Sunday, September 27, 2015

FOTD: In-Between Days in Olive and Peach

[Products featured were purchased by me, except *, which was a prize in a social media contest.]

I kind of love these last warm days of summer - the in-between days, when I can wear a long-sleeved shirt over brightly colored summer shorts. Don't get me wrong - I love autumn - but every moment can be savored.

I said I was favoring a clean, bright lips-only look lately, but of course, variety is the spice of life and all that, and I got the hankering to try something different. I pulled out my Shiseido Opera trio, to showcase that gorgeous olive.
Old photo - review found here. It looks much more well loved now, ha.

I layered the olive shade in the trio over Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in Khaki (over NARS primer, to really bring out all the glow). I just messily applied Khaki all over the lid, patted it out with a finger, and then patted the olive shade on top. Then I blended it all out with the gold shade in the trio, and applied liquid liner and mascara.

For cheeks, I used Guerlain Sun Shimmer Highlighting Blush in Sunny Pink*, swept a bit of Laura Mercier Rose Rendezvous along cheekbones, forehead, and Cupid's bow, then finished with peachy, barely-there lips with Dior Addict in Frimousse (new formula).
Base: Makeup Forever Ultra HD Foundation Stick in 125, used more as a concealer, and MAC Pro-longwear concealer under eyes (NW25).

The fresh lip color seems summery, but also a great counterpart to more autumnal olive-gold eyes. I love this lipstick, let me tell you.

It's about balance, I suppose (like a long-sleeved top to compensate for shorts). I think my collection is nice and varied and supplies me with the opportunity to change it up, as I like to do. But I've also got some sturdy favorites that help me keep to a more streamlined, go-to approach, if I need that, as well. It's really less about the products themselves and more about what I get out of them, each in their own way. Keeps things fun, while still providing variety (I hope!) for the blog. Eternal in-betweenness, I suppose. What motivates you to blog? Do you enjoy the in-between period of weather, or prefer cut and dry seasons?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Our Vacation in Korea, Pt I: Good Eats

I promised travel posts, and of course I am going to start with food.

(If you were expecting otherwise - dude, do you even know me?)

S. and I spent ten days in Korea; we stayed with my parents, who are temporarily living overseas for work. They live about an hour south of Seoul (by train). We also stayed in a hotel in Seoul for two nights, but transportation is so easy in Korea, we had no problem making day trips to Seoul by train from my parents' apartment on other days as well.
Clockwise from top left: mum's homemade banchan (side dishes that go with a meal),
patbingsu from a coffee place (finely shaved ice with milk and ice cream, fruit and other toppings),
traditional dduk (rice cake) from a famous place in Jongno near Insadong,
bibimnaengmyun and mulnaengmyun - cold summer noodles, eaten at the top of N Seoul Tower. 

My mother is Korean, so I grew up on a lot of Korean food - my spice tolerance is high. I've also been to Korea several times in the past, so I have a lot of favorites that I was looking forward to eating again. This was S.'s first time there, but he loves Korean food and can cook some of it, which has endeared him to my mother, who has finally despaired of teaching me to cook.

(And not a moment too soon - I'm a baking enthusiast only, thanks.)
Top row, L-R: Samgyetang - each individual serving of soup contains a small boiled whole chicken stuffed with dates, ginseng, rice and garlic; cappuccinos at a beach town - we had some great coffee in Korea, where coffee culture is also big; food at a bunshik, which serves kimbap and dukbokee (and my favorite, radukbokee - ramen noodles in dukbokee), udon and other quick snack type foods.
Middle: Korean convenience stores have the best drinks and ice cream, dude. (Funnily enough, they are all 7-11s and CU now, ha).
Bottom, L-R: Shabu Shabu; Korean fried chicken and pickled turnips (this is the BEST fried chicken, seriously); pillowy honey toast, smothered in caramel and whipped cream...which I ate at least twice while I was there.

