I look no further for a "luxury" alternative. I decided to order the e.l.f. Studio Kabuki Face Brush two years ago when I treated myself to MAC Blot Powder and realized that the little sponge applicator inside just wasn't cutting it. I was in the UK at the time, and I paid a mere £5 for the kabuki brush (plus £2.95 for shipping, but I ordered a couple of other things too, which justified the shipping in my book). Fast-forward to today and this well-loved kabuki brush is the only thing I use to apply pressed face powder. 

On the e.l.f. website here it says the synthetic brush is antibacterial and can be used with wet or dry products. I use this for a light dusting of pressed powder or mineral veil to set my makeup (my current fave is the Clarins Ever Matte Shine Control Mineral Powder Compact 01). It also works well with mineral foundation to achieve a light-to-medium coverage. It's the perfect size: big and fluffy enough to sweep across your face in a jiffy, but compact enough to pack in a little handbag for touch-ups. It's so soft, stands up to frequent washings and never sheds on me. I can't say the same for face brushes I've tried from MAC or Bare Minerals... I'm very impressed with this little guy! 

Weekend Reading


If you find me curled up in a corner of the couch laughing at my computer screen, there's a good chance I'm reading one of these websites. The hilarious STFU, Parents, featuring screenshots of unbelievably embarrassing and passive-aggressive things that parents post on Facebook along with snarky commentary. And Slaughterhouse 90210, a tumblr collection of literary quotes paired with movie stills.

Have you ever accidentally heard people talking about you when they thought you weren't listening? This article reassures us that it happens all the time, but that doesn't make it any more devastating. A great read that gets you thinking about what other people might be thinking about you! 

Betty of Le Blog de Betty went to Florence, one of my favorite cities in the world, and was photographed in stunning outfits to the backdrop of yellow-walled streets and the Ponte Vecchio. My favorite is probably this fantastic purple dress. I lived in Florence for a few months, and I have such fond memories of my time there!

If you want beachy waves this summer, check out The Beauty Department's top picks for salt sprays, categorized by hair type. I've already put a couple on my list of products to try!

Repurchased: Ole Henriksen Truth Serum


Last week, I squeezed the last drops from a couple of products in my lastest skincare routine, which I blogged about here and here. Usually, I seize the opportunity to try something new, but this time, I decided to repurchase one of the oldies-but-goodies, the Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Collagen Booster.

This is an anti-aging vitamin C-based serum meant to combat wrinkles and give your skin a healthy glow. When applied topically to the skin, vitamin C helps produce collagen and protect against UV damage. Ole Henriksen uses a form of vitamin C called Ester-c, which is found naturally in the body and is much stabler and more effective in skincare than another form of vitamin C called ascorbic acid.  (You can read more about Ester-c here.) This serum also contains grapefruit and orange extract (purifying and brightening), green tea extract (another antioxidant boost), sodium hyarulonate (binds moisture to the skin), and vitamin E (nourishing and healing). It's free of oils, parabens, synthetic dyes, petrochemicals, phthalates and other potential irritants; Natural Health Magazine also called it "miracle worker of the year" in their 2010 beauty awards. I apply one pump of this serum morning and night. It has a slight "warming" effect on my skin but sinks in rapidly, so it's a pretty invisible extra layer under moisturizer or beauty oil. Since using this product, my skin tone has been smoother and more even, so I want to stick with it to see if the results continue. At $48 for a 30ml bottle, it's not cheap, but it's also not as expensive as other high-end serums on the market. (I've heard it's much cheaper to get this in the US than in Europe... something to keep in mind if you're visiting and need to stock up!) 

It's hard to be perfect, and although I love this stuff, I have two hesitations. One, it contains fragrance, which is unfortunately the case for a lot of high-end serums on the market. Two, I've read via some sources that topical vitamin C treatments work best when they're kept in an airtight and opaque container. The bottle, which has a pump dispenser that locks closed, is airtight, but it's not the most opaque. Does this really matter??

Is there a serum or other skincare product you've liked enough to repurchase?

Diet and Beauty


One of the most frustrating things about skincare is that no set of rules works for everyone. Except there is one rule that seems to apply to everyone, regardless of skin type: have a clean and healthy diet.

