Monday, April 30, 2012

April Favorites 2012

Is April really over already? How did that happen!? Time does fly when you're having fun. This has been a wonderful month for me. I got to visit Japan for the first time, which was a dream come true. And also, the weather has been fantastic here in Taipei, not including the freak rain and thunderstorms every other day, and I could finally take out my spring and summer clothes.

I'm sure most of you have read The Hunger Games or have at least seen the movie? Isn't it weird how some people love it, and some people absolutely hate it? I definitely enjoyed the movie, although it can't even compare to the book; which is usually the case, isn't it? It's such an easy read and the story is very compelling. I'm currently reading the last book in the trilogy, and I must say, I haven't loved a series of books this much in a very long time; probably not since Harry Potter!

I've been hunting for my favorite DKNY perfume for ages, and finally stumbled upon it. I couldn't be more thrilled! It's no secret that I'm a huge DKNY fan, but I just love this specific one a teeny tiny bit more than all the others. It is a little harder to find than the Be Delicious range, but definitely worth the hunt.

I decided to try the MAC Tendertone Lip Balm as I've heard many people rave about it. I got it in the flavor Hush Hush. Always on the prowl for the perfect lip balm, I try as many different ones as possible, and I must say, this one is definitely in my top five. Not only does it smell incredible, it adds a nice shine to the lips and it's not too sticky.

My most loved clothing item this month has been my denim sleeveless shirt. It looks good with shorts, leggings and colored jeans especially. This one is from TOPSHOP and you can still get it online. I think it's perfect for the weather right now.

I popped into Accessorize the other day and saw that they had the Ladylike Turn Lock bag I've been eyeing online. They had it in two different colors, but I decided to get it in this sandy, brown color. It goes with more of my stuff. Loves it!

Lastly, I've been loving the Bobbi Brown Corrector. I sometimes get very dark circles under my eyes from not sleeping enough, and this baby will just cover that right up. I'll definitely recommend it!

So that's my favorites for April! What have you been loving this past month?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What's in my shower?

Don’t tell me you never sneak a peek at what’s in your friends’ showers when you use their bathrooms? I know I’m not the only nosy one. Am I right? I love seeing what products other people are using, it’s interesting to me. I even get some new ideas of things I want to try out myself. Okay, now I’ll probably not be allowed in my friends’ bathrooms anymore…

Anyway, here are the products I currently have in my shower.

Let's start with my hair care products. For shampoo I'm currently using Kérastase Bain Chroma Riche shampoo. I'm trying this one out for the first time; usually I use Kérastase  Bain Satin. I must say, I'm not very fond of the Bain Chroma Riche, it dries my hair out a little bit. So I will definitely go back to Bain Satin when I finish this monster of a bottle.

I've been coloring and highlighting my hair for years and it's very damaged, so no run-of-the-mill conditioner is going to cut it. I started using  Kérastase Masquintense a little more than a year ago and it's by far the best conditioner/hair mask I've ever used; definitely a keeper! Lush's American Cream conditioner smells amazing, and I'll put it on the ends of my hair just for the smell, but it's not nearly as conditioning as I need it to be.

Next are face products. I'm currently alternating between Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser, which I love, and Olay Regenerist Cleansers Daily Regenerating Cream Wash. This product from Olay is a great facial scrub; not too harsh for my skin.

I have very sensitive skin and will sometimes get small patches of very dry skin if I use the wrong products, so that's why I usually stick to a mild body wash like Dove. I use these gloves from The Body Shop every single time I take a shower; they're great for exfoliating! The apple Body Scrub, which I got from my local drugstore, smells absolutely delicious, and I use it about three times a week.

Lastly, is my razor. I've been using the Schick Quattro for years, and I really have no complaints. Well, maybe one complaint is that the blades are super expensive. But I never cut myself and I can use the same blade for quite a while before I need to replace it. So it's worth it for me.

 So that, ladies and gentlemen,  is what you would find in my shower right now if you used my bathroom and sneaked a peek. I would love to know what you're using right now, I'm always up for discovering new products. Please share your must haves in the comments below. Also, I tag any other bloggers to do this "What's in my shower?" post. Please remember to link back to my site so that I can check it out. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Top 10 Tuesday: Quotes I love and live by

I always turn to my favorite quotes for motivation or inspiration. I love finding a new quote that can put my thoughts, feelings or ideas into one simple sentence. Picking only ten was hard, but here are the quotes I love, and try to live by.

