Category Archives: Review

Book Review : More Than This

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I rarely do book reviews these days, but I finished this the other day and I still haven’t moved on so I figured I should write a quick entry about it to get it out of my system.

This is a story about how a young girl’s entire world shattered in one evening, and how she managed to piece it back together with the help of some amazing people.  It’s a story about fate, destiny, love, friendship and family. It’s about accepting our weaknesses and finding our strengths and moving on.

From the very beginning, I was immediately intrigued because the main character is part Filipino.  It doesn’t really play a huge role in the story but I rarely come across books with Filipino characters.  I think the last one I read with a character who was part Filipino was from the Georgina Kincaid series, and she was just a minor character.  Then I learned that Mikayla’s favorite book is The Sea of Tranquility, which was my favorite book of 2013.  (You can read my review HERE).  I actually had to put the book down when she mentioned this and tell all the people around me that Mikayla Jones loves The Sea of Tranquility and Josh Bennet as much as I do.  Instant connection, right there.  Throw in a hot guy with a sexy accent to the mix and I didn’t stand a chance.  I really enjoyed the writing too.  It was very enchanting and I felt like I was putting together a puzzle in my mind.  Within the first few chapters, I experienced a whirlwind of feelings and emotions.  Anger, happiness, joy, and pain … so much pain.

I loved the characters in this book.  I admire Mikayla for being so strong.  She lost so much in one evening, and at such a young age, but she managed to keep her head up and find a way to move on.  And I love Jake because, seriously, what’s not to love?  Hot guy, sexy accent, athletic discipline, kind, supportive, caring and a family guy.  I respect the fact that he never pushed Mikayla to do something she wasn’t ready for. He always let her know know that he will be there to support her no matter what path she chooses.  It’s kind of unbelievable that a guy she only knew for 24 hours would take her under his wing and help her get through something so horrible.  But then again, there are genuinely nice people out there.  Jay McLean undoubtedly created Jake Andrews to give female readers someone to drool over.

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My Golden Princess Cruise Experience

I’ve still got several entries lined up before I even get to my US 2014 vacation, but I had such an amazing time on this cruise that I can’t put off writing about it any longer.  I want to write this entry while the experience is still fresh in my mind.  I’ll most likely be making more in depth blog entries about each day of our cruise sometime in the future, so this is just a summary of our whole experience.

My aunt and uncle have been on this cruise before and they loved it.  In fact, they loved it so much that they’ve actually gone three times.  They strongly recommended it to us, which is why we decided to go this year for our parents 30th wedding anniversary.

We started off in LA so we had to catch a flight to Seattle because that’s where the cruise starts.

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Our shuttle picked us up from the airport and took us to the Port of Seattle, where the ship was waiting

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My mom and I, with the Golden Princess behind us.  We got there about an hour before they started allowing passengers to board the ship, so we just hung around outside and took pictures

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Princess logo.  The Golden Princess has been sailing since May 2001.  The ship is 950 feet long and has 17 decks.  It’s HUGE!

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When you check in, they give you a map of the ship (the card on top), as well as your cruise card.  Your cruise card has your name and dining information on it.  (Ezra’s and my card both say “Maria Garcia”, lol).  It acts as your room key, credit card and “passport” during your stay at the Golden Princess.  The staff will scan it every time you disembark or board the ship.  And any time you want to buy cocktails, special sundaes, shakes, or things from the ship’s gift shop, they will scan your card and all your purchases will appear in your final bill at the end of the cruise.  Most of the food, drinks and facilities on the ship are free, so the only time we charged something on our card was when we bought some souvenirs on the ship.

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According to the Princess website, the ship has 1,318 state rooms where guests can stay.  Ezra and I were in room C728 on Deck 10 (Caribe).  My parents had the room next to us.  The passenger’s names are written on the white card just outside the door.  Once again, they shortened our names so this is what our card looked like:

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The cleaning staff were very curious and asked us why our parents gave us the same name, lol.

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This is what our state room looked like inside.  You can choose to get a suite or cabin with a balcony or a window, but we decided that if we wanted to see the ocean we’d just go out on the top deck.

And here are some pictures of the rest of the ship:

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The elevator and stairs area

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Inside “The Sanctuary”

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The Neptune Pool and the outdoor theater where they show movies at night

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They called it “Movies Under the Stars”.  I wanted to try watching a movie here but it was always so cold in the evening!  They give out blankets to keep the passengers warm, but I doubt that’s enough.  Most of the people we saw watching were bundled up in thick winter clothes.