I'm convinced this rule works. So I load up on naturally colorful foods and sip green tea at my desk. Even so, sometimes I wonder... if I eat a croissant (or three) and then develop a nasty spot a day later, do I blame the croissant(s)? What if I love them too much to blame them?! What about those people I know who eat whatever they please and seem to have flawless skin all the time?

The Digital To-Do List


Never be "too busy to write a to-do list." It's just flawed logic, as I learned last week when I left the pages of my planner blank because I couldn't be bothered to take five minutes to write a list of to-dos (that, and my planner didn't fit in my current handbag of choice... excuses excuses). I spent a good part of the week wasting my free time on frivolities (welcome to my life, Jewel Mania!) and then rushing around like a madwoman trying to remember where I had to be and everything I had to do before the weekend. I ended up feeling busier than I actually was and getting fewer (useful) things done.

(Okay it might also be flawed logic that if I don't write something down on my to-do list, it's as if that task never existed in the first place... out of sight, out of mind, right?)

This week, I decided to be uber-productive. Rather than ban myself from my phone and its Tetris-like offerings, I downloaded a free app called Astrid, which organizes your tasks by due date. It also allows you to categorize your tasks into customizable lists and receive email reminders on the due date of each task. I'm a pen-and-paper gal at heart, so I transfer all of my electronic to-dos into my good old-fashioned Moleskine planner. Nonetheless, this app is handy when I'm out and about, planner-less, and suddenly remember something I have to do. And ticking that checkbox is just one more incentive to get on the phone in the name of an overdue teeth cleaning...

Any other productivity apps out there that you love? Please do share!

On Instagram


graduation lei, so proud of this guy, post-ceremony stroll through Pioneer Square, driving sad Eva home, sleepyheads, Emerald City Smoothie break, snatched up this Wildfox jumper on sale, handbag necessities (Evian spritz, MAC "See Sheer," green tea sachet and crystal nail file), peony from the garden. 

Just a smattering of snapshots from the past week or so... big congratulations to my brother, who graduated from university this past weekeend! After a hectic week of work and celebrations, it's time to get myself organized, run errands and then go sit in the sun and catch up on blog and book reading... aah the simple pleasures of a day off!

Candy Nails


Yesterday I picked up a pack of L'Oreal "Miss Candy" Colour Riche Nail Lingerie (oh la la!), which are basically nail stickers that make your fingertips look like peppermint candies. After turning on some guilty-pleasure reality TV, I painted my nails with Essie's "Meet Me At Sunset" and then trimmed the nail stickers down to size and stuck them on my accent nails. They come in different colors, but I chose the ones with clear swirls so my nail polish underneath would show through. This is the first time I've ever used nail decals (besides that one time I stuck Lisa Frank stickers on my nails when I was, like, five), so I need to work on my technique, but I'm convinced already that if you're bad at nail art like me, this is the easiest way to fake it! I painted a layer of top coat over to make sure they stay in place today... I'm writing this from the road because I'm currently headed off to my brother's university graduation!

Finger Food


I'm convinced that when my fingers are freshly manicured, I'm a daintier version of my naked-fingernail self. I wear high-heels with grace, I gesticulate with elegance, I instagram my breakfast in style. Ahem seriously though, my nails au naturel are awful. They peel, flake, chip and do pretty much everything else that wallpaper inside a haunted house does. People always tell me that polishing them only makes them worse, but trust me, my nails were bad waaay before I started wearing nail polish. 

Here are the things I've been using in my mission to strengthen my fingertips. When I'm good about moisturizing my nails and cuticles, they're less prone to damage, so to hydrate, I've been using one of my favorite hand creams, the L'Occitane Dry Skin Hand Cream with Shea Butter. It's rich enough to use as a nighttime hand cream but absorbs quickly enough to wear during the day. When I'm having a Desperate Housewives marathon, I'll multitask by massaging some of the Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream into each nail bed. Another great thing to keep in your handbag and whip out during downtime is the protein-infused Julep Mighty Nail & Cuticle Serum. I've talked about this before here; you paint the base of each nail and presto!, nourished nails. 

