Color Inspiration from Sweden: Purple

Before my trip to Sweden this year, I imagined the color blue (as evident from my Swedish-Inspired Dress blog post). But I ended up coming back with some purple instead!

I was so excited about packing my Swedish-inspired dress on the trip, only to be disappointed by the weather forecast that was consistent with the result of a rather cold summer there this year. So I didn’t get to bring the dress nor the shoes with me, unfortunately.

So I put on my purple jacket with the pink piping accent and went on a solo tour of Stockholm. To help me fuel my energy to keep roaming around Stockholm that day, I lunched at a Swedish meatball specialty restaurant, which was on my list of things to cross off on this trip:

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My Find at Lisa Larsson’s Second Hand: Purple Hat 

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Going to Lisa Larsson’s was another item on my Stockholm List. The vividness of the purple hat I got there contrasted wonderfully against the orange bag it was put inside, reminiscent of the now full-on pumpkin-everything season. So I decided to do an orange dress base with the rich purple accessories to match the hat.

<Click here to buy the purple peacock feather pumps I’m wearing in the photo above>

The Unexpected Gift: Purple Bracelet 

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On the trip, I received a shocking amount of gifts from those who wanted to show appreciation for my work as a translator & commentator coming in from the states, one of them being this lovely purple stones bracelet. The lighter purple in this one made me think of this pairing of a white dress base with similar-colored purple accessories like I did with the orange dress.

~Happy Autumn~

-M

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Products Review: Masks & Patches for the Face, Acne, Eyes, & Lips

As mentioned in my blog post for my trip to Canada, I’ve been on a face mask kick lately. And so I thought I’d share my personal experience with the different types of products I’ve since tried:

Face Masks

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I haven’t really found a face sheet mask that I don’t like and have been quite surprised at the quality of the grocery store brand ones like Trader Joe’s (at only $1.99 each). As Korea is a leader in the industry, you find a lot of Korean brands. Most face masks recommend a 15-20 minute time period for leaving the mask on, so I do usually lay in bed with my face mask and cucumber slices on my eyelids post-shower at night. But I have also found 2-5 minute ones too.


Acne & Pimple & Zit Patches

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As you can see from the photo above, I had a much more varying experience when it came to the acne/pimple/zit patches. Again, the Korean brands that I’ve tried have been better.

Excellent: The Peach Slices dots did come with a specification of how long to leave them on for (8 hours) so I just put them on at night after I wash my face and take them off when I wake up. As it says on the instructions, the dots are actually barely noticeable on the skin so you could easily leave them on throughout the day too.

Okay: The Acne Pimple Master Patch by COSRX were alright in the sense that they’re a bit more noticeable on the skin in comparison to the Peach Slices kind and they also were the first ones I tried but didn’t have a very specific time frame to leave them on for (it says to “Replace the patch with a new one when it turns white and has absorbed oils.”) So I was a bit clueless and wasn’t sure if I was even using them correctly.

Horrible: I was so disappointed by how the Yes To brand patches were considering how much I’ve used their other products for the face, hair and body. The dots just break apart when you try to peel them off the backing and the sticky residue gets left behind in a gooey mess as you try to do just that.


Eye Masks & Patches

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I did like that the snail hydrogel eye patches and the beauty 360 branch ones came as multi-packs and were overall packaged the best. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about having snail excretions on my face, but recalled that being a thing mentioned in the film Crazy Rich Asians during Rachel’s makeover for the wedding.  The Chok Chok brand ones did indeed come out looking iridescent in color which was a bit fun. The quality of the patches themselves were overall good for all of them.


Lip Masks

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Out of the three lip masks I tried (as photographed above), I would rank it in the following order:
#1: Aqua Jelly Lip Mask

I like the overall texture of the gel-like patches for both the lips & the eyes the best. And this one fit that bill. It feels a lot less flimsy and more moisturizing compared to just a paper-thin mask. So as a lip mask, I liked this one the best out of the three.

#2: Yes to Coconut 2 step Lip Kit

I did like the step 1 lip exfoliating scrub in this kit, which was a bonus not included in the other two brands I tried. Though with the coconut one, the exfoliant does come in a substantially moisturizing mixture that’s on the heavier side so I would try to avoid getting it on other parts of my face. The mask in the step 2 compartment was a bit more underwhelming.

#3: Burt’s Bees 

I was a bit disappointed with this one as I’ve actually liked the face masks by Burt’s Bees. But when I took out the lip mask it was just a sad piece of paper without any lining. I’m glad I at least bought it at a sale price as I would have been that much more disappointed had I bought it at full price.


Like other things I use on my face and skin, I do need to be careful and read the ingredients on the label to make sure it doesn’t contain chemicals like Benzoyl Peroxide that I am/may be allergic to. Obviously, I would advise anyone else to do the same if about to purchase such products.

