Friday, September 28, 2012

September Favorites 2012


Happy fall to all my readers in the Northern Hemisphere, and happy spring to you folks down south! I love the beginning of a new season, don't you? September not only brought a much anticipated change in weather for us here in Taiwan, but also some great new favorites for fall.

1. Soap & Glory Flake Away body polish
I've been wanting to try out a Soap & Glory product for quite a while. I decided to get the Flake Away Body Polish, which is like a scrub, at Boots in Dubai. I can't say enough good things about it. It smells good, it's not too harsh on my skin, and after rinsing if off, it leaves my skin soft, smooth and polished. Also, it smells so good!

2. H&M basic gray sneakers
I spotted these gray sneakers at H&M in Barcelona, and just had to have it. They are so comfortable and great to wear as an everyday walking-to-work shoe. I'm sure I'll still get a lot of wear out of this pair, come the cooler days.

3. Longchamp "Le Pliage" bag
I've been thinking about getting a bag that I can use for work every day. Too many of my purses and bags get worn out from my commute to and from work. I decided on the large Le Pliage bag in navy from Longchamp here in Taipei. It's a little pricier than I'd usually want to pay for a "work bag", but it's so perfect. It's spacious, light and has a zipper, which is always a plus.

4. Swarovski Harley Gold Plated Crystal studs
You'll rarely see me wearing any earrings except plain studs. I got a little bored with my small diamond ones, and picked out this set of Harvey Gold Plated Crystal studs at the Swarovski store at the airport in Barcelona. I love them!

5. Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting concealer
I actually purchased the Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer a few months ago on feelunique.com I kind of forgot about it while I was using my Bobbi Brown corrector, and only discovered it again this past month. This concealer is wonderful for highlighting your under-eye area. It instantly brightens up my eyes, making me look more awake. Perfect for someone who starts working at 7:30am.

6. Giant Via 2 W bicycle
My absolute favorite thing from September is my new bike, the Giant Via 2 W. The Boyfriend has been talking about getting a bicycle for months now, as there are some awesome bike trails in Taipei next to the river. I went with him to pick out his bike, and saw the Giant Via 2 on display. I fell in love with the pink rims and the brown seat and handlebars. It has 8 gears, which, honestly, means nothing to me, but apparently it's good for this type of bike... Also, I can get a wicker basket put on if I want. How cute! I forgot how much fun it is to go cycling.


What were your favorites for the month of September?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Top 10 Tuesday: Frequently Asked Questions


Since I started my blog last year, I've been asked so many questions by readers. Mostly, through emails, comments on posts, Facebook messages or when I'm out with friends. Nosy? Inquisitive? Interested? I don't care. I love communicating with my readers and will gladly answer any questions you might have.

Over the past year, I've received many questions about myself, my life and, of course, my blog. Today, I'll share the top 10 most frequently asked questions here on Pretty.Random.Things.

1. Why did you choose Taiwan?

I've always wanted to teach abroad for a year after graduating university, but I couldn't decide where to go. One of my friends told me that she was going to Taiwan for a year, as her brother's been teaching here for a while, and that I should join her. I said: "Taiwan? Where is that?" Yes, I know... The fact that I didn't know anything about this country intrigued me and I agreed to join her.

That was four years ago. My friend ended up staying for two and a half years, and The Boyfriend and I  have decided to stay here indefinitely.

2. When and why did you start blogging?

I think I wrote my first post in June 2011. At that time, I've been thinking about starting a blog for a while and just decided to do it. I just wanted a place where I can do the things I love; write, post pictures and make lists. It's been a really fun hobby for me.

3. How and when did you meet your boyfriend?

I met Daniel in April 2009 at an Oasis concert in Taipei City. At that time, I was still living in another city in Taiwan, about an hour away from Taipei. I went to Taipei with some friends for the concert and we were introduced by mutual friends. I remember being impressed by this friendly, optimistic Southern boy from North Carolina, speaking perfect Mandarin to the taxi driver. We also bonded over our shared love of ciders. The rest is history.

