June 18, 2015

Hawaii 2015

It's been a while since I've posted anything. It's hard to stick to blogging when people you know are no longer into it. It also gets tiring and whatnot, but because I've been having a lot of downtime lately at work, I thought I should update you all on my most recent trip. At the beginning of May, I had the opportunity to return back to my favorite place in the world: Hawaii. The island of Oahu, to be more specific. I was able to enjoy a 10-day trip, solo, and it was amazing.

Because I had been there before, 2 years ago, I had already gotten a lot of the tourist things out of the way (luau, climbing Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach, Kalakaua Ave, etc). Because I only stayed for 5 days on my prior trip, I didn't get to see the entire island, and that was my main goal for this trip. I also wanted to be able to live the Hawaiian life and relax, instead of cramming as much as possible into my days and exhausting myself. I also took the trip over my 25th birthday and thought it would be the best way to celebrate 25 years of my life: by myself, in the place I love the most.

Because I was solo, I was able to walk around aimlessly and make all the mistakes I possibly could, without feeling bad for toting someone along. It's something that I've always wanted to do and Hawaii was the perfect place to test my theory. The first few days were spent walking around downtown Honolulu, revisiting Ala Moana and just getting reacquainted with the familiar surroundings.

On this trip back, I booked my lodging through Airbnb and ended up staying in Honolulu for less than $100(CDN!!) a night. I did have a coupon offer however, that saved me even more, but I would have been paying around $100 a night...which is still a lot less than paying for a hotel. I ended up with a really nice, small, bachelor's apartment on Ala Moana Ave and was within walking distance to pretty much everything I needed. It was perfect!

The first place I visited outside of Honolulu was Kailua. I had briefly driven through Kailua during my previous trip, but hadn't gotten to explore anything. I had rented a kayak and did some kayaking for the first time ever on the Pacific Ocean. While it was pretty easy, I didn't last very long because we were hit with a little bit of a storm with high winds and rain, thus making me return to shore within an hour. After the rain had cleared and I had gotten some lunch, the kayak rental place was nice enough to let me rent a bicycle to cycle around the town with. I think I had more fun cycling around and taking in the beautiful scenery of Kailua and neighboring Lanikai, than I did on the ocean haha. I seriously began to question what I was doing living in Canada.

A few days later, I had gone on an island photography tour as a way to 1) get to see the entire island, 2) get to see all the scenic parts of the island, 3) learn some new photography tips. We started at 7am on the east coast of the island. There were lots of clouds and wind, which created a very interesting mood. We started at Makapu'u Beach and spent a few minutes here. It was absolutely beautiful and quiet. We stopped at a lot of beaches and lookout points. I couldn't believe how much beauty there was on such a small island.

One of the things that I wanted to do for myself with this trip was to get myself out of my shell and make sure that I didn't waste too much time being spent indoors. I won't lie though, it did get lonely at times, especially being in a honeymoon and family vacation destination, so going for many walks with my camera was a good way to keep myself busy. Oddly enough, I did get a lot of people applauding my bravery for being there alone or a lot of people thinking I was local as well haha.

The island is so incredibly rich in culture, especially from Asia and Polynesia. I was just constantly blown away by the preservation of all the cultures you could find everywhere you went. I even made the trek out all the way to Kaneohe to visit the beauty Valley of the Temples. It's so gorgeous that you wouldn't feel so bad about dying if you were to be buried in this place. I know I would love to be.

The main purpose of my visit to the Valley of the Temples was to see the beautiful Byodo-In Temple. For any of you Losties out there, it's the temple where Sun and Jin got married. It was beautiful! But a lot smaller than I had expected. You could even go inside the temple to be greeted by a giant Buddha statue and the fragrant scent of incense. There was even a bell on the premises to ring for good luck and a little gift shop as well.

A few days after my visit to the temple, was my birthday. Normally I am not a fan of such a day, but I figured since 25 is a milestone, I should suck it up and do something extra special. I woke up and treated myself to a tasty breakfast of a coconut macadamia soufflé pancake at a nearby restaurant. A few hours later, I was on my first ever helicopter tour!! I was so excited for it. I had originally booked my tour with another company that boasts having the doors of the helicopter off. Unfortunately they had to cancel my booking because their helicopters were out of commission for repairs. It was sad, but I wasn't going to let it ruin my day. I'm glad I went through with it because the views from a helicopter are stunning!

