Flight Attendant Look to Nautical Look

I purchased a white pillbox hat for a flight attendant look as a prop for a virtual class I was teaching. It didn’t feel like an overly ridiculous purchase even during the pandemic, as I figured it would be something I would continue to wear from time to time and the price tag was doable at $24.99

For fun, I decided to use the hat to create this nautical look, emulating a sailor’s hat. Though I realized that the last fashion blog post pre-quarantine I did here was also on a nautical-inspired fashion look.

Since the stores are still closed I also needed to give in and purchase new slippers online. So I decided to get slippers that were also nautical themed to match my anchor-themed bathroom. Though I grew up with some Japanese influence, I haven’t gone as far as having these slippers become designated bathroom slippers yet.

In another virtual class I recently taught, I utilized one of the bathroom towels with an anchor design stitched on. So I started off the class by sharing a quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes:

“Greatness is not in where we stand, but where we are headed. We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it – but sail we must, and not drift nor lie at anchor.”

I reflected on how it’s been important for me to have that balance between the feeling of still having some sense of freedom of being able to sail away to virtual classes all around the world while also having that thing or person/people that helps you feel grounded (anchored) so that you feel a sense of normalcy during these abnormal times.

So to those of you who read this — I wish you both a great sense of adventure & journey of wherever this pandemic may take you and that comfort of whatever/whoever may act as your anchor to help you through it all.

-M

Quarantine Crafting Edition: Tea Tin Soy Candles

Living up in the mountains the last two years, I have gone through several power outages. So I am grateful that during this quarantine situation, that the power has not gone out yet on top of it all.

One of the luxuries that I realized I miss the most whenever the power does go out is the ability to make a nice hot cup of tea. So looking at the many empty tea tins I have accumulated over time, I decided to make good use of them by turning them into containers for the soy candles I made for the very first time using this starter kit:

IMG_8607

IMG_8613

Step 1: Melting the soy candle wax

I poured the candle wax into a non-stick sauce pan and melted it over another non-stick frying pan with water in it (double-boiler situation like you would with melting down chocolate)

Screen Shot 2020-04-05 at 10.05.06 PM

Step 2: Pour, set, sprinkle! 

Pour in the melted soy candle wax into the prepared tea tins (make sure the wicks are centered) and let it set. If you want, I did sprinkle into a few of them tea leaves (which is best done when the wax is starting to set but not yet completely).

Screen Shot 2020-04-05 at 10.17.14 PM

Gift Ideas 

I am now gifting these to people who are purchasing gift certificates from me during this time when we could all be using some “positivi-tea”

IMG_8631

Wishing all of you all Positivi-Tea during this time,

M

Quarantine Fashion Edition: Custom-Length Sweatpants

Some people aren’t wearing pants at home right now during quarantine. But if you are, you’re most likely in sweats or something very comfortable and stretchy.

The last several months I’ve purchased 2 pairs of these custom-length sweatpants in grey and black now:

D57CFF02-D8D4-4D98-8F3B-8DEDE3B21260

(the photos are of me wearing the grey pair)

By “custom-length” it does actually mean a bit of a DIY which can range from you simply cutting across with scissors right under the seam marker where you want the length to be or taking the extra step I took by sewing up that fold for a more finished look. Compare the before & after:

Screen Shot 2020-03-25 at 10.58.50 AM

Here is the difference between a simple cut below the seam marker with a pair of fabric scissors (I highly recommend using a pair or scissors that are primarily used for cutting fabric) vs that followed by a fold & sew:

IMG_8194Whether you want the finished look to be A or B, you have to make a cut across the hem. The difference is if you want to do A, you would make the cut clean and right where you want the pants hem to end. Whereas, for B you would not have to worry about making the cut perfect and you would cut slightly lower so that you have that extra length to fold before you sew.

To Fold & Sew:

If you look at the side seams carefully, you will find several side seams going across them to mark those different length options you can choose from to determine where to cut under:

Screen Shot 2020-03-27 at 2.19.30 PM

To make the black pair just like the grey pair (to which I made the custom-length adjustments already via the fold & sew method), I made the cut (leaving that extra room for folding), folded it to where I want the end result hem to be, and then placed a hot iron over the fold (I did put a cotton handkerchief in between the iron and the pants just in case) to clearly define the hemline.

5EBE5E5A-8BEA-4B57-BC9B-E14270DA0C86

Screen Shot 2020-03-29 at 5.33.20 PM

I know it’s trying times for many, many people all around the world right now going through this Pandemic. If you would like to gift yourself or someone else you are currently having to be apart from during this time the practical gift of comfortable clothing to wear at home and outside of the house too once this is all over, do it!