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In the morning it looks just like a regular pool area with lounge chairs
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The Lap pool outside The Sanctuary

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The Calypso Pool, which is just outside the Horizon Court (AKA the “buffet room”)

The ship has several pools and a few hot tubs, but we weren’t brave enough to face the cold and try them

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The Piazza, where they hold several shows and activities every day

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Here’s a picture of people gathering to participate in an egg drop competition

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The ship offered loads of activities – from swimming and other sports, to shopping.  We even found a puzzle station there.  There are art galleries, lounges, theaters, etc.  There’s also a gym on board for those who want to stay fit.

There was always something going on during our stay there.  Every morning we woke up with the cruise newsletter at our door, which gives the schedule of activities for that day

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It’s called the “Princess Patter”
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Aside from the schedule, it contains notes from various members of the staff and friendly reminders.  We used it to plan our day on the ship.

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The had all sorts of things on there, like this Advanced Digital Photography seminar which we attended

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My parents also went to this other seminar which talked about diamonds

On Mother’s Day there was a “Mother’s Day Card Making” event in at the Sabatini restaurant, which Ezra and I attended

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The ship provided us with lots of cute craft materials

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We joined in on a few of their trivia game shows.  We weren’t very good, but we enjoyed learning new and interesting facts.

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We also participated in this Musical Murder Mystery game held by the staff and a few audience volunteers

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Book review : Wonder by RJ Palacio

11387515I finally finished reading this book.  It took me a while because halfway through I got distracted by K-dramas.  But I picked it up again the other day and didn’t stop reading until I finished it.

I have two words to describe this book : heart breaking and heartwarming.

This is a story about friendship and family, and just how important those two things are.  I cried so much reading this, especially towards the end.  Sometimes they were tears of anger, sometimes sadness, and sometimes I cried just because there was nothing else I could do.  But by the end, I only had tears of joy running down my face. This book took me on an serious emotional journey.  It’s a very light read, but it’s one of those stories that will touch your heart and stay with you for a long long time.

The story focuses on a 10 year old boy named August Pullman.  He was born with a double dose of mutant gene, which left him with a disfigured face.  I quote:

“My name is August. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, its probably worse.”

Because of his condition, he had to undergo numerous reconstructive surgeries at a young age.  This left his parents no choice but to have him home schooled.  But as he grew older, August’s parents decided that it might be time for him to attend a regular school. The first day of school is terrifying for everyone, more so for someone with Auggie’s condition.  Naturally, people are intrigued and he gets a lot of stares on his first few days.  Some people are content with just pointing and whispering about him, but there are those who can’t handle his different appearance and pick on him because of it.  Fortunately, Auggie is a brave kid, and with the support of his family and a few good friends, he is able to face the challenges and obstacles that are thrown at him. The book takes us into the minds of August and his loved ones, and shows us what it was like for them during this time.  The book’s narrator changes a few times, which gives us an idea of what the people around August go through.  Normally I hate it when the POV changes, but it was very interesting in this case.

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Review : Milani Multitasker Face Powder

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This is more like a first impression than a review since I only used the product for three days.  But I just like it so much that I had to write this entry.

A lot of makeup gurus on YouTube have mentioned this in their monthly favorites so I figured I’d give it a try.  I actually picked this up last year, back when I was running low on my Maybelline Powder Foundation.  But for some reason I only opened this a few weeks ago

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I bought it from Walmart and I can’t remember how much I got it for, but according to their site it should be around $7

I normally prefer BB creams and liquid foundation, but since it’s summer I haven’t been in the mood to put anything too heavy on my face.  I figured if this has good coverage, I can skip the BB cream/foundation.

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I like the fact that the sponge comes in a separate compartment.  I know it makes for a bulkier packaging, but I feel it’s more sanitary this way.

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I also love the print on the actual powder.  I think it looks very elegant.

 

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The shade I picked up was Light Tan (#4).  Each compact comes with 10.5g of product.

This is what the Milani website has to say about this product

A luxurious, velvet-soft face powder, specially formulated to provide a dimensional yet natural-matte finish. Provides perfect light to medium coverage.

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K-drama Review : You Who Came From The Stars

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(Also known as “My Love From Another Star“)

It’s been a while since I last watched a K-drama, and it’s been even longer since I last saw one that got me completely captivated. The last one was probably Secret Garden, back in 2011. (Although I did really enjoy To The Beautiful You). My sister is still pretty updated with the latest dramas and she strongly encouraged me to watch this one. She told me that since I love shojou mangas with a tsundere male, I would enjoy this a lot. And surprise surprise, she was right. Just one episode in and I was hooked.

