It's all about family and home right here.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What's in my travel bag to Chicago?

When I say that I like to travel, it really means that I like being somewhere else more than I like the act of travelling.  However, in order to get from here to there, I have to deal with travelling and going through airports and all the TSA regulations and what not.  Therefore, I've mentally classified travel into two categories:  long-term travels and short-term travels.  

Long-term travels are basically anything over 1 week of being away from home.  They usually require large luggage that need to be checked in.

Short-term travels are basically anything shorter than 4 days.  If I can cram everything into a carry-on bag, all the better!

I recently went on a business trip to Chicago (it was strictly business so O'Hare Airport is about as much of Chicago you will see in this post), and thought I'd document what I brought on my trip as a result of my travelling experiences.  I'm going to skip the makeup portion because it's just brushes and a small makeup palette for the face.

For everything else that are in the pictures, I packed 1 extra pair or "serving" of skincare products for Just-in-Case events, which I'll get to at the end of my post.

Eye care: I don't even bother with lenses and contact solution.  I had an instance in Taiwan where they threw away my brand new in box travel sized contact solution bottle because it was over their liquid limit.  So, I just use one-day usage lenses on short trips.

Skin care: I packed a couple of makeup remover wipes into a zip top bag and packed cleansers, toners, moisturizers and SPF into contact lens cases.  I brought extra cleanser, moisturizer, and threw in the Koh Gen Do Gommage Spa Gel just in case I ran out, which I didn't.  

My skin is itchy from being stretched out by the baby.  The drugstore itch relief cream is essential because moisturizers don't do enough these days.

There were a few things I didn't pack because I knew I could get them from the hotel.  Major hotels usually have some sort of agreement with cosmetics companies, so I knew I'd be able to try out something different. The Bath & Body Works White Citrus shampoo, conditioner, soap and lotion were really nice to try out.  I may buy a full size version of the shampoo later on.  The last thing I got from the hotel was toothpaste.  :-)

O'Hare Airport.  Storm clouds rolling in in the distance.

So, about that Just-in-Case thing I mentioned at the top of my post?  Well, on the day that I was coming back to Los Angeles, Chicago - the Mid West, essentially - had a massive storm system roll in.  Our flight got delayed for several hours, got cancelled, then reinstated, then delayed again.  I was really worried they would cancel our flight for good, but luckily and thankfully, our captain found a break in the storm and got us up in the air and on our way back home!

What do you pack in your travel bags?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

17 Weeks!

Well!  I finally caved and bought maternity clothing.  They look nice and feel more comfortable than trying to squeeze into regular clothes, or wear tents of large sized regular clothing.  But I feel that they're making too much money off of me so I told my husband that I'm going to look into making my own maternity clothes.  I'll probably stick with dresses since that seems much easier than making pants.  Hah!  We'll see how that turns out!!

Start of 2nd Trimester Shenanigans!

The baby bump is definitely getting bigger and harder to hide.  When I lie down, I like to feel where I think the baby is and it feels like there's a water balloon under my skin.  I can't wait to feel the baby move!  The skin around my tummy is starting to feel tighter.  It's not all the baby's doing.  I've gained a couple of pounds in fat that I'll have to deal with after the baby is born.

I have certain cravings, but I think it's more of a whim.  Major cravings are for dairy products.  I don't feel like I have to have them when I think I do, but if I go too long without having something dairy my body feels it and I know I have to stop for some cheese, yogurt, or milk.  

The good news is that I don't have a lot of problems with queasiness anymore.  I still don't prefer rice and beef but I'll eat them on occasion, which was really important for a special dinner with some special people!

My husband and I had dinner with my brother and his girlfriend at M Grill the other night.  It's definitely a carnivore's delight!  They have gauchos come up and serve you slices of beef, lamb, chicken, and sausages that have been skewered onto swords.  One of the best cuts of beef is the Garlic Picanha.  Both my husband and my brother dreamed about it that night!  

You do need to make a reservation before hand in order to be seated.  It's definitely an upscale venue and at nearly $50 per person, you'd better be loaded (with cash, I mean!) and hungry when you get there!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tarte High-Performance Naturals Pure Maracuja Oil

I sometimes find that something I bought for myself doesn't seem fated to belong to me.  That is true with this 3-piece maracuja oil roller ball collector's set call "To Give, To Get, To Glow."  I know this was a really big thing this past Christmas season so I was glad to see that Sephora still had some in stock.  Even better, these were in their clearance/sale section!

