Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Silly (& slightly nerdy) Book

Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas! I have a silly story for you today to help you recover from all the food, the unwrapping of presents and too-tight and too-long hugs from aunts and grandmothers who smell of potpourri.


There are still many bookstores in Japan. Thus, a really good way to fill some time is by perusing the titles. I was in Shinjuku in Tokyo with about 30 minutes to spare before I was supposed to meet up with a friend so I went to Lumine, a nice department store connected to the station, to check out some books. This bookstore covers almost the whole floor and has a Starbucks attached to it. It's a floor of books. Mostly of the fashion and art type. I found some really cool books on architecture around the world as well as many how-to books pertaining to photography.

After wandering about for a big, flipping pages here and there, I found myself in the children's section of this rather fancy bookstore. There, I found the Japanese translation of The Giving Tree. Having just come off a ship interpreting/translating for 86 straight days, I was wondering how this book that I had loved so much as a child was translated. What I had conveniently (or not) forgotten was that this book also makes me cry every time. The translation was amazing. It definitely wasn't a direct translation of all the words and phrases used. I don't think that a strict, direct translation would have made me cry in the middle of a fancy bookstore inside a fancy department store in the middle of Tokyo. 

In an attempt to hide my now red eyes all filled up with tears, I picked up the closest book that I could pretend to read. I picked up...

Needless to say, I had, even through the blurry vision of looking through tears, selected the perfect book to get myself out of this slightly embarrassing state. I was in a new embarrassing state of giggling to myself in no time. The best part? That I wasn't reading what was pictured above. I was reading this

You know what makes silly books even sillier? 

When they're in Japanese. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Organic Ginger Peach White Tea

My tea obsession grows stronger as I travel. I have always liked green tea, but it probably wasn't until moving to Japan that I could tell the difference between tea leaf qualities and in some cases, origins. Going to India and England made me absolutely obsessed with black teas, a love only rivaled by my love of scones. Now? Well, I'm finally starting to get into herb, floral, and fruit teas.

My recent find is this one from a trip to Trader Joe's:

The balance between the ginger, pear and white tea is delicate enough so that none of them overpower the others. Though I usually associate most peach and other fruit teas with summer (and not winter), this is perfect for winter as well because the ginger adds a hint of spice, keeping you warm, while giving you a break from all the nutmeg and cinnamon you've inevitably been ingesting this season.

Do you have any recent tea finds? 
I'd love to try out some new teas!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Makeup Palettes & Eyeliners On-the-go

One of my favorite parts of traveling abroad is that you have many opportunities to replenish your makeup supply at the duty free stores lining the corridors of the airport. Since I enjoy traveling light, I usually go with buying a few nicer items. Here's a list of my must-buys when I go through duty free stores.

Makeup palettes: 

Makeup palettes, especially ones that happen to have all colors that you can/will use, are a great way to save space. I currently use one from Lancome that I got a couple years ago when leaving Korea. I can even use the dark brown in it on my eyebrows so this one palette completely takes care of my eyes (minus eyeliner & mascara) and blush.

However, I always throw out the brushes that are included and use my own. Brushes (and a good primer) can make up for products that might be a little subpar. Unfortunately, this seems to work both ways where I can have great quality eye shadow, but it will look horrible if applied with the sponge brushes that are included.


On the most minimalistic trips, I take just an eyebrow pencil and eyeliner. If I could only take one makeup item, it would be eyeliner, hands down. That's how important it is for me. I've tried quite a few in my day, but I've found that the eyeliners that are easiest to travel with are those that don't require a brush or sharpening.

My favorite eyeliner, if I can afford it, is the Chanel Stylo Yeux Waterproof (30USD) in black. This goes on smoothly and doesn't smudge very much. I mean, you can't really expect any eyeliner to stay for 12 hours while traveling.

If I'm on a bit of a budget, I go for the MAC Technakohl Liner (15USD), also in black. I used to swear by this one until I splurged once and tried the Chanel waterproof one. 
*I just ran out of this one and am only consoled by the fact that I have a bit of the Chanel splurge left since I used it so sparingly (not anymore!). 

Eyebrow pencil:

I absolutely love this retractable one from The Face Shop (Korean Brand). No, I haven't been able to make it back to Seoul; I had a friend pick one up for me while she was there. I wear color #06, which is a dark brown, but still lighter than my natural brows, hopefully keeping my eyebrows from overpowering the rest of my face.

I must apologize. I meant to take fun photos of these products, but have packed the makeup palate up (with the rest of my room).

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Handsewn Pencil Pouch

At the request of Erica from Caught on a Whim, I present to you, my most recent DIY project!

