December Favorites

Some of the things I bought and adored this month don't make sense for the season because I was very busy doing my projects and buying presents for my loved ones. And I've had some of the stuff prior before this month. But here ya go!

1. American Eagle Floral Peplum Tank Top: Okay, so this is what I'm talking about when I said that this has nothing to do with December. But I got this at the AEO Factory store in Vacaville Outlets for only $10! I've never tried peplum tops because I always thought the silhouette was a bit weird. So I tried this on and immediately I knew I had to have it. Peplum tops are perfect for pear-shaped females like me because it cinches the waist and flows with the hips. I can't wait for the warmer months to wear it alone or with a light cardigan and some shorts or jeans. I guess my signature style is thin fabrics (this is 100% polyester) with floral prints. I have so many tops and dresses of those.

2. Clinique Superbalm Lip Treatment: I actually bought this in January this year. I've been using this every night before I go to bed after I exfoliate the dead skin of my lips with the LUSH Popcorn scrub. Some days my lips wake up super smooth, and on other days there's a bit flakiness but it would be so much worse if I didn't apply it on. I was using the Bite Beauty Agave Mask but the dogs ruined it. Anyway, this one works a lot better for me.

3. Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses: I love peppermint treats around the holidays, and I bought 3 bags worth of these. Enough said.

4. MAC blush in Peachykeen: This is more of a spring/summer blush shade but who cares! I also bought this in October. It's very feminine and buildable. I like wearing this on casual days. I'm also trying to hit the pan with this one so that I can utilize the Back to MAC program and get a free lipstick. The finish and color of this shade is also very similar to NARS Orgasm but $8 cheaper.

5. MAC Lipglass in Russian Red: Cecilio saw my Holiday wishlist and got this for me! Thank you so much my love. I tried this out of curiosity at the MAC store since I have the Russian Red lipstick (and I love it) and sure enough, I fell in love with this one too. It's sheer and perfect for days you don't want full on opaque color. And it's not as drying obviously.

6. Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Matte Lip Color in Touch of Spice: This was the only color I was interested in when Maybelline's Creamy Matte lipsticks came out. I can see this being suitable for all skin tones. This is mostly a fall shade, but I will still wear it every year. And yes, it is Kylie Jenner's type of lipstick shade. This is only $5-$8 (depending on where you buy it) and it is a dupe of Gerard Cosmetic's 1995 lipstick (which is $19).

7. Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara: I got this in this month's Ipsy glambag, which I unsubscribed to (along with Birchbox and graze) because I felt like I wasn't getting my money's worth with things I didn't like very much. But I really like this mascara and Tarte never disappoints me. It makes me lashes longer and fuller in a natural way. The 4-in-1 means it lengthens, curls, conditions and volumizes the lashes. It contains olive esters too! I don't know if it's a coincidence, but  I started removing my makeup with olive oil and I noticed that my lashes became longer and fuller. If that's the case then that will be a part of my routine as well.

8. 10 mg of prednisone: As of yesterday I tapered down to 10 mg of prednisone from 12.5 mg on December 1. I consider that a huge milestone because I have been on 15 mg since April. Last year around this time I was on 60 mg. It was so disheartening that the protein in my kidney was slightly high but my doctors were doing different things to combat that such as increasing my plaquenil and cellcept as well as giving me blood pressure medications. At first I started taking lisinopril but that was giving me severe coughs for months, so they switched me to losartan and it's working so far! I just hope it keeps working as I taper because I want 2015 to be the year I get off of this drug (and forever, but I can't guarantee that with a chronic illness. Chronic as in ongoing and forever. You have periods of remission and flares.)

9. Wet n Wild Lipstick in Stoplight Red: I absolutely love the Wet and Wild lipsticks. They are so pigmented, long-lasting and are just as good as high end lipsticks. Can you believe they're only $2 a pop?! Anyway, I was bored one day and searched on google "Russian Red vs. Ruby Woo" (I did this before I bought Russian Red). I totally remembered how ravishing Ruby Woo looked, but I didn't want to deal with the extreme drying. Ruby Woo is said to be really hard to apply and uncomfortable! Since it's a retro matte finish, it's more drying than a regular matte. And yet one time I wore Russian Red all day at school and the next day my lips were bleeding. So any MAC retro matte is out of the question for me. So I was looking for a dupe that would be creamier and obviously less expensive. I did my research and Stoplight Red seemed like the perfect fit. I haven't tried this yet, but I can't wait to.

I hope you all have a good New Year and start 2015 right!

<3 Hannah

Christmas recap

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. I'm not gonna lie and say I don't enjoy getting presents, because I do and I really love and enjoy what I got from my loved ones! But more importantly, I love that we all come together as a family and enjoy each other's company. I love the spirit it brings, especially because it was Jesus' birthday. I love the songs ("Deck the Halls", "Joy to the World" and "Hark the Heralds" are among my favorites), the trees and the treats.

