Sometimes the world is a strange place, and sometimes it gives you opportunities to collaborate with whip-smart, wonderful people you meet in your day. A few weeks ago I had a great collaboration with Dinner Party Blog where I wrote about some of my n00b skincare favorites. Background: I actually met the editor of DPB, Pamela, while trying on clothes in a fitting room 🙂 I’ve been following her online musings off and on and was very pleased to be considered when she asked me to contribute some thoughts for her column.
I’m no expert, but I’ve enjoyed incorporating several new (to me) products into my routine. Check out my post here and let me know what you think.
Today’s post is all about skincare and what I’ve been using as of late. Disclaimer: any observation I make below has been solely from my own experience, and I am neither paid to write nor am I sponsored by any company in this post (although I sure wouldn’t mind getting products to try! hah)
The company recently updated both the essence formula and the packaging and bottle label. On the left is the old bottle and formula; on the right is what you’ll now find in stores or online.
Supposed benefits of propolis as an ingredient in daily skin care include: anti-inflammatory and anti-septic properties1, sebum and acne control2; and it may also help in healing wounds and with skin cell turnover.3 That’s a lot for one product to deliver, but in my experience so far, using some of this essence in conjunction with more adherence to nightly cleansing and toning has really seemed to brighten my complexion and decrease a lot of recurring chin breakouts. It has also helped in a pinch to calm sunburns, though I still think aloe gel does better because it cools the skin in addition to decreasing redness.
Differences between the old vs. new formula–according to Skinfood, the new formula now contains 63% black bee propolis extract, 10% royal jelly extract, and 10% black honey extract. Quite frankly I can’t tell the difference on me yet, but I will say that the old formula was more runny than the new one, which is a little more viscous.
How to use: I put a few drops around my face and gently rub it into my skin in small circles until it is absorbed. Usually after washing my face before bedtime, or before I put on my makeup in the morning as a lightweight moisturizer.
Masking is still a new and confusing area of skincare for me–the most I’ve really done is sheet masks, which are relatively inexpensive and quick to use. When I had shopped at my local Skinfood stores, I got a sample of the Black Sugar Strawberry face mask. It didn’t immediately impress me, but after swatching a few other wash off-style masks at Ulta (also primarily K-beauty brands) I came to appreciate this particular one.
The Black Sugar line is exfoliating and cleansing, and the strawberry smell of this mask IS fairly strong. As you apply the mask and it melts into the skin, the smell may make you hungry! You’ve been warned. I bought a silicone brush/spatula to avoid contaminating the jar as I apply it to my face.
How to use: apply with fingers or a brush on clean, damp skin, avoiding the eye and lip area. Rub gently into skin while washing off to exfoliate and cleanse. At the most I do this once every other week, as it is fairly messy.
That’s my mini product update, but if you have any recommendations for masks to try (I’d love to try a peel off one) or your favorite essence or serum, please leave me a note below 🙂
Hi! I thought I’d write some of my thoughts down; it’s been far too long since I’ve engaged in my usual blathering on this blog. 2017 was a hell of a year and I couldn’t have predicted all the things that happened in it. Personally, I experienced a lot of joys, but also appreciated the growing pains of adulthood and responsibility in general. I guess that’s intentionally vague, since I have no desire to turn this into a confessional. Suffice it to say, shopping (read: spending on clothes) hasn’t been a top priority when there’s other real-life s*** going down.
With that being said of COURSE I did end up buying a thing or two (or three) because life is inevitable and I’m still a consumer at the core. Ready for some over-analysis and proselytizing AF?!
2017: why you stop writing, Kristina? and …you bought more gray sweaters?
This came from the fact that I went to Seattle in August wearing the exact same travel outfit as two years prior, except the navy sweater was definitely pilled and faded compared to pictures before. I love those light weight Gap v-neck sweaters to bits, you’ll see me wearing those for about 9 months out of the year except for during SoCal Death Summers when my personal style suffers because you can’t take your own skin off to cool down.
Total sweater acquisitions:
(2) Old Navy – one black, one gray
(1) Everlane – one gray cropped
(3) Target – gray, forest green, pink heather
(1) Banana Republic – thrifted/hand-me-down from my aunt
7 sweaters seems like a lot when you live in a desert, y’all. But does the fact that I wear them to work excuse this rate of consumption?
2. New bottoms
I had a decent first half of the year running and working out until I popped my back on squats and I lost the desire to run. My body’s shape is changing yet again. I also learned that as much as I thought I could emulate trendy influencerzzz on Instagram, I’m better served with mid-rise pants and I need detox teas to fit in high-rise anything.
Total new bottoms:
(4) Gap jeans – 2 real straights, 1 boot cut, 1 thrifted/hand-me-down boot cut that needs hemming (I still don’t know if I’m keeping the boot cuts.)
(1) Target black work pants
(1) Levi’s cut off shorts
3. Surprise buys
I try not to let this become a habit, but throughout the year I did fall prey to a few impulse buys, mostly fueled by travel. The Coach wristlet was a surprise in that I like using it solo as a clutch as well as a mega wallet inside my regular bag.
2017 was the year of beauty, or at least participating in the giant machine that is women’s skincare and makeup. For someone barely getting their feet wet in the massive abyss of serums and essences and potions oh my, this ended up being a new pie slice in my expense chart. Granted, the Tartelette palette was a very good Christmas gift, but I still managed to acquire:
(1) Byredo EDP (I like Blanche, but I bought a different scent) 100 mL
(2) Skinfood Royal Honey Propolis Essence : I enjoyed the Propolis face mask so I got the essence in a bottle. I put this under my makeup in the daytime and before I go to sleep; takes care of dryness, light weight, feels like doing a sheet mask every day.
(1) Tartelette Toasted eye palette (Christmas present!)
I’ll probably need more of the essence in a few months, but I also have sheet masks and other samples to consume to fill in the gaps.
How did I do? Did I buy too many sweaters? (yes, even if they were on sale.) What areas did you find yourself spending the most on in 2017? Leave me a note below–I do miss writing here!
I’m not even going to pretend I’m to the minute with my trends or fashion scoop–heck, I’m barely on the blogosphere these days. But imagine the nice surprise when I found myself running the umpteenth errand of the week at Target to see several new concepts unveiled in the apparel department. I have to hand it to the retail giant, they’ve been improving their offerings every year and this fall I think they’ve hit on something with their womenswear concept called “A New Day.”
Disclaimer: not an ad, no sponsorship (though I wouldn’t mind if I got sent pants! Hi Target Corporate!) just an every day woman shopping for a bargain. etc. etc.
Kristina’s Picks (left-to-right):
1. Bi-Stretch Twill Skinny Pants in black, $24.99
Don’t get me started on work pants. Oh wait, too late. I’m STILL looking for work pants that have functional pockets that hold, oh I don’t know, pens? a phone? not tiny Tic Tac boxes? These pants unfortunately suffer tiny pocket syndrome, but at $24.99 it’s at that price point where I can live with it–somewhat. It forces me to use a wristlet or purse, which is just not efficient IRL. I am woman and I still want real pockets. I’m wearing a size 4 which is a bit baggy throughout the thigh and knee, but I can’t go down on the waist size. The bi-stretch twill fabric will warm up and eventually bag out by a second day’s full wear, so I’d get two if you prefer dark colors, wash inside out, and air dry to preserve its life for as long as possible. My favorite black pants from Target’s Mossimo brand had deep enough pockets and still works well today except it is horribly faded. These pants are on the short list for when I MUST be in pants, but I’ll wait for it to come down to $20 or less with coupons. WOMEN NEED REAL POCKETS TOO.
2. Ponte Pencil Skirt, $22.99
This is just okay. It’s a skirt. Pocket is deep enough for a phone. It’s a bit long on me (I prefer mine to go at or an inch above the knee.) There is also a pesky silver chunky visible zipper in the back. Good if you need a pencil skirt.
3. Denim Pleat Front Skirt, $19.99 and Utility Popover Shirt in indigo, $17.99
These ended up being my favorite combo together. I had initially picked the top to try with the pants but it looks better with the denim skirt. Madewell-heads rejoice–you can get the Courier shirt look for less. The Target version is Lyocell though, not chambray. I am wearing a M in this but can go down to a small for the true fit for my shoulders, but you may loose the relaxed fit if you go your true size.
The skirt is not quite my favorite–I don’t really care for the paper bag/ruffled waist, but if you do this I’d go up a size. The elastic is a bit tight for the small to fit me where I want it, which is slightly below the belly button in this picture.
4. Gingham Popover Shirt, $17.99
Same double pocket construction as the previous popover, but no pocket flaps. Instead the pattern for the pockets is turned for “visual contrast.” A little too distracting for me, to be honest, but the fabric on the shirt is soft and comfortable.
5. Flutter Sleeve Crepe Dress in cherry, $27.99
Go your true size. I’m in a M and it’s definitely too long in the torso, shoulders, and length. I should probably be in a Petite but I don’t see PM or PS options for this dress. It’s poly all throughout, and lined. I thought it would be a good office option until I realized it’s too baggy overall plus polyester. The color is good for the upcoming season and should be flattering for most body types.
6. Anorak Jacket in olive, $44.99
I truly don’t need another olive jacket but this was surprisingly well-made. Not really a fan of roll-tab sleeves but it’s not heinous–in fact, I wear my beloved H&M military jacket with the arms rolled up most of the time now. I really should have unfurled the Target jacket sleeves to see how long they are. There is a thin hood wrapped/tucked into the collar under a zipper. I’m wearing a small, which I probably wouldn’t do if you wanted to wear a substantial sweater under this.
The entire jacket is pretty thin with no lining, and the anorak tail and waist are adjustable via drawstring. I wish it had storage pockets on the inside of the jacket, but at this price you can’t really ask for more. I’m going to go back and see if the blue version can pass for navy. On the site it looks a little too bright of a blue to work in my closet.
Let me know what you think–I’m definitely eyeing those pants and am hoping the jacket goes on sale sometime soon!
Hands down one of the best vacations in a long time, and that’s huge praise considering I usually only get euphoric after San Francisco or Seattle. The desert area of Palm Springs is typically not the type of destination I gravitate toward, seeing as how it’s terribly hot and to be frank, a bit unfamiliar to me. But this year I’ve been dealing with a lot more stress than I’m used to and the usual eat-run-sightsee-circus I generally put myself through didn’t appeal to me. In the spirit of trying something new I decided to check out the quiet but refreshing La Quinta Resort & Club in the city of La Quinta, California.
Disclaimer: not a sponsored ad/comped stay etc. etc. just a nice discovery that I’d thought I’d share for those of you who might want to travel somewhere neat sometime, etc. (back to the post)
As far as I know there’s no real easy way to get here other than driving in–you may have to fly then drive about 2 hours to come into the Palm Springs area. I’ll spare the locals the boredom of me explaining how to get here. Suffice it to say, a car is needed if you’re a mere mortal like me and protip: load a bunch of water, Gatorade and maybe a snack or two because your road food options are all fast food. I’m not going to knock the McDonald’s stops though–they have $2 vanilla iced coffees and I like McGriddle breakfast sandwiches (oooh, such elevated brekkie.)
La Quinta Resort was established sometime in the early 20s-30s, with the original casitas and other structures well-preserved throughout the ages. Since then the resort has grown to include more facilities that include not only regular rooms but full quad-style units, some with private patios and hot tubs to others with full kitchens and living amenities. By luck the casita I was assigned was part of the original rooms built in 1926. Despite its proximity to the lobby and main restaurants, the open layout of the resort and the lack of high rise structures makes the entire area feel expansive and free.