I gave the two roller ball vials on the right to my husband, one to keep at home and one to keep at work.  He has dry skin around his nose and lips that get a little flaky when not moisturized.  The area around his mouth is more dry and flaky due to his daily shaving routine.  He was using Vaseline to keep it moisturized but found that it was really thick and left his skin with an oil slick sheen.  That's where the maracuja oil came in.  He tried it and really loved the results for his particular skin problems.

So this product review will be written from my husband's point of view.


I always write product reviews in the same way.  I state the product claims individually, then I write down my (in this case my husband's) experience per each claim.

This product claims to:

Restore skin balance to aid in skin recovery and rejuvenation
Hubby says: "Yeah, it does."  It's helped his skin recover from the dryness caused by shaving, and that dry problem area around his nose to stay hydrated and flake-free.  In keeping the areas hydrated, the oil has also helped improve his skin texture, essentially softening rough dry skin.

Maracuja oil gives the appearance of brighter skin thanks to a high dose of pure vitamin C
Hubby says: "It looks like it."  To my eyes, his skin looks brighter and even has a bit of glow, kind of like your mid-morning glow.  The overall effect of the oil has been to make his skin look smoother and a bit younger.

As far as the consumer study goes, my husband agrees with 3 of the 4 results:
  • Overall visible improvement in skin - yes
  • Reduction in fine lines and wrinkles - he doesn't use it in these areas
  • Visible improvement in skin texture - yes
  • Skin appeared renewed and rejuvenated - yes

As for me, pregnancy has made my skin really itchy due to the expansion of certain body parts and weight gain.  It's exacerbated by dry skin.  Since I don't like using maracuja oil on my face (it makes my face super greasy), I use it on my problem areas.  I find that the oil itself is not hydrating enough on body skin.

Would he recommend this product to others with his similar skin condition?  Yes, he would.  On skin with a dry problem, like the area around his nose, this product works like a charm.  But he'd like to caution against expecting too much if using the oil in areas that get irritated on a daily basis, like the skin around his mouth and chin where he shaves every day.  He feels like he needs an extra application during the day to deal with the dryness on his chin.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Homemade Strawberry Yogurt with Honey

I was craving some Kung Pao Chicken the other day and asked my husband to buy it.  It tasted so good when we were eating it that evening.  But since then, the leftovers have been in the fridge and I feel so sick thinking about trying to finish it.  It's only been there for a day or two.  But if I continue to feel this way, it may stay there longer until it's no good to eat.  I've discovered that I've had to relearn my appetite since getting pregnant.  It's a little bit of a bummer - an educational bummer.

Luckily, I have found some foods I like to eat no matter how unappetized I feel.  DAIRY!  And FRUIT!  Everything dairy and fruity is good to me.

So, I'm sharing this simple fruit yogurt recipe I made for my husband and me the other night.

1 cup Fage Total 0% Greek Yogurt, Plain
2 cups Strawberries
3 tbsp Honey

1.  Mix honey into the yogurt to sweeten it up.  
2.  Add some cut up strawberries.
3.  EAT!

I'm pretty sure if I blend everything together in a blender with a couple of ice cubes or a 1/2 cup of water, this would make a very refreshing smoothie.  I'm also pretty sure that if I mixed that smoothie with some powdered orange peel, that would be a great Vitamin C packed anti-oxidant facial mask.  These are great ideas for a future beauty and food post!

What foods can you count on when you lose your appetite?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

June Sephora Haul

Between my husband and me, my husband is definitely the one who likes to smell good all the time.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we're stinky people.  My husband got into the habit of wearing cologne in high school whereas I didn't get into perfumes and scents until well after college and a master's program.  So between the both of us, my husband is much more accustomed to wearing cologne every day than I am.

That said, this small haul is really for my husband and I get to keep a bunch of free samples!

I took a picture from the packing list because I can't remember all the names of these products.  Haha.  

This is my husband's haul.  He got the Jean Paul Gaultier gift set, which comes with a full size Le Male cologne inside a pretty good quality tin, and a travel sized spray bottle.  The full sized is funny to me.  Such a big deal about the packaging.  *winks*

I also got him a sample of the Issey Miyake L'Eau D'Issey Pour Homme.  I don't know if he'll like it but at least he has a variety of scents to choose from. 