My family and I always celebrate Christmas Eve. It's usually a Filipino thing, since most Filipinos are Catholic (we are not), they usually go to midnight mass. That has always been our tradition as long as I could remember. However, Cecilio's family is Catholic so they go to mass on Christmas Eve and celebrate the next day. I came over to their house for the past 2 years to celebrate with them.

Hope you enjoy these pictures! (sorry for the quality in some of them, I shot with my iPhone 5c and the lighting in my house is pretty dark and warm-toned)

Our tree

My little Olaf. He absolutely hated this costume. Cecilio kept prodding me to take it off since he felt so bad for him.

Flora Claus!

Our appetizers with cheese, crackers, grapes and sliced meats.

Turon, a Filipino desert caramelized and filled with jackfruit and brown sugar. It's one of my favorites. We ordered our dinner and desserts at Sari Sari Buffet.

My niece Emma and her dog, Sandie, a lhasa apso. Also known as Aris and Flora's cousin.

My love and I's 6th Christmas together. 

A few presents I got! In the background is a Vera Wang dress my mom got me from Kohl's. I absolutely love it. She also got me a $50 Ulta Gift Card (I just ordered the IT Cosmetics Naturally Pretty Vol. 1 Matte palette and the NYX matte bronzer with it). I also got the kidney plush, toast warmers and MAC Studio Fix Plus Foundation from Cecilio. I love it so far and I'm going to review it soon. That Hot Cheetos was from Emma. She totally knows, me, I laughed when I opened it! 

The cow figurine from my 18 year old nephew Nico and MAC lip glass in Russian Red from Cecilio.

A container of animal figurines from Nico and Emma. I've always wanted to get these at the toy stores (for decoration) but they are always so expensive. They really know my love for farm animals!

Chesapeake Bay Candle Electric Warmer. I just plug it in and wait for it to heat, then I break the wax cubes (Sea Breeze scent) to keep my room smelling good! I can't wait to try this and other scents! I got this from my sister and my brother in law.

Sandie and Flora.

Here's a throwback of my 2nd grade school picture! We've kept this ornament all these years.

Regret Purchases of 2014

As a new beauty blogger (and just a beauty addict in general), I've been buying different products that would go well with my skin, eyes, outfits, face shape, etc. Most of the time I had lovely purchases, but there have been a few rotten eggs in the basket. I've learned to observe what works and what doesn't work for me personally and why. So here are some of the following things I bought and I wish I knew better:

1. Wet n Wild Megalast Liquid Lip Color: I actually bought these last night at Walgreens when I was picking up my medications because they were only $2. They looked extremely pigmented in the tube, and I'm also a huge fan of Wet n Wild Megalast lipsticks. What I usually like to do is check type the products I like or bought on the Instagram hashtags so I was looking for these, and I only found 33. I looked at the reviews on MakeupAlley and they only had an average of 3 ratings. The complaints were that as soon as it was applied, the texture felt extremely dry and like paint. Uh oh. So I tried Cherry on Top (left above, the right is High-Pitched Wine) and I thought it was gorgeous! It's a very opaque, ruby-red color. I tried to take it off with water and it was extremely difficult, no matter how hard I tried to wipe it off, my mouth was a mess. I have long lasting lipsticks but they never made a mess like that! I guess instead these, I should've gotten one of the Milani lipsticks or lip glosses which would've been a little more expensive. Still, it was a disappointment considering how awesome their lipsticks are.

2. NYX Photo-Loving Primer (Anti-Redness): NYX is one of my favorite drugstore brands, but I would have to give this a thumbs down. I found this at Ulta because I was looking for a green primer or concealer to cover up the redness of my face. It didn't do the job. I also made a mistake of not checking the reviews on line. People said was extremely liquid-y (which I would have to agree with) and helped with filling pores but not with the redness. Although some say that it's a dupe for Smashbox's Photo Finish Color Correcting Foundation Primer. Still, I find myself not reaching for this. I'm still on the lookout for another green primer or concealer to cancel out my butterfly rash, but I am doing my research first and I'm trying to look for something with an average of 4 ratings and higher and not too expensive (under $15 is ideal).

3. Sephora Microsmooth Baked Sculpting Trio (Sophisticated): One of the salespersons at the Sephora in JC Penny recommended this to me for contouring based on my skin tone. I bought this over the summer and the shades were too close to my skin tone, and now it's December and I still have to build it up a lot in order to have have some color show up. Even then, I find the darker shades too warm. For contouring, it is best to use a cool shade brown that's 2-3 shades darker than your skin tone because it gives the illusion of shadows rather than making you look like an Oompa Loompa. I also bought the NARS Matte Multiple stick in Vientiane which works better for me but is in cream form. I guess this is just better for bronzing itself, but not for contouring. I still want to get another powder form, but the creams seem to be working better for me and my dry skin.

4. Sonia Kashuk Brush and Sponge Cleanser: You would think that since Sonia Kashuk has high-quality brushes for a reasonable price that the cleanser would be just as good. I was wrong. I kept spraying this on my dirty brushes, and washing over and over and it didn't get rid of everything. I even soaked my brushes with a mixture of water and this! I was frustrated and was almost halfway done with this bottle by the first or second use. I got this for $14 at Target, and it was only 5.9 oz. I prefer the MAC brush cleanser a lot more because it's $15 but 7.9 oz, and it cleans my brushes completely.

