June Favorites

I don't know what it is, but I do want to get back on my feet in the blogging world, but I feel stuck in a rut, uninspired. Maybe it's because of life after graduation, I've just been at home resting and slowly job hunting. I am also looking for volunteer work in the meantime. I definitely want to keep at this blog and start to become more serious about it. How can I call myself a designer when I haven't designed a logo or background and buttons for this?! That's how much of a creative block I've been feeling. And honestly, I had that a lot in school. But it's time to get out of my stupor.

I'm really trying not to buy a lot of makeup (it's really hard, trust me, I still bought quite a bit this month) so I can save up for my wedding. Cecilio and I are planning to have our wedding on March 2017. We came up with the guest list together (along with our parents because of course they want many extras to invite) which came up to 155 guests! Yikes. The Urban Decay Vice Ltd. Edition Palette was on sale for $39 on the Ulta website (original for $58). I was debating whether or not I should get it because OH MY GOODNESS I love the colors, but $39 is still steep! I have palettes from UD, Too Faced, It Cosmetics, etc. but the Vice Ltd. palette had a gorgeous range of jewel tones and neutrals. When I clicked "add to cart" a few times, it became out of stock. I thanked God because I really don't have much self control!

I hardly came up with June favorites...so I didn't want to force add things if my heart wasn't into them. So here they are:

1. BH Cosmetics Eyes on the 80's Palette: Okay, so I did a review in March on this palette and wore this for St. Patricks Day. I broke this one out this month, especially when the Supreme Court declared that gay marriage is now legal here in the US. So I wanted to celebrate by experimenting with rainbow eyeshadow (my first time doing this):

And here's another look: (I was so sad to wash this one off)

Let's just say I've been bored with neutrals and I want some color and pizzazz back in my life. After all, my love for eyeshadow stemmed from neon colors, and the neutrals caught my eye in my early 20s. In fact, I had the Urban Decay Electric Palette for 2 weeks and I returned it, as I wrote here. Now I am thinking of buying it again! See where my self control is?! Haha.

2. Barre3: Okay, so I've been going back into exercise, and for my May Favorites, I was singing the praises of Physique 57 and Bar Method...I'm putting those on hold for a while because I discovered Barre3 online streaming workouts and I LOVE IT! There are 100+ videos here, and they also sectioned into 10/30/40/60 minutes so if you don't have enough time, you can squeeze in a 10 minute workout. It is $15 a month, which is cheaper than other ballet/barre streaming videos (Bar Method is $15 for the first month and $35/month after, Physique 57 is $57/month). Barre workouts such as Bar Method, Physique 57, Pure Barre, Core Fusion stem from the Lotte Berk method of incorporating ballet, small movements (lifting your leg an inch till it burns), pilates, etc. Barre3 has that, but what sets it a part is that it is also very yoga-based, and I love yoga. It has you do both small and large range of motion, and emphasizes the neutral spine (other barre workouts don't incorporate as much yoga moves, only have small range of motion and emphasize the back tuck). They say Barre3 is one of the easiest ones, but I would have to disagree, I'm always sore the next day! 

3. MISSHA Perfect Cover BB Cream: I've been reaching for this, especially because of summer and needing the SPF (this one has 42!). It provides full coverage but feels light. I talked about it in this post here. It does an awesome job of moisturizing, covering and protecting my skin.

4. Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment: Speaking of SPF, this one has 15. These moisturize your lips all while giving it color, almost as much as a lipstick. Be careful in the heat however. It easily breaks (It just happened with one of mine and now I'm mad, especially because it's $22.50 a pop)

5. The Grange Restaurant: For those who live in Sacramento, The Grange is a restaurant in downtown where they serve local, farm to fork cuisine. Actually, the reason why I am putting this restaurant here is because it's located in The Citizen Hotel, where Cecilio and I plan to have our wedding reception, and the wedding package includes the catering from The Grange (so no need for outside catering vendors!) and private tasting to pick what you want in the menu. We went there for lunch and I had fettuccine with pesto, pine nuts, summer squash and cherry tomatoes. Cecilio had wild king salmon. We also shared a plate of different cheeses, honeys and crackers. Delicious!

Okay so this is a pretty short monthly favorites, but I will get back into the swing of blogging!

Top 5 Tuesday: My favorite summer beauty products

So summer has officially started on Sunday...and honestly, it's been unbearably hot here in Sacramento. Actually, the weather has been acting up. 2 weeks ago, some days it would shower, other days it would be scorching in the 90s-100s. Now we have to deal with that again. Our summers are brutal: they can get up to 105 degrees. I am extremely sensitive to the heat. Anyway, during this time of year I don't want to paint a full face, because it would feel uncomfortable (even if it won't melt with the setting sprays I use). But I still want to look polished and put together...and glow-y. So here's my most used products so far for this season:

1. MISSHA Perfect Cover BB Cream (#27): I've been opting out of my holy grail MUFE HD foundation for this. Why? Simple: SPF 42. I have a bad habit of not putting on sunblock on my face or body (oops! But I'm trying!) so wearing this is my incentive to protect my face from the sun. It gives me medium–full coverage but it feels so lightweight, I almost forget I have it on sometimes. This is a Korean BB cream, which are known to provide more perks than a Western BB Cream (which usually is more like a tinted moisturizer): it acts as a primer, foundation, concealer and sunblock all in one. The downside? It only comes in 5 shades (#13, #21, #23, #27, and #31), all of which tend to be on the lighter side (especially because Koreans prize fair skin). I got shade #27 (I had #23 which turned out to be too light for me, so I gave it to my lighter skinned Chinese best friend). Also, you can purchase it only through the MISSHA website or Amazon. I prefer Amazon so I don't have to spend $40 for free shipping or pay $8 worth of shipping if I spend under $40 (the downside of the MISSHA website).