-M

My Summer Reads from 2019

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Though I haven’t been blogging as much, it doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing the things I normally do, including my get-togethers with the book club ladies. This time around, I decided to do a compilation of the books I’ve been reading this summer (aka my summer book report):

Movie vs Book: Where’d You Go Bernadette

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The main storyline of the family planning a vacation trip to Antarctica and Bernadette disappearing to Antarctica early to avoid an intervention was the same. Like many book adaptations, the movie was less detailed in the storyline. But since it is a visual illustration of some of the scenes from the book, I was able to understand what had happened better when the scene of consequence caused by yard work and rain was shown in the movie. And of course the majestic beauty of the icebergs in Antartica were wonderfully captured in the movie too. Bernadette’s disappearance remains a mystery to the reader for a good portion of the novel, whereas in the movie the whole story does unfold in a chronological order with the exception of the opening scene. There’s also a longer time lapse between the events that take place in the novel than in the movie (the story in the novel takes place over the course of months whereas in the movie it’s over a few weeks).

Bottom line: If you want to enjoy uncovering a mystery, then read the book. If you want to enjoy a more straightforward story with the visual aspect of scenery, watch the movie.


Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

Screen Shot 2019-09-01 at 10.33.53 PMThis one reminded me very much of the memoir Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance (which we read last year) as the author also beat the odds and decided to go to college (and to very prestigious universities, nonetheless) after never having been to school her whole childhood. But being brought up in a fanatically religious, survivalist household as a woman, there was clearly abuse she had to endure physically and verbally from family and was made to think that she was a “whore” for doing things like performing a dance with a group of girls at their church, while she was also pressured to get married and would have people wondering why she wouldn’t go out with any of the boys from church when asked on dates. That double standard placed on women is not lost even in modern society to a certain degree, of course. Personally, I felt so frustrated that she kept refusing to take scholarships and grants but also felt so badly for her that she was made to think she couldn’t.

Bottom line: It is a heartbreaking memoire and a reminder that many families are dysfunctional but that it is sometimes best to distance yourself from even those you love for your own good and be ready to change your beliefs that you were taught in the process.


Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Screen Shot 2019-09-01 at 10.31.39 PMThis is the first book I ended up reading in one sitting (I started early evening and kept reading into the night until about 2AM). This one is a murder mystery combined with a survival tale that flips back and forth between different time periods (when the murder takes place vs the main character Kya’s childhood). So I think that made me want to keep reading on in order to find out what happened/happens.

I was impressed to find out that this was the author’s first novel (which has become a #1 national best seller) and appreciated all the different animal facts that were presented in the book from her own knowledge/background as a longtime animal scientist working in Africa.

Bottom line: It became a #1 best-seller for a reason. If you want to read a book that you can’t put down, read it.


Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

This one was a heartbreaking novel about a woman’s life that is full of separation, starting with being separated as a little girl from her family for having leprosy and sent to live in a quarantined region on the island of Moloka’i. I didn’t know much about leprosy or the history of Hawaii until I read this book. WWII does happen in the novel later on as well which does bring on more heartbreak and history that I was slightly more familiar with.

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Though I’ve never had leprosy or any medical condition that would have caused people to avoid me like the plague, it actually reminds me of how I’ve recently come to look at my own life and had the same thought as the protagonist Rachel about how even with the unfortunate situations I’ve encountered in my own life that it could have always been worse. And I think that’s one way you can find a way to cope with the lemons thrown your way.

Bottom line: If you are interested in learning more about the history of Hawaii (particularly on this region of Moloka’i and those who were sent to live there because of leprosy) this novel illustrates the lives of those who went through that. I think it’s just as important as learning about what the Native Americans had to go through on the mainland.


It is apparent that the books we’ve been reading have had strong female characters who endure, survive, and then thrive in life (It is a womens’ book club, after all!) I hope to continue to live out the story of my life in such a way as well.

-M

My Swedish-Inspired Dress

For my trip to Sweden, I decided to get myself this dress + shoes that depicts my personal image of the country:

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THE DRESS: There aren’t any zippers or buttons as the waist area is elasticized, which can be good or bad, depending on your personal preference. I personally prefer dresses that still come with a zipper even when elasticized as I think it helps preserve the elastic a bit better long term. The length of the size small hits just below the knee and comes with a bit of a side slit on both sides, which I do like.

THE SHOES: I got a pair of white lacy heels with white ribbons and replaced it with blue ribbons to match the color of the blue accent & ribbon on the dress:

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Hence, you will all most likely see these shoes make an occasional reappearance with different colored ribbons. I also have come to like the versatility of close-toed pumps as I am able to wear them both with and without tights, depending on the temperature of the weather.

Stay tuned for a separate blog posting documenting the actual trip.

-M

Travel Adventures: New York & Canada

I attended a wedding in New York last month which was followed by a trip to Canada to visit a friend of mine who is expecting a bundle of joy soon.

Having become accustomed to living in the forrest, the honking and noise in general in New York City was definitely a bit foreign to me. I stayed on Wall Street and was awoken the first day while napping away my jet lag by the constant noise of the gonging church bells from the famous Trinity Church that I saw peeking out amongst the high rise buildings during a walk. I did get to appreciate great quality architecture in both New York in Canada on this trip and my fascination for interesting looking doors was fed.