5. LA Girl Glazed Lip Paints (Blushing and Seduce) and Too Faced Melted Lipstick (Violet): Don't get me wrong, I LOVE violet. I love it on my clothes and my eyeshadow. But it just does not seem to be working well for my skin tone. It shows up as too pale. I wrote a review about the LA Girl Glazed Lip Paints here and I mentioned that I was disappointed that Blushing (on the very left) looked like a peach shade on the website when I ordered it but turned out to be more mauve. I also love Too Faced Melted lipsticks (I also have Coral which is perfect for spring and summer and recently purchased Berry, my new favorite!) but I'm not reaching for Violet at all. I guess I'm learning that I love reds, berries, medium/dark pinks, corals and nudes whereas I'm not too hot about baby pinks or lilacs (at least for my lips, but I love them on my clothes!)

6. Maybelline Baby Lips: I need to stop trying to make Baby Lips happen because it's not happening for me. I would see other beauty junkies' Instagrams with them so perfectly arranged and aesthetically pleasing along with the owl figurines from Target. Plus they have really cute packaging. I really wanted to like these because I heard some great reviews about them. They come in different variety, you can choose one with color or a clear one. Above is Baby Lips Electro (Pink Shock) and Dr. Rescue (Soothing Sorbet). I also have Cherry Me somewhere. That's how much I really tried giving these a chance. I love how pigmented they are for a lip balm but not too pigmented on days where I don't want to pull out a bright red or pink lipstick, and Cherry Me smelled so sweet and fruity! Soothing Sorbet has that peppermint scent I adore. My biggest problem with these are that they made my lips drier. I tried them in May and didn't touch them for a while but gave them another chance in November. Still had much drier and chapped lips each time. And it's a shame because so many other people reported about how much smoother and moisturized their lips are. I guess they aren't for everyone though.

7. Urban Decay Electric Palette: I was drooling over this for a while until I went and bought it and I was fairly disappointed. They are not as pigmented on my eye as they were on the arm or in the pot, and I realized that this was not good for everyday wear. I loved bright colored eyeshadows when I was 15, but now I am 25 and I'm leaning towards neutrals. I still love color though, as long as it's used in the right setting. You can read why I returned it here. I ended up exchanged it for the MUFE HD Foundation.

Thanks for reading, I just wanted to put in honest reviews to show that not every purchase is going to be a good one or exactly how you envisioned it.


High End Wishlist Wednesday

I'm halfway done with holiday shopping and I am seriously resisting the temptation to shop for myself. I don't want to feel greedy and at the same time, I am trying to be more financially smart with my money. I'm still trying to balance how to manage my money while going to school, buying supplies and buying makeup for this blog (and for personal use, obviously). Still, the ladies on makeupsocialapp (my username is hannahbananacreampuff if you want to add me!) and I lament on how every time we try to tell ourselves we will not be spending for a while, new products come up or something in your brain tells you that this product is so cool even though it hasn't appealed to you before. I am really trying to practice self discipline and hitting a few pans on the products I currently have. I love both high and and drugstore products. Here are some of the stuff I have been drooling over:

1. Philosophy Pure Grace Spray Perfume: Now I'm not one to wear perfume because I tend to forget about it. I like clean or floral scents. In Bath and Body Works, my favorite scents are Twilight Woods, Sea Island Cotton, and Cherry Blossom. The Victoria's Secret Angel perfumes also have that distinct, clean scent that I adore. When I tested this out at Ulta, I was in heaven. It was not too strong and not too light. The Ulta website describes it as "feeling like you just got out of the shower". That's how I want to smell like everyday. This baby has bergamot, water lily, jasmine, cool greens and musk notes.

2. Too Faced Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar: When I first saw this on tumblr, I reblogged it and was like, "Are you serious?!" And someone responded to me and said yes, it was coming out on December 9 (for the Sephora VIBs. I'm just a Beauty Insider). But now it's December 17 and it's available for everyone. This has warmer tones than the original Chocolate Bar (which I already have, you can read the review here). I saw that it looks more pigmented from Budget Beauty Blog's review and swatches here, but then again she used the Urban Decay Primer Potions under (which I have as well!) And the best part? Instead of that stupid plastic sheet with all of the swatch names, they finally printed the swatches on the palette in this one!

3. Too Faced La Creme Lipstick in Spice Spice Baby: I don't know what it is about me and Too Faced. Maybe it's because I am a graphic design student and I adore their soft, feminine color palettes, typography and packaging. The La Creme lipsticks look so luxurious with their gold tubes. I hear they are moisturizing, and have white lotus flower to soothe and hydrate the lips. I tested Spice Spice Baby and it's brownish-pink shade would be considered MLBB (my lips but better) for my medium skin. Other shades I like are Pink Chocolate, Bumbleberry, I Want Candy, Teddy Berry and Jellybean.

