May 2015 Boxycharm Review

I know that Boxycharm usually comes during the middle of the month, but I haven't gotten a chance to review it because of how busy I was with graduation and finals.

The theme of the month is Bold and Beautiful, and all of the products reflect that. Bold brows, bright lips, punch-packing nails and sun kissed son are just at your doorstep here. I guess Boxycharm is prepping for those summer months. Although nice eyebrows are always timeless (does not have to be bold or thick, whatever works best for your eye and face shapes!)

I'll be honest, I wasn't impressed at first. I was looking forward to the nail polish (which is the only one I haven't tried yet). But I swept on the bronzer and did my brows...and holy moly am I in love!

First off, we have the bodyography Essential Brow Trio ($19). It also comes with the brush (also $19). I absolutely love the brush: it's high quality and the bristles are not too hard but not too soft to where you can't control your brow shape. The brush also has a mascara wand on the other end, I also like using the mascara want to brush and groom my brows before I fill them in.

Also, the box it came in says you can use this also as an eyeshadow, eyeliner, bronzer or blush. I used the medium tone for my brows and I think it wouldn't be too bad to try it as a sculpted contour powder, especially because it's more cool-toned. There's more than 1 way to use a makeup product. I've used eyeshadow and gel liner for my brows before too.

I've been using NYX eyebrow cake powder...but I'm sorry...but this will be my new holy grail brow product.

Then there's the ModelCo Bronze Shimmer pressed powder ($22). When I first saw the word shimmer, I was worried that it was going to have a lot of fallout and that my face would look like a glitter bomb or oompa loompa if I tried to contour it. But that's not the case at all. It is a bit warm toned, but you can contour a little bit for a more natural, summer look. It blends well and does not make me look orange at all. I've been on a bronzer kick (I also just bought Benefit Dallas) so this is going to be a staple.

Then here is the Lip Bar lipstick ($20) in Kiss Me. I love coral lipsticks, but I didn't care for this one too much. Maybe because I have a lot of oranges. But it is more pink than orange which makes it more wearable, especially for the summer. I think it will grow on me the more I wear it, and I find that oranges and warm pinks flatter my skin the most anyway. I love the packaging of the tube, and it comes in a cute velvet pouch. It is very moisturizing and comfortable to wear since it has Vitamin E, shea butter and olive oil.

Last but not least is the Lauren B. Beauty Nail Polish ($18) in #ImJuicing. Aside from the cute name, I love this shade because green is one of my favorite colors. I haven't tried it yet but I am pretty excited to do so, especially because now I plan on cutting down on the nail salon trips and start doing my own nails instead.

And here is how I look like with the products from this months box...

I'm pretty blown away by the products. I thought I wouldn't care for the bronzer or the brow products, but they are actually my favorites. These products have a total value of $98 since they are all full sized, and you get your bang for your buck for $21 a month. This is my 2nd subscription so far, and I'm excited for the next one. I also resubscribed to ipsy. 

What have you received in any of your subscription boxes in May? Found any new favorites? Let me know in the comments section!

I DID IT! (Yesterday's recap of my graduation)

A silly picture with my graphic design cohort. I'm on the far left with the smirk on my face.

Yesterday at 6 pm in the evening, I walked across the stage inside Sleep Train Arena (The home of our basketball teams, the Sacramento Kings...but for us lifelong Sacramentans, it used to be called Arco Arena and it will ALWAYS be called that) to show that I have completed years of grueling hard work, sleepless nights, moments of self-doubt (I still have those...more on that...), etc. It's hard enough to be a student, especially for those who also work and have a family of their own. It's also another level when you battle a disease and are limited to what you can or can't do.

For those of you who don't know, I started off at community college 8 years ago at Sacramento City College. I knew I had lupus then, but it was only towards the end of 2010 that I started having horrible flareups. That was during my first semester as a transfer to Sacramento State University. I think it was because I injured myself a couple of months prior when I was working at the campus bookstore and injured myself carrying the heavy textbooks, squatting in awkward positions and not using the moving dolly all the time. Then I started having severe joint pain for weeks. It wasn't until my doctor prescribed me with prednisone for the first time. It was the first time I felt back to normal again. It was heaven sent. My joints healed in a snap. But halfway through my prednisone taper, I decided, "I don't need this anymore, I'm better" which was a BIG mistake. I got extremely ill, all while adjusting to university classes and working part time. I had to quit that job because I started missing out from being sick and I had my first hospitalization on January 2011 (because of high fevers, a UTI and was diagnosed with lupus nephritis in addition to my SLE). When things couldn't get worse, my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer 3 months later. I was stunned.

