Friday, August 28, 2015

weekend fun: return to the north

everything is so photogenic up here!

A few months ago, one of my oldest friends and I decided that we wanted to do a couple's trip up north this summer before C and I move. We decided to spend four days and three nights up north at a cabin and spend time exploring the area, taking advantage of the trails and lakes near the cabin. I was looking forward to it for months and the trip itself absolutely didn't disappoint! We stayed in the same area that C and I stayed in last year with his family, so it was pretty fun to show our fellow travelers the area since they had never come this far north before.

The first day was spent mostly making our way up to the cabin itself, but we stopped at a historic mansion for a tour at the halfway point. The weather was gorgeous, though it was a bit hot in the sun. We arrived too early for a tour, so we spent some time right by the lake enjoying the sunshine and the wind coming off the lake. The views were absolutely gorgeous! Eventually we made our way through the tour (which was absolutely stunning) and kept going on our way to the cabin!

Monday, August 24, 2015

supporting local makers

instantly fell in love with all things herbal's northwoods cottage scent

I like to buy handmade or small business whenever it is fiscally and practically possible. Although the majority of my makeup and skincare is made up of conventional big-business products that are probably made in batches of the hundred thousands, I still love the feel of homemade or handmade. I know that many of us understand what it feels like to put love, time, and a personal standard of perfection in something that we do - whether that be something you do at your workplace or something you do as a hobby, such as crafting or even blogging. Since I have a sense of what it feels like to dedicate time and effort into something, I like supporting people who put (what I can only imagine to be) even more time and effort into running their own businesses. One of my best friends from college actually did a double major in both English and art and I am a proud owner of some of her originals, either that I bought myself or were very kindly gifted to me. I still have these pieces with me and have brought them along on my many little sojourns.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


shot of lanterns from 祇園祭 taken at another transitional time in my life

I am someone who tends to get worked up over changes in life - even changes that are objectively good or changes that I am actually looking forward to. At some level I know that change needs to happen in life because, without change, how can any progress be made. That being said, I've discovered that I become the most anxious in moments of transition where I move from one state (maybe both literally and figuratively) to the next. I am currently in a moment of flux as I move from the place I will always call home to a place with new possibilities which pleases me and excites me a great deal.

I'll miss having my mother so close the most. My mother and I are incredibly close and I value her insights, her humor, and her kindness so much, which makes it difficult to think that I won't have quick access to the comfort she brings. Thankfully, with the nature of my job and my partner's job (as a soon-to-be-inducted double PhD student) we can come back for holidays and random visits much more regularly. His family is from the same state and he is also close to his family, so coming home is important to him as well.

All in all the changes are good and I am basically living a best-case-scenario life here in terms of my job, my location, and such. Yet, there is the lingering sense that a chapter is closing in my life and that from this point on things can't return to the way they were. At the end of the day, I am thankful that I have people (and a bichon-poo) around me who help me with all the inevitable transitions in life - what could be better than that?

Here's to new beginnings and continuing the sojourn!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

review: tony moly aloe vera moisturizing face mask

tony moly - i'm real - aloe face mask sheet (moisturizing)

I've used a few sheet masks in the past but mostly used Japanese brands since, until recently, sheet masks were not terribly popular in the West and I've had access to Japanese products through my annual trips. However, Japanese cosmetics and skin care are very hard to get a hold of in the United States and my work life has been such that I haven't been able to go abroad as often as I used to, so now I either wait for friends to send along a few sheet masks or I go for what is available in the U.S.! Lately I've noticed a lot of Korean skin care brands have been making their way to the Western market - including Tony Moly.

I've been seeing their products in Sephora (where I bought this mask) and have been hearing a lot of good things both about the brand specifically and about Korean products in general. I decided to take the plunge after my skin has been going through a dry spell, probably brought on by the air conditioning on this summer (it's the humidity that'll kill you!). I've also found that moisturizing masks are a pretty safe starting point regardless of your skin type - I have sensitive skin that tends towards breakouts and I haven't had problems with the moisturizing masks I've tried in the past. This one from Tony Moly was no exception!

The packaging, like all Tony Moly products, is so cute! I love the bright colors and stylized graphics, plus there are clear directions on the back for anyone who is new to the whole sheet mask world. As a warning: be careful when you first open the package, because there is a lot of serum in the bag and I received a bit of a spray when I opened mine up. This was also a problem when I first put the actual sheet mask on my face because I initially found that some of the serum dripped down my neck. I guess the it is marketed as moisturizing! That being said, the sheer volume of serum wasn't too much of an issue and I ended up just massaging the excess into my neck.

I left the mask on for about 20-25 minutes, which fell between the 20-30 minute time-frame they list on the package. Once I removed the mask there was still a lot of the serum left on my face, so I patted that in my face as well. I usually use the Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate religiously each night, but since the serum from the mask was so rich I decided to skip the night oil and see what happened. Fast-forward to the next morning and all my dry patches were completely gone! My face definitely felt deeply moisturized and there were no new breakouts caused by the mask.


Now, is this mask worth the price? Unfortunately for those of us who live in the West (particularly in places where there are no large Asian markets near by) we have to pay a higher price at places like Sephora. This mask came in a pack of two for $7.50 which is not terribly cheap for a face mask. However, I am someone who doesn't use masks as often so this was a fun little buy for me to try out. I think I will save these masks for situations where my skin just needs that extra boost, but not necessarily keep them as part of my skincare routine.

Overall, I loved this mask and thought it did a fantastic job - I'm looking forward to my next Japan trip when I'll stock up on these goodies!

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