I had even gone to a concert that night to see local Toronto-based band Silverstein for the first time. I was so impressed that when I came home, I went to see them on the following Friday.

The next day I had made the 2 hour bus trip to the North Shore. Haleiwa, to be more specific. The little surf town was adorable! I walked up and down the little strip they had and visited a bunch of shops. I even passed by the infamous Matsumoto's Shave Ice, but wasn't in the mood to have any, despite the short line-up.

I didn't spend too much time there since there isn't very much to do if you're not surfing/swimming. It was still very cute and a very memorable part of my trip as well.

My trip was finally coming to an end, so I spent my last full day there shopping my heart's content. I was so happy that Lupicia was open this time around since last time I was there, they were closed for renovations. I picked up a bunch of tea and Hawaii exclusives as well. I did most of my souvenir shopping this day as well and managed to grab some things for friends/family. I then decided to walk over to the Hilton Hawaiian Village to watch the firework display, as a sort of send off to myself. It was really nice. I was so sad to be leaving...

Unfortunately my return home was a little stressful as I had almost missed my flight because the shuttle service I had booked had missed my stop, leaving me forced to take a cab. Ah well. The entire experience of the trip definitely trumps that little incident. I had a 10 hour layover in Seattle, WA to look forward to. Unfortunately it was overnight, so I didn't get to see much of Seattle. That being said, I think Seattle and even Portland are on my radar for my next possible trip.

If you're interested in seeing more photos from my trip, visit my Flickr page.

January 17, 2015

Memebox Superbox #80: Pumpkin Pie Cosmetics

I've been hearing a lot of about Memebox for quite some time now and I finally took the plunge in purchasing a box. I had seen boxes that I wanted, but were too late to order since they were already sold out, so I took at look at their upcoming boxes and since it was around October/November that I ordered the box (yup!), it was time for pumpkin season, so I decided to order this box. Generally their site has disclaimers about when the boxes would be shipped out. Mine was slated for a December 12th shipment. I didn't get my box until this year! But for free shipping, it doesn't matter really.

Let's start at the beginning though, shall we? What is Memebox? It's a site that features these themed boxes, full of full sized Korean beauty products from beauty/make-up to skincare. They also have a webshop where you can purchase any of the products featured in their boxes, individually, if you really liked what you received and don't know where to buy them.

Upon opening the box, I am greeted with a double-sided info card with product information (in English ^^) and even directions on how to use everything. I was a bit confused as to why this box was called "Pumpkin Pie" because it only appears one product has pumpkin, but upon reading the description of the box, it's suppose to feature "other yummy ingredients that you'd find in a pumpkin pie". Read on...

Dearberry | Coco's Secret Recipe Pumpkin
How cute is this packaging??? Unfortunately it's the only real "pumpkin" item in this entire box. This is supposed to be a "wash-off pack", made with real pumpkin extracts. Pumpkin is great for the skin as it's full of vitamins and beta-carotene—great for dry skin! This is also said to brighten the skin/complexion. It's basically the equivalent of using a face mask: you apply it after a cleansed face and keep it on for a few minutes. I look forward to using this because sometimes it's a little difficult to do much when you have a cold sheet on your face.

Insobeau | Multi Complex V-Line Repair Sleeping Mask
I was pretty excited to receive this type of product because I LOVE sleeping packs! I've been eye Laneige's Sleeping Pack for a while but this came just in time to try something new. Don't get me wrong, I love my Vichy Night Spa, but I've been dying to try a Korean brand version for a while. This product in particular contains rich nutrients and protein from its egg (!!) complex. It melts quickly into the skin with minimal stickiness to revitalize and firm dry, tired skin overnight. It contains a blend of adenosine, peptide, argan oil, collagen, albutin, and ceramide (a lot of things I don't know about :x). I have already used this product and found it similar to my Vichy one, however the texture was a lot more thick and less gel-like. I wasn't sure if this was because the product was leaking a bit when I opened my box or not... Either way, this product worked well for me.

Enesti | Shea Butter Hand Cream & Verbena
This stuff smells so great! I have already used it quite a few times and it does a great job of keeping my hands moisturized and smelling great, without being too strong. It absorbs into the hands quite well, albeit a little thick.