I always wanted to be a graphic designer, but the program at my university is extremely competitive. During 2011, I decided not to apply because I had a lot of issues going on. In late 2011, I was completely dead inside and miserable. Then I had my first ministroke and seizure. I decided to take a semester off and go to speech therapy. I decided to apply for the program in 2012, but got rejected. I went back during the Fall 2012 semester and took more art and general ed classes. My dad's cancer started getting worse and his Tarceva and chemotherapy started failing. Then he passed away on February 7, 2013. I was in shock. I don't know what it was, but part of me still wanted to reapply for the program because I knew he knew that this was what I always wanted. He even encouraged me the year prior, that if I got rejected (which I did) to re-enter and not get discouraged. His words were so soothing. I knew I wanted to do something to make him proud. I had another seizure 2 weeks before I turned in my portfolio. But I still got accepted even though I thought my portfolio was nowhere near perfect, but it was probably because the professors recognized it and saw how much I improved, especially asking for critique during their office hours.

Even though it was what I have always wanted, I've had moments where I was severely depressed because I couldn't drive to class because of my seizures (except through towards the end of my 1st semester, and the last half of this semester). I always wondered, what was wrong with me, why do I have to have this sickness. So throughout me being depressed, it made me NOT want to do my homework even though I loved was a never ending cycle. To top it off, I felt like a lot of my fellow classmates didn't like me. I mean they would talk to me sometimes, but I was never a part of their inner circle, so I decided to keep my distance. I've always felt socially awkward I guess even though I want to improve. I've always felt people didn't like me because of being bullied a lot in the past. Though towards the last semester, I started opening up slowly, especially as they congratulated me for getting engaged.

Whew! Sorry for the longwinded post. I like to write and reflect a lot on things. I guess I also want others to hear my story about how I got to where I am now (for those who aren't familiar with my blog). But here's the fun part: the pictures!

With my true friends, Rebecca, Nate and Jamie

With my family (mom, sisters and nieces)

I love this man so much. He has been with me since Day 1 at Sac City.

Everyone kept prodding us to do a kissy picture. I hate being teased (especially by my older sister or any relatives) so I tried to make it quick but they wanted a longer one). I loved how this one turned out especially with Jamie photobombing. I surprisingly posted this on Facebook. I have to get used to this kind of stuff especially because wedding.

With my future in-laws

I'm so thankful for the unconditional love and the strength of my mom. She has always supported my goals and managed to take care of us even while working. She has always encouraged me and believed me even when I didn't believe in myself. 

Celebrating at Magliano's Italian restaurant. Excuse my prednisone moonface. I still have it at 10 mg.

Got some sweet gifts, such as alumni memorabilia.

We shared some Tiramisu!

So's relieving that I'm over school. but it is bittersweet. I've spent the majority of my life in school, and now it's over. So what's next? The obvious answer is trying to look for a job. But as I've mentioned, I've always felt like my work wasn't good enough or up to par to find a job. I've needed external reassurance from others that I am competent or good enough. But I know that confidence has to come from within. And yeah, it's easy for others to say that you shouldn't compare yourselves to others but do you realize how hard it is? Especially when you've suffered from low confidence your whole life? But I won't give up no matter how hard it seems. Graduating and getting your degree doesn't mean you will stop learning. I still will keep learning and practicing my craft as I still apply for jobs. After all, you don't stop learning until you're 6 feet under the ground.

And...of course I am excited for this next chapter in my life because in 2 years I am marrying the love of my life, my best friend! How much more awesome is that?! We are already planning where we want our venue. I already contacted a planner and she said that people book that specific venue 3–18 months in advance. Since we want to have a May 2017 wedding, we plan on taking a tour on that specific venues (and other ones too) and then we will book in November, if that is the one we end up liking. But I really can't wait to spend my life with Cecilio. We love looking back during how things were at Sac City and how our little friendship bloomed, but we are keeping our eyes to the prize while we are just enjoying every little moment of being engaged in the process.