4. Tarte Tartelette Amazonian Clay Matte Eyeshadow Palette: Right now it's only for VIBs in Sephora and is sold out. It's extremely rare to have an all-matte palette! I would love to have this in my stash because most of my palettes are shimmery. It has a mix of warm and cool shades, my favorites being "Best Friend" (rose), "Bombshell" (dark red), and "Dreamer" (bronze). This is perfect for a casual day or a work setting!

5. NARS blush in Super Orgasm: Now I knew that Orgasm is a cult favorite among many makeup geeks. I didn't really care for it too much until I was looking for youtube tutorials on how to contour with the NARS Multiple stick (I have the Matte Multiple in Vientiane, the only NARS product I have) and I watched some tutorials and reviews about the Orgasm shade (in Multiple form). I then realized why people were so obsessed with it. It's pigmented and it suits all skin tones! Now, the Super Orgasm has more shimmer but also more saturation which I prefer. I wouldn't mind it in blush or Multiple form!

Missha Haul (my first experience with Korean beauty!)

Since I jumped on the beauty-crazed bandwagon earlier around this time last year, I heard about BB cream and how it's a miracle in a bottle: it's a primer, moisturizer, light foundation, skin healer, sunscreen etc. and I heard about how crazy popular it is in Korea because of its "whitening" properties...I don't agree with Asia's obsession with being fair skinned. Trust me, I'm Filipino and when I went to Manila earlier this year I saw billboards everywhere for whitening products and surgery with the "before" picture as dark skinned but depicted as lumpy and undesirable. It's sad really. Anyway, some claim that the "whitening" properties actually mean healing scars and helping with hyperpigmentation. BB cream actually originated in Germany to help people recover from plastic surgery.

Anyway, I tried a few Western BB Creams, such as Revlon (huge disappointment, too sheer), Maybelline (some complain about the smell but I love it, but again, too sheer), Smashbox (my favorite I've tried) and Tarte (the one I'm currently using, it gives good coverage but I noticed my pores are more prominent). I was talking to a new acquaintance from SFA who is also Filipino and her heart had a spot for Asian beauty products, and she wrote down a list of brands for me to try since I was intrigued. I've heard that the Western BB creams were more like tinted moisturizers and she agreed. I decided to sign up for Missha and order some loot on their 40% off Thanksgiving sale.

I got 2 of the Perfect Cover BB creams. One I ordered is a full size (50 ml) and the other one is a mini size I got for spending $40+ (I also wanted the free shipping). It comes in only 5 shades: 13, 21, 23, 27 and 31 (from lightest to darkest). I got #23 thinking it would suit my skin tone for the winter and then I could get #27 for the summer. It turns out, #23 is a tad too light for me. I wore shade C4 for MAC's Face & Body Foundation and I am using 128 for MUFE's HD foundation. I guess I should've gotten the #27, but I could also order it another time and mix that along with the #23. I really do like how this BB cream feels light on my skin and offers medium coverage without looking cakey like the Western ones. My skin looks and feels dewy. Some people complain that it gives off a grey cast when you first put it on, but then after 5-10 minutes it oxidizes to your skin tone.

Did I mention it is 42 SPF? I'm THE WORST when it comes to applying sunscreen, especially because us lupies are extremely sensitive to the sun. I don't flare as bad under the sun itself, but when it's summertime, I'm extremely sensitive to the heat. I hate Sacramento's 90–110 degree summer weather.  BB creams have helped in that sun protection for my face but I admit I have to apply some sort of barrier for my body too.

Koreans are known for having flawless skin, and again it's speculated that it's because plastic surgery is a hit there. I personally wouldn't have it, but their 10+ step regimen is being more known here in the States. It's just that our day-to-day lives are extremely fast paced and we only have time to to cleanse, tone, exfoliate (on some days) and moisturize. Also, we take action whenever a spot or wrinkle comes up, and their approach is more preventative. They cleanse twice, once with a cleansing oil (to remove the makeup) and another with a foaming cleanse. Since I don't have a cleansing oil, I am just using olive oil and then the Near Skin Extra Renew Cleansing Foam. After that I tone with my LUSH Tea Tree Water spray then use the Time Resolution Blanc Control Essence. Some days you can use a sheet mask but I haven't tried that yet so instead, I use my LUSH Mask of Magnaminty after I exfoliate with the Ocean Salt (just for the night though). Then I moisturize with the LUSH Imperialis.

I've only done this for 2 days but my face feels pretty soft and I have a little less redness. My redness won't completely go away because it is the classic lupus butterfly rash. I still have some pores but that could also be because I've been under stress and haven't been sleeping well. Junk food certainly doesn't help either.

I also got the Nose Pore Cleaning Patch Set. I've always had problems with whiteheads on my nose but recently I got blackheads as well! I've tried Biore strips but they didn't work. So I wet my nose and used a strip and let it sit for 15 minutes. After pulling it off, most of the crap was on the strips! It worked! I would say like it got rid of 90% of the whiteheads and blackheads, not all of it. It's not something I would use frequently but next time I'll try steaming my face first to see if that will make it more effective, next time those pesky comedones pop up.