The food we ate was a mix of guilty pleasures on the street as well as more typical restaurant offerings. Korea - and Seoul, especially - has a great street food culture; you can't go two steps without running into another ajumma with her cart full of goodies. Drinking culture is also big there, so a lot of places open late (it's common for even coffee shops not to open until noon) and stay open into the wee hours.
Bossam, which gets its own photo because I love it - it's pork, boiled with spices, and served with a bunch of sauces. It is much better than it sounds (boiled pork sounds kind of odd, no?) and I might like it even better than ssamgyupsal...

Incidentally, this is why I said I wasn't bothered with shopping - who has the time? Seriously, I was sad that we had to pass a bunch of carts (selling delicious goodies like hoddeok, squid, kimbap, dukbokee, fruit juices and ices - everything) because I was already full. S. just rolled his eyes as I lamented the lost opportunities all down the street.
A "Mandoo House" - one of the many, many, many vendors at Namdaemun market.

By the way - truck stops in Korea are amazing. They sell all kinds of things (like walnut balls! hot meals!), and the bathrooms are clean. Definitely way better than anything you'd find in the US.
At O'Sulloc teahouse in Invading (the tea is from a plantation on Jeju island).
Which isn't to say that everything there is clean. The streets are pretty garbage free, due to street cleaners and good maintenance, but a lot of restaurants and vendors are hole-in-the-wall type places, and well...they look like hole-in-the-walls.
A green chile burger in the "luxe foodcourt" Gourmet 494, at the bottom of a really high-end department store in Gangnam-do (yes, that Gangnam. That song is a satire, by the way.)

The basement floors of most luxe department stores (Lotte, Galleria) contain massive upscale food courts with all kinds of goodies - a lot of western food and non-traditional Korean options.

When we travel, we like to eat the local fare as much as possible, but part of the experience of another country is also to sample what's popular, trendy or their variations of American food, because they usually put a spin on it - fusion, as it were. So when we visited Gourmet 494 at the bottom of Galleria Apgujeong in Gangnam, we had no qualms about trying a burger and chili cheese fries (also, why isn't white grape soda sold here? I had it as a kid in Korea and have always liked it better than purple Welch's here). The burger was good - moist and juicy and I'm glad we tried it.
Another patbingsu, this time from Sulbing, which is a popular chain that specializes in this dessert. That's another thing - we generally avoid chains in the US, and while I still prefer independent restaurants and shops abroad, sometimes chains are convenient. And I have to admit that I'm sometimes curious to see what is hyped in other countries, so we usually stop by one or two. Plus, this is my mom's favorite place to get patbingsu.

Finally, the cost. I will say that we spent most of our money on food (other than some bigger ticket clothing items, like a nice trench coat and blazer for S.). Food used to be cheaper in Korea, I think, and the bunshiks and street vendors still are - you can get a lot of cheap, hot food for a few thousand won. Restaurants are definitely on par with US prices (although tipping is not customary there). The major difference was actually at specialty places like coffee shops and bakeries - aside from the chains (Paris Baguette, Tous les Jours, etc.), they're quite pricey. I had a lot of great cappuccinos, but they cost around 4000-8000 ₩ (roughly $3.30 - $6.70 at the current exchange rate, which greatly favors the USD); it was usually more toward the 6000 ₩ mark ($5), which is more than a cappuccino at an indie coffee shop here. Some of our greater food splurges were prolly at coffee shops. Also, they don't offer soy, so I just popped a lot of lactase (in general, Korea is not a great place for accommodating alternative diets or allergies. Also, a lot of restaurants and shops are the 2nd floor or higher in buildings with no elevators, so that can be difficult for those with health problems or those who require accommodations).
We were looking for second breakfast, and the sign said "waffle and gelato," which immediately got S.'s attention. I adore that guy. Also, this cream cheese gelato was amazing. Is there anywhere I can get this flavor in the US?
Oh, well. All worth it. We walked a lot in Seoul (an average of 10-15 miles a day, I'd say...or, sorry, 16-24 km, ha), and also did a lot of walking when we visited historical places, like the Korean Folk Village. It all evened out, and eating and enjoying food is definitely part of the experience. We ate other things (my mum delighted in introducing S. to Korean grapes, which are a pain to eat but quite sweet, and soft peaches, which pretty much explode with juice - I won't eat them, because they're a hideous mess, but S. enjoyed them, and mum was so pleased, ha), and I really enjoyed introducing S. to a lot of foods that I grew up on or experienced as a kid. Basically, this is how we vacation: we eat our way through cities. Seoul is a great one for that.
Damn, now I remember that I wanted a sweet potato latte before we left. I was curious!