Yesterday's recap: Grad photos, MOTD, and reflections.

So it's 2 am right now, and yesterday, I went to my school because Cecilio wanted to take graduation photos of me...well, my future mother in law wants to send them to their relatives in the Philippines too. But I will also start designing my announcements. My actual graduation ceremony is on the 23rd. I almost can't believe it, especially because I had some doubts about it (I kinda struggled with my last semester at school, and hoping I can redeem myself during the summer). I know despite my doubts and fears, once I stand on the stage, it'll feel liberating. I was on the 8 year plan, and I know that most college-goers would totally turn their nose up on that, but the fact was that I pushed through even despite my lupus flares and losing my dad. I don't want to prop myself up like a hero because I still have struggles. And as I am getting older (okay, 25 is not that old...), I am realizing that everyone has a different path in life. Society has this way of making us believe that if we don't graduate by 20–21 or get married by 25, then something is wrong. But each and everyone is unique, and has different life situations and aspirations.

I worry about finding a job. Competition scares me, and at times I don't feel up to par. I also had a huge breakdown on Thursday because of the spring show on Monday, and I am worried about my portfolio pieces through school will look mediocre to everyone else. But I felt better letting it out, knowing...maybe a small part of me knows that things will be ok.

Phew! That was heavy. On a light-hearted note, I am loving my makeup for these photos. I actually kept pulling the car mirror down to look at myself. Cecilio was all like, "Why do women love looking at themselves in the car mirrors?!" (he was also referring to his mom and sisters) and I respond with, "well they like how they look and want to make sure their face or makeup are on fleek!" haha. This is definitely the makeup I will be wearing for graduation, but maybe a different color for the crease.

Benefit Professional
MUFE HD Foundation (128)
NYX Matte Bronzer (Medium)
MAC Blush (Peachykeen)
Colourpop Highlighter (Wisp)

Coastal Scents Revealed 2 Palette
NYX Eyebrow Cake Powder (Dark Brown)
Benefit Roller Lash Mascara
Rimmel Scandaleyes Gel Liner (Black)
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Eye Pencil (Zero)

Too Faced Lip Insurance
MAC Lipstick (Retro)

Here is a little selfie before Cecilio came and picked me up

Our selfie. It was windy today which is why my hair is messed up. And I only appear taller because I'm on a step and wearing heels. I know my future is bright because he's in it. I would never have known that 8 years ago when we found each other on Myspace and then met in our classes together at our old community college, that he would be the one I would end up marrying. I am so so blessed and happy.

worrying about the future + staying inspired as a creative

I know I'm not the only one who is going through this but it feels like I am. And I actually have some projects (and a presentation) due tomorrow but lately I have been anxiously worrying about getting a job after I graduate, and I hope and pray to get through these hurdles.

I know almost everyone in my graphic design cohort worries about finding a job, especially because our field is competitive and most of us are going to be staying in Sacramento or the Bay Area. I am extremely worried because 1. I feel I am not the best and 2. I haven't gotten a job or internship because I couldn't drive throughout the bulk of my time in the graphic design program, and I live half an hour away from the campus and about 15 minutes away from Downtown/Midtown Sacramento.

I get discouraged easily, so when I do, I'm likely to do less of my work, as a result being more discouraged. It's a vicious cycle. And we have our senior spring show next week and I'm worried about being depressed seeing other classmates' work shine over mine. I know people say you mustn't compare yourselves to others but there are a lot of prodigies in our program. But I know I deserve to be there because 2 years ago I re applied for the program (even when I got rejected in 2012), despite my dad passing away months prior and getting a seizure 2 weeks before the portfolio was due. It was an amazing feeling, and inspired me to draw and design a lot of the summer before I started the program. I went to Europe that summer and was super inspired, especially because I took a lot of art and design history classes, and most of the movements happened over there. I want to have that exhilarating feeling of inspiration again. I know I get that a lot with my trips to San Francisco with Cecilio (hint hint, love).