This is my "samples" haul.  Sephora's been giving out these fragrance samplers (top right) in each order, lately.  I'm not sure if I can rub the paper on my wrist and be done with it, or if it's just one of those scratch-and-sniff deals.  I already have one in my medicine cabinet, so I guess I can take it with me on my trip and try it out.  If it works like those magazine fragrance ads, I can forgo the TSA liquid policy.

The only other samples that did not come inside the metallic purple bag were the Jack Black Pure Clean Daily Facial Cleanser and the Koh Gen Do Gommage Spa Gel.  Everything else was part of the 6-piece fragrance and skincare sample set.  Not bad!  I can't wait to go on my upcoming trips so I can try out all these samples!

Do you try to load up on samples and free promotional items on every Sephora or order, too?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Wedding Day Look

This is a post I've been meaning to put up for quite a while.  It features the products I used on my wedding day.  I did my own makeup and hair which fitted just right with our theme of an intimate at-home wedding.

In the hubbub of pulling everything together almost last minute, we forgot to take pictures before the wedding started.  So the picture you'll see of me was taken well after the festivities had ended.

Here are the products I used after my normal skincare routine:

Items of note:

Lioele Water Drop BB Aqua Makeup was perfect because it provided just enough coverage without feeling heavy.

Dior Lip Glow has been my balm of choice because it's a "no thinking" lip product.  It goes on clear then adjusts itself to subtly enhance your natural lip color.


NYX false lashes help give my eyes some definition and winged flare at the outer corners.  These lashes actually come in a full strip, they're not this short.  I cut them to be shorter because I only needed them at the outer 2/3 of my eyelids.  DUO is a great glue and much better than the NYX glue, actually.


To set all the liquid products, I used Airspun Loose Face Powder.  Another "no thinking" product.  A light dusting all over the face is good enough for me.  I followed that up with the Stila Face Palette.  I used the brown on the far right of the Stila palette to fill in my eyebrows.

This is me after the festivities had ended and the guests had gone home.  I retouched my lips with the Dior Lip Glow.


Eye shadows "a", "b", and "c" were used as highlight, all over wash on the lids, and liner shadow, respectively.  Blush "d" was used on the cheeks for some glow.

For your wedding or really important event, would you DIY it or go with a professional makeup artist?


Thursday, June 6, 2013

L'Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes Mascara

I got a request from Cathy a few weeks ago to try out L'Oreal's Voluminous Million Lashes Mascara.  Thanks for the request, Cathy!  Who can but remember Jennifer Lopez's gorgeous lashes in that commercial (even though they were most likely natural looking falsies, too)?

So, I went to Rite Aid and picked up the waterproof version so see if I could get even a quarter of JLo's look.  Fair warning: there are some super duper close-ups of my eyes.... so don't get too scared!


The tube reminds me of a gold version of the crystals Chistopher Reeve's Superman used at his North Pole ice castle/home to communicate with his father Jor-El.  Haha!



I was really happy to see rubber bristles.  I think these types of bristles work best with my lashes.


I did notice that this mascara, by itself, did not retain my curl as well as the CoverGirl mascaras (see reviews here and here), or the Majolica Majorca Lash Expander Frame Plus.  However, it did lengthen, add volume, and it did not clump.  I'm not sure if I can say it multiplied my lashes, but at least it kept what I have separated and distinct.


I don't think I had anything on except the Sarah McNamara Skin Transformer with SPF 20 tinted moisturizer/primer.  The first time I started noticing some smudging under the eyes was at the 5 hour mark.  There was only a tiny bit of discoloration under my eyes, close to the inner corners, and nothing on the upper lids.

So, here are my grades:

Curl:  B-
I think I must have lost about 25% of my curl.  I think it would work better for people with naturally curly eyelashes or eyelashes that hold curls really well.  But for me, if my eye lashes lose their curl, it leads straight to smudging under my eyes.

Length:  A-
This mascara's lengthening power is ok.  I had to build up it with the 2nd coat and I'm sure I could have continued with a 3rd coat, but I didn't want to lose more of the curl.

Volume:  A
This mascara was perfect for volumizing my lashes.  It added extra volume without clumping my lashes together.

