Sunscreen Comparison: The Honest Co. vs BurnOut

As mentioned in a previous blog post, I am a fan of the brand BurnOut when it comes to sunscreen. However, since I’ve become an affiliate of The Honest Company, I decided to give their mineral sunscreen a try as well.IMG_4559.jpg

<Photographed from left to right: SPF 35 by BurnOut, SPF30 Ocean Tested by BurnOut, and SPF 50 by The Honest Co>

The verdict?

  • Greasiness — Winner: BurnOut Although it says “non-greasy” The Honest Co sunscreen does feel slightly greasier than the BurnOut sunscreens.
  • SPF — Winner: The Honest Co.The SPF level for The Honest Co sunscreen is 50 which is higher than the BurnOut brand varieties I use (which range fro SPF 30-35)
  • Ingredients — It’s a tie. Like BurnOut, The Honest Co sunscreen is a physical sunscreen where the active ingredient is zinc oxide, which blocks sun rays from the surface of the skin rather than chemical sunscreens where they get absorbed into the skin.
  • Price Tag —  Winner: The Honest Co. The Honest Co. sunscreen is listed at $13.95 on their website whereas the BurnOut sunscreens I use are listed at $17.99 on their website.

So I think I’ll continue to use BurnOut for application on the face (for a less greasier feel) and use The Honest Co sunscreen for the body. And BurnOut does have a sunscreen specifically for the face too, which is an added bonus.

Like those photographs that are shown to you at the Orthodontist’s when you get braces of what could happen if you do a great job vs a horrible job at maintaining them, those comparison photos of what happens long term when you wear sunscreen vs when you don’t have always instilled fear in me. Luckily, it has resulted in great-looking teeth and skin to this day so it’s served me well.

So here’s to skin protection,



My Rainbow Sherbet Dress

I had a rainbow sherbet phase during my childhood of getting that flavor at the ice cream scoop shop that was set up inside the local pharmacy my parents used to take me to. This dress does take me back to those memories:


It’s still a bit early to wear this dress out but I think it’ll be a great spring/summer piece with the pastels. I coordinated the colors of the shoes and the hat with the colors in the dress. Since the shoes have print, I kept the hat fairly simple. Likewise, if I had chosen simpler shoes I would allow myself to go more ornate with the hat/fascinator accessory.

I do plan on using this dress again for a photoshoot in the near future for potential photos to use in my next book (for the author’s photo). It is exciting to have these visions that I am working towards. In general, it’s important to have things to look forward to in life and be excited about them. And when I pick out items to wear, I want to feel excited to wear them — so much so that I take photos of myself wearing them even before I actually get a chance to wear them for a professional photo shoot.

– M


Book Review: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

IMG_4441This was a book that I had seen on a lot of must-read or will-read lists. So when the book club ladies chose this one for the month of February, I was pleased to know that I would get to find out what all the fuss was about.

I live in a region in California where it is densely populated by well-educated and financially well off people, a land of tech companies like Google and Apple. Ironically, like the up/coming cities in the midwest, there are a lot of transplants here in the Bay Area too. The difference is that many of those transplants are from other countries more or so than a few select domestic cities & states like the places Vance mentions. Vance explains that the “Hillbilly transplants” like that of his family in the south or the midwest shared the same culture of the same food, religion, etc.

The book and the author did admittedly remind me of someone and that person’s family that fit the description closely in some ways. And it made me rethink the difficulty of being a transplant as a fellow American rather than as a foreigner. I always thought that being from another country would be more difficult for obvious reasons. But in a place like the Bay Area where everyone seems to be from other countries too, being a so-called Hillbilly transplant makes you even more foreign in comparison.

I also think about the description of these hillbillies not being motivated to work and blaming the government or some outside circumstance of them not having work or how systems that allow people to take advantage of welfare to raise the ever-growing number of children people have that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. In a place like the Bay Area, people come from other countries are hungry to work and work harder in order to achieve the American Dream. Children here are encouraged (and often times forced) by their parents to take AP (advanced placement) classes in high school while also running for class president and training for the olympics in whatever sport they end up pursuing. The bar is set very high and when you’re going to school with other children who reach high, it’s hard to avoid not feeling the pressure to do the same.

The other thing about having a family from another country is that you tend to be raised bilingual (if not, trilingual or with even more languages). So even if you do decide to learn another language in high school (which, in my opinion, should start much sooner) I think it’s much easier to learn a third language. On top of that, children like me were sent to Japanese school on Saturdays. And attending school 6 days out of the week does accumulate over the period of twelve years.