If you made it through that (and aren't hungry!), I applaud you! I'll try to round up some sightseeing photos for next time, and I do have the other Etude House products to show you. Have a great Friday!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Etude House Lip Stains & Tints: Sugar Lip Tint in Blackberry Jelly

[Items were all purchased by me. No affiliate links.]

I'll start my brief, whirlwind tour of Korean beauty here, with Etude House's Sugar Tint Balm in Blackberry Jelly.

(Truth: all beauty products with food names are ten times more appealing).
Etude House Sugar Tint Balm in Blackberry Jelly (8000 ₩).
I didn't intend to do a lot of beauty shopping in Korea, and in the end, I came home with three Korean lip products and some sheet masks. The motivator: when I got there, every woman was wearing some form of lip stain/tint, and I was intrigued. My experiences with lip stains in the past has only been with those ultra dry pens, the Becca Beach Tint (also drying on lips) or my homemade concoctions.
Swatch of Etude House Sugar Lip Tint in Blackberry Jelly.

This one is not the classic watery tint (I have one of those to show you later) - it's more of a jelly finish, very modern looking tint. More pigmented than the Fresh tinted balms; it's really more of a lipstick - at least, this shade is. The lighter shades (full selection here) still had a translucency to them, and didn't seem chalky in swatches. I've been wanting a sheer plum, though, for autumn, and this was it.
Wearing Blackberry Jelly. I've been favoring this sort of clean look with a slick, bright lip. Also, we walked a lot out in the sunshine in Korea - I tanned, baby.
It's comfortable to wear and the exchange rate worked in our favor - I think it was about $6.67 at the current exchange rate (8000 ₩). I would say the formula is, er, more buttery smooth than the Revlon lip butters (I disliked those) or any western drugstore equivalent. But I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to buy them up on eBay, or anything, either.
A color/texture comparison with Blackberry Jelly (Sugar Tint Balm) and the Dear Darling Tint in Berry Red.

I wish there were more offerings like this here - more of the jelly finish with a healthy translucence, versus a heavy, creamy texture. It's really representative of the current popular beauty aesthetic that I saw in Korea this summer: an emphasis on a flawless base (cue lots of dewy foundation), barely there eye makeup (if any), and a stained matte or glossy lip.

Not everyone pulled it off beautifully, contrary to what K-pop videos and K-dramas would have us believe - there were some patchy lips here and there, or super parched lips in need of some balm - the same problems that plague us mere mortals! But I think since this stained/jelly lip is more on trend there, there is an abundance of products and much more choice in what you can use to achieve the look. I am a fan of the stained lip, so I picked up a few products. I think this is my favorite of the three, but it's also the most similar to what you could find here in the U.S., so perhaps it's just because I find it to be a more tried and true type of formula and texture. I do like the Dear Darling Tint too, though, and I shall blog about that next. Or next after next. You know how it goes.

Overall, it was lots of fun to see beauty trends manifest in the daily populace in a different country (and also interesting to see that western standards of beauty - e.g.,  promotions featuring Caucasian actresses - were still beaming all over makeup counters) - totally part of the fun of traveling. Do you notice beauty trends when you travel? Do you participate?

(If you're in the US and are looking to try one of these, I see that they are available on Amazon, though I know nothing about this vendor and haven't purchased one this way myself. Not an affiliate link.)

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Fall 2015: Wishlist

[No affiliate links.]

I'm behind on all the things, guys. I am planning to at least draft a few posts this week (MUFE HD Foundation Stick, Etude House Lip Tints, my trip to Korea), but for now, I wanted to start with something easy and fun.