I unfortunately can’t tell you how the golf or tennis is because I don’t play either but if you want to be outdoors–you’ll have all the choices in the world. I didn’t see many folks outside for too long because average temperatures were in the 100-110Fs (37C+) during most of the day. But here’s some pictures while I was exploring the grounds:
Behind this is the Fitness Center which I didn’t get to, but it looked pretty rad. There are also cruiser bikes to rent if you want to ride around the property which I should have done at nightfall. Hopefully I can come back next time to do more. I pretty much spent most of my outdoor time at the Plunge Pool which is the adults 21+ pool:
It’s hot and harsh and the sun is a serious force to be reckoned with. My cheeks peeled on the first day just because it was way drier in the desert than the humidity we’ve been having back home. But after the second and third day you get used to it and it’s sort of pleasant to step outside and be enveloped in the encompassing warmth. Remember to drink/replenish fluids, don’t be like me and forget. Heat illness is a serious thing. And don’t even get me started on sun protection. Sunglasses, hat, a shirt, and sunscreen every time I’m at the water. Even on the short walk from the room to breakfast you can go zero to lobster if you don’t cover up.
I am admittedly a n00b at resort vacationing so please excuse my wonder, but I do appreciate that the Hilton/Waldorf-Astoria experience was as advertised. I like to answer the post-visit reviews because it’s a genuine chance to give feedback and appreciation for the staff. There was nothing lacking period, from arrival to the room to the restaurants or grounds and amenities. If you’re needing to get away from it all but want a pleasant, relaxing, efficient stay, here it is.
Penultimate dinner at Morgan’s. American steak and seafood house featuring CA wines and fresh ingredients.
On the left: a mix of Spanish influences in the architecture and decor of the grounds. Right: Lilly Pulitzer offerings in one of the several boutiques on-site.
One of the larger conference halls/meeting rooms, and the Santa Rosa mountains in view on the top left.
It was great to really slow down, decompress, rest (naps anyone??) and enjoy a mid-year break. I haven’t been writing as much for quite a few reasons–I’m trying to save money and so I’ve been acquiring less overall, but it now enables me to do things like this. And after I got back from the Philippines last year I’ve been mentally challenging myself to want less so I can divert funds to experiences I can share with others, like food, travel or music.
When the fun money fund is restored, I should like to come back.
I had a post idea bubble up this morning as I was doing my makeup so I thought, let’s run with this inspiration and fire up the good ol’ blog! So here I am with a mid-year update; let’s get down to business, ne? Prepare thineself for the copious selfies–thou hast been warned.
I started writing/posting in 2013, and I wore nothing / pressed powder only:
In 2014 I lost twenty pounds, grew more hair (that remained tangled, lol), and made a little routine called the “Five Minute Face” that began with my brows. It felt pretty good, and I enjoyed doing my eyebrows so I kept it up.
2015 events brought the introduction of eyeliner and lipcolor, to varying success:
I’ve seen women emphasize all their features. So I tried it.
I chopped off half my length before a wedding, regretted not chopping off MORE. Could have done the it-girl shoulder length blunt bob.
2016– muscle memory and control is a little better. Started looking for a nude lip color and bought a few new brushes to add to the makeup bag.
2017’s Everyday Face no longer takes a mere five minutes, because I’ve since expanded my skill set. Here’s what I use on a regular basis (some steps optional):
From left to right:
Lorac Pro to Go Eye/Cheek Palette
NARS Radiance Enhancing Light Optimizing Primer
Rimmel Matte BB Cream 9-in-1 Skin Perfecting Super Makeup in Medium
Rimmel Scandaleyes Retro Glam Mascara in 001 Black
Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Pencil in 005 Nude
L’Oreal Infallible The Super Slim Liquid Eyeliner in Black
Rimmel Brow this Way Brow Gel in Clear
L’Oreal True Match Pressed Powder in N3 – Natural Buff
Nyx Blush in PB01 Mocha
Urban Decay De-Slick Oil Control Setting Spray
Moisturizer with SPF (not photographed), NARS primer on eyes, BB cream, pressed powder.
Brow routine which is filling in sparse areas with a Bobbi Brown eyeshadow close to my hair color; Rimmel brow gel to set.
Eyes. I create my own version of a “cut crease” or what I think looks like a cut crease, but is really just a smudge of something, with the Lorac palette. Or if I’m in a rush and only can do one color, I use single MAC pots in a non-descript brown just to have some color on the eyelids. Optional: I’ll tightline the lower waterline with nude pencil for work, smudge the gold/bronze color if I’m in the mood. Same with mascara or eyeliner. If I’m wearing all of the above, I consider that my “fleekest” for the day. Not really. It still looks pretty restrained.