I'm a little on the fence about the OPI Original Nail Envy Nail Strengthener because it contains formaldehyde, and I try as much as possible to avoid nail polishes that contain this ingredient. OPI makes a formaldehyde-free "Sensitive Skin" version which I wrote about here, but I don't think it's as effective. A couple of coats will work as a buffer against further nail damage, so it works if you need a quick fix. 

And as for the pills in the corner... don't worry, those are BioSil, a supplement for hair, skin and nails that contains silicon, which helps your body produce collagen. The claim is that this supplement can reduce fine lines and wrinkles, thicken and strengthen hair, strengthen nails and promote healthy bones and joints. Sounds like a miracle pill, don't you think?

Any tips for pretty fingertips?

YSL "Le Orange"


I don't have many rules when I go lipstick shopping, except for this one: don't buy a lipstick just because it looks good on {insert famous person here}. Yes, I'm referring to a specific mishap: I sported Kim Kardashian's signature "Angel" by MAC for at least two months before admitting to myself that it made me look like I was going into hypothermia. 

One day my coworker told me I needed YSL's Rouge Pur Couture #13, called "Le Orange." A quick google search on my phone pulled up about 293 photos of Kourtney Kardashian wearing this lipstick, which is (so she tweeted) her signature color. With my cardinal rule of lipstick-buying in mind, off I trotted to the YSL counter, bracing myself for the Kardashian-lipstick-disaster, part two. 

Fast-forward to now and "Le Orange" has become the lipstick I want to wear every single day in the summer months. Okay, it doesn't make me look like a Kardashian, but a quick sweep does brighten up a simple daytime or evening look. The vibrant orangey-red pout is best paired with neutral eyes and subtly bronzed and rosy cheeks. I love wearing this with Essie's "Meet Me At Sunset" on my nails; the color of this polish matches the lipstick perfectly. If you're scared of the orange lip trend, I recommend this lipstick: it has just enough orange to make it not red but just enough red to make it wearable. I think it also suits just about every skin tone.

This lipstick is $35 from Sephora or your local department store. Pricey, yes, but of all the lipsticks I've tried, YSL makes the crème de la crème: best in terms of color payoff, wear and lasting power. I have one other Rouge Pur Couture, the deep reddish-fuchsia #31, which has been my signature winter lip color for two consecutive winters. Now I have my summertime equivalent...

Weekend Reading


If you're like me and you do your leisurely reading with a mug of coffee in hand, you'll be happy to read about why coffee is good for you. As if I needed any more justification for my early morning cuppa...

This week I plan to clean out my closet, following Garance's "Commandments of Style." My closet houses at least a few items that I bought on a whim and will never wear again. It takes a few mistakes to know what works for you, but now I've learned my lesson: no matter how cute that yellow number looks on the mannequin, it shouldn't come home with me.

I've discovered a treasure trove of cuteness at the Seattle-based online store Mochi Things. I played the "let's fill an imaginary shopping cart with things I want!" game and emptied said cart at around $235.46 because things were getting out of control! Not that most things on there are very expensive.... there was just that much stuff I wanted. I exercised some self-restraint and now there's just one thing I need would rather not live without to get my cuteness fix. To be continued...

If you don't know what a "promposal" is, you need to read this article, and watch the accompanying YouTube videos. If I had been promposed to back in the day, I would have been 1) mortified and 2) the worst prom-zilla ever, because I was the girl whose mom found her gown the day before prom for $30. (And prom was still amazing!)

Also loving... George's writing, Sarah's channel, and Sonia's photography. Go check out these creative people!

PS: I found my Kindle. I'm currently on the hunt for a nonfiction book to read... suggestions please!

Weleda Skin Oils


I am pleased to report that at the moment, my bathroom looks like a mini-apothecary. There's a cream for every level of dehydration, a stash of face masks in the top drawer, and pretty glass bottles containing various potions. And by "potions" I mean oils. More often than not, a top-to-toe slathering of body oil is just what my skin desires, and thanks to the Body Oil Starter Kit by Weleda, I have a potion for every ailment.

