February 28, 2015

Things I Love | February

February has been a happy and inspiring month. I've thought a lot more about the the idea of "fewer and better" - fewer, better clothes, fewer, better meals, fewer, better social interactions. As a direct result of this, beauty wise I've pretty much stuck to my plain old routine with only these few (but quality) lip products that are worth a shout out.

I rediscovered 2 old favorites (that I thought I'd lost but were in fact tucked away in a neglected makeup pouch) - the Body Shop Cocoa Butter Lip Care Stick and Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in "Boy." The former smells decadent like chocolate and adds a velvety layer of moisture; the latter is my all-time favorite MLBB lipstick which never fails me.

I also sneaked in a little purchase this month as a new Bourjois shelf made its way into Hysan Place in Causeway Bay Hong Kong. Bourjois has been available at select drugstores in Hong Kong for years now, but the selection is often limited and we rarely get any of the exciting new launches. Seeing all the amazing lip products (AND healthy mix line... which is next on my wishlist!) in person proved too exciting to resist, and after swatching literally every shade of the Color Boost line, I ended up with the Bourjois Color Boost Lip Crayon in "Fushia Libre," a glossy, wearable, bright, happy pink. It's the perfect balance of bright and wearable, making it equally appropriate for office and happy hour. As for the formula, you know the drill... glossy, hydrating, sheer but pigmented... I feel like I sound like a broken record by now. But what's worth raving is that the Bourjois formula is top notch and in my opinion better than both the Clinique Chubby Sticks and Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains. Well done Bourjois.

Not photographed, I've been obsessed with 2 randomly discovered albums - Echosmith "Talking Dreams" and Royal Teeth "Glow." Spotify on repeat. Food wise it's been all about the homemade dumplings which we make from scratch every Chinese New Year. Can't get enough of them!

How was your February?

February 19, 2015

Year of the Sheep

Happy Chinese New Year! Today is new year's day according to the lunar calendar, and also day one of a four-day weekend here in Hong Kong (YAY!). That means lots of family time, good food, fireworks and celebrations. Alan caught a cold over the weekend and since then we've both been all sniffly, but I'm determined not to let it get in the way of the festivities. Some bright and cheery makeup might help.

I always think of Dior Addict Extreme in "Lucky" this time of year - Chinese New Year is all about tradition and good fortune, so the name "Lucky" is so perfect for the occasion. It's also the most gorgeous bright red/pink hybrid shade - red is THE color for Chinese New Year! Also on my face today, my trusty NARS Tinted Moisturizer for some happy glowy skin, and Benefit Benetint - an oldie but a goodie. Keeping with the red and glowy theme, I've used Too Faced Shadow Insurance in "Candlelight" with a bit of Tom Ford Cream Color for Eyes in "Spice" on my eyes.

Whether or not you celebrate Chinese New Year, I hope you have a great week (and use the festivity as an excuse to enjoy some good food and play around with reds and pinks in your makeup stash!). And for those who do, I wish you a lovely time of celebration, and a healthy, happy new year.

P.S. The red sheet photographed says "fortune comes with blooming flowers," a lucky greeting for the new year. We put up these lucky messages all over the house as decorations for the new year!

February 15, 2015

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

 
As a kid, I never liked birthday cake. I even refused to eat my own 6th birthday cake. I thought all birthday cakes were the same - the classic, old school sponge cake, with assorted fruit and massive layers of cream. But then I discovered 2 types of cakes that changed everything - ice cream cakes, and cookie cakes.

Now as a grown up I've obviously discovered the wonderful, infinite array of cakes in this world, but cookie cakes still hold a special place in my heart. Since Alan loved my Christmas chocolate chip cookies so much, I decided to try making a cookie cake version of it for his birthday.

I've never made a cookie cake from scratch, but knew Sally's recipe wouldn't do me wrong, especially since she's guided me through my first chocolate chip AND oatmeal raisin cookies. Surprisingly, I found this even easier to make than individual cookies - I didn't have to chill the dough or worry about the dough over spreading in the oven, since the cake is baked in a 9 inch pie dish. Because I had grand plans to serve this with Alan's favorite mint chocolate chip ice cream (yes, more chocolate chips!), I tuned down the sweetness by skipping the chocolate frosting, and using 3/4 cups of chocolate chips instead of 1.5 cups.
^we had only seconds to take this picture. these candles were burning so fast some letters were starting to disappear!