I knew what I was getting into when I got accepted. I heard it from all the professors and the people who went through it. I knew it was going to be intense, even brutal at times. But what I didn't know was that I was going to struggle with lupus and driving throughout all of it.

I can't blame everything on lupus because right now I am not flaring up. But my first semester in Fall 2013, I was having constant fevers that forced me to bump up my prednisone to 80 mg. My 2nd week during that semester, I had a kidney biopsy and found that the protein in my kidney went back which was why I had to go back on prednisone in the first place. But I can't let the things of the past get to me. I can't let seeing other classmates work discourage me.

My mom was telling me I have to be proud of myself and not be so hard on myself. And I'm trying so hard not to. It's just yeah, the end is near and I've been in school for 8 years. I just want to be able to pay off those student loans, and my wedding is in 2 years.

So I guess my plan is after graduating, I will go job hunting, in the meantime updating my portfolio and bettering it. I had a Skillshare account but I canceled it but I'll reactivate it again and take online classes there. In addition, I'll scope out local nonprofits I can help volunteer my skills for.

My portfolio website is here if you are interested in checking it out.

Things will be ok. There will always be a light at the end of the tunnel.

My first facial at Massage Envy

I have always wanted to try a facial to get rid of the gunk (pores) on my face, and to smooth it out. My mom is a member of Massage Envy, so every month she alternates between facials and massages. I just became a member under her name, and I have gotten massages there before last year, and they feel amazing. And now that I'm (even if just in a tiny bit) in the beauty world, I do firmly believe a facial would be beneficial for deep cleaning the face, getting rid of pores, relieving stress, etc. A

This morning, I went to the Massage Envy in Elk Grove on Franklin Blvd. A 1-hour facial is $59.99. They had me fill a survey about my health history, skin issues, what my skincare routine is, etc. I filled out "yes" when they asked if I have a daily skincare regime. Honestly, I have been slacking off on that because of stress, no time, and late nights focusing on my homework (seriously, I sleep 2 hours on Sunday and Tuesday nights because i have school on Mondays and Wednesdays. But I have 2 more classes left and it's graduation). In the survey, I wrote that I have dry skin and I would like to get rid of the whiteheads.

I went in to the room and I took off my top since I had to lay down on the bed in a dark room (like the massage room). The esthetician, Patti was excellent and I had great conversations with her (she is also my mom's esthetician). At first, she cleansed my face and toned it with their Murad products (Massage Envy sells Murad skincare). I can't exactly remember what she did in order so bear with me. She exfoliated and used a peel with glycolic acid to get rid of my dead skin cells. Glycolic acid also helps with sun spots, age spots and for those who are pore-prone. I told Patti that sometimes I used to exfoliate with grainy products such as LUSH Ocean Salts and she told me to stop using that for my face because it actually scars and dries out the skin on my face. Grainy textures feel good but that doesn't mean they are good. She said it's ok to use for my body though.

After the cleanse-tone-exfoliate regimen, she put the steamer on. It heated up my face and the smell reminded me of the rice cooker, haha. She then extracted the whiteheads and pores on my cheek, a bit on my chin and nose. She said overall I had really good skin and I have very small pores on my cheek. Even though I find the pores on my nose to be a problem area, but she said it wasn't that bad. Still, whiteheads are always the death of me.

Then she put a deep cleaning (and cooling) mask on my face and a bit on my chest. Then last but not least, the moisturizing.

I, like my mom will alternate between a facial and a massage monthly. I had a great experience and I recommend that beauty junkies pamper themselves. It could be at any spa. Here's the benefits of a facial according to the Massage Envy:

  • Moisturizes skin
  • Reverses visible signs of aging
  • Improves skin tone and texture
  • Alleviates redness and sensitivity
  • Reduces fine lines and wrinkles
  • Reduces blemishes and breakouts
And here is more info on the Murad Products. Patti recommended that I get the products from the Resurgence Healthy Skin Regimen Kit since its designed for those with sensitive skin. Perfect because of my skin problems with lupus. I already have the Murad Renewing Cleansing Oil to remove my makeup.

I am also going to get the Hydrating Toner, the night cream and the Sheer Lustre Day Moisturizer.

