Month: May 2017

Things I Love: Left-Handed Guys

Isn’t it strange? I’ve always had a weakness for lefties. Obviously, I’m not attracted to all the left-handed guys in the world but choose between a hot righty and an equally hot lefty? Lefty wins…for absolutely no good reason lol. I just find the way lefties write really sexy. Please don’t ask me why!!

Anyway, we all have weird turn-ons. What’s yours?

P.S. I’m ambidextrous 🙂

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Things I Love: Ferrero Rocher

I cannot even begin to describe my lifelong love for Ferrero Rocher!!! I love it, I love it, I freakin love it. I’m not a person that craves chocolate, but Ferrero Rocher is its own food group as far as I’m concerned. Popular opinion is on my side too, just look at this chart below:

To me, Ferrero Rocher is the perfect gold nugget of chocolate hazelnut goodness. It’s not overwhelmingly chocolate-ty, which I love. According to Wikipedia, Ferrero Rocher consists of a whole roasted hazelnut encased in a thin wafer shell filled with hazelnut chocolate and covered in milk chocolate and chopped hazelnuts. AKA PERFECTION!!

Anyway, I love Ferrero Rocher. It’s the best chocolate in the world. Coming in at a distant second is Kinder Bueno (chocolate bar made of crispy wafer + hazelnut filling). Can you tell? I love hazelnut 🙂

 

Should I take out my pension early?

Before I quit my job to go back to business school, I became fully vested in my company’s retirement plan. Besides my 401(k) plan, which I rolled over to an IRA with Fidelity, I also have a Cash Balance benefit plan. Today, I have a little less than $10K in this pension account. However, I’m currently debating if it’s a good idea to collect the whole lump sum and reinvest the amount in stocks or mutual funds instead. If I do that though, I’ll take an immediate hit in the amount of a 10% early withdrawal penalty + taxes. What do you guys think? Is it wise to withdraw my pension early and invest that amount?

Like many Millennials, I always assume that my financial situation is acceptable, although it can be much improved. But in fact, I need a reality check: I don’t have an income right now and there’s barely $5K total in my checking and savings. Besides about $500 in credit card bills, I have almost $30K in student loans…towards which I’m paying ~$400 per month. So yeah, this is not what we called a sustainable situation!! My God ~ I’m in bad shape!!!

So, should I collect my pension now? I have to consider the fact that raiding my pension plan is no guarantee that I can make money off of it. There’s absolutely a chance you’ll lose money when you play the market. My #1 goal (besides getting a job) is to pay off my student loans ASAP. Given this situation, what should I do?

P.S. I actually have a low 6-figure amount in retirement funds (not including my pension) right now. This puts me ahead of peers my age but still…doesn’t help me buy makeup or tacos right now. Welp!

Things I Love: Canvas Tote Bags

credit: http://global.rakuten.com/en/store/jolie-peche/item/e9/

I love a fancy handbag but canvas bags are just tried and true, you know? I often find myself reaching for my canvas tote over other bags when I run errands, hop on the metro, go to the coffee shop, etc. It’s practical and fits everything. Also, they add a certain insouciance to your look. In Paris, to look like a cool girl, wear cropped jeans, leather jacket, Adidas sneakers, then throw a canvas bag over your shoulder. And voila, you chic chaton !

There’re so many styles and colours of canvas bags, but my favourite is the natural colour. I think it’s super important to find a good quality one that lasts for years. I’ve had many canvas bags that just snapped after a few use…just hateful. The one I use now is one I bought from Stumper & Fielding in London (107 Portobello Road) many years back. It’s of superb quality and at a very reasonable price! Go visit their store if you’re in London! (it’s a men’s clothing store FYI)

My Nighttime Skin Routine

I’m pretty experimental with skincare. There are products that I’ve tried and love, but I’m still always on the lookout for new stuff. Why? I can’t help it….I’m a beauty junkie! Another reason is because I think my skin gets too used to ingredients, so it’s good to switch up products periodically. Having said that, most skincare products do take time to deliver maximum efficacy results. Therefore, it’s still important to be patient and have a routine. Without further ado, here’s my daily night routine:

STEP 1: CLEANSING OIL

credit: youbeauty.com

If I’m wearing makeup, I first use CLEANSING OIL to remove all my makeup. There are so many cleansing oils out there but my favorite is, of course, DHC’s Deep Cleansing Oil. Lately, I’ve been using Innisfree’s Apple Juicy Cleansing Oil (3.5 out of 5 stars, it’s not bad but sometimes it doesn’t remove all my eye makeup). I’ve also tried Sephora’s Supreme Cleansing Oil (3 out of 5 stars, too oily and leaves a film). I have 2 friends who swear by Tatcha’s Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil, but it’s too $$$$ for me. A lot of people have recommended Shu Uemura cleansing oils to me…so maybe I’ll try that next!

STEP 2: CLEANSING WATER / MICELLAR WATER

If I’m not wearing makeup, then I skip straight to step 2, which is MICELLAR WATER. Cleansing/Micellar water is popular everywhere now, but it used to be a beauty secret of the French. See, French women don’t use water to wash their face because they believe water is too harsh (I can attest to this. I lived in Paris and the water there is hard aka has lots of calcium and magnesium – which makes your hair look sexy af but can be harsh on skin). So anyway, French women love their thermal water sprays and micellar water. They use the latter to remove makeup, cleanse, and tone. The cult favourite micellar water on the market is probably Bioderma Sensibio H2O. Personally, I’m using Bioderma Sébium H2O, which is aimed for oily/spot-prone skin. I actually don’t have oily skin but I prefer the Sébium version over the one for sensitive skin. I apply the cleansing water on a cotton pad and then swipe it over my face. Easy peasy. There are a ton of effective micellar waters at different price points. You know my preference of course but an alternative recommendation is Koh-Gen-Do’s Cleansing Spa Water – my best friend swears by it.

STEP 3: CLEANSING MILK

Step 3: Ok you probably think I’m cleansing my face too much but after micellar water, I usually wash my face again with CLEANSING MILK. I use La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane Dermo-Nettoyant. If you prefer the squeaky clean feeling after washing for your face, this product is not for you. The texture is fluid and milky and it leaves behind a creamy film. It also doesn’t wash off your makeup so you need to use a makeup remover before this. Cleansing milk clearly isn’t for everyone but personally, I love the creamy/milky feeling and I think it leaves my skin soft and plump. To each her own!

P.S. If I feel like I’m about to break out (I sometimes get hormonal chin acne before my period), I switch immédiatement to a sulfur face wash. Mine is prescribed by a dermatologist. It is the ONLY thing that works and I swear by it. It may be smelly but I’ll take it over having spots.

STEP 4: TONER

Confession: I used to follow the Korean 10 step routine but then, I got too lazy. I can’t commit to double-cleansing, exfoliating, toning, putting on essence, serum/booster/ampoule, sheet mask, eye cream, and moisturizer every day. I can’t. I mean, I can’t even remember all the steps! These days, I exfoliate and do a sheet mask 1x or 2x a week. After cleansing milk (step 3), I use a TONER. Right now, I’m using Etude House’s Wonder Pore Freshner. I like this product a lot but honestly, I haven’t tried other toners in recent years because I’ve been trying to finish this 500ml bottle for the last 3 years. It literally lasts forever.

STEP 5: VITAMIN C SERUM

This is a recent development but I just started incorporating VITAMIN C SERUM to my nighttime skincare routine. It supposedly helps produce collagen, repair signs of aging, fades dark spots, & brightens skin. I bought a random bottle (Brand: Measurable Difference) from the skincare aisle at Ross (lol), so I’m no expert. My friend mentioned that Drunken Elephant’s C-Firma Day Serum is good so check that out. Anyway, I drop some vit C on my fingertips, warm the serum up and rubbing my fingertips together, and dot it on my face. I focus particularly on my cheeks where I have some indented scars. I also slather it generously on my nose because my facialist said it helps with tightening pores. It has been about 1 week since I started using this serum, but I think the pores on my nose already look smaller. I can’t tell if my scars are getting better but topical creams usually can’t do much…so I’m not holding my breath.

STEP 6: RETINOL

This is also a recent addition – RETINOLS! Retinol works great on wrinkles, enlarged pores, scars, etc. I use the A313 Vitamin A pommade (replacement product for Avibon, which was discontinued).

So, I didn’t realize until I was putting this list together but I apparently use a lot of French and Korean/Japanese products lol.

STEP 7: MOISTURIZER

Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise. I use Embryolisse Lait Crème Concentrè. Ahhh it’s my favorite. It’s rich and just sinks into your skin. It is also amazing as a daytime moisturizer because it acts as a good primer. If you have dry, flaky skin – this product is a godsend! It soothes over your skin so your makeup won’t flake.

STEP 8: EYE CREAM

People always advise to start using EYE CREAM early. I totally should have listened. I’m really forgetful with eye cream, which is dumb because I have dark eye circles and really bad allergies…so I rub my eyes a lot (a big no-no because the skin around your eyes is so delicate). If I remember to dab eye cream on (with my ring finger), I use Avène PhysioLift Eyes. I actually don’t like the product, but it’s the only one I own right now. I find the formula too heavy and not moisturizing at all. I’ll have to look for a new product soon. Any reccos?

STEP 9: LIP BALM

Last but not least, lips. I have big lips and they are almost always chapped. I’ve tried about a million LIP BALMS and usually nothing works. People swear by NUXE Rêve de Mie but I don’t think it works on me…maybe I need to use it for an extended period of time. Right now, I use a La Roche-Posay Nutritic lip balm stick. At night, I’m putting Homeoplasmine (an all-purpose ointment and all-around French pharmacie staple) on my lips right now. Happy to report it seems to be working so far. My lips are not chapped!!