Smudging:  B+
I'm giving it a B+ because the mascara lost a bit of curl and put my lashes in direct contact with my lower lids.  If it didn't lose any of the curl, I'd give it an A-.  All in all, I am pretty impressed that it didn't start to break down until after the 5th hour.

Clumping:  A
After 2 coats, there was still no clumping.  I think the rubber bristles work very well to deposit a thin layer of product each time it runs through my lashes.  They also keep the lashes separated so there isn't a lot of opportunity for my lashes to clump.

I'll admit I was pretty skeptical about this mascara at first, but I'm actually very impressed with it.  How I use it now is to layer it on top of one of my CoverGirl mascaras.  Layering this mascara on top of the CG mascara is perfect for me.  I noticed that I didn't see smudging for a straight 8 hours.

Thanks again to Cathy for suggesting L'Oreal's Voluminous Million Lashes Mascara!

Have you tried this yet?  What did you think of this mascara?

Monday, June 3, 2013

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Even though I majored in English Literature in college I never really liked poetry.  I don't know why.  It just seemed so artsy fartsy to me.  However, in recent days I found myself thinking of this particular poem when I tried to put into words how much I love my husband.

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, - I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! - and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
-By Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) "Sonnets from the Portuguese"

Why remember this now, after all these years?  I honestly don't know.  It just seems to capture so completely how full is the love I feel for my husband.  This poem expresses love as something quiet and humble, but by no means less important than some other loud or dramatic expression of love.  It captures the feeling of love as being both earthly and heavenly, as constant as the human need for heat and light, and calmly, righteously, humbly, innocently, yet also passionately.  Reading this poem now has made me realize that Love is a feeling that is both supremely personal and yet enormously universal.

Well played, Poetry 205.  Well played.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

May Empties

Here's a category of posts directly imported from my old blog.  The "Empties" posts!  It showcases skincare/beauty products I've used up within a given month.


My husband told me about using Johnson's Head-to-Toe Baby Wash as a facial cleanser several years ago.  Since then, I have not been without it.  It does everything except wash hair.  I love it!

It took me 3 years to finished the Nivea Q10 moisturizer.  I just couldn't stay committed to this but I'm so glad I finally finished it!  I don't think I'm a body moisturizer type of person.  It feels like such a chore to remember to slather this on after my showers.  Hats off to the ladies who can do this every day and love it. 

The Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Moisture Cream was an awesome little moisturizer because it had SPF 15 in it.  I could just put this on and be ready in 3 minutes.

I wrote a review on the Jurlique Purely Bright Mist on my old blog.  Long story short, I don't think I'll get this again.  I didn't see any lasting result from using this product and it also costs a lot of money.

This Sarah McNamara Miracle Skin Transformer with SPF 20 was another awesome product I tried last month.  It was a tinted moisturizer/face primer that also did triple duty as an eyelid primer.  I don't think I'll be getting more though.  I think it contributed to the new congestion on my forehead.

I don't feel anything for the Murad Time Release Retinol Concentrate.  There was enough product for only 1 usage so I didn't see any results or anything else like that.  Regardless, I don't think I should be using retinol products in my condition right now.

I liked all the Jurlique samples except the Calendula Cream.  It was really thick and hard to spread.  If I could compare it to anything, it would be like trying to spread cold butter on a piece of bread.  Of the Jurlique samples, I liked the Herbal Recover Gel the most.  It was very emollient.  A little goes a very long way.  Better yet, once it absorbed it absorbed dry.  No sticky ickiness afterwards.

I never once gave a single thought to trying anything from Ole Henriksen but after this sample of Truth Serum Collagen Booster I think I might give this brand a try.  This serum was another winner for me.  It looked and smelled like orange Fanta soda but best of all when it absorbed it absorbed dry.  No sticky residue left behind!

The NYX falsies were the ones I wore at my wedding.  They looked really nice in person even though they didn't show up so well in the pictures.


I've been meaning to try the Shiseido cotton pads but I just can't bring myself to drive all the way to the Shiseido store when I'm already staring at the cotton pad section at Rite Aid.  Of all the drug store cotton pads I've used, I really like Salon Plus Premium line.  They have a smooth side that does not leave little lint and fibers behind.

All in all, May was a great month for trying and finishing the most products possible, even though most of them were sample sized.

How about you ladies?  What did you finish in May?