If you haven't had a facial yet, I totally recommend it! It feels like Heaven, and it's a great way to treat and pamper yourself, and your face feels super clean. If you have had one before, how was your experience? How often do you go?

NOTE: This post is not sponsored by Massage Envy. This is purely based on my experience.

Wedding mood board

Right now, Cecilio and I are enjoying being engaged since the wedding is in 2 years. Our plan after I graduate is that we will start looking at possible venues before we start to book and set the date. It's unfortunate that there's hardly any timeline planners for those on the 2 year plan, because I do want to have fun with all of the planning, however stressful it may be!

I've been going back and forth regarding the vision, and my key words are: classic, romantic, and whimsical. That is the type of ambience I want for our wedding. I just feel that it suits us the most. When wedding planning, some people have different visions: glam, black and white formal, rustic (totally big right now, not our thing), boho, etc. He is super romantic and thoughtful towards me, and even though we are pretty private about our relationship (we don't go super-cheesy "I LOVE YOU SO MUCH" on social media, but we do post pictures of each other, and save the mushy-gush through text, phone and in person), but those who are nearest and dearest see us and see the love we have for each other oozing. They can see it in our eyes. Even before we started dating, our colleagues from the school newspaper we were in thought we were great together and they would give me a few words of encouragement to give him a chance even though I was resistant at first. I'm so glad I said yes to dating, and yes to marrying :)

Our tastes our simple. I also like soft colors. Neutrals and brights I adore as well, but there's something about a soft and sweet theme that I adore. When it comes to planning, Cecilio doesn't really have a lot of demands: Just that all of our guests are comfortable and that we can easily accommodate them, and that we have a Lego cake topper.

Here's what I am envisioning for the following:

Colors: I found "the color scheme". I want powder blue with pink. I knew I have always wanted pink in there somehow, and I thought pink and green would be nice but a family friend already had that for her wedding a few years ago and my sister had pink and peach for hers a long time ago. Add a little cream for accents and we're good to go :)

Venue: We will start planning after I graduate, but we were thinking of a church ceremony (at the Episcopal church we sometimes go to and plan on being members of) and having the reception at one of the Sacramento hotels. That is the safest choice, even though hotels are expensive. It's the safest because of weather conditions. We would love an outdoor garden wedding, but we are planning on having it in March (which means it might rain) or May (may be too hot). My mom suggests having it at Napa, but it's extremely expensive and we're not wine drinkers (ok, I occasionally have some, but I'm not an aficionado like my mom is).

Dress: I can't go into specifics on my dress because 1. I haven't gone dress shopping yet and 2. I don't want Cecilio to know the exact details until he sees me on the big day. All I'm going to say is that I like a lace A-line dress. An A-line is classic and suits all body types, but not over the top like a ballroom gown. Before, I used to imagine myself in a sheath dress. Problem is, magazines and websites always said that the sheaths are more for slim figures. Even when I was size 4/6 slim, I've always had curvy hips and legs (something Cecilio loves). Hopefully, just hopefully I can get off of prednisone soon so I can lose the 20–30 pounds before I can go dress shopping (next year), and pray that I won't have to go on it...for the rest of my life please.

Flowers/decor: I'm going to put both since they kinda tie together. I dream of pink and peach roses with blue hydrangeas and baby's breath, for the bouquets and the reception decor. They are soft and delicate, which go well with a spring wedding and the romantic theme. At first I wanted mason jars to drink...but that...may be a little too rustic (and trendy). I like the idea of putting the flowers in the bell jar (like Beauty and the Beast) on the reception tables with tea candles. Oh! And for each table, I really want a picture of each of us when we were younger (ex: table 1 would have a frame each of both of us at 1 year old). I'm a sucker for nostalgia.

Honeymoon: We've narrowed it down to Paris, Maui, or Puerto Vallarta (Mexico). I've been to Paris and Maui before. Nothing screams romance like The City of Lights. Ooh-la-la, how sweet would it be to relax near the Eiffel Tower, explore Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur cathedrals, and take a boat ride along the Seine River? We could look at art at the Louvre, have a picnic at one of the many gardens, relax at the cafes...Cecilio loves French food and culture (whereas I am more into Italian food and culture) and I want him to experience that. We've gone to a few great French restaurants in San Francisco. Unfortunately, Paris (and Maui) come with a hefty price tag. Maui (Hawaii in general) has gorgeous, swimmable beaches. I am fascinated with the idea of Puerto Vallarta because they have gorgeous beaches (some we can take a boat ride to), and because it is more affordable, authentic and nowhere near as commercial as Cabo or Cancun. I also love Mexican food, thanks to Cecilio introducing me to the authentic kind (he's half Mexican, half Filipino...but ever since I started dating him, I have discovered the greatness in real Mexican cuisine. Before him, I just had Chipotle).

So this is the mood/setting I want for our wedding :) Now I'm trying to peel away from Pinterest or wedding venue websites so I can focus on graduating, but it's really hard..I am a member of The Knot, and one of the forum threads had a title called "2 year engagement but want to plan NOW" which is exactly what I am feeling...Cecilio reminds me all the time, "Don't worry, 2 years may seem long right now but it's gonna go by really quick" and there are great benefits for a long engagement: getting first dibs on the venue/photographer, having time to budget or save up for what you really want, having time to get in shape, and enjoying the relationship on its own before getting caught up on the wedding planning madness. Even through the midst of that, we promise to each other we will enjoy each others company and take a breather on the planning. I'm so excited on what the future will bring for us :) Because in the end, it's all about spending my life with the man I deeply and widely love, my best friend <3

NARS Audacious Lipstick (Jane)

I said I would minimize my makeup (at least high end makeup) spending. I was wrong. It was love at first swipe.

It all started on Wednesday evening when I went to the mall to go to BJs (there was a banquet for the fashion club I am/was a part of). It ended quickly so I decided to window shop at Sephora. Oh boy, Sephora is a dangerous place for beauty bloggers and addicts! The NARS Audacious lipsticks came out last fall and I heard nothing but praise about them. I can see why.

At first, I tried the shade "Jeanne", which is describe as cherry red in Sephora. It is a tad darker than that on my lips, and I actually do like it a lot, but I will save it for fall. So then I tried Jane.

You know how when you test something at the makeup counter and you fall head over heels, in an "OK, I absolutely have to have it" kind of way?! That's how I felt about Jane. Yes, these babies cost $32, and it is the most expensive lipstick I have ever purchased. Do I regret it? NOPE. I have lipsticks that I feel "meh" about or where I try to convince myself to love it. And then I end up not using them as much. Such as a few MAC ones, and those aren't cheap either. But not Jane. I can see her on my lips on a day to day basis.

Ok so lets talk about the packaging. The lipsticks have a magnetic packaging? Isn't that cool? I've seen that on eyeshadow palettes but not lipsticks. The black tube feels luxurious, and I always like when  a lipstick has their logo engraved on it.

The formula is satin–matte but no way near drying. I have MAC and Too Faced Melted lipsticks and those are way more drying. The Audacious lipsticks are described on the NARS website as  "Single-stroke coverage so shamelessly seductive in touch and texture the sensation is audacious". It was true! There is so much pigment in one swipe. I have other lipsticks that I have to apply twice to get the pigment I desire. Also, these are creamy but don't transfer or smudge easily.

Jane is described as "terra-cotta rose" and is a shade I have been looking for for a long time. I thought I had it with Wet n Wild (Just Peachy), NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream (Cannes or Zurich) or even MAC (Mocha). No. Jane is exactly what I was looking for. Something in between nude and soft coral. This is flattering on almost all skin tones. I am always on the hunt for a light subtle color that will still show up on my lips. She is it. She shows up as light coral, but not too crazy orange.

This is a lipstick that you can also wear all year round.

I am more than impressed with these. In fact, I quite regret buying a few other lipsticks (such as the MAC or Too Faced ones) that I am not too hot about, when I could've bought fewer of the Audacious lipsticks that are perfect for my skin tone and don't dry out my lips as much. I got my eye on Jeanne, Audrey, Leslie, and Fanny. I guess that means less impulse buys elsewhere (although this is the one impulse buy I absolutely did not regret) to save up for those girls.