In addition, we had a concentrated 2 week period of Japanese school everyday before being released for “summer break” during the time in which I was often sent to the country of Japan to attend school there until they finally went into summer break in August (schools in Japan usually have only the month of August off in the summer). Since the weekly Japanese school I attended here in the states followed the same curriculum as Japan, we would cover one week’s worth of curriculum done in Japan each Saturday. So whenever I was sent to go to school in the country of Japan, the pace actually felt very slow in comparison.

Needless to say, family background and upbringing can very much make a difference. It makes a difference between coming from a family where they expect you to do better than your previous generation vs a family where there is no expectation. And children watch what their parents (or older role model) do. I have never seen or heard of my parents becoming physically violent with each other and it’s always a bit of a shock for me whenever I go to another person’s family gathering where even a heated argument might arise here and there. So it makes sense that someone like Vance who has experienced the opposite in his family would find it just as shocking to experience a non-yelling, peaceful family gathering.

Even though those of us who live in a place like the Bay Area are exposed to so many different cultures from around the world, it is important to realize that it can be very easy to stay in that bubble very much like it is for so-called Hillbillies to never experience other cultures other than their own.

Here’s to keeping our eyes open,



Channeling My Inner Dorothy

IMG_4435.JPGI live in my own little world when it comes to fashion and I wear what I feel like wearing in this fantasy world. So when I saw these glittery red pumps they immediately took me back to memories of watching the film Wizard of Oz, Dorothy clicking her shoes together to go back home. I purchased them on Valentine’s Day as a gift to myself so I decided to pay homage to that with the subtle heart print black tights.

I sported 3 different looks for different settings/occasions of where I would wear the shoes to,  incorporating purple + black + white into the color scheme:

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Dark purples work well in this case because it’s not quite black but there is still a subtle color contrast without taking the glittery attention off the red shoes. A dark blue (in place of the purple) would also work similarly well. But I feel like the purple & red combination is a bit more underused.

I purchased them in a size 5 UK but found them to be a bit loose on me so I will be sending them back for a smaller size exchange. I’m usually a size 7.5 US, which is equivalent to a size 5.5 UK so going down to a size 4UK would be the equivalent of sizing all the way down to a size 6 US, which seems small. So if you’re thinking about getting these yourself, I would advise you to get them a whole size smaller than what you normally would get.

In addition to the size exchange of the shoes, I’ve added a new item to the shopping cart for my upcoming shipment from ModCloth that makes me think of rainbow sherbet and unicorns. So stay tuned for a likely future posting of yet another look I would sport in this fantasy world of mine that I bring with me to the real world.

Because my motto is to look like a princess but not act like one.


My Watsonville-Capitola Day Trip Adventures

The day started off at the Roses of Yesterday and Today in Watsonville for a picnic lunch. To our slight disappointment, the roses were not blooming yet. It is free to go inside and look around. And the nice balance between a little sunshine showing through the shades of trees that surround the rose garden combined with the quiet serenity really made it for a relaxing spot. I am so going back when the roses are in bloom! IMG_4733

The second stop was at the Martinelli’s Company Store where we tasted soooo many different kinds of cider and juice flavors that we didn’t even know Martinelli’s made (some of them were exclusively available at this company store too). It’s really like wine tasting minus the alcohol and it’s also free *wink*wink*

There were some limited edition items in their store too since Martinelli’s is celebrating their 150th anniversary!


The company store also has a mini museum display of rare photos and artifacts:


We also got to pose in front of this former door that is now on display inside the company store (below). The staff person pointed out that “Watsonville” was misspelled as “Watsonvill” on the door:


The views in Capitola was just gorgeous no matter where we went. The weather made it so pleasant to be by the beach:

And the shops there were charming and unique. I spotted a very sensual display of women’s body parts made into these sculptured pieces inside one of the stores:


The day concluded with a delicious dinner at Shadowbrook Restaurant where I did not take any photographs but if you go to their website you do get a very good “picture” of how scenic and gorgeous their location is. The fact that you descend down into the restaurant via a gondola ride is another unique, charming touch — just like the town it’s in.

Thank you Watsonville and Capitola — for a wonderful time!


More Elephants and Roses

As I continue to work on books #2 and #3, I think I’m continuing to attract elephants and roses as my latest ModCloth purchase ended up being an elephant print robe and a rose print blazer.