As some of you may know, I'm prepping to board a ship for 85 days to sail around the world while interpreting (Japanese/English). As an interpreter, we're not only in charge of actual communication, we also participate in creating and running some activities on board.

Needless to say, I need to carry around a lot of stuff, including pens/pencils/stapleless staplers/Japanese masking tape/etc. More importantly, since I'd already gathered the supplies, I needed a bag to put it all in. Pencil pouches are much more common in Japan than in the US, but it would still be a struggle to find just the right size.

Confession: I didn't really put much energy into trying to find one of the right size since I had some relatively stainless placemats I'd made before that I no longer needed laying around my apt. I stopped by a fabric store just to pick up a YKK zipper, and voila!

It was my second attempt at using a zipper, but I think it turned out alright.

I'm also packing up my whole room right now and keep finding knick knacks that I don't really know what to do with. In the case of this little badge depicting london sight-seeing buses that I got in a tiny countryside town in Japan, I pinned it on my brand new pencil case to add a little flair!

Country-chic seems to be quite popular in Japan right now, which is why I'd originally picked up the fabric I used on the outside and I added the rabbits with moons on the inside for a more traditional Japanese print/feel. At the time that I bought these fabric scraps, I figured that I'd go for things that felt more or less Japanese since I was buying them in Japan. It'd be much less fun if I bought a pattern that could be purchased just anywhere.

PS- For anyone who thinks that they can't sew: I started sewing in Tokyo, where I don't have a sewing machine. If I can do it, you can too. I mean, this isn't perfect in any way, but it's fairly sturdy so it does the trick!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How to: Look Effortless at the Airport

I recently shared my favorite travel hairstyle, but what about the rest of you, right?

Here's an example of my favorite travel outfit:

Tight tank + Loose t-shirt + Scarf + Comfortable Pants + Flats = Lovely to Wear, Lovely to Look at.

the Tight tank will help keep you warm while also absorbing most of the sweat should you get too warm.

the Loose t-shirt is not only cooling and comfortable, it lets you have a bit of freedom with what kind of bra you wear- so you can wear your most comfortable one... or a sports bra!

the Scarf (not pictured, it's in my purse) lets you adjust your temperature on a plane, which can range anywhere from hell to hell frozen  over. I usually get one that's thin so you can kind of twist it to make it cover very little surface area when you're warm, yet will fold out to be big enough to act as a blanket.

the Comfortable pants are probably the most important part of this. If you're skinny enough, then you have won the travel jackpot and can totally wear jeggings and bask in their comfort. For the rest of us, however, jeggings are not an option. I have secret pants. They look dressy even though they're a bit stretchy and... get this... they have an elastic waistband and a drawstring. Is it a little embarrassing to admit? Sure. But is it totally worth being comfortable? OMGYES. I usually go with full length pants that i can roll up if I get warm, but it's hot in Tokyo now and I'm not willing to die of heatstroke for a picture.

I can't find them on the US website right now, but I've gotten a pair in the US as well. Here's a link to the Japanese Uniqlo site for the best travel pants ever.

the Flats should be easy to slip on and off* during airport security, and because even if you're one of those people who likes to remove their shoes after takeoff, no one should go into the bathroom without footwear.

Bonus: I love my LongChamps le pliage bag when I'm on the road (ok, all the time, but especially when I'm on the road). I can fold it up to put in my backpack when I'm in rural areas, yet whip it out and look chic when I'm in the city. It's also super lightweight.

*Unfortunately, my favorite travel flats were just ruined when I was caught in a couple monsoons. I hate rainy season. grumbles.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Favorite Travel Hair-do

There's a trick to being comfortable, yet not looking grungy when traveling. I have yet to fully master this, but I'm learning. After experimenting quite a bit of several hair styles, I have found this to be the best hair style to travel with:

Reasons why I love the side braid so much:
  • The side braid lets you comfortably use the headrest (ever try to sleep on a plane with a ponytail? no thank you).
  • Keeps your hair a bit more controlled than a normal side-pony. 
  • It doesn't start looking worse as your hair gets greasier from sitting in recycled air next to strangers for hours. In fact, it's even easier to do when there's a little grease in your hair. 
  • Once you get used to it, you can do it without a mirror and it takes max 1 minute. 
  • It's low maintenance- you only need a hair tie. No bobby pins needed because ouch! those suckers can hurt if you turn the wrong way whilst sleeping on a plane/train/night bus.
  • Most importantly, braids are in right now, so take advantage of that to look chic on the road!
  • Braid fairly tightly until you get about 2/3 of the way down of the non-french braid, braid part and then tie it off. Put your finger through pieces of the part of the braid hanging next to your head and gently tug down. This makes the braid much more comfortable, while making it look effortless. 
  • Pin back your bangs a bit while actually on the mode of transportation, lightly wash your face right before you arrive at your destination and place them back for non-greasy bangs that look great and will have people wondering how in the world you did that.  
  • You can add a headband or small accessory to dress it up, if you're feeling fancy... at the airport. 
  • Read/Watch this hair tutorial from Maegan 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mineral Powder

Especially when I'm venturing into warmer climates, I'm always sure to have a little mineral powder on hand.