4. Do you make money with your blog?

I don't really like to share too much about money stuff on my blog, but yes, I do make some money off my blog. It's not a lot, and it's not important to me. I already have a full time job, this is just my hobby. I'm an affiliate for many great companies, get paid for sponsored posts and receive some cash by readers clicking on the advertisements.

Although I will get paid for sponsored posts, I will always be 100% honest about products and services, and will only give my honest opinions.

5. What is your job?

I'm an English second language teacher at a public school in Taipei City. I teach in a scenario center where second language students get opportunities to role play and speak English. It's the best job in the world and I love it!

6. How can you afford to travel so often?

The Boyfriend and I both get good salaries and because I'm at a public school, my benefits are pretty nice, too. We love to travel and want to go to as many places as possible before we have too many other financial responsibilities. We live comfortably, but we don't spend our money on ridiculous things, and try to use most of it for traveling. Things only last for a while, but memories will last forever.

7. How many page views do you get on your blog?

When I started blogging, I used to get around 50 to 100 views on my blog daily. Now my page views will range anything from 700 to 4000 views a day, depending on the day of the week, whether I posted that day and the content.

8. How many siblings do you have?

I have two older brothers and a younger sister. My oldest brother works as a Hotel Controller on cruise ships, my other brother is a flight attendant for Emirates, and so is my sister. They live in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

9. How much longer will you be blogging?

I have no idea. I do it because it's a fun hobby for me, so when it's not fun for me to do it anymore, then I'll stop. But I like to keep my friends and family up to date on my life, as they are all scattered across the world. At least by reading my blog, they know a little of what's going on in my life.

10. How do you advertise your blog?

To ensure my blog is visible to my readers and friends, I will put links to my latest post on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and the Pretty.Random.Things. Facebook page.

If you have any other questions you'd like me to answer, feel free to do so on any of the above mentioned social networking sites, or you can email me at liesl@pretty.random.things.com

Friday, September 21, 2012

Thankful for Friday

I woke up this morning to a beautiful clear-blue-skies day. The past week has been rainy and overcast and I thought that fall had crept up on us early this year. But now it looks like we'll still be blessed with a few more days of summer before it's sweater and jacket time.

I couldn't be happier that it's weekend. The past week has been one of those never ending sucking-the-life-out-me type of weeks. Even though I have nothing to complain about, it just felt very very long.

Today, maybe because of the beautiful weather, I'm feeling very thankful and blessed for all the amazing people in my life. Every morning on my commute to work, I think of ten things that I'm thankful for. This morning, my family and best friends popped into my head.

I'm so thankful for my caring, incredibly loving and supportive family. They are a crazy, silly bunch of people and I love them to death. And I'm so blessed to have so many friends that I know love me so much, even though we don't get to see each other as often as we'd like. I hope you guys know how much I love and appreciate you.

I'm also thankful that it's Friday and that I get to spend the weekend with The Boyfriend. I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend. Be safe and have fun!

What are you feeling thankful for today?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Scarves for Fall/Winter 2012

I might have a small, unhealthy obsession with scarves. But honestly, can you blame me? They are snugly, keep that icy breeze off your neck, they are stylish and they add a little sumthin' sumthin' to any outfit.

By no means do I need to get any more scarves this year,but you never know... Here are some of the old classics and some others I'm loving this year.

1. Leopard print scarves

Louis Vuitton leopard stole scarf
Leopard print scarf from J.Crew 
2. Knitted scarves

Cable knit scarf from H&M

Purl knit scarf from Forever 21

3. Printed scarves
Skull scarf from Alexander McQueen
Animal border print scarf from TOPSHOP

4. Cashmere scarves
Burberry giant camel check scarf

Fine knit cashmere scarf from H&M

Cashmere infinity scarf from H&M

5. Infinity scarves

Red tube scarf from H&M


Do you love scarves? Which ones are your favorites?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Top 10 Tuesday: My Fitness & Health Habits


I am by no means an expert or a health and fitness freak, but I do believe in taking care of myself on the inside and out. Nothing annoys me more than hearing girls go on about diets, wanting to be skinny, or wanting to weigh a certain number or obsessing about being a size 0. That was so 2001. By the way; size 0?! Do you want to be invisible?

Nowadays, I'm happy to see that more and more girls are focusing on being healthy, fit and strong instead. I believe that it shouldn't matter what size we are or how much we weigh. The only things that matter are how we feel about ourselves and being healthy. As long as we have respect for our bodies, exercise regularly, try not to gobble up fast food every day, and generally just take care of ourselves, we'll look and feel our best.


I often get asked how I stay in shape. No quick fixes here; I try to make healthy choices, I take note of my daily calorie intake, and I exercise regularly. It's a part of my lifestyle. Now, I'm no angel; I like fast food, chocolate, cake and the list goes on, and I never deprive myself, but I also don't let myself go completely. It's all about moderation.


Over the years, I've tried to incorporate some healthy habits into my daily routine. Things that are easy to do and that benefits my health. I'm not saying that these things that I do will make you look your best, but these are the things that work for me personally, and that fits comfortably into my lifestyle.




1. Drinking lots of water


Surely, I don't have to tell you the benefits of drinking a lot of water? When I wake up in the morning I drink a tall glass of water to get my metabolism going, and when I get to work I fill up my 1-litre water bottle and finish it before the end of the day. When I get home, I make sure to drink at least two or three more glasses before I go to bed.


Luckily for me, I don't really like sodas and sugary drinks. It just makes me feel more thirsty and they are usually so high in empty calories. Water is so refreshing and it's really the only thing that quenches my thirst.


2. Eating more chicken and fish


For some reason, red meat just really doesn't agree with me anymore. Whenever I eat it, I feel awful and my body can't digest it properly. That's why I stick to chicken and fish nowadays. It tastes better to me anyway.


3. Taking a multi vitamin supplement daily


For me, it's not possible to get my daily dose of vitamins and minerals through only my meals. I know that a multi vitamin does not mean that I can cut those out completely, but I'd rather take it than not. 


4. Exercising regularly


I know you probably don't want to hear this, but yes, to look and feel your best, you have to exercise. The good news is that you don't have to go to the gym 5 times a week to stay in shape. 

I walk a lot, teach active elementary school students, and live on the fourth floor of an apartment building without an elevator, so I already get heaps of exercise during the day without even noticing it. I also do 15 to 20 minutes of exercise at home about six times a week. I know this sounds like a lot, but it's really not. I just put on an episode of my favorite TV show, grab my 3kg weights and do some simple arm exercises, lunges and squats. It really takes no effort at all, and it makes me feel great.


On weekends I try to go to the gym for an hour for a hardcore cardio and weight training workout. Also, The Boyfriend and I recently got bikes, and we've had so much fun going cycling together; a healthy and enjoyable pastime. 


5. Laughing a lot


I know this might sound weird, but I think that laughter and humor is good for our health. Well, it definitely works for me anyway. Watching a funny TV show or movie makes me laugh, laughing makes me happy, and when I feel happy I'm more likely to feel in the mood to exercise and take better care of myself.


6. Brushing often


...my teeth, that is. I've always had reasonable dental hygiene. By reasonable, I mean that I used to brush my teeth two or three times a day. But I must confess, I almost never flossed. After I got my braces last year, I knew that I would have to step up my game and make sure my mouth is always clean and minty fresh, so I've adopted some new habits which I'll definitely keep doing even after my braces come off. I now brush my teeth after every meal, even if it's six times a day. I also floss regularly and use mouth wash twice a day.


7. Getting some sun


This has never been a problem for me, as I love being outside, soaking up the rays. It's been more of a challenge for me to not get too much sun. I've gotten myself in the habit of not leaving the house without wearing sunscreen on my face. The easiest way to do that, is to just use a daily moisturizer that already contains a high SPF. 


8. Getting enough sleep


I know this is different for everyone, but personally, I feel my best the next day when I get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Actually, about 8 hours of sleep is perfect for me. I have to get up at 6am for work, which means I have to go to bed relatively early to get a good night's rest. This is hard for me sometimes because I can easily get sucked into a good book or browsing online. 