Elephant Robe:

I guess it’s a bit funny since I purchased a rose print bathrobe a few months ago (mentioned in this previous blog posting where I am already sporting 2 different outfits that have rose prints on them). I am a fan of the hood that comes with this one, though I admittedly have a bit of a quirky side when it comes to when/when not to have hoods:

  • I am NOT a fan of hoods on winter coats typically because I find that it tends to add unnecessary bulk
  • BUT I do often wear at least one layer (ie. jacket) over my workout clothes when I walk to the gym in the mornings that has a hood on it that I do utilize.

It might also be because when I’m wearing regular [non-workout] clothes I often will wear a hat or a fascinator already on top of my head so hoods on coats aren’t necessary. Whereas, I wouldn’t ruin a nice hat or a fascinator when I’m trying to work up a sweat from a workout.

The Blazer + A-Line Dress Vs. The Blazer + Wiggle Dress:

I did sport both types of dresses with/without the fascinator. And I felt like it would be an overkill if I posted 4 varieties with the same blazer so I’m posting just 1 look of each dress.

You could wear pink shoes to accent the dress colors, but since the blazer is black I went with simple & plain black tights and shoes. I usually try to pick one piece in an outfit that I want to showcase to keep it from becoming too busy – And in this case, I’m trying to showcase the blazer.

IMG_4138It continues to be the Year of the Rose for me, but February is the month of roses for many of those who celebrate Valentine’s Day. I’ve always associated the holiday with my mother so it’s not the traditional, romantic-kind-of-love celebration. But I think it’s wonderful to celebrate love that comes in the many different forms it comes in. And for me, I continue to celebrate every week by buying these gorgeous flowers for myself.

Wishing you all love,


Book Review: Endurance by Scott Kelly

I admittedly had never heard of Scott Kelly nor his twin brother Mark (who is also an astronaut) prior to reading this book. Though I do recall seeing and hearing in the news about Mark Kelly’s wife Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords being shot in 2011.

Personally, I have no interest in ever going to outer space myself but I did find reading about the experience(s) very interesting. It made me appreciate all that we take for granted for living on this Earth and not having to worry about things like having to strap ourselves from flying off a treadmill or having an ample supply of oxygen to breath. Scott Kelly also describes the craving for fresh produce during long periods of not having access to such supplies coming in and the very last “real meal” or “real shower” he got to enjoy prior to his departure.

As someone who goes to the farmers market religiously every weekend, I would definitely struggle with the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables… In fact, Scott Kelly’s list of things he requested for his fiancé to have ready for him to enjoy upon his return home after his year-long journey in space consisted of basically different varieties of beverages (ie. Gatorade, beer, etc.) and fresh fruits and vegetables (ie. strawberries, salad). And I loved that the first thing he did when he got home was jump into his swimming pool still wearing his flight suit, just like he said he would- And that he would never take water for granted again.

None of the book club ladies that were in attendance at the book club meeting to discuss this book were able to finish reading the book in time for the meeting (I had one more chapter left which I got to finish reading this afternoon after the book club meeting). We purposely chose this book to read for both the month of December and January since we usually don’t meet in December due to the holidays and saw how long this book was (369 pages without the Index). BUT we all agreed that it IS a very interesting read and that with more time we would have probably been able to finish reading it. So it is a highly recommended read.

I personally enjoyed the incredible photos that were in the book too and the diagrams of the International Space Station and such were very helpful to reference to. Since the book was also about his life leading up to the year-long space mission, there was a lot of going back and forth from chapter to chapter of different time periods. And I was impressed by his honesty of telling his life story the way he did. He was very candid about his marriage, divorce, family, his struggle with school, etc.

In the book Scott Kelly gives acknowledgement many times over to Tom Wolfe for changing his life forever by inspiring his pursuit to become a navy pilot and astronaut from the moment he picked up Wolfe’s book The Right Stuff at the age of 18. It made me want to pick up a copy myself so it is now on my list of books to read.

I continue to nourish my soul with great books to read and gorgeous roses. The white roses I purchased this morning coincided with the headlines I read online just minutes ago in regards to the statement celebrities were apparently making tonight at the Grammy Awards by wearing white roses for the #TIMESUP campaign. Whether it is honoring women or astronauts (or female astronauts), I felt like it was a reminder of how precious and beautiful life and life on Earth can be. So for this week’s documentation of my weekly roses, I present to you all this photo I decided to capture in honor of it all: