Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas vacation in Bellevue

Hello everyone!! I hope you've all had a great Christmas season and winter break. I just came back from a mini vacation with my family to Bellevue, Washington. We pretty much did nothing at all except to eat and do a little holiday shopping.

One particular restaurant we stopped by was called Ruth's Chris Steak House. My family ordered three different steaks to share--all at medium. Unfortunately for my sister and I, we didn't quite like the steak cooked at medium...we're just not used to that sort of flavor. My parents, on the other hand, really enjoyed the steak. We also ordered a salad, which was delicious! The tuna was soft--unlike other restaurants'...

We also ordered a cheesecake to share for desert. That was probably one of the best cheesecakes I've ever had! AND the presentation was extra special and cute~ <3

Also, lucky for us, there was little Christmas parade during our stay! It was such a cute and festive time--made me so happy and excited! I haven't seen a parade, much less a Christmas one, for such a long time. The girls in the parade were dressed in such cute red, white, blue outfits with little bobs, and there were guys were playing the drums and dancing on the street! hahaha, such a festive experience! Made Christmas seem much more like Christmas~

Overall, I had a nice little vacation get-away! 
How about you all? How was your Christmas? :)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Review: my new InstaNatural facial routine

Hello everyone! I'm currently at home and chilling! It's been such a blessing to be able to sleep in everyday and eat yummy, home cooked meals! (I've been having chicken curry with rice for lunch recently!! So delicious~~). Anyways, on to the main topic :)

Today, I will be doing a quick review of some additions to my skincare routine: InstaNatural eye gel, eye serum, vitamin C serum, and retinol cream. InstaNatural is a skincare brand with a vision to provide "safe, effective, and affordable skin care products." It uses organic and natural ingredients, and their products contain no sulfates, parabens, or alcohols! Isn't that wonderful?

If you take a look at the Amazon reviews, you'll see that InstaNatural has a great reputation. All the aforementioned products have a 4.5/5 rating or higher! I don't know if I have ever seen such high ratings before on Amazon! So, when I received these products, I was very excited to try them out.

Before I dive into the reviews, I want to let you know the order in which I use these products. After washing my face with the Philosophy Purity Made Simple cleanser (from Black Friday!) and applying the Etude House toner, I use either the eye serum or eye gel, then the Vitamin C serum, and lastly the Retinol cream.

Youth Express Eye Serum
Amazon rating: 4.8/5

This serum has a beautiful orange color (probably due the natural ingredients) and has a pleasant citrus smell. Don't worry, this color doesn't stain your skin! The kojic acid is used for its whitening/brightening effects, while the hyaluronic acid gives the serum a very moisturizing property. The caffeine has anti-inflammatory properties that helps reduce eye-puffiness and dark circles. Lastly, vitamin C has protect again pre-mature aging. 

This serum is definitely very moisturizing! After using the serum, my eyes seem as if giving a sigh of relief. This is moisturizing aspect is great for me, because my skin has been feeling very dry and dehydrated recently. Furthermore, I only use one drop for both eyes--meaning this product can last for a long time. After using it, I do feel as like my eye area seems brighter! I can't say anything about the serum's effect on wrinkles or fine lines, though!

Overall rating:     
Ease of use:     
Ingredients:      (CosDNA)

Vitamin C Serum
Amazon rating: 4.6/5

InstaNatural's vitamin C serum is great. Although it is vitamin C serum, it also contain other, good-for-your-skin ingredients. The ingredients include: vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, ferulic acid, and vitamin E. The latter two ingredients are good to look for in any vitamin C serum, because they help stabilize the unstable vitamin C. Once again, hyalauronic acid is great for its moisturizing properties. The serum also includes many healthy oils that nourish your skin.

I really enjoy using this serum. Like the description on Amazon states, the serum is thicker than the typical water-based serums, so the product is easy to spread and absorbs quickly into the skin. After using this serum, my face feels moisturized and smooth! I typically use 3-4 drops for my face, so one bottle will last a good time! Additionally, the price for the serum is GREAT! $16.75! Most vitamin C serums are extremely expensive, so this one is great for gals looking to save money~ There are a couple downsides: after applying the serum, my face feels a little sticky. However, this stickiness shortly disappears after the serum absorbs into the skin. The other downside is that, maybe due to the oils in the serum, my face seems to be a little more oily than usually. And with this oiliness, my face seems to break out a little more (but not badly). 

Overall rating:     
Ease of use:     
Ingredients:      (CosDNA)

Retinol Moisturizing Cream
Amazon rating: 5.0/5

The retinol cream actually has more than just retinol. There's vitamin C, green tea, hyaluronic acid, jojoba oil, and shea butter. Retinol (vitamin A) promotes the growth of skin cells and can counteract signs of aging. Retinol also increases the skin's production of collagen, which helps make the skin appear more plump and elastic. Green tea is a natural antioxidant helps reduce breakouts and helps soothe irritated skin. It also helps with dark eye circles! Hyaluronic acid, jojoba oil, and shea butter all have great moisturizing properties.

This cream is quite wonderful. The morning after using this cream, my skin definitely felt more elastic and "squishy." :P I felt like my skin was noticeable brighter, too! Unfortunately, the only downside I noted was that this cream isn't quite as moisturizing as I had hoped. Maybe since it was a cream, the consistency wasn't what I was used to--moisturizers/lotions/emulsions--something more liquid-y. The cream is almost like a body butter consistency, so it doesn't spread as easily as typical moisturizers. 

Overall rating:     
Ease of use:     
Ingredients:      (CosDNA)

Since winter time can be quite drying for the skin, these products are great addition to for any skincare routine! Hope you guys will have the opportunity to check these products out!

Where to purchase?
Eye Serum - $23.95
Vitamin C Serum - $16.75

What products are a must-have for your winter skincare routine?


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

End of finals = start of BREAK!

Finals are finally OVER! Hooray~ After a week of torture and sleeplessness, I am finally done! I'm super excited for the winter break and for family/friend time!

Anyways, once again--praise God!--lots of good things happened despite it being finals week. My bestie (who graduated last year) came over Monday afternoon to spend time with us. She took my sister and I (who have no car :P) out to eat some yummy Korean food in Koreatown. I was definitely surprised by how much food we received for $30 total. I felt like I was eating at an all-you-can eat buffet! The food was very delicious and unique. Yum yum.

Seafood jja jang myun (huge!!)

4 King dumplings and 8 spicy shrimp dumplings~ 

After dinner, we went to grab some coffee/drinks at Document Coffee Bar! It's such a cute place, so if anyone is ever in Los Angeles, definitely check it out! They have the BEST homemade hot chocolate! They make their own Belgium chocolate (which is on a wooden spool) that you swirl around in hot, frothy milk! What a amazing (and not super-duper sweet) drink!

Unfortunately, we went there to study, and to our disappointment, they close at 9PM--we came at like 8:30...So we got kicked out shortly after ordering >__< sigghhh. Had to go back to the apartment to study. I guess everything worked out in the end anyways, hahaha.

Do you have any favorite coffee house or cafe?

Monday, December 15, 2014

My christmas wishlist from WISHTREND

Hello everyone! As some of you may have seen, I'm a huge fan of Korean (and Asian) skincare. It's so much more thorough than what many Americans are used to--with up to 11 steps! It's hard to think that only a couple years ago, I never used any sort of skincare products--just good, old water and towel. However, after finding out about the importance of skincare, I've been strangely (and happily) addicted to Korean skincare and products. Not only are they effective and cute, but many of these products are of much higher quality that American products of the same price.

*Disclaimer: not sponsored*

Today, I'd like to introduce to you Wishtrend, an online Korean beauty store. There are few points that make Wishtrend stand out from other Korean beauty stores:

  1. Well-integrated and very informative Youtube channel
  2. Exclusive and hard-to-find brands
  3. Huge range of products
  4. WISHboxes with discounted prices on a collection of products

I think the main reason I really love Wishtrend is that they like to keep their customers informed. They do that through they Youtube channel and through their newsletters. I love listening to their videos and reading the newsletters because I definitely learn a lot from them. I also want to purchase every product they mention >__< hahaha. Someday, maybe.

Here are some examples of videos and newsletters in which they inform their viewers:
- [Newsletter] What does vitamin C do for your skin?
- [Newsletter] Exfoliation tips for different types of skin
- [Youtube] Basic skin type test & rules
- [Youtube] Best Skin Care Products for Body & 3 Essential Body Care Tips
- [Youtube] Autumn/Fall Skin Care 101 & Natural Moisturizers

My Christmas Wishlist

These two are what's known as the Wishboxes. They contain a few products sold at approximately 30-50% off! I really would like to try a few products this way!

If you've taken a look at this youtube video, you'll see that the last two items on my wishlist are from that video--truthfully, I wanted everyone in that video. >__<
What skincare products do you have on your wishlist?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

3 fun DIY additions to your Christmas gifts!

Need a little extra something for your Christmas gifts? Have no fear~ Today, I will be sharing with you all some cute and (maybe :P) quick DIYs that you can make and add to your gifts for a little personal touch!

Ice Pandora's mini crochet gift-boxes are extremely adorable!! She has a great and detailed tutorial on her blog! Check it out here!

Source: Ice Pandora
Need something for a child? Make a dollhouse pillow! It's so cute that I want one too~ </3 (I've decided that it'll be on my winter to-do list! hahaha) Blogger Rubyellen from Cakies has shared a tutorial on A Beautiful Mess. Check it the tutorial out here!

Source: Cakies
This DIY "firefly" mason jar is just absolutely beautiful! The DIY would make such a wonderful additional to any table! Doesn't it look like something that came from a store? Ashey from Lil Blue Boo shared this tutorial, which you can find here!

Source: Lil Blue Boo
Hope you all get some nice ideas from these bloggers! Let me which ones you might do this winter break!

Monday, December 8, 2014

End of the semester

I can't believe time has passed so quickly! It seemed like only yesterday that I was freshman in college. Now I'll be graduating in May! Although this last week was extremely busy and time-consuming (every class was trying to squeeze in last-minute projects and assignments), I was able to have lots of fun with friends!

During Thanksgiving break, I went to visit some family friends in San Diego. It was such a fun and exciting experience. I was definitely existed to see them again, as they moved to SD during the summer. My sister and I stayed from Friday to Sunday, spending time with my friends (playing Monopoly!! XD hahaha) and drinking tea with the 阿姨 (ayi - auntie). It was such a fun experience.

Tea set. These tea cups are so tiny and so cute. I can probably take 3 sips XD hahaha

We also went to Potato Chip Rock, a 8-mile, almost completely uphill hike. It was so exhausting, but so rewarding, too. I think everyone became quiet later on during the trip because it was so tiring. XD

Route to Mount Woodson, San Diego
Mount Woodson Trail in San Diego 
Not me, lol. The lines were too long, so I just took a picture and left :P
After coming back from Thanksgiving break, my sister and I worked on this group project--creating a 90 second video pitch for our make-believe fashion/apparel brand. We used this program called VideoScribe. If anyone's looking for a good quality video-making program, VideoScribe is pretty awesome. Sadly it costs money, but there's a 7-day free trial (which we used) that allows you to publish the video with the VideoScribe logo. I personally wouldn't pay, just because I don't think I would have the chance to use it again. However, through this video-making project, I realized just how much I enjoy making, editing videos. I love anything involving creativity, and video-making just made that list of favorites!

On Wednesday, I went out with my girlfriends from our Senior Bible Study to have an end-of-the-semester dinner. We ate at Shinsengumi, an amazing ramen place. If anyone is in the LA area, Shinsengumi (and Daikokuya) are a definite must to check out~~

Hakata ramen--so delicious!!
Lastly, yesterday, my church had an Women's Christmas Breakfast. My church is "famous" for its love of food and for providing delicious food. We have delicious breakfast burritos and many homemade snacks and pastries. I also came home with a cute goodie bag of Diddy Reese cookies~~ <3 hehehe. Unfortunately I forgot to take many photos T__T Here's some yummy punch though XD

So cute, right? It has some sparking water, pineapple juice, other juices, cranberries, and lemon slices! <3

This week may been filled with assignments and projects, but it was definitely a fun and exciting one. Thanks for "hanging out" with me and listening to my life!!

How have you guys been? Did you have a good Thanksgiving? Are you excited for the Christmas season?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Review: Etude House Wonder Pore Freshner

This is my first Etude House product! I'm so excited :) My friend had purchased it for me from Hong Kong as a random gift! She's so sweet <3 Love her!!

Anyways, Etude House is a pretty popular Korean skincare and cosmetics brand. It's known for its high quantity products sold at affordable pricing~~ More over, Etude House has some of the cutest packaging/designs. I was overall very excited to try the brand's products!

Etude House Wonder Pore Freshner

This is the 10-in-1 benefits version (original had 7-in-1). Similar to a toner, the Freshner should be used directly after cleansing, twice a day. It claims to help clean and minimize pores, refine skin tone, provide moisture for the skin, maintain ideal skin pH, and more! 

The Freshner is 250ml, which, for me, can last quite some time. The toner ingredients are quite safe. The only qualm I have with the ingredients list is that alcohol is listed second. Alcohol tends to be drying for the skin, and in large quantities can be harmful for the skin. Unfortunately, Etude House uses enough alcohol in this product to have it listed second...

This product definitely isn't a magical cure. It won't instantly remove blackhead or minimal pores, and I have yet to see much change. Additionally, the smell isn't that great. Unlike some of the other products I've used, the smell is very simple and a little alcohol-y. It definitely doesn't smell like roses. hahaha

It does, however, do a good good of removing dirt and doesn't leave behind any residue (it's has a watery, toner-like consistency). Lastly, I would say that this product can help control oily skin, as the alcohol helps remove the oil on the skin. My skin has definitely felt less oily after using it. Considering all the alcohol in this product, it's not too drying (leaning more towards the moisturizing side) and leaves my face feeling fresh, soft, and smooth. However, moisturizer is still a must! 

Overall rating:     

Packaging: N/A
Ease of use:     
Ingredients:      (CosDNA)

Where to find this product?
Amazon: $14.95
W2Beauty: $17.15*
Cosmetic Love (Set of Freshner & Pore Solution): $22.74*

*free shipping+samples