1. "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

2. "Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken" - Oscar Wilde

3. "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose" - Dr. Suess

4. "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't; you're right." - Henry Ford

5. "Live in such a way that if anyone should speak badly of you, no one would believe it." - Unknown

6. "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life" - Confucius

7. "Every day may not be good, but there's something good in every day." - Unknown

8. "Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love" - Mother Teresa

9. "The most important thing is to enjoy your life, to be happy. It's all that matters" - Audrey Hepburn

10. "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you" - Jesus

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There are many more quotes I could add here, but I would say that these pretty much sum it up for me. Which quotes do you love and get your inspiration from?

*Update: Check out Top 10 Tuesday: Quotes I love and live by (Part 2)

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

First World Pains

This past week has been one of those weeks. You know what I'm talking about? That week that comes once a year, or maybe more if you're unlucky, to remind you that everything in life isn't always just rainbows and butterflies.

Last Saturday I had dental skin graft surgery on my lower teeth to correct receding gums. I'm not going into detail, because it's really gross and just thinking about it makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little bit. (Warning: Don't look at a video of this surgery on YouTube. For real!) I had no idea that it was going to be this painful, and that it would take away from me the things that I love doing most in the world; eating, talking, eating and laughing. Yes, it's Thursday, I'm practically a mute with a Kristen Stewart facial expression, and I'm still having jello for lunch and soup for dinner. 

This has been a really lousy week. Because of the pain, I can't exercise, do housework or anything productive for that matter. Yesterday I watched the hilarious movie, Bridesmaids, and I couldn't even laugh. As I was beginning to get depressed about being at home, doing nothing and being in so much pain, I decided to just take a shower and go to bed early. But no. Our apartment's water heater decided that it didn't want to work and I had to take a shower in cold water. Perfect! I tried crying a little, but that hurt, too. I just couldn't catch a break! I went to bed feeling very sorry for myself.

Today, as I'm sitting here, contently, with a belly full of soup, I can look back at yesterday and laugh at myself. (Not out loud though, it still hurts too much, but in my head.) Yes, it's terrible that I'm feeling so horrible and that I'm in so much pain that I can't eat or talk properly, but damn, I'm freakin' lucky that I'm able to afford this surgery and that I had it done now, not when I'm 43 with periodontal disease or missing teeth because of exposed gums. And, boo woo, Liesl. Yes, your water heater didn't heat up, but damn girl, did you sleep tight in your comfy warm bed, next to your wonderful man, in your lovely apartment in the city last night.

It's actually scary how quickly you can lose sight of all the good things in your life and just focus on the bad things. I'm such a fortunate person and I actually feel ashamed for feeling so sorry for myself, when there are people out there who are dealing with actual problems. 

But man, am I looking forward to next week though! By that time I'll probably be able to eat something substantial, go back to work and laugh out loud at myself, with my mouth wide open, for being so pitiful this week. But I guess sometimes you need that one crappy week out of the year to fully appreciate the other 51 weeks that are perfectly wonderful, and are indeed filled with rainbows and butterflies.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Top 10 Tuesday: Things I hate about being a grown up

"Forever young, I wanna be forever young..."
Yes, some parts about being a grown up is quite grand; like being able to eat that ice cream at 10pm if you so wish, staying up late if you feel like it, making your own money and spending it on whatever your heart desires, and being able to travel the world. But, you know, sometimes I just don't feel like being an adult and acting my age. Hence, the top 10 things I hate about being a grown up:

1. Making my own appointments
Even though I'm 26, I still don't like making my own appointments, and I also hate that I am now required to go to said appointments by myself.

2. Not being able to order from the kids' menu

I'm sorry, but am I the only one who would rather be eating the chicken nuggets and fries, arranged in a cute smiley face, than a "grown up" meal?

3. Planning for the future

Ugh! Retirement. Investments. Savings. Insurance. Why do these words keep coming up in my daily life, and why do I have to know what they mean?

4. Taking care of myself

No one reminds me to take my vitamins and eat enough fruits and vegetables. I have to think for myself and make sure I don't have some kind of deficiency.

5. Taking responsibility for my actions

No more blaming anything on being "young and dumb". 