Tonymoly | Gold Black Sugar Mask
Like the name suggests, this is an exfoliating sugar mask using black sugar. I have yet to use it, but I am hopeful it'll be effective. Unlike most exfoliators, you keep the product on your face for 10-15 minutes before washing off. Looking forward to this one.

Enesti | Day to Day Rice & Milk Foaming Cleanser
I've heard a lot of good things about rice/milk cleansers, so I'm definitely looking forward to trying this out as soon as I'm done with my egg cleansers—yes, I don't like opening all these products before finishing one. This particular product claims to gently cleanse away all makeup residues and skin impurities while also clarifying uneven skin tone for a brighter, more youthful complexion.

Overall, I'm SUPER impressed with memebox! The price ($29.99) is definitely right for the amount of full-sized products that you get to try. I am a little disappointed that a "Pumpkin Pie" themed box only features one actual product with pumpkin, but after looking back to see "the other ingredients you'd find in a pumpkin pie" (eggs, lemon & verbena (?), sugar, milk), I'm still pretty happy with the products I received and will definitely be using ALL of them!

Next time, I would maybe select a faster shipping since it took a while to get here (although it could have been holiday rush time as well;;) or probably select a box under their "ready to ship now" tab.

January 09, 2015

My Skincare Routine

Hello all! Happy 2015.
Since January is usually the month of "resolutions", I thought I would share my new skincare routine that seems to be working quite well for me. First off, this isn't a resolution of mine as I've begun using this particular routine for about 3 months or so now and have seen some fantastic results on myself!

Let's begin. I'm not an expert on skincare, nor do I care whether I'm doing things in the right order. I was inspired to add new products into my routine because of a blog post where I read that in Korea, women usually have no less than 10 steps in their skincare routines! I had to read up on it and see some videos myself to see all the products they use. I decided to take my own spin on it by catering it to the amount I have to get ready in the morning and at night.


Tony Moly Eggpore Shiny Egg Soap
There's not particular reason as to why I chose a soap cleanser where you have to foam it up yourself, but I have seen these egg soaps for years now and I decided to try it out for myself as I felt that some sort of foaming cleanser will cleanse better than say, Philosophy's Purity cleanser (which I was using prior). These soaps claim to clear out blackheads. You use the white soap in the morning and then the brown one at night. I have found that the number of black and white heads have decreased from around my nose area and most of my face, but not entirely. I normally don't get black heads so that's not much of a problem for me to begin with. The soap also claims to shrink pores as well and I can't really testify if that happened for me or not because I'm lucky enough to not have many areas with large enough pores.

I start off by wetting my face with warm water, running the soap briefly under the water and lathering it into the palm of one of my hands. I try to make it foam as much as possible in my hand instead of on my face. I then apply it to my face in circular motions, starting with my t-zone and then the rest of my face. I then rinse off the soap with the same warm water, then switch the water to cold, to close the pores. I then lightly pat the water into my face with a towel. One of the Korean skincare routine videos I watched recommended to let the water air dry, while pressing the water into your face and neck. I did try this at first but I just had no time or patience to wait for it to dry, so a light towel pat will do.

(Optional) Face Mask

You know, those fantastic, but slightly creepy full-face beauty masks. I usually do this once a week, generally on the weekends since I have more time. My favorite face masks are usually the ones with red ginger, but I havent met a face mask that I didn't like. I generally keep them on between 10-20 minutes, depending on time (or irritability). After taking them off and disposing of them, I rub the leftovers into my skin.

(Optional) Face Scrub

Not pictured above, but I try to exfoliate my skin at least once a week to get rid dead skin cells. I really like using St.Ive's Apricot scrub. I know a lot of people find it abrasive, but I love it! Personally, it makes me feel like it's really scrubbing off the dead skin that I don't need. I don't find it at all irritating and find that my skin gets quite smooth right after using it.

Face Serum

Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Collagen Booster
I had received this serum in a smaller bottle as a deluxe sample from Sephora and had only used it 2-3 times. I always liked the smell of it, but never really understood the purpose of it, until now. This serum smells absolutely amazing and is packed with so many things that are good for the face. It also claims to brighten, reduce lines and support the natural collagen production. I have noticed a slight brightness in the face and a little bit of redness reduction too, even. It's not a cheap product, but it does make all the difference for me in my routine and I love using it. I generally use this serum in the morning.

After my face is fairly dry from the towel pat, I pump the product into my hand and spread it between my hands to cover both palms. I then press both hands into my cheeks, then forehead, nose, chin, neck, etc. I don't rub it into my skin, but press.