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SUMMARY:

Here’s the basic plot of the story according to Wikipedia:

Do Min-joon is an alien that landed on Earth in the year 1609 during the Joseon Dynasty. As his spaceship is broken, he is stranded on the planet for the next four centuries. He possesses a near-perfect appearance, enhanced physical abilities involving his vision, hearing and speed, and a cynical, jaded view regarding human beings. He meets a young girl whom he saves from death, but later on she gives her life saving him.

As time goes by, Min-joon is forced to take on a new identity every ten years, as his human appearance never ages.

In the present he works as a college professor and finds out that due to a comet coming in three months, he will be able to return to his home planet. In the meantime he accidentally meets famous actress Cheon Song-yi, the biggest Hallyu star in Korea, when she moves in next door to his luxurious apartment and also turns out to be attending his classes at college. Song-yi is an obnoxious, entitled attention seeker, someone who became a top star in her teens and never learned how to live a normal life. Min-joon finds out that Song-yi looks like the young girl he fell in love with in the Joseon era. He tries to keep himself away from her, as he needs to leave the planet.

However, Song-yi gets entangled in the dangerous game of Lee Jae-kyung, the elder brother of Hwi-kyung, who has been her friend since middle school and is in love with her. As Jae-kyung tries to silence Song-yi, Min-joon finds himself saving her multiple times and eventually the neighbours fall for each other. But Jae-kyung turns out to be much more dangerous than Min-joon suspected and he mysteriously also starts to lose control over his superpowers, making his only friend and confindant, Lawyer Jang worried about his life and return to space.

(The summary is pretty accurate, except for the part where it says his spaceship was broken. I’m pretty sure the reason he was stranded on Earth was because he was poisoned when it was time for the spaceship to leave so he got left behind. But I definitely agree with the statement about his “near-perfect appearance” XD)

I have just got to say that I LOVED this drama. So even though I’m extremely busy with work, I just had to write this quick review. To keep it short (well, shorter than my other K-drama reviews), I will try to focus only on the aspects of the show that I liked. Please be warned that this review will contain MAJOR SPOILERS. So if you plan to watch it, then you might want to close your browser now.

THE CHARACTERS/CAST:

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Cheon Song Yi (Jun Ji Hyun)

She was one of the main reasons I decided to watch this K-drama. My Sassy Girl is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I loved her in it. I remember first watching it back in college. I enjoyed it so much that I even made all my friends (and a few family members) watch it. I love that Cheon Song Yi’s character in this drama is pretty similar to her character in My Sassy Girl. They’re both bossy, confident and ultimately “sassy”. One major difference from her character in Sassy Girl is that Cheon Song Yi is pretty ditzy, which only makes me love her more. You guys know I have a soft spot for girls who are adorably cute and clueless. (think Go Mi Nam in You’re Beautiful, Mi Ho in MGIAG, Nodame in Nodame Cantabile and Yuan Xiang Qin in It Started With A Kiss). I say “clueless” because I don’t believe that Song Yi was actually stupid, despite what her bashers say – in fact I think she’s pretty clever. It’s just that she’s always had someone around to do things for her and clean up her mess ever since she was a kid, so she’s never had to fend for herself. She never had to take school seriously either because she started acting and earning big money at such a young age. Naturally, when the people taking care of her abandoned her, she was at a loss.

I truly admire Cheon Song Yi’s confidence and tenacity. And I applaud her for going right up to Do Min Joon and admitting her feelings to him. Personally I think it’s absurd to love someone and not tell them (unless they’re married or in a relationship or something). You’ll just waste years of your life wondering about things that could have been (example : Yoo Se Mi). I understand that confessing to someone can be terrifying, but at least you’ll know how they feel about you. If they like you too then hooray! And if they don’t then you can make a choice to keep fighting for them or move on.

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I didn’t think I could love Jun Ji Hyun more after My Sassy Girl but this drama proved me wrong. The reason I enjoyed this show so much was because of her crazy antics. She’s not afraid to make herself look stupid or crazy, and I admire her for that. She’s confident, self assured and dauntless, but you can’t help but want to take care of her because she’s so clueless. Even her brother, a high school student, seems to know more about the world than she does.