6. Paying bills
Gone are the days when my name only appeared on envelopes containing a sweet letter and some cash from my grandmother.

7. Cooking for myself
The time I spend every day feeding and keeping myself alive really takes away from my doing-nothing time.

8. Doing taxes
I've never liked math, and no, I don't want to give you my hard earned money! And why should I!?

9. Doing my own laundry
And it's just never as clean and perfectly folded as my mom used to do it.

10. Getting older
Is that a wrinkle? Where did my metabolism go? Do I need glasses? That can't be a gray hair!

What do you hate, and love, about being a grown up?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Cancer and Beauty

A few days ago I received this email:

"My name is Jackie and I do outreach for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, a leading web resource for Mesothelioma cancer.

I have always had a passion for fashion, from shoes to makeup, nail polish to handbags, and everything in between! Coupled with that is belief that all women need to feel beautiful, no matter what circumstances they may be facing. Women are powerful beings and WE need to realize it! Sadly, many women are hearing those devastating words 'you have cancer.' Despite a cancer diagnosis, women can still feel beautiful in their own skin. Fashion is a wonderful way to feel strong and confident. I would like to share with your audience the reality of cancer and how women can say 'YES I have cancer', but I am no less beautiful than I was before my diagnosis."

To be honest, before reading this I have never even heard of Mesothelioma. Of course, I Googled it and found out it is "a rare form of cancer that develops from transformed cell originating in the mesothelium, the protective lining that covers many of the internal organs of the body. It is usually caused by exposure to asbestos.
You know, I've never really thought about what women go through when they are diagnosed with cancer, and how they deal with their physical appearance. I'm lucky that I don't know anyone personally who has every had cancer and I don't know how they deal with superficial things like their outer beauty, clothes and makeup etc.
I know there are many of my readers, who just like me, don't know much about this subject, and I thought it would be interesting for Jackie to guest post on my blog, and share some of her insights on how women with cancer can still feel feminine after going through cancer treatment.

How to Retain Femininity After a Mesothelioma Diagnosis
By: Jackie Clark

A woman's fight against cancer is a private one. She should be able to face the world with beauty and confidence despite her ongoing internal struggle. Even if no one else is aware of a woman's Mesothelioma diagnosis, inner pain is often visible on the surface. One way to fight back against cancer is to refuse to let it take away one's outer beauty.

Fashion and makeup may seem like superficial solutions to a serious medical problem, but a woman's ability to maintain some control over her body is integral when so much of what is happening to her is out of her hands. Mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure takes away one's bodily autonomy, especially after the prognosis from a doctor mandates an invasive treatment of radiation or chemotherapy. A woman may experience weight loss, hair loss and other uncontrollable changes in her outward experience. Hair is so interwoven with a woman's identity that its loss may make her feel like less of a woman. Clothes, wigs, scarves and makeup can help women hold onto their femininity and playfulness when so much of their lives are consumed by pain and fear.

Women who have been diagnosed with Mesothelioma should take extra care to only use makeup that is natural and organic; all preservatives and contaminants should be avoided at all costs. There are many different kinds of mineral makeups available these days. Organic mineral foundations offer the smoothness and coverage of liquid foundations without weighing down the skin and clogging pores.

Similarly, clothing can be a great aid in enabling a woman with Mesothelioma to maintain her grace and composure in public spaces. Hairpieces, scarves and trendy hats are great ways to hide thinning hair or experiment with a fresh new style. Cancer may attempt to destroy a woman's femininity, but she can fight back in small, healthy ways by controlling the way she looks. Every woman is beautiful and it is important to realize that a cancer diagnosis can’t take a woman’s beauty away from her.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Case of the Unpersuadable Landlord

Van Gogh
This is going to sound really bad, but I usually, nine out of ten times, get my way. I can be very persuasive and I’m a master manipulator. Wow, I’m not painting a really nice picture of myself right now, am I? So naturally, nothing bothers me more than not being able to convince someone to see my point of view, or when someone won’t give me what I want. Geez, I’m a horrible, horrible person…

Before you reach for the “unfollow” button on my blog, let me explain. About five or six months ago, The Boyfriend and I decided that we were ready to get a dog, and that we’d like to adopt one from one of the local shelters in Taipei. I’ll be honest; I had to “persuade” him a little first, too.