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In fact, the charming Victorian home I stayed in Canada had these antique doorknobs with keys and all, which was very much reminiscent of the charming wallet that I recently got that evokes a sense of  travel adventure of its own:

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I did visit Niagara Falls for the first time on this trip. At first glance, when I saw a whole bunch of white things floating around on the water from a distance I was disgusted thinking that people had littered the water, but then realized when I got there up close that the white things were actually pieces of ice floating (it was that cold still).

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IMG_6914It still felt like spring though when my friend took me to the Botanical Gardens by the falls. Another travel-appropriate purchase I had just made was appropriately enough a floral insulated lunch bag.

It was Easter so there were also adorable live chicks and other shops in the Old Town screamed pastel.

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57602802_349049542623418_1105271402258235392_nOn this trip, I also became hooked on face masks and have since then decided to trade in my monthly facial memberships for this more economical [and possibly more effective] beauty regiment option.

While I believe in traveling in style, I also make sure I got my slippers and robe for down time.

Happy Spring!

-M

Book Review: On Love by Alain de Button + Film Review: Isn’t It Romantic

To go with Valentines Day for the month of February, the book club ladies took on my suggestion of reading Alain de Button’s fictional novel On Love. Although this book is labeled as a novel, it is written unlike any novel I’ve ever read. The love story is narrated by a character who shares intricate inner thoughts, clearly armed with the knowledge of the author’s background of psychology. So it did make us all wonder if the love interest Sophie was based on someone the author had dated in real life.

The mood of the novel does remind you somewhat of the film (500) Days of Summer where it goes through the whole cycle of a romantic relationship a man becomes invested in only to have his heart broken in the end with moments of humor here and there, all while you analyze what went wrong or when things start to clearly go wrong.

I originally became interested in reading On Love after watching hilarious talks the author gave about the book and on the topic of romantic relationships. It did seem like the book club ladies who also either watched or listened to the author in his Ted Talk or a podcast all shared the same sentiment in that they could hear the author’s voice narrating the novel as they read it and found it just as hilarious.

Here’s the video I watched of him talking about the idea behind his novel that made me want to read the book:

For the month of March, the book club ladies decided to read Where’d You Go Bernadette with the anticipation of the film release the same month but were disappointed by the news that the movie release date has been delayed by a few more months. So instead, we decided to go watch Isn’t It Romantic starring Rebel Wilson that came out in February to go along with the theme of our book from that month as well.

A few years ago, I did watch the film How to Be Single which also starred Rebel Wilson and came out for Valentine’s Day and I blogged about it here as well. The themes of learning to love yourself first in these films resonate with me deeply, as I have continued to choose to live my life as a single woman who now enjoys the healthy balance between quality friendships and the peaceful solitude of the cottage in the woods that I get to call home.

To clarify, I’m not anti-romance. I do think romance can come in different forms. A look can be romantic (as you can see from the pink rose gloves below I wore to the movie theater on my hands that handed out matching pink roses and green tea chocolate chip cookies in honor of it being St. Patrick’s Day).

IMG_6770.jpgI handed out the items as favors for the book club ladies in attendance of the movie outing and I think doing “romantic” things for your girlfriends is wonderful.

Like the comedy film I Feel Pretty starring Amy Schumer, I also liked that this film did tackle the concept of physical beauty being subjective or objective and superficial. Why can’t a woman who looks like Rebel Wilson end up with a man who looks like Liam Hemsworth? And why can’t a man who looks like Adam Devine end up with a woman who looks like Priyanka Chopra? It’s all possible. And it’s also possible to be happy and single.

-M

Kimono Refashioned Exhibit

People obviously often associate me with fashion-related matter, though I also occasionally have people who come up to me in excitement to share things that are related to the Japanese culture as well. So it wasn’t too much of a surprise that fellow blogger of Greeneroo.com asked me to join her for a visit to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco for a Kimono Refashioned Exhibit.

The Evening Gowns 

The western style dresses made with the kimono fabric were my personal favorites. And these two were the favorite picks amongst them:

1.) Peek-A-Boo of Red

While neither of us felt like the big bow in the middle was not necessary, we did agree the if the bow had been red to match the peeking red from the bottom it would have been wonderful.

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2.) The Royal Colors

Purple is my favorite color and pairing it with the gold swirly pattern did make it look extra royal.  The neckline for this one looks good on everyone but I do think when you go more conservative like this in the front it’s great to have a plunging backside to contrast.

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The Modern Practical Look

I love color but the understated elegance of this silver grey and black with the way it conveys an outerwear & scarf made it standout for me.IMG_6752

The Victorian Look

The 1800s was a time when western fashion started becoming more incorporated into mainstream fashion in Japan so I thought the Victorian looks with the kimono material/patterns was an appropriate fusion. Though I did always think that the exaggeration of the lower half via the Crinoline skirt hoops was ridiculous.

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As you can see from the banner in the background of the photo below that was taken in front of the museum, the Kimono Refashioned Exhibit is going on at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum until May 5th so don’t miss it if you’re interested!

– M

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