October 1, 2015

Hello October | Little Goals

Hello October, or as people at my workplace like to call you, Q4 2015. I am so happy you're here. 2015 has been such a roller coaster ride, that by now I am just very excited for the anticipation-filled remaining three months of the year. I've set three little goals that I help I'll be able to stick with till the end of the year, through all the craziness, excitement and chaos.

After almost 20 years, I've started playing the piano again. I love the piano, but had quite an unpleasant experience as a child, thanks to an impatient, insensitive, scary piano teacher - smacking and shaming children is not the way to nurture an appreciation for music if you ask me. Giving up on piano halfway is one of my biggest regrets, so I am very happy to have finally picked up where I left off. Now as an adult, I get to choose the music I like (Yiruma's songs are my current favorite), and actually enjoy practicing and perfecting every song.

I also want to take better care of my eyes. 10+ years of contact lens use has definitely taken its toll! I've found this Rhoto Eye Moisturizer to be very good. It's a thicker, minty eye drop formula that is marketed as a bedtime "eye moisturizer." It is said to repair and nourish the eyes overnight after contact lens use. I'm surprisingly sold on this seemingly gimmicky idea, as I do notice my eyes feel more hydrated and refreshed every morning. Now I just need to get myself to wear LESS contact lenses overall so my eyes can really rest and repair.

Last but not least, the coming months are going to be full of photo-worthy moments. I plan to make full use of the Fujifilm Instax Share Smartphone Printer SP-1 that Alan got me for my birthday. It's a better alternative to the traditional Polaroid camera, as this one allows you to choose your best shots and print them off your smartphone. Genius idea if you ask me.

What do you have planned for the rest of 2015?

September 28, 2015

New Favorite Lipstick | Dior Addict 'Tribale'

I've been all about this lipstick all weekend.

Meet Dior Addict Lipstick in 'Tribale." Dior has reformulated its Addict line, now presented as all-in-one lipsticks with moisture, shimmer and shine. These are said to have the top coat (or gloss) built in, as seen in JLaw's sultry #shinedontbyshy campaign. All the newly launched Dior Addict lipsticks are permanent, including four iconic shades promoted in this relaunch. I of course went straight for the peachy-orange one - 'Tribale.'

'Tribale' is a gorgeous, pearlescent, slightly sparkly coral. It's my-lips-but-peachier. It's that just-bitten-lip-look. It's that wide-eyed-bushy-tailed, healthy complexion enhancing shade. It's amazing. If I were a lipstick (lol did I just say that), I'd be 'Tribale.'

It's difficult to explain why I'm so in love with this shade - it's just right in all ways. It's not too in-your-face bright, yet just bright enough to not be chalky or pale. It's a rosy, peachy, healthy color with just the needed amount of glossiness. It's also so comfortable on, feeling just like a lip balm. I honestly have nothing but good things to say about this lipstick - it just ticked all the boxes. It only took me seconds in the store to decide that this was going home with me.

Not to mention the improved packaging - the magnetic closure with the satisfying click, the distinctly embossed "Dior" on the tube, and the silver tube with multi-colored sheen. It's just all so dreamy.
As a sheer shade, 'Tribale' will look different depending on the original pigmentation of your lips. I looked up swatches but none are like how it looks on me.  I therefore attempt to show here what it looks like on my lips. You know that I love a lipstick when I do this, which I'm usually always lazy about (and terrible at).
I apologize for the terrible lip swatch. I hope this gives an idea but still I'd highly recommend checking these out in person. Major obsession going on, if you still cannot tell!

September 27, 2015

Ombre Cake | Vanilla & Berries

 If we exclude cookie cakes and pies, this is the first time ever that I've baked a full sized cake. I know - how did I wait so long? Layer cakes are so fun and easy to make, that I now feel the need to experiment with variations of this. I actually baked these two weekends in a row, both times ombre-ing my cakes to give them an extra something something. The possibilities are endless!

A few weeks ago, my friends and I were trying to find the perfect bridal shower cake for our bride-to-be Crystal. We finally decided to (attempt to) make one ourselves last Saturday, which turned out to be an amazingly fun afternoon. We used Martha Stewart's simple layer cake recipe to make both the cake and frosting, except we ombred the frosting so that it was a gradient of Tiffany blue to pale cream. We were very happy with how it turned out - it matches the color of our bridesmaids dresses!
This weekend I decided to use the leftover ingredients to make another cake for a Sunday tea time with family. I went with light pinks this time. On top of ombre-ing the frosting, I also ombred the cake layers, and covered the top with berries to balance out the pink.