And finally I got the Super Aqua Refuel Limited Edition set for free because I spent $40+. It comes with 3 10 ml creams: the Ultra Waterfull Cream (to moisturize), Cell Renew Snail Cream (to improve skin damage and strengthen) and Nutritious Cream. I'm probably not going to use these because I've been moisturizing well (a few weeks ago I haven't, and my skin felt super uncomfortable) so I'm probably going to gift this for Christmas (I won't say who though).

I urge you to give Korean products a try! Especially if you are a huge BB cream fan and want more than just the tinted moisturizer type of thing that the Western ones seem to offer. I know I'll be looking into the serums and the sheet masks in the near future!

A traumatic 3 year anniversary.

I never would have imagined that one day my body would change forever. But here I am and despite my complaints, I am always thankful to be alive.

On December 12, 2011 I had a final for one of my photography classes. I was in a period where I would say...stress was a mild word to describe it. I was downright miserable. I failed 2 classes the previous spring semester because of my previous lupus flareups and because I didn't know how to react to my dad's cancer diagnosis in April 2011. So I was on academic probation and I was struggling in my classes with the extreme worry that I would get kicked out of my university. Plus, I wasn't sure if I wanted to or if I was even good enough to pursue graphic design. I wasn't sure if I would be able to withstand the competition of the portfolio review. I hated that I was 22 and still in school with a not-so-clear direction in life whereas most of my peers and Cecilio's peers (especially his peers because they were born and raised in Davis so the idea of going to a prestigious university was ingrained into their minds since childhood) already graduated and landed jobs.

So after that final I drove over to Cecilio's house just plain miserable without a drop of hope. I just wanted to rest with him. I couldn't even eat the food his mom made. Then I went back home and I couldn't sleep whatsoever. I don't exactly remember what else but I remember tweeting about how I couldn't sleep and how Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" song was stuck in my head. I probably went downstairs to make chamomile tea because the next thing I remember was waking up in the ICU with my dad, Cecilio and pastor from church by my side. This was 3 days after I was admitted to the hospital. They all told me I had a mini-stroke which produced a seizure. It was diagnosed as Lupus Cerebritis, meaning I had a small hemorrhage in my brain. I remember the right side of my body being numb and my speech slurring. I couldn't move right and I was barely articulate. I also had a UTI. I hated being there. Everyone knew that, so instead of my doctors having me stay there longer, they decided to discharge me a week after I was admitted there as long as I was being treated with the PICC line and an IV at home for the next 2 weeks. My mom had to be the one to treat me with those infusions. We all decided that it was best that I take a semester off from Sac State. And it turns out, I ended up passing all of my classes.

I had to take speech therapy for the whole month of January because I lost some of it. I enjoyed my dad taking me because we were able to bond a lot with our usual jokes and going to Starbucks (he stopped drinking coffee after his cancer diagnosis, so his signature drink was the grande extra hot soy hot chocolate). Plus sometimes when I would have speech therapy my dad had an appointment. I never would have thought that would have been one of our last special moments together.

Slowly but surely my speech was getting better. Even though I took a semester off at Sac State, I decided to go back to my community college and take a class along with applying for Sac State's graphic design program. Long story short, I didn't get accepted. So I was going back and forth over the summer and fall of 2012 debating whether I should reapply or switch to a different major. In August 2012, I got my license reinstated and I went back to Sac State in the fall. So things were slowly getting better.

I had another seizure on May 1, 2013. It was my fault for not taking my meds regularly this time. I was insanely stressed too because I decided to reapply for the graphic design program, and the portfolio review was due in 2 weeks from that day. And of course I was still grieving from  my dad's death in February 2013. Thankfully I didn't have to stay overnight this time. But it sucked how my license suspended AGAIN, only for 6 and a half months (which was NOTHING compared to my time of not driving all of 2014). Despite all of that, I still pushed through with turning in my portfolio even though I didn't think it was good enough and my craft could've been better in some of my work. The professors always recommend you have a backup plan if you don't get accepted, so I was thinking of majoring in art or fashion merchandising if I didn't get in. Thankfully I did this time.

I did have another seizure on January 17, 2014 when I was vacationing in the Philippines and another one here on June 20. It is extremely humiliating because I never mean to cause a scene in front of everyone. I also get horrible headaches afterwards. It's demoralizing not being able to drive but I am thankful people have been able to drive me to school, Kinko's (to print projects), doctors appointments, etc. I actually saw my neurologist this Wednesday and she wanted to wait longer for me to drive so of course I showed my frustrations. I told her it's been already 6 months! (By California law if you have a seizure you have to wait 6 months before you could start driving. And I had 2 seizures this year.) She said she would sign the DMV medical information form but was extremely worried and said that if I would have to be on keppra for the rest of my life and if I wanted to taper it then I couldn't drive. She told me she would go talk to another neurologist if I should be able to drive. When I left the room, I started hyperventilating and crying. The nurses came in and asked if I was ok and if I needed water. I wasn't doing it to get them to feel bad for me and make them change their mind, I was just extremely frustrated as hell and wanted to let it out. So both of the neurologists came back and the one who I didn't talk to at first told me he was okay with me driving as long as I get my blood drawn for the to see my keppra levels. I was happy to hear that but still anxious and not trusting them.