Ole Henriksen Invigorating Night Treatment
Like the name suggests, this serum is a night treatment to which I use at night. This serum—or rather a gel—claims pretty much the same things as the truth serum, but is more formulated for night time use. I find that this stuff smells a bit unpleasant. It reminds me of some sort of glue or adhesive, but I still use it regardless. The only thing is, I find it dries out my skin a bit more than compared to the truth serum and I find it makes my skin a little red/irritated in my cheeks. However, when I wake up in the morning, it's usually gone by then.

To apply this, I pretty much do the exact same thing as the truth serum.

Eye Serum

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Serum
I always thought the concept of eye cream or serum was silly and pointless (heck, I may have been right for all I know), but I did feel strange that I can treat everything else on my face, but my eyes! I made my way to Shoppers Drug Mart to ask the beauty consultant there for recommendations in serums (I didn't do the best of research beforehand and was too excited to get my hands on something to complete my routine). The lovely associate recommended me this (quite expensive) eye serum and had given me a seemingly honest opinion and recommendation for it. I've never tried Estee Lauder products before so I was a little unsure. She was very knowledgable about it and i decided to take the chance. After bringing it home and doing some research on it before opening the bottle, I read a lot of rave reviews on it and decided to keep it. This serum claims to help fight against environmental/pollution effects on our skin, to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, brighten and get rid of puffiness (which is something I need in the morning!) Although the product says "Night" in the name, the associate told me that it was good for both morning and night and that was that.

To use this product, I pump out a tiny rice-grain sized blob onto the back of my hand. I take the serum into one of my fingers and rub it between 3 fingers of both my hands and start lightly patting it around my eyes. I had no idea beforehand that there was a particular method for applying product to around the eyes.


Vichy Aqualia Thermal UV
I'm a huge fan of Vichy's Aqualia Thermal collection and have been using this moisturizer quite regular for almost 2 years now. I love that on top of it being a moisturizer, it has a really good SPF content of 25! It also comes in a nice pump form so there's no worry of sticking my fingers into a jar. It's very moisturizing, although the formula is a little of the thick side, which makes spreading it a bit difficult. My favorite thing about this particular product is that it has SPF that's good enough for every day wear and it's what I do. I have very sun-sensitive skin being as pale as I am and I take pride in keeping my complexion that way!

To use this product, I pump it onto my hand, then like the serum, spread it between my palms and press it onto my face and neck, as well as rubbing it a bit. I generally only use this in the morning as there's no point in wasting product with SPF at night ;)

Vichy Aqualia Thermal Night Spa
This stuff is amazing! I've been waiting for a product like this to hit North America for a little while. It's pretty much the NA equivalent of many Asian skincare's "sleep packs". This particular product is ultra-comfortable and velvety. It claims that it infuses the skin with hydration overnight, when skin is most receptive to treatments. My skin is honestly so soft in the morning that sometimes I don't feel like doing the morning routine to wash it off. Its texture is quite lightweight and almost gel-like. It also has a really nice light, aqua blue color to it.

I generally use this at night and alternate between this and the moisturizer below during the week. I usually take a small amount from the jar and place dabs of the product on my cheeks, chin, nose and forehead, before rubbing it all over the skin. The product also came with these instructions for suggestions as to how to rub it into your face to relax yourself.

Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation
This product came in a set I bought with the serums from above so I didn't know what to expect. I was quite pleasantly surprised as what this guy can do. It's pretty light-weight, but does a good job for the off-night moisturizer. Again, because it doesn't have any SPF, I have no use for it during the day, so I chose to use it at night. This product claims to help fade dark spots, even skintone, and prevent premature signs of aging. It smells really good as well and does a good job at making sure my skin is still smooth in the morning.

I apply it the same way as I do with the Night Spa.

Overall, I've noticed quite an improvement in my skin and have noticed that I haven't broken out in quite a long time! I have tried taking care of my skin in the past but always found myself not wanting to clean my face more than once a day or only having the shortest routine possible which usually contained cleanser and moisturizer or just moisturizer on its own! I've learned better by now.

And now brace yourself for a picture of my -gasp- no make-up, no photoshop, no nothing face!

(oh yes, i've dyed my hair green too, btw :'))

So that's all. I just wanted to share. Take care!


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