The one that most people are probably familiar with is the Bare Escentuals Mineral Veil (20USD/.3oz), but the one that I am currently using is the Aveda Inner Light Mineral Loose Powder (28USD/.7oz). Now that Bare Escentuals has changed their packaging to be a little more travel friendly, it is more convenient, but the Aveda Mineral Loose Powder is essentially the same thing, perhaps even a little lighter, and I actually put it in a different container anyway, so it's more down to price & preference.

I have a cheaper version of this refillable buff brush that I found in Japan. It's great because it doesn't spill and it's easy to throw in your makeup bag and/or purse. I don't suggest filling it up all the way because you'll want to wash the brush faster than you'll run out of powder.

Whichever you choose, they both still provide the necessary functions:

  1. Keeping your face matte- I don't always wear foundation, but you know what really makes your face shiny? Sunscreen. 
  2. I'm currently on a shampooing every other day schedule. This works well for my hair, except for my bangs, which tend to get greasier faster. The quickest remedy for this is to just press in some mineral powder into my bang line. 
  3. When in hot climates, it can be helpful to powder places that tend to gather sweat to help absorb some of the moisture. I tend to put a little inside my elbows, since I have fairly sensitive skin and when it's really humid out (and I'm quite sweaty), I can get little rashes quite easily. This is also easily done with talcum/baby powder, but I just tend to have mineral powder on hand.
Sure these aren't very pretty to think about, but that's what mineral powder is for, right? So you can keep looking sweaty, greasy, and rashy just in your head :)

Do you have any tricks for not looking so shiny in hot/humid climates? 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Travel Quirks: Rings

There are two rings that I always travel with: One is a skull ring that I got at Tokyo Disneyland back in 2007 with a close friend, and a three-ring. (Does anyone know what these are actually called?)

So, why these rings?

  • They're sterling silver so I can subject them to just about anything and they won't tarnish or get too gross, even if I leave them on during the whole trip. Silver-plated nickel looks nice, but the silver eventually wears off, especially when you're exposing them to all sorts of things, including hard water, salt water, dirt, me for days on end... so I find that pure sterling silver is the way to go. Leave the silver-plated nickel as costume jewelry when you're at home.
  • They also don't look as flashy as gold might- they're cute, but no one's going to go out of their way to steal these. 
  • I find it handy to have rings on me, because sometimes it's just easier or safer to say that you're married and it's much easier to convince someone that you're married if you're wearing a ring on your left ring finger. I obviously use the three-ring (& not the skull ring) for this purpose.
You might be asking "really? do people ask you if you're married that much? Does it even matter? doubt it!" This is actually something that I started after getting asked repeatedly in several countries if I was engaged or married and most of the time, they were fairly insistent until my friend(s) and I were finally able to convince them that we had husbands. I even had to find a picture of me and "my husband" (aka a picture with a guy friend that happened to be left on my camera) to convince someone to leave me alone. (Dating seems to mean that you're still fair game.)

Why 2 rings? 
I don't know.. I'm a girl; I like accessories! 
but I'm also practical. 2 rings seems to be reasonable when on the road. 

Does you carry rings and/or a picture when you travel?
Do you think I'm being overly cautious or ridiculous?
Would love to hear from you!!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hot pink with Turquoise dots

aaaand pink again, but this time a hot pink that I got as a bachelorette party favor. I think it's from F21. Goes on surprisingly well. I always use my Dior Ivory #108 as a base coat.

This time I went with turquoise dots to accent. At first I tried it on all fingers and trust me, my fingers looked like a creepy dinosaur.

Yes, I realize that the only two posts on this blog right now are about my nails. I just needed a couple posts while I formatted and such. Much more interesting content coming soon, I promise!

I've been into pink nails these days... and apparently my pink striped socks from Costco.
Since I move around a bit, I try to not buy a lot of colors so I let myself splurge when I do.

This was also one of my first experiments with loose glitter instead of using a bottle of polish with glitter in it so you can control the concentration of sparkles a bit better. Yes, yes it's time consuming, but doing my nails is my own form of therapy :)

Dior Ivory #108
Loose Glitter