Weleda is one of those beauty brands you'll find in your local health food store. But it's also one of those health brands you'll read about in beauty magazines as one celeb after another professes her love for the brand's rich cream called Skin Food. Weleda's body oils are made from natural plant, seed and nut oils that provide long-lasting nourishment and moisture to the skin and a healthy dose of aromatherapy too. They don't contain any mineral oils, parabens, propylene glycol or artificial fragrance, so they're a great option for skincare purists. The Weleda sampler contains six body oils: Wild Rose Body Oil for pampering, Pomegranate Regenerating Body Oil to firm and renew, Arnica Massage Oil to soothe and warm, Sea Buckthorn Body Oil to replenish, Birch Cellulite Oil to improve skin tone and appearance, and Lavender Relaxing Body Oil to soothe. 

I love that each of these is made with a different use in mind. I've tried them all now, and so far the one I would most definitely repurchase is the Pomegranate Regenerating Body Oil. It's fresh and lightweight and absorbs into the skin quickly; I've even applied it in the morning before getting dressed, and it doesn't transfer onto clothing. As with most body oils, a little goes a long way, so one little 10ml vial should last at least several applications. Weleda is also an affordable brand. This kit is only $16, and a full-size 100ml oil is under $30.

I have high aspirations for my personal apothecary. As I type this another jar of coconut oil is on its way to me so I can rekindle an old obsession, to be detailed in a future post. I also have my eyes on the Caudalie Divine Oil.

Are you a body butter or body oil kind of gal? 
Any lotions or potions you'd recommend?

Daytime Smoky Eyes


Recently I've fallen back in love with daytime smoky eyes. I say "back" because a couple of years ago, I was completely obsessed with this look. For me, the key to wearing a smoky eye look during the daytime without feeling too overdone is to avoid black. Here I've used a combination of brown eyeshadows and charcoal eyeliner, along with a few other products I promised to demonstrate in action!

I started with the Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm to even out my complexion. This provides lightweight coverage, allowing my freckles to show through, but also contains SPF 45 so my freckles don't multiply too quickly! I then used Benefit Brow Zings to define my brows and the Bare Escentuals "Stroke of Light" Eye Illuminator to brighten my under-eye area. After priming my eyes with Two Faced Shadow Insurance, I blended three colors from the Urban Decay Naked Basics palette, "Virgin," "WOS" and "Naked 2" (in that order) onto my eyelids. I used a tiny bit of "Faint" in the crease and then used the dark brown color from the NARS And God Created The Woman palette (bottom middle) to line my upper and lower lash lines with a pencil smudger brush. I used the tarte skinny smolderEYES eyeliner in "Slate" to line my bottom waterline; I don't do this often, but when I do, I use this waterproof eyeliner because the ingredients are purer than most. I added a couple sweeps of Bobbi Brown Lash Glamor Extreme Length mascara to my lashes and a tiny dusting of Benefit Dallas blusher/bronzer to my cheeks. Finally, I used the Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in "Romantic" on my lips. 

With this look, all I need to do is stick the eyeliner and lip color in my handbag and I'm good to go! It takes a few more products and brushes than my usual everyday makeup, but it's foolproof and long-wearing. It's even made me want to buy a better set of eye makeup brushes... suggestions that don't break the bank, anyone?

This Week #4



This morning I played the "on this day last year" game and realized that on this day last year, I had just taken a train to Paris after finishing my exams. I spent June 2nd 2012 eating gelato in Montmartre and window-shopping on the Champs-Élysées. And in comparison, everything I did this week seemed so trivial! But anyways, here are some updates. I got the shellac removed from my nails and no damage was done. I loved the fact that my polish didn't chip for two whole weeks, but I couldn't stand having my nails so grown out, so I decided to go for normal nail polish, OPI's "Nomad's Dream." I ate (mostly) vegan-'til-six (except for that one day when I decided to have a giant almond croissant for breakfast and it was downhill from there sorrynotsorry), and I've been eating a lot of fresh, wholesome food. 

In other news, I've been watching lots of Desperate Housewives (no spoilers please, I'm only on season 5!) and getting so excited for warmer weather and more free time during the summer. I hope to have more time for my blog, and maybe even a vlog or two?

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