So that concludes my nighttime skincare regime. What’s your skincare routine 🙂 ?

 

Things I Love: Monocle Magazine

I’m a big magazine fan. But my favourite? Hands down it’s MONOCLE.

Monocle cites itself as a “global briefing covering international affairs, business, culture, and design.” I’m happy to report it is exactly that. Current affairs, business, et al may sound dry but I assure you, articles in the Monocle can make even the most sundry of subjects fascinating. You would not believe how absorbed you can be in the political intrigues of some far flung country, or the retail revolution in Thailand, or the life of a knife maker in Japan. It’s all so bloody interesting!

It also helps that Monocle magazine is, simply put, beautiful. From a design perspective, it’s just pleasing to the eye. Not only does the magazine cover design, it itself is eye-wateringly exquisite. You are what you preach.

Anyway, I’m a big fan. I’m personally a big info junkie and I appreciate beautiful things. Monocle delivers on both fronts. Reading the magazine is like talking to a really cool, intellectual, and sexy friend. You just feel elevated by association.

The only deterrence is the price. This magazine retails for £6 in UK and $13 in US at bookstores and magazine stands. You can also do a 6-month subscription for £55 or 1-year for £100. See link for details. 

Things I Love: Laneige Water Sleeping Mask

I’m obsessed with Korean skincare (and makeup). I know I’m generalizing but many Korean ladies (and gents) really know their stuff and are METICULOUS with their massive multi-step skincare routine. Spas, massages, facials, dermatologist appointments, treatments, etc. are just part of their weekly routine. Not to mention…plastic surgery! South Korea is plastic surgery capital of the world.

I half-admire their society’s commitment to looking young and beautiful. I say half-admire because annyeong I too want to look like a gorgeously dewy poreless k-drama actress or k-pop idol. But living in a society where looks are everything is incredibly tough. Appearance matters in most societies, but it’s especially true in East Asian cultures. I say this as an East Asian who grew up in both the East and West. I’d concede that physical beauty is prized everywhere in the world. But in my opinion, one of the more positive things about living in a Western society is that there’s more breadth in terms of beauty ideals (I’m not saying today’s Western beauty ideals are any better, just that there’s more diversity). I find the East Asia’s conception of beauty ideal to be quite narrow (and somewhat unrealistic). I’m wrongly lumping all Eastern cultures together but in general, for women, the trend is to look young, natural, have milky-white smooth skin, double-eyelids, big eyes, small nose, and a slim, oval face.

And fight me on this, but East Asian guys can get away with not looking “traditionally handsome” as long as they’re je-ne-sais-quoi charming, have a high nose bridge, and are above 180 cm. Can we say double standards?? I’m not dismissing that there’s an unfair global prejudice against short men, but nevertheless, it’s still harder to be a woman. Anyway, I think this rigid female beauty standard has extended to the rest of the continent, particularly Southeast Asia. On one hand, as an Asian, I admire the asian-nification and rise of Korean influence on beauty and culture. On the other hand, it’s always hard to look like something you are not naturally. In Asia, is this modern Eastern beauty ideal an improvement over the near-unattainable Caucasian beauty ideal of yesteryears? Or is it merely another incarnation of the latter?

I don’t really know.

I also want to point out that in Asia, people tend to be more openly judgmental and vocal about your looks. Body shaming? It happens. A stranger auntie (stranger danger!) on the street would feel entitled to tell you you’re fat. Let’s just say the body positive movement has not made it to most of Asia. In S. Korea, you have to submit a headshot with your job application and your looks are absolutely judged – just like any of your other qualifications. As an aside, you also have to include your headshot in your CV in France…but my French mentor in HR told me it’s so they can put a face to the application (uh-huhhh sure).

Pretty people in general are at advantage in life. It’s a fact and I’m not bitter about it. You can’t help being born beautiful, just like you can’t help being born smart. It is the hand you are dealt in this life. I just hope that for the sake of our younger generation, we expand the definition of what it means to be beautiful.

Sorry for my long ass ramble lol. Now back to my regular programming….I wanted to talk about Laneige’s Water Sleeping Mask. I ♥ this product!! Getting enough sleep is still the best way to achieving good skin, but if you don’t get enough sleep, have no fear, there’s Laneige water sleeping mask!!

I use this about twice a week; you apply the gel on your face and leave it overnight and rinse in the morning. I don’t know what’s in this product but whatever it is, it’s 100% pure magic. Your skin looks and feels moisturized and revitalized, as if you got 20 hours of beauty rest.

You can buy it online here. In the U.S., Laneige was carried at select Targets, but I think they’re moving out of that distribution and into Sephora! Stay tuned.