The cookie cake turned out to be a success! (Alan's reaction was: "you made this!?" which I'll take as a compliment! He also had seconds, which is always a good sign.) Because of other plans, I did have to bake this 2 days in advance, but like most regular cookies, it held up perfectly well. Right before serving, we microwaved each slice for 30 seconds and added a nice big scoop of ice cream. Best birthday cake ever. We may be way into our 20s but we'll never be too old for cookie cakes!
Happy Valentine's weekend!

February 9, 2015

New In

 
New in recently... I made an order on BeautyBay.com as I had to replenish my Alpha-H Liquid Gold, and finally committed to the larger bottle this time because I love this stuff. I also decided to give the Too Faced Shadow Insurance in "Candlelight" a try, which turned out to be more shimmer/frosty than I thought. I wouldn't wear this alone like some have suggested, but instead I do find that it adds a nice sheeny effect to any shadow you apply on top of it, even matte ones like my favorite MAC Paint Pot in "Groundwork." The Shadow Insurance was actually a cheeky purchase to reach the spending minimum for the mini Urban Decay Perversion Mascara gift-with-purchase, which I've yet to try due to a recent eye infection, but am very excited to!

Next up, not from BeautyBay but also very exciting - my first ever Estee Lauder purchases! EL has always seemed more like a brand I'd use when I'm older, but they've definitely been making an effort to expand their target market to younger women in recent years, such as by appointing Kendall Jenner as their new face (love her!). I read that the Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Shine Lipsticks were originally an Asia-exclusive, but have now been rolled out globally due to its popularity. These claim to "transform lips with intense color and hydration." The color range is very wearable - I was torn between "Graceful" and "Charmed" but decided on "Graceful," a light peach that still shows up nicely on the lips. The formula is not as soft or buttery as other contenders in the "moisturizing and sheer" category like Chanel Rouge Coco Shines or Rouge Dior Baumes; instead it has that classic lipstick type feel to it (very Estee Lauder), if that makes sense. These are still equally moisturizing and forgiving though. I ended up going back a few days later to get "Charmed" since I couldn't get it out of my mind, which is a muted red that's still everyday/office-friendly. Both shades have very subtle shimmer that give that shiny (but not glossy) finish on the lips. I've been using "Graceful" on work days and "Charmed" on weekends.

Also, they have these cool magnetic closures that are oh-so-satisfying!

(p.s. in case you're wondering, that strange mark is from the bracelet on my wrist. yep)

I hope you've had a wonderful weekend!

February 1, 2015

February Goals

 
How are we one month into 2015 already? It's been a good and busy January - work has picked up and Alan and I have been busy planning things for the year. I am now writing to you post wisdom teeth (2!) extraction, i.e. with a mega swollen cheek, hiding at home waiting for our Pizza Hut delivery to arrive. Anyone have some post-op tips please do share! Back to my January reflections, I've done alright with my January Goals, which I wrote about last month. Wearing less eyeliner has been refreshing and easier than I thought, and it's great that it saves me a few minutes in the morning too. I also feel very proud that I managed to not only Youtube less, but spent less time on my laptop in general. Instead I've read a lot more - for leisure and for learning. I am now half way through "Thrive" by Ariana Huffington, which I look forward to at bedtime every night these days. In January I also said I'd attempt to make eggs benedict from scratch - which unfortunately has not happened yet. That goal will stay on the list for February, together with these three...

Sleep earlier, wake up earlier.
This one's an oldie but a goodie. I tend to sleep around midnight which is I know is pretty standard for 20-somethings, but for me it's just still not enough and in the mornings I struggle so hard with getting up for work, which starts around 8am. As a result I spend weekend mornings sleeping in to "make up for it" psychologically, which means I lose a good chunk of my Saturdays and Sundays snoozing away, which is such a waste of our precious weekends. As an experiment I want to try deliberately sleeping earlier, around the 11am mark, to hopefully improve my sleeping pattern. I know it's way easier said than done, because whenever I'm off work time somehow flies and before I know it, it's 11. But I'm ready to try all it takes to move my bedtime earlier! Anyone with me?

Give my eyes a break
I'm not sure if it's the dry winter weather, or the fact that I've been wearing contacts pretty much daily for 10+ years, but my eyes have just not been the same lately. They're dry, tired, and red all day whenever I have contacts on. They deserve a break and I plan to make a conscious effort to bring around my glasses - whenever I don't have important meetings or events, contacts off, glasses on!

Find a good brightening serum
I'm finally almost out of my Murad Rapid Age Spot And Pigment Lightening Serum (what a mouthful!), which I've been using on a few sunspots around my cheekbone area. The serum worked well at first but after a whole bottle I think my skin has gotten to used to it and I can't see much improvement anymore. I can't get Murad in Hong Kong anyway, so hopefully I'll be able to find a good alternative. Any recommendations?

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