9. Stimulating my brain


I believe exercising your brain is very important. Just like your body, you have to exercise and challenge your brain to keep it in the best shape possible. I love reading and research. And by research, I mean that I love to "look things up" online. Google and Wikipedia are my friends. I can spend hours looking up random things online, learning about subjects that I've always wondered about. Isn't it amazing how much information we have at our fingertips? 


10. Setting small, reachable goals


I can dream and imagine all the things I want to achieve, health and fitness wise, as much as I want, but if I don't set small, specific goals for myself, they usually stay just that; dreams. As much as I love to make lists, I don't write down my fitness and health goals. That would feel too much like a diet to me, and I'd probably feel restricted and more likely to fail. 


Instead, I set small, specific goals for myself. I don't tell anyone about it, it's my own personal challenge. For example, on a Sunday evening I'll set a goal for myself to only use stairs where possible the next week, or to not drink any alcohol for a month, or to eat three fruits that day. It's a lot easier reaching small goals on a regular basis, than setting ridiculous, most-likely-to-fail goals for yourself like losing 5kg in a month. Most likely, you won't succeed and you'll feel discouraged. Also, I don't beat myself up when not reaching a goal.




I think the key to being healthy, fit and happy is to stop looking for a quick fix and to incorporate some small, easy health and fitness habits into your daily life. Find what works for you and stick with it. Stop comparing yourself to others, as everyone has different body types, metabolisms, genes, lifestyles and goals. Just be the best version of yourself and take care of your mind and body to the best of your ability.



What easy-to-do health and fitness habits have you incorporated into your daily life? 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Neutral Sweaters for Fall/Winter 2012


When I think about fall and winter, I think about snuggling under a warm blanket, watching movies, drinking Rooibos tea, and of course, all while wearing a comfy warm sweater.

Last year, I lost my sweater-loving mind and bought about ten new ones in preparation for the cold months. I wore the life out of all of them, as they were perfect for lazing around the house, running errands, brunch with friends and the nice, more fitted, ones got to go to work with me and were even invited on some date nights.

I probably have enough for this year, but I can't help lusting after more sweaters. I don't think I can ever have enough. This year, I'm especially hunting for some comfy and chunky, yet fitted, numbers in neutrals.

Here are some of my favorites, discovered on Pinterest of course.
Waffle Crew neck sweater by Peter Jensen
Fitted cable knit sweater
Cambrigde cable zip crew-neck sweater by J.Crew
Chunky cable knit sweater
Fitted cable jumper from Boden
Oversized chunky sweater
Cable knit sweater
Eyelet embellished knit sweater from She Inside
*Note: I was about to order this sweater and decided to do some research on the company (sheinside.com). I only read bad reviews online, so would advise against purchasing from this site. Bummer.
Comfy loose knit sweater
Do you like wearing sweaters? Which one is your favorite?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Summer Scenes 2012

Yes, I'm still not over our awesome summer vacation, and yes, here are some more photos taken on our travels. Enjoy!

From the viewing deck of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
A desert sunset next to the Burj Khalifa. (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
An ancient archway at the ruins of Ephesus. (Kusadasi, Turkey)
Ponte Vecchio, the old bridge. (Florence, Italy)
The majestic Blue Mosque. (Istanbul, Turkey)
Blue door, white walls and bougainvillea. (Mykonos, Greece)
Blue Mediterranean meets the old city (Nice, France)
An obelisk outside the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia (Istanbul, Turkey)
The Leaning Tower of Pisa (Pisa, Italy)
The remains of an ancient city (Pompeii, Italy)
The Apostolic Palace (Vatican City)
River streets and bridges (Venice, Italy)
The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia (Barcelona, Spain)
Parthenon (Athens, Greece)
Inside the Blue Mosque (Istanbul, Turkey)
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Water streets (Venice, Italy)
Colosseum (Rome, Italy)
Which photo is your favorite?

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