Blush because why not. Concealer if I really need it, but I tend to forget/eliminate this step.
Setting spray when done.
I like what I’ve been doing so far:
Hair’s all poofy.
This definitely takes a little longer than five minutes–I’d say about twenty, because I’m a lot more picky about my eyebrows and the eyeshadows when I do this. I’ve had days where I overfilled the brows and looked pretty silly or was sloppy on blending the shadow. But overall I really like where I am right now with the routine and while I am not quite yet a glazed donut perhaps 2018 might be my year! Maybe contouring will be passe by the time I get to it?
Disclaimer: I’m not about to teach you how to pack for a trip to Asia–there are actual bloggers who do that sort of thing for a living; I just want to talk about what I ended up bringing and what worked or didn’t. 😀
I realize I’m five months late on this but hey! it’s still fun to discuss, n’est-ce pas?
Left California in December (aka 55F-79F highs/lows) to go to Manila “winter” (mild rain, humidity 80%+++, makes 80F-95F feel like 90-105F)
Activities: city travel, island stay (4 days), exercise (running)
Things I brought:
Tops: cotton short-sleeved tees, tanks (a few each), a light cardigan, rayon long-sleeved split neck blouses
Dresses/bottoms: one polka dot 3/4 sleeve dress, two pairs of Levi’s cutoffs, Uniqlo Ultra Stretch skinny jeans, Everlane culottes
Shoes: brown Saltwater sandals, running shoes, Nike Free RN Flyknit, Sam Edelman ballet flats
Special: three bikinis (to rotate wash/dry), goggles, water shoes
Outerwear: Arc’teryx rain jacket, Uniqlo Ultra Light down jacket
Arc’teryx rain jacket: you would think wearing what amounts to a huge plastic tarp would be insufferable in humid rain, but it actually was surprisingly comfortable. Not to mention it doubled as an emergency layer when we entered heavily air-conditioned areas. Note to self: you can get sick from the AC-inside, hellfire outside dichotomy. bring scarves too, it gets cold AND dry when a draft is blowing on you all day.
Long sleeved (rayon) blouse/top: counterintuitive when you think about humidity and heat, but I was more comfortable in these blouses (and looked more put together) than in a tee-shirt. As long as the material is breathable and not constricting, I actually did better and preferred to be covered up rather than exposing my arms.
Levi’s shorts: wore these more than the culottes which needed to be ironed every night. They broke into my shape in just the right way and were comfortable as all get. The only downside? full exposure to mosquito bites 😦
Saltwater sandals: an impulse Amazon buy right before leaving. Not the most comfortable of all footwear (there’s a pressure point under the arch for me that kept bugging after 2-3 hours of wear.) but it goes well with the summer-casual dressing. I would have brought my Birkenstocks but I didn’t want to risk getting them damaged at the beach.
What I forgot and wished for:
Tweezers and nail clippers – sounds basic. I thought I’d be able to borrow some from the family I was staying with–which I did eventually, but when my nails broke while at the beach I made a note to make it part of my makeup/grooming kit.
Goggles – this was my fault. I forgot/couldn’t find mine, ended up buying a pair while on vacation. Unnecessary necessary expense.
What I learned:
Pack a beanie for the long plane ride (doubles as eye cover) and keep drinking water throughout (bathroom line be damned.) Hydration and sleep so that you feel less beat up when you get off the plane.
You really don’t need five tee shirts when three and daily washing suffices. YMMV on what facilities and opportunities are available to you regarding cleaning your clothes while traveling, but I still only used a good half of what I packed and the rest was just sitting in the suitcase.
Importance of curating (ugh, I hate that word) your closet IRL so travel packing is less annoying: after a few years of culling (also buzzword) my stuff into the things I really like and use time and again, all my potential building blocks for an outfit are thematically related. All that’s left to do before departure is ensure they are in good condition (I repaired a seam that was coming undone on a top) and you’re done.
Whatever you forget or is broken or missing can usually be replaced while abroad (except for special medications, most likely.) Don’t sweat the small stuff and try to relax!