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I read on Allkpop that Kim Soo Hyun personally called and persuaded Jun Ji Hyun to play this role after they worked together on Thieves, because she initially refused. KSH believed that JJH is the only actress who could do this role justice so he convinced her. I’m glad he did because I don’t think this drama would have done aw well if it wasn’t for JJH :D

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Do Min Joon (Kim Soo Hyun)

Ah, Kim Soo Hyun. Why must you do this to me? It’s been a while since I obsessed over an actor. I was doing pretty well but you had to go and ruin that. Gaaaah! Why must you be so perfect~

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Yep, you know it~

I absolutely loved Do Min Joon. I’m such a sucker for male tsundere characters (i.e. Hwang Tae Kyung from You’re Beautiful, Chiaki Shinichi from Nodame Cantabile and Jiang Zhi Shu from ISWAK). I love how they try to act all tough and emotionless, but deep down they’re willing to go through anything for the girl they care about. *sigh*

Kim Soo Hyun did an amazing job in this drama. I smiled when he smiled and cried when he cried. I broke down in tears when he told Cheon Song Yi to leave him alone because he doesn’t have feelings for her, but froze time as she walked away so he could give her a goodbye kiss and tell her how much he truly loves her. And when he started crying as she was talking about the things she wanted to do for their future anniversaries (because he knew he be gone by then) – that was just heartbreaking. This was my first time watching any of his work, but you can be sure that I’ll be keeping a lookout for him now.

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(I found this on Tumblr and I gotta say I agree XD)

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Lee Hwi Kyung (Park Hae Jin)

He was one of my favorite characters on the show. I was a big Family Outing fan so I’m happy to see Hae Jin in this drama. Although, honestly, I didn’t recognize him at first. He got so thin!

I thought Hae Jin did a great job with his character.  I never knew he was such an amazing actor.  His actions and expressions are just spot on.  Lee Hwi Kyung’s the kind of guy that girls would want to have in their lives. He was caring, loyal, attentive and he never expects anything in return. (Like that scene when the reporters had Song Yi trapped in her apartment building – his first thought was what if she was starving in there.) He would go to the ends of the earth for Cheon Song Yi if she asked him to. He hopes that Cheon Song Yi will love him back someday, but he doesn’t pressure her to do anything she doesn’t want to do – he just waits patiently by her side and constantly lets her know that he loves her and will do anything for her. She’s rejected him for 15 years, but he never gives up. Honestly, part of me was hoping that they’d end up together, because I felt bad for him. But love is never that simple. And to be fair to Song Yi, she never lead him on. She made it clear that she never saw him as anything more than a friend, and tells him that that’s all he will be to her. There even came a time when she thought about giving up their friendship because she didn’t want to cause him more pain by keeping him around, but he refused. He believed that being friendzoned is better than not being with her at all. Seriously, I just wanted to reach into my laptop at times and give him a hug.

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Don’t worry Hwi Kyung – girls will be lining up just to be with with a guy like you. If I didn’t have my Ckloy (and if you weren’t fictional) then I’d be right there along with them.

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Kolours Dual Conditioning Hair Color (Blue Black)

This entry’s pretty late, but I thought I’d share my thoughts anyway, since this was the first time I used Kolours hair dye.

Some of you may have noticed that I dyed my hair black last year.  I’ve had brown hair for the longest time, even before this blog was created. I debated long and hard whether or not I should go back to black before I actually pushed through with it.  I had my hair professionally colored back in 2009, and since then I’ve gone through several boxes of DIY hair dye kits to maintain it.  But earlier last year, while I was browsing through some of my old photos, I realized that I missed having black hair. Also, I noticed that having to touch up my roots every 4 months had really started to take a toll on my strands. In fact, I had to give up rebonding since my hair couldn’t handle all the chemicals that I was putting on it. It was a choice between having colored hair or straight hair, and I chose color. But last July I decided that it was time for me to go back to my natural hair color so I can start cutting back on the chemicals I put in my hair.

Just for fun, I decided to go with this Blue Black hair dye by Kolours. I normally use Revlon Colorsilk but I wanted to try something new.  Kolours was also cheaper and more accessible since most groceries I know carry it. And supposedly, Kolours was created with Asian hair in mind, so I thought that was interesting.

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This is what it says on the box:

“COLOR & CARE FOR ASIAN HAIR PERFECTED BY KOLOURS

Kolours understands that compared to European hair and American air, Asian hair is darker and thicker, making it more resistant to coloring. These unique attributes of Asian hair needs particular care to prevent damage and dryness.”

The kit contained the usual developer, colorant, gloves and two packets of the after treatment conditioner:

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I thought it was cool that the instruction leaflet came in both English and Filipino.

Below are some before photos of me with my brown hair. These were all taken last May 2013. I used Revlon Colorsilk’s Light Auburn to get my hair this color.

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Review : ELF Triple Tip Waterproof Eyeliner Pen

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This is the ELF Triple Tip Waterproof Eyeliner Pen.  I picked it up at Target last year for $2.  I still had plenty of my Maybelline Gel Liner left at the time, but who can say no to that price right?  Besides, I really like using eyeliner pens because they’re convenient and handy to have.

This is the first triple tip eyeliner pen I’ve used.  This is what the tip looks like:

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You can use it on its side to create a single line, or you can use the tip to dot between your lashes to make them look fuller.  I’ve seen a couple of beauty gurus on YouTube use similar eyeliners and the results are pretty nice.  I tried dotting my lashes using this eyeliner and I think it did a pretty decent job.  But what I didn’t like was how stiff and scratchy the tip was. I had a hard time lining my eyes because it would drag my eyelids, and it made them really itchy.  I’m not sure if all the ELF eyeliner pens are like this or I just came across a bad one.  (I know that ELF products are usually hit or miss.) Eventually I learned that I could get a decent line if I go slowly and use a really light touch.

Here’s a swatch of the eyeliner pen on the back of my hand:

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The three lines at the top were when I used the pen with the three tips lined up vertically.  The line at the bottom was when I used the pen on its side.  When the pen was still new, I noticed that the formula was very watery.  You can see how it bleeds into the lines of my skin in the photo above.  It was difficult to use on my eyes at first because of how wet and runny it was.  But after a few days, the consistency improved and it became easier to use.

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Review : Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain (Crush)

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This review is loooong overdue.  In fact, I debated on whether or not I should write it at all since everyone’s already raved about these lip balm stains online.  But, I decided that I love the product so much, I should at least make a quick entry on what I like about it.

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I bought this Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in the shade Crush back in August 2012.  And since then, I’ve used it everyday.  In fact, I used it so much that this is all I have left now:

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The packaging looks like a giant retractable crayon.  You have to twist the bottom up to get more of the product out.  There’s 2.7 grams of product in each stick.

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The only way I can get more product out of this is if I use a lip brush, which I’m too lazy to do.  So I guess it’s safe to say that I’ve used it all up.  This amazes me because this is only the 3rd time that I have used up a lip product in my entire life!  (The only other lip products I’ve used up completely is my Etude House Apricot Stick and my lip stain from The Body Shop).  I buy a lot of lip products because I’m obsessed with them, but I usually end up getting tired of them or losing them before I can completely finish one.

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Nail art : Penshoppe dots

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Another picture of my nails I forgot to post.  This was taken around the second week of December.  I used nail art stickers I found at a Penshoppe outlet in San Pablo.

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It was only P39, can you believe it?

dots2Each pack comes with twelve stickers to fit different nail sizes.

Despite being really inexpensive, these stickers were actually pretty good. They lasted two weeks with minimal chipping/peeling, and they didn’t warp when I applied a clear topcoat over them.  I wish I bought more, but there weren’t that many designs to choose from at the outlet we went to.

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Review/Initial Thoughts : Elementary

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These past few days I’ve been glued to my iPad, watching this show.  I’m almost done with season 1 so I figured I would share some of my thoughts here on my blog.

As some of you may know, Sherlock (BBC) season 3 ended a few weeks ago.  I waited for it to come out for months and I can’t believe that its already over. (Some people waited years, but I only started watching the series last May.) Ever since the show ended, I’ve been on a sort of Sherlock withdrawal, so I decided to give Elementary a try.

I found out about this show through a Buzzfeed article entitled 31 Perfect People You Wanted To Date In 2013. Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson were numbers 20 and 21 on that list. Yes, you read that correctly  JOAN Watson. Not John, but Joan.  I haven’t heard of the show before this, so I was curious as to who these people were.  After a quick search on Google, I found out that they were the main characters in Elementary, a contemporary US adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. In this version, Sherlock Holmes lives in New York City.  He had just come out of rehab and his father hired Dr. Joan Watson to be his sober companion to make sure he doesn’t relapse.

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At first I was hesitant about watching this show, especially since I’m such a huge fan of BBC’s Sherlock.  I didn’t believe that anyone else aside from Benedict Cumberbatch could play Sherlock.  I’m quite happy to be proven wrong.  Of course I still think that Benedict’s Sherlock is unbeatable, but I also appreciate Jonny Lee Miller portrayal of him.  They play the same character, but they do it very differently.  Benedict plays Sherlock as an emotionless sociopath with very little concern for social etiquette, while Miller depicts him as a much more relatable human being.  He does get a little crazy every now and then, but nothing too over the top.

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