I love these ombre cakes - these are so easy yet look very put together! I thought I'd share a few tips I've learned along the way...
On the recipe: The recipe quantities will leave you with quite a lot of frosting leftover. That happened both times for me. And if you want, you can cut down on the sugar of the cake - I used 1 cup of sugar instead of 1.5 cups. However you can't cut down the frosting sugar content much really, as the frosting has to reach that specific consistency to hold its shape

On the frosting: Always, always prime your cake with a crumb coat. For the ombre, apply the darkest shade on the bottom third of the cake, and work your way up with the lighter colors. Blend the colors together by going around the cake with a frosting spatula or straight knife. It's easier to ombre the frosting than the cake layers itself - with the cake you need more distinct colors as baking will mute the colors a little
What's your favorite cake recipe?

September 26, 2015

The Fall Edit

It's the Mid-Autumn Festival (a.k.a. Chinese Moon Festival) tomorrow, but that said the weather in Hong Kong is not at all feeling like fall right now. We've had week of either strong heat or pouring rain, with the earlier sunsets being the only hint of fall creeping in. Even so, I've changed up a few things in my daily makeup mix in anticipation of the cooler weather.

I'm still very much smitten with the Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in "Copper," but this week I've begun reaching more for my well-loved MAC Paint Pot in "Groundwork." It's the perfect no-makeup shadow that adds warmth and depth to the eyes. Definitely more a sweater weather color than the shimmery gold Laura Mercier.

For lips, I've traded my corals for the TopShop Lip Perfector in "Ambition" and Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in "Rendez-Vous." The former is an earthy blush-toned gloss that's great for a nude or work day look, and the latter is a bright hot pink that makes me so happy every time I wear it. Two very different shades but I find both very fitting for this time of year.

For blush, I've actually been wearing none at all. Does anyone else go through these phases? I've just been preferring a bare cheek with accented eyes and lips. 
As the weather cools down, I also feel the need to swap my poolside reads for a bit more food-for-thought. In need of a good book, Alan lent me his copy of "Tuesdays with Morrie" by Mitch Albom, the classic memoir about a dying professor's life lessons to his beloved student. There's so much heart and emotion in this book that I feel like the only time peaceful enough to really savor this is right before bedtime. That said, it's also a surprising easy read - I like that its messages are simple yet very thought-provoking. If you've also yet to read this classic, I highly recommend it.

Starbucks does not do Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes here in Hong Kong, which I will forever complain about. Despite all the pumpkin spice jokes out there, I genuinely love the drink! For now I'll settle for the Bath & Body Works Caramel Pumpkin Swirl candle that Alan picked out for me on his trip back to Canada. Al got double brownie points for that.

Now we just need the weather to actually cool down. Come on now Hong Kong!

September 12, 2015

Current Favorites | End of Summer

I write to you from a pile of draft paper, pens and my second mug of instant coffee, as I take a break from some not-so-fun writing that I'm working on to write about 3 things that have made me very happy lately.

The first is the Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Color in "Copper." This cream eyeshadow has been the star of my makeup bag for the past two months. It's the perfect daily wear color - warm-but-not-too-pink light copper, almost borderline rose gold. It's so, so pretty, on its own or paired with darker browns. It gives just enough sheen and shine to brighten my tired eyes. I raved about the Chanel Stylo Eyeshadows back in June but this Laura Mercier one has completely stolen its spotlight (sorry Chanel). The LM formula is the best I've tried - it blends onto the eyes so easily without me having to tug on my eyelids - which was a problem with the Chanel - then dries down and stays put all day.

Next is the Topshop Lip Perfector in "Ambition," Topshop's dupe for the Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector. Clarins no long sells their cosmetics line in Hong Kong, so I am glad that Topshop decided to come up with their own version of this. It's exactly the same as the Clarins one in terms of formula and applicator - a not-so-sticky, thinner version of lip gloss that lightly coats your lips for a moisturized, healthy looking lip, with the comfiest fuzzy tip applicator. "Ambition" is a great nude or work-day lip option. The scent isn't as sweet and yummy, but that's perfectly fine with me. It's also a third of the price which is always a plus.

Last but not least, my bestie Crystal surprised me with a belated birthday present - the Estee Lauder Pure Color Blush in "Witty Peach." I was already sold on the cute name, but when I opened this beaut it took my breath away. It's an ombre blush that goes from light peach to a watermelon pink, almost like the sunset sky. The formula is forgiving and not overly pigmented which I appreciate. My only complaint is it the compact is SO difficult to open. I have been getting help from Alan to open this - which is not a permanent solution because he's rarely around when I'm doing my makeup. It sounds slightly ridiculous but I literally have no idea how to get this to open properly. Tips anyone?


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