So all I needed to do was ask The Landlord. I was prepared, with a well thought-out speech of how badly we wanted a pet, that we wouldn’t let the dog on the furniture, that we would make sure he didn’t cause any destruction and that we would keep the place so clean that no one would ever know that a dog lived there.

Optimistically, I called The Landlord, whom I thought I’d easily persuade with some charming quips, a friendly tone and my usual easy-going banter. My dreams of owning a furry friend came crashing down, as he turned me down. He didn’t want pets in the apartment. Of course, still in denial, I asked him to sleep on it and let me know the next day.

Of course, the next day, I got the text; “We still would like you not to have a pet in the apartment.” Say what!? Why not? I don’t understand! He didn’t give me a reason, so it was especially hard for me to accept this, but I managed to let it go.

Well, I “let it go” for about four months, and then I happened to stumble on this picture of a poodle up for adoption on the Animals Taiwan Association Facebook page. My heart melted, and then it started to race as I read more about him. His name is Van Gogh, because he was born with only one ear. He is two years old, very loving and energetic and larger than the regular small poodle you see trotting around Taipei. He was perfect for us! He had to be mine! I immediately started planning my next call to The Landlord.

As luck would have it, The Landlord was out of the country and I couldn’t reach him for about two weeks, but I was adamant. I sent him a list of all the reasons why I should adopt this dog, and I even offered up our deposit if he wasn’t satisfied with anything when we leave the apartment one day. I thought of everything, had solutions to every possible scenario this dog could get into, I even had a friend lined up who can take care of him if we were to be out of town. Still, the answer was, “no”.

Even though I can’t truly accept his wishes, I kind of have to. I’ve tried everything, for crying out loud. I can’t convince this man. I can tell you one thing; when our lease is up, I’m out of there, and I’m definitely moving into a place where we can live happily ever after with our future furry friend.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Top 10 Tuesday: Things I'll teach my child(ren)

No, I’m not preggers! But being an elementary school teacher, and dealing with all types of rascals every day, I’ve been forced to think about how I would raise my kids one day, and what type of person I want them to grow into.

Dear future child of mine

To avoid you being that kid at school that all the teachers despise, and to ensure that you grow into a respected individual, I’ve created this list of guidelines, or tips if you will, that will help you on your journey of becoming the best possible person you can be.

1. Treat others how you want to be treated
Yes, it's that simple. Always be considerate of others, and how your words or actions might affect them.

2. Be independent
No one has respect for a lazy, dependent moocher. Stand on your own two feet, and learn how to take care of yourself. Earn your own money and have pride in your work.

3. Be yourself
Don’t follow the crowd. Always listen to others’ opinions, but make sure you have your own. Be true to yourself and what makes YOU happy. In the words of Oscar Wilde, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken”. 

4. Take care of your mind and body
Make sure you exercise regularly, take pride in your appearance and eat healthily. (But never deprive yourself of anything, you will be very unhappy.) "Balance" and "moderation" are the key words here. 

5. Respect others, but most importantly yourself
If you don’t respect yourself, no one else will. Have high standards for yourself and know your worth. Second best is not good enough for you if you know what you deserve. Never lower your standards to accommodate someone else in your life.

6. Find your passion
Out there in the world is something that you will be passionate about. Don’t stop until you’ve found it. When you do find it, spend your time learning more about it, practicing it, and enjoying it.

7. Be positive and thankful
No one wants to be around Negative Nancy or Debbie Downer. Yes, the world can be a terrible place, but try to always see the positive in life, and find solutions to problems instead of dwelling on them. Be thankful for your blessings.

8. Give second chances, but not third
We’re all human and we all make mistakes. Forgive and forget. I know some mistakes are bigger and might be unforgivable, and you will have to use your own discretion. But, never give third chances. (see #5) If that person really cares about you, and value you in their life, they wouldn’t screw up again.

9. Surround yourself with enthusiastic, positive and inspirational people
Some people will build you up, make you better, or at least inspire you to be better. But unfortunately, there are the ones that will drag you down and drain the life and soul out of you. That said, never leave a friend behind, not if you haven’t tried everything possible to help them out. Avoid jealous, superficial and pretentious people. Don’t waste time and energy on people that don’t treat you right. That precious time is for the ones that you love and care about you, the ones who feel the same about you.