-M

Book Review: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

It has been several months since I last posted a blog. To everyone who is quarantined during the pandemic of coronavirus/covid-19 and trying to enjoy some leisure reading, I will take the time to try to do a few book reviews in hopes of being helpful.

Per my suggestion the book club chose for the month of January to read City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert.

IMG_8373

The author is best known for her best-selling book Eat Pray Love but the only other book by her that I have read prior to this one is Big Magic (which I wrote a review for back in 2015). It admittedly is one of the reasons why I felt compelled to read this one as I really did enjoy Big Magic. Though City of Girls is a fictional novel set in the 1940s vs Eat Pray Love and Big Magic were about the author’s personal experiences.

Since the book club is a women book club we do seem to gravitate towards books about women in general. The book was written in the form of a very, very long response from protagonist Vivian Morris to the letter she received in 2010 from Angela, the daughter of a mystery man from her past. Angela writes to Vivian letting her know that her mother has passed away and asks what she was to her father who had passed away 33 years prior.

Vivian Morris’ letter/story starts as her being a 19-year old rebellious college drop-out who is consequently sent to go live with her eccentric aunt who runs a run-down theater in New York City in 1940. Coming from a privileged background, Vivian is hit with quite the cultural shock of the wild show business lifestyle in contrast to the rich good girl standards she was accustomed to. Like many compulsive teenagers, she makes poor choices that ultimately lead to consequences. So the book club ladies and I started off the book discussion with the ice breaker question(s):

“What stupid thing(s) did you do when you were younger?”

“When was the first time you felt like an adult?”

A lot of the book club ladies were not the most sympathetic to Vivian’s character as she did come from a privileged background and her separation of sexual desire from emotional connection did not resonate with some of the ladies. And the moral question of having an emotional vs a physical affair with someone who is married was controversial. But it was apparent that like many women, she starts off her young adult life with insecurities of a teenage girl and transforms into a woman who pursues a lifelong career.

The identity of the mystery man is not revealed until much later in the book which did make for finding out who it was exciting. And the consensus of the book club was that the stories within the book were constantly keeping us wanting to know what happens next in general. And for that, I would give the book an A-

Between the 1940s, the 1960s & 70s to the current era, there was definitely an illustration of standards for women, marriages, sex, etc. during each time period in the novel. Given that, it’s apparent that the life choices that many of the women in the novel make were not considered conventional. But it certainly makes for an interesting life.

~ So this one is for all of you ladies who choose a path less taken~

-M

Update April 18th, 2020: I came across these photos that the author Elizabeth Gilbert posted on her Instagram page of 18-94 year old Norma Amigo, the woman who was the inspiration behind the novel (The one of her as a 94 year old is photographed with the author):

 

Nautical Inspiration

My friend Lateef recently did one of the most thoughtful things anyone has ever done for me, and that is designing this dress especially for me to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Shorinji Kempo branch I’ve been training at this year:

IMG_8074

IMG_7692I initially has planned on wearing my other sparkly red slippers but it had started to come apart so I decided to air on the safe side and got new ones. These new ones had higher heels and the toe area had more under cushion to it so it was a winner in my book.

Overall, I decided to go with a black & white nautical-inspired look so the red shoes did pop!

On top of that, my ever nautical-themed bathroom recently welcomed the addition of anchor print shower curtains:

D65D2788-CF36-424B-93C6-24A3CC6AAC5F

It is all about so-called “Fall Fashion” this time of the year in the fashion industry, but like the Nautical Look, some styles are just timeless and can be versatile to wear any time of the year.

Hopefully Forever Timeless,

M

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:

IMG_7375.jpg

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

3B14BCC9-C6E9-41BD-AED7-241E122F6692

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 

43C541A5-15CE-4869-921E-E3F965AEA60F

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

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

IMG_7171.jpg

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

Screen Shot 2019-06-12 at 5.04.52 PM.png

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

IMG_7390.jpg

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

IMG_7402.jpg

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

IMG_7436

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

Screen Shot 2019-09-01 at 10.16.00 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2019-09-01 at 10.35.16 PM

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:

IMG_7149

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:

Screen Shot 2019-06-05 at 1.04.45 PM

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.

55ADEB11-325A-4D69-B5FC-37F22A44CA58

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:

F184CCD2-2D04-4E50-BFAF-E2FFDE97EED3

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).

IMG_6870.jpg

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.

IMG_6879

5A91C209-99ED-41DC-95D7-3D60464B379C.JPG

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