I still get depressed about things but I am reminded about that very moment 3 years ago and look to where I am now. I see how much I have accomplished even if I don't feel like it a lot of the time especially when I have moments of comparing myself to my peers. I still hold on to hope that things will get better even though I don't feel or believe it. I'm not one to be extremely preachy about my beliefs or faith but I do believe God's love and grace carried through all of it, and He has given me the strength to push through even in my weakest moments. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Cecilio and I. You can see the PICC line on my arm. We had more pictures (this was on Christmas Eve) but they were on my mom's Facebook page and she deactivated it.

My sister Trixie and I, who has always been a friend to lean on especially with how much experience she's had with her lupus.

Review: Urban Decay Ammo Palette

On Black Friday, Urban Decay (among many other cosmetic companies) announced that the Ammo Palette was on sale for $10 (original price is $34) and Smoked Palette for $20, or that you could get both for $30 with a sample of their Perversion mascara. Did I mention they offered free shipping? So of course I jumped at the offer! Not without battling through their website's technical problems (which so many other customers on Facebook and makeupsocialapp complained about). The website was extremely slow and sometimes my information didn't go through. But I kept trying until my order was finally confirmed. And now here it is.

I have seen this palette before, but I noticed in Sephora and online that it came in a different package (even though it was the same exact shades). Turns out, this is an older version, whereas the new version has a completely different design and comes with a bristle brush rather than the sponge brush.

Newer version of the UD Ammo Palette

I actually prefer the illustration of the older version. It does communicate "ammo" to me with the guns shooting out flowers. It juxtaposes Urban Decay's hardcore yet feminine style better. I love the velvet feel to it too. This palette is small, and is perfect for for travel or carrying around in your purse (unlike the Naked palettes that tend to be a bit bulky).

There are 10 shades, all of which are extremely shimmery. You have:

Smog (bronze)
Mildew (olive green)
Oil slick (black, this one is extremely shimmery)
Last call (lilac)
Chopper (gold)
Maui Wowie (pearl)
Shattered (baby blue)
Polyester bride (white)
Grifter (light lavender)
Sin (champagne)

What I like about this palette is the mixture of colors and neutrals, and the colors are extremely wearable and not intimidating for the eyeshadow novice like the Electric Palette would be. It's extremely pigmented, and coupled with the UD Primer Potion, it is sure to last all day. Be careful though, there is A LOT of fall out. I think UD is known for having some fallout, but I wore this yesterday and I was in a hurry and there was glitter all over my face, like a glitter bomb exploded all over. So take your time applying this.

Some shades are chalky like Polyester Bride and some are very buttery and glide on smoothly like Sin and Chopper. I like using Smog for the outer corner crease and you can definitely use  Oil Slick in place of an eyeliner.

If you can get past the extreme glitter and you want to subtly incorporate neutrals and colors,  I'd recommend you to check this palette out!

Review: MAC Lipstick in Captive + Dupe (Milani Lipstick in Plumrose)

I'm always on the search for a lipstick shade that is not drying, matches my skin tone, and is wearable on a casual day. When I went to the MAC store in Arden Fair Mall, I tested some lipsticks. When I found Captive, I fell in love.

It's one of the lesser-known MAC shades, hiding behind the shadows of Ruby Woo, Candy Yum Yum or even Angel. But this pinkish-mauve shade is to die for. I would say it's my perfect MLBB (my lips but better) shade. It adds color while not screaming for attention. It makes me feel feminine. I mentioned how much I loved this shade in my November favorites post by how I wore it even when I stayed home all day, checking and admiring it in the mirror. I never ever do that. At home, I test a lipstick and I wipe it off.

It's a satin finish, one of my favorite finishes because it's creamy and not as drying as matte finishes but still adds a pop of color. It is less long lasting than mattes but moreso than the other finishes. It was still fairly drying for me (but that's because I have chronically dry lips) and I really don't mind reapplying it at school. I think this shade would be suitable for all skin tones. It's also suitable all year round, dark enough for fall and winter but feminine and saturated enough for the spring and summer. I can also see Kylie Jenner rocking this color!

Don't want to spend $16? Well here's an alternative: Milani Lipstick in Plumrose is the perfect alternative for only $6 at Walgreens. It's a cream finish, actually creamier than Captive and it is more pink than plum. But it isn't as long lasting. Still, it's also a beautiful shade. It contains Vitamins A and C to hydrate and nourish the lips. Hows that for keeping lips healthy and pretty?

Swatches (MAC Captive is on top, Milani Plumrose is on the bottom)

Overall I would say Captive is my one of my new favorite MAC lipsticks. I could see myself wearing this everyday until I "hit pan". That's how wearable it is for an everyday look. What is your holy grail MAC shade? (or any lipstick shade in general)

Review: Hard Candy Top Ten Eyeshadow Palette (Smoke Out)

I've been looking for silver eyeshadows for a while, especially for this holiday season to pair with a cat eye and red lips. I also happen to be a fan of purple shades, so when I saw this palette (Smoke Out) I knew I wanted to get it. It was only $6 at Walmart, and it's my first Hard Candy purchase. Unfortunately it did not live up to my expectations.