10. Travel as much as possible 
Traveling is the greatest gift you can give yourself. Nothing else can ever make you learn more about yourself, and make you grow more as a person.  "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page" (St. Augustine)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Aishiteru, Japan!

I've lived in Asia for four years, and have never been to Japan. What a disgrace! Finally this year, The Boyfriend and I decided to go to Japan for a whirlwind 4-day adventure, and what a memorable experience it was. (Check out my favorite photos from our trip here.) 

Ginza shopping district, Tokyo
Warning! Shopoholics might lose their minds here. I know this, because I am, and I did. This famous shopping district has hundreds of stores, ranging from affordable, like Forever 21, GAP and H&M, to high-end stores like Dior, Tiffany & Co., Chanel and Prada

The architecture of these stores is incredible, and most of them boast four to seven floors of retail heaven. My heart is beating fast now, just thinking about it. The Boyfriend was being a total sweetheart, and left me alone to go shopping while he walked around the area. It’s just... I can go faster when I’m by myself…

Shinjuku Station, Tokyo
Our hotel was in this area, which was very convenient, as Shinjuku Station is the hub for all metro lines in Tokyo. Now, don’t even get me started on the subway system in Tokyo. It was so overwhelming, but we managed to figure it out and considered ourselves pros after four days.

Around Shinjuku Station there are also numerous shopping options, restaurants, pubs and other special types of entertainment, which I don’t want to get into too much. Well, it’s Japan, so use your imagination.

Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Blossoms at Shinjuku-Gyoen, Tokyo
This time of the year is the best to view the famous cherry blossoms in Tokyo. At first we didn’t know if they were already blooming, as it was still very cold, but as we stepped into Shinjuku-Gyoen, the best park to view cherry blossoms, we were met by hundreds of trees, sporting cherry blossoms of all the different shades of pink. It was truly a breathtaking scene.

Omotesando Hills shopping mall in Harajuku, Tokyo
Unfortunately, a freak storm, apparently the worst in 50 years, hit Japan one day while we were there. Trains were delayed and it was barely possible to stand on your feet outside in the wind and rain. But this didn’t stop us from trying to see as much of Tokyo as possible. 

Even though there were barely any people in, the usually packed to the brim, Harajuku area, we walked around Takeshita Street and Omotesando Hills for a few hours after the rain finally stopped. This area, with its cheap clothing stores, caters to mostly teenagers and young adults, and this is where people gather for costume play over the weekends.

Shibuya Crossing
Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo
We had to go to Shibuya Crossing to witness the famous site of hundreds, maybe thousands(!?) of pedestrians crossing the intersection every few minutes. Because the weather wasn’t that great, there were fewer people than usual, but we could get the idea of what it looks like on a regular day.

Imperial Palace
One of the buildings at the Imperial Palace, Tokyo
We walked around the Imperial Palace and gardens, where the Emperor of Japan lives, for a couple of hours, taking in the traditional architecture.

Having Sushi in Tokyo
We were pleasantly surprised by the number of Indian restaurants in Tokyo, as this is our absolute favorite food. I’m not kidding; there are literally three Indian restaurants on every street. Of course, we had to have some delicious sushi as well, and the pork cutlets were delicious.

Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji (photo taken from the train)
Seeing Mount Fuji with my own eyes was probably the highlight of our trip. The only way to describe it is “majestic”. We had to take a train for about 2 hours to get to an area called LakeKawaguchi. There, we went up another mountain, Mount Kachi Kachi with a cable car, to get the best view of Mount Fuji.

I must say, Japan really exceeded my expectations, and is now one of my favorite travel destinations. I can’t wait to go back there! Maybe next year?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Snapshots of Japan

For our 3-year anniversary, The Boyfriend and I decided to take a trip to Japan. (It's only a 3-hour flight from Taiwan!) During our whirlwind 4-day stay, we got to do and see some unforgettable things. 

In my next blog post, I'll share a more in-depth account of our adventure. For now, here are some of my favorite pics from our trip.

Me and The Boyfriend at Shinjuku-gyoen, Tokyo
Cherry Blossoms in Shinjuku-gyoen, Tokyo
Shinjuku-gyoen, Tokyo

Shinjuku-gyoen, Tokyo
Ginza shopping district, Tokyo
Shopping in Ginza, Tokyo
Mount Fuji
Overlooking Mount Fuji
Around Shinjuku Station, Tokyo
Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo
Vending machines, Tokyo


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