Autumn is my favorite season of the year (boots! Layers! Scarves! Trench coats!) and my birthday is in November, so my parents and S. have already started asking me for gift ideas. Cue season-appropriate wishlist. I think all season turnovers (not just spring) are great times to do a mini self re-invention, fashion and otherwise, so I always get excited when the first signs of the new season creep in - with the exception of winter, ha.
Fall 2015

Clockwise, from top left:
  • Truffle Clarity pouches and clutches: $32 and $42. I've read a lot of great reviews on these and they seem like a good way to keep my bags (travel and daily use) organized. The price seems a bit steep, but actually, a decent makeup bag runs about that much anyway, and it seems like these are well made. I also like that they are transparent (good for carry-ons) and flat, so that they will take up less space and won't fall to the bottom of a bag.
  • Long boyfriend/cocoon cardigans (this one is from AE - $49.95; I actually just ordered it): I saw long, feminine cardigans like this everywhere in Korea (in a more summer appropriate material), and they just look cozy-comfortable for cooler weather. I don't have a lot of cardigans, anyway, and could use a few more in neutral or bright colors.
  • Aerie Romantic Lace Longline Bralette in Deep Plum, $26.95: I find Aerie bras really comfortable, and they also don't have that synthetic, rubberized lining that most bras have (that I am allergic to, ha). This looks really cute for layering under camis and large sweaters, and yes, I'm hooked on this wine color this season. 
  • TOMS Lunata Suede Bootie, black, $129: I love TOMS booties (I have two pair), and these look like a great option to wear under bootcut jeans and slacks; I have a lot of knee/calf-high boots that will not work with those pieces.
  • Ray-Ban Aviator Gradient, $160: Classics with a twist. In the cooler seasons, the sun is a little muted, but I still need glasses driving into work and walking around. This style has been on my wishlist for ages, since I worked in a sunglass shop (you know the one) in college, but it's hard for me to get the fit right and I need to try them in person. Newer styles fit better than the original, so I have hope for these.
The wishlist is low on beauty, but that reflects my current focus (and I didn't want all the declutterers to throw lipstick at me!), and it's more important to transition the wardrobe into cooler weather staples now, anyway. Which isn't to say, buy all the new things, but hey, it's fun to window shop. And if a few of these things get sent my way, who am I to complain? Autumn is the best season. 

What's your favorite season? Are you getting your wardrobe ready for fall? What's on your wishlist lately?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sunday Sessions: III

(What is a Sunday Session?)

Late Sunday Session over here, but



Super duper tired. Just got back from Korea. Will have a post or two up about traveling experiences there; I've been before, but this time was really the first time I walked around and did things on my own (with S.), and that made it a lot more enjoyable.

Listening to:
Gary Clark Jr.: The Story of Sonny Boy Slim. The video is for the first track off the album. I discovered him after watching Chef, and I love him. Bluesy rock, americana.


Fantasy football, ha! S. and I are co-owners of a team, which is a fun way to do something together even though we're currently separated by the entire country.

I read a few books on the long plane rides: Andy Weir's The Martian, Amanda Coplin's The Orchardist, and Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. The Martian was more enjoyable than I expected, although initially I was like, "I've been reading about potatoes for ten pages. They made a movie out of this?" The writing style is a bit rough, but it's funny and, unlike more recent sic-fi, has the old-school optimism of classic space adventure science fiction. Looking forward to the movie.

I also enjoyed The Graveyard Book quite a bit, and Coplin's The Orchardist made me homesick for Washington. I feel more nostalgia when I read about the PNW and Seattle and eastern WA than I do when I read about Hawaii. I think it has something to do with the fact that I chose to live there as an adult; there is something to be said about childhood hometowns, but WA state will always make me feel warm and fuzzy.

The last book I started was Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch. I'm only about 10% in and so far find it a bit meandering and self-indulgent, but hopefully it'll pick up.

Ok, that's it. Short post tonight, sorry. I've got a few Etude House lip products to try and maybe talk about later, but to be honest, I didn't pay much attention to beauty products when I was on vacation. I wanted to walk around and eat and see things, and also spend time with S and my parents. It was a fantastic trip, but now I have a lot of work to catch up on, so I'm not sure how frequent posts will be this month. I'm also trying to go through my backlog of comments. I feel like I haven't chatted with anyone in ages - how are you guys doing?