The packaging is very cute with purple-cushioned foil and lace, but functionally it is the worst eyeshadow packaging I have ever experienced. First of all, it is extremely difficult to open. I had to be careful the first time I was attempting to open it because I was afraid of breaking it. I was able to open it and I was surprised with brushes and a mirror which I liked but I tested it out again and closed it again. Same problem with it being difficult to open. So now I can't snap it shut. If you ever want to bring this with you in your purse or for travel, you might want to consider depotting it and putting it in an empty palette case.

In addition, the craft is very poor because the cushion was starting to pull off from the plastic case and you can see the glue. Don't believe me?

The shades are all shimmer except for the black, which is matte. They have pretty good pigmentation, and my favorite shade is the 2 darkest purples because it (the 4th and 5th one, there's no names that come with it) because they go well with my medium skin tone. I like the 1st shade for my brow bone. The 1st shade have huge chunks of glitter though. I believe that this palette is very strong in it's silvers. It's more pigmented than the purples and goes on more smoothly. There is a lot of fallout though, especially with the glitter. Right now my face looks like a glitter bomb.

I know, I'm in need of an eyebrow wax job, so sue me.

This palette does have it's strengths and weaknesses overall but I am fairly disappointed (mostly because of the packaging). I will still keep using it though for the silvers. The purples are perfect for the spring and complement my dark brown eyes well. It is a shame because I heard so many raves about Hard Candy's eyeshadows and face products. Maybe I got a bad one? They do have some other shades that I may or may not get (like the Top Ten Trendsetters in Raining Men). 

You may or may not have the same experience, so come to Walmart and check the Hard Candy section out!


Hannah's Holiday Wishlist Wednesday

So the holidays are coming! I'm looking forward for my semester to end so I can hang at one of the local coffee shops with Cecilio or make hot cocoa with him, and maybe we can watch the Nutcracker for the first time. We also plan to go to SF for another date. I look forward to gift giving and decorating our tree. This time we got a fake tree. All my life we've had a real one, and I LOVE the fresh smell. So sometimes Cecilio and I would playfully argue the battle between the fake vs. real tree and he prefers the fake because it's better for the environment. My sister Trixie got a fake one because it's more affordable, and my mom decided to get a fake one because yes it's cheaper and she didn't want to have to deal with watering it everyday. I also look forward to peppermint treats and songs.

I don't want to get too caught up in the material things, but I won't lie and say that I don't want anything...because I do. And our culture does pound that "buy buy buy" mentality in our heads. I could say each and every one of us have little pleasures that make us happy, am I correct? Here's the following things I've been hankering for:

MAC Tinted Lipglass in Russian Red: I tested this on Black Friday and Oh. My. Gosh. I was head over heels! I didn't get it though because I purchased the Captive and Girl About Town Lipsticks. I have the Russian Red lipstick which I love but I don't wear often. This would be more wearable on a casual day if I want to feel edgy. Most of the lip glasses are very sheer but not this one! And they are not as drying either!

Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette: I have the Naked 3 Palette but I have been eyeing this baby. But I was also torn between this and the LORAC Pro 1. So I asked around on makeupsocialapp and the makeup addiction on reddit. Most people on both places agreed that the LORAC was better because they have more mattes and because the pigment is richer. I was really impressed with the LORAC but I found the shades to be too similar to the Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette. So I swatched the UD Naked 2 at Sephora and yes, I found that I was still thinking about it. It's more taupe than the UD 1, and I think it would go well with my skin because I have a more neutral skin tone (it's said that UD 1 is better for warm tones and UD 2 is better for cool, but it doesn't matter, just get what you enjoy!)

Work For Money, Design for Love: This is a book by David Airey, a well-known graphic designer in Northern Ireland. He has written the book Logo Design Love and worked for clients such as CampusIT and Kairos. His blog offers insightful advice for professional designers and young budding students like me. Wether you want to go freelance or work for someone, he always has something sound today. And he is very encouraging too, not stuck up and high on himself despite his fame and talents. I even commented on his Facebook page and he said thank you to me! I just figure this book would be resourceful for me as I transition into the last semester of college and then on to the "real world" because sometimes I do think about freelancing.

I Heart Guts Kidney Plush: So I Heart Guts sells these ADORABLE organ plushes (such as the heart which I gave Cecilio for Valentine's Day last year), the brain, tooth, eye, uterus, liver, etc. any organ you can think of! For some reason the kidney plush has been sold out for a while. I'd like to have it as a reminder to not take so life seriously and take it one day at a time with my lupus nephritis.

When Urine Love T-shirt: Since the kidney plush is sold out, this would be a good alternative. It's a cute bright yellow t-shirt with 2 kidneys.

Etude House Real Art Cleansing Oil: I've been looking into the Korean skincare routine which is pretty daunting because they use a 10-step regimen rather than the typical Western 3-step regimen. I won't have time on days I have to rush out the door on Mondays and Wednesdays! But it's something I could do on off days. I even ordered a BB cream, cleansing foam and essence from Missha. Korean women have amazing skin because of their regimen, because it's more preventive rather than reactive (like taking care of your skin before a wrinkle or pimple shows up). The first step is to use a cleansing oil to remove makeup and then use a cleansing foam.

Magnus PV-3310 Photo Tripod: I have a tripod for my camera, but I lost my base, whoops! I found this from BH Photo and it's only $15 yet there are decent reviews, such as it being sturdy. I'd like to use a tripod again to get back into photography, such as indoor shots where the lighting is bad and I tend to get camera shake or use a really high ISO. I also want to photograph myself in my outfits for this blog.

Vello Shutterboss Version II Timer Remote Switch: Again, this would be good to use with the tripod for photograph my outfits. This is compatible with my camera (Nikon D5000).

MAC Studio Fix Plus Foundation in C4: I've heard some ravings about this foundation, I've used the Benefit Hello Flawless! powder (but it crumbled in my purse in the Philippines) and the Too Faced powder foundation so I want to see how this compares.

Other than these things, I would really like my license back the absolute most. It's been an extremely difficult year having to have everyone take me places. And it's extremely humiliating for a 25 year old in America. I say in America because we are a car-heavy nation, and my mom didn't start learning to drive until after she gave birth to me when she was 31, because most people took the public transportation in the Philippines. I know she reminds me that I need to be grateful that her, my brother in law and Cecilio can take me around. Which I am but that doesn't make it any less difficult because I have been held back from so many job opportunities I could have applied to, and I can't get involved in SFA as much as I want to. Also, it's the little things I can't do that really grate me, such as go to the grocery store or to Starbucks, and ESPECIALLY to Kinko's (if I need to print out mockups of projects) or the art supply store. So yeah, I just hope and pray 2015 will be better in that respect and that I will have no seizures from then on. Please wish me luck and pray for me.


Rheumy update + among other things

Happy December everyone! Lets make this year go out with a bang. I had a pretty good Monday so far, I went to my rheumatologist and she finally decided to taper my prednisone to 12.5 mg for this whole month and then 10 mg next month until I see her! Of course, I was overjoyed but I tried not to show it too much. I played it cool when she asked me if I wanted to taper and I just said, "yeah, uh huh". But of course, she knew. She said,"I know you're probably super excited you're probably thinking, heck yeah I've been wanting this for the past 6 months!" I've stayed on 15 mg since April because the protein in my kidney started elevating again. I had a kidney biopsy in September 2013 because the protein came back so I had to go back on prednisone and cellcept. Anyway, I started losartan this September to lower that protein and it seems to be working. At first I was taking lisinopril in May but I found that I was getting severe coughs as a side effect...

I still am worried though about the chance that the protein will elevate again now that I am going down. But I am thankful that they decided that it was time. As shallow as it is, I really would like to get down to my normal weight and that is why most people hate prednisone. But at the same time, it has allowed me to function. Last year in September and October, I was getting high fevers everyday, so I had to take 80 mg! I originally was supposed to take 40 mg but the fevers wouldn't go away until I topped in at 80 mg. Life got to me then. I was just starting in the graphic design program and was bombarded with the schoolwork (still am, but I'm not complaining, just saying) and I was REALLY stressed out about the biopsy because I knew there was a chance of going back on prednisone. And I was coping with the loss of my dad (and I still am).

Then I went to my afternoon class to turn in my playing cards project. Thankfully, my professor allows a chance for redoing it because I absolutely hated how it turned out craft-wise. I was using a Friskars round corner punch and every time I would punch it down to the edge of my cards, there would be really jagged edges. There were a few times I got lucky and the corners were smooth, but for the most part...yikes. I explained to him what happened because I came in late from my doctor's appointment (because I didn't want to show my cards alongside my other classmates up front) and he totally understood. So yes, I will be recutting and remount (I may work more on the joker and back card)

My playing cards theme is "The Fault in Our Stars" (forgive me for the crappy iPhone quality)

The good news is that for this same class, I got a 90/100 on a previous project. We were supposed to design 4 postcards (3 front, 1 back) using pieces of paper and controlling the light sources. I know I could have done better on my imagery (to make it seem like it wasn't paper) and color but I am pretty happy about it. 

My favorite Disney movie, which also inspired a play in Germany then back to the US.

Afterwards I had a good day with Cecilio. We went to Insight Coffee after my class and I had an almond mocha and he had a latte, then we picked up my medications at Walgreens and picked up my younger sister Sarah and the dogs from my older sister's house. I'm pretty encouraged by school and health despite how I felt like nothing was getting better. It's that breakthrough. I just hope whenever life throws me more trials (and it will) I won't react the way I have been. I do admit I can have a bad attitude about things and it's a struggle to remain positive. But there is hope. And if there is a will, there is a way.