2. Benefit Majorette: I've been into cream blushes this season, because they do provide that natural, flushed look. This is a coral blush, but it sheers out once you put it on your face. So it gives a bit of color without making you look like a clown. I actually have to press hard or swipe 3-4 times on each cheek to get the desired color. This also smells fruity. You can wear this alone or over a powder blush.

3. Benefit Dallas: I love this bronzer, and I've been using this frequently when I don't want full on contour but some sun kissed look and light sculpting. Think jlo instead of Kim Kardashian. I like wearing this alone or with a blush. If you are medium/tan–skinned or darker (like me, I'm NC 40), than this is perfect for you. If you are lighter, however, I feel that Benefit Hoola would suit you more (which hardly shows up on my skin).

4. Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Eye Pencil (Corrupt): The UD eye pencils are my favorite, because are the only ones that last a long time on my lower lashes. Almost every other pencil liner (even the supposed waterproof ones) are almost non-existent on my eyes within a couple of hours. This is Corrupt, which is a dark brown liner. I've been into dark brown eyeliners since they are less loud than black ones (black eyeliners have always been my thing since I was 13, and yes I still wear them)

5. Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment (Cherry): This has been my everyday lip color. It's a sunny bright red that makes me look like I licked a popsicle. It's fairly moisturizing (though not necessarily healing my dry lip problem) and it gives me a break from painful matte lipsticks. And it has an SPF of 15! Which is awesome because lips are one of the most sensitive parts of the skin. Unlike other tinted lip balms, this color packs a PUNCH! Almost light a lip gloss. And it feels so soft on your lips. I like this so much I also ordered the shades Tulip and Coral.

So let me know...what are your summer makeup staples?

Coping with lupus, depression and negative body image.

Yesterday I went to my rheumatologist (a doctor who deals with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases). I see her either monthly or every other month. These days, I try to visit her with an open mind, knowing yeah, she won't taper my prednisone.

And when I saw her, her tone of voice sounded concerned. She didn't understand why the protein in my kidney kept fluctuating. She said that all my labs looked great and that that was the only thing that stopped me from tapering prednisone. Of course, I expressed my concerns and frustrations. I kept saying, "I don't understand..." and we went back and forth a bit, and she decided to taper me down to 9 mg (I was taking 10 mg since December). Yeah 9 mg is not much but it's something. She said that because I've been on prednisone for a long time (since October 2013), I would have to taper in 1 mg increments from the 10 mg. Last time I took it (December 2011–November 1, 2012), I tapered from 10 mg in 2.5 mg increments. Unfortunately, the protein wanted to come back to my kidney in Summer 2013.

My mom and Cecilio are rejoicing in my health. And I am too. But this morning I got myself into a wave of self pity I couldn't get out of. Every time I meet with my doctor, I get depressed, wondering,"What is the point of eating right and exercising if I'm not going to lose weight?!" I KNOW there are so many other benefits to it. Like decreasing a flare, avoiding more health complications as you grow older, etc. but I and many other women would be lying if we said we weren't trying to look good. Especially with my wedding coming up in March 2017. I've been into barre and yoga. My biggest fear is that I won't be off of prednisone by next year when I start shopping for wedding dresses, and if I am off of it, my kidney will want to act up again, therefore having to go back on it. I know Cecilio loves me the way I am, and at my heaviest weight, he still proposed to me. And he says I inspire him to exercise and eat healthier too because I've had success with that before.

But I want to look and feel good on that day, especially in wedding pictures. It doesn't help that there is so much pressure to lose weight on your big day: to me it sends the message that if you're not over a size 2, you're not worthy of love. Bullshit!

Anyway, I've always struggled with my body and looks since I was little. I grew up in Daly City, a suburb right next to San Francisco, where the majority of the population is Filipino like me. But most Filipinos are tiny, and I was taller and bigger boned. So you can imagine the horror of 5th grade when we weighed ourselves for PE and I weighed at 115 pounds while almost everyone else was still in the double-digits. I was 5'1", which is pretty tall for a 10 year old, especially a Filipino one. I only grew to be 5'4" though. And throughout my life I've fluctuated from 115 (when I was really ill with bad lupus flareups) to 155.

I've suffered with bullying and low self-esteem when I moved to Sacramento from the Bay Area in 7th grade. I'm still seething from the guys who would flirt with me in 8th grade but in a mocking way, and making sexual rumors about me being pregnant or giving one of them oral sex. Oh, my sister was so pissed off she came to the school one time and threatened them.

I was able to make more friends and boyfriends in high school, but high school had a lot of turmoil. I was still pretty ostracized for the way I looked and talked. My ex took advantage of my vulnerability at the time, and would talk to me in really sexual ways on AIM but refused to acknowledge me in person or go back out with me "because our group of friends hated me now, so he couldn't be seen talking to me". I know I'm not perfect, a lot of this drama was my wrongdoing too and if I could go back, I wouldn't have started a lot of things.

Senior year, I had carrots thrown at me in our business finance class, and one of them said "I wasn't worth shit". I tried not to cry, but my teacher saw and confronted that guy. Bless her heart, I became her TA during the last quarter because of it, and she was so good to me. I still have the teddy bear she gave me the end of senior year. I did really well that year (my best year academically and activity-wise)

As far as my weight? I was at my heaviest between sophomore and junior year (157 pounds) but I managed to lose 40 pounds by eating a lot healthier, loving vegetables, and using our treadmill. I did the same thing when I got off of prednisone in 2012, but that was because I was only on it for 11 months. Now? It's almost been 2 years, and I don't know if I will be able to do so.

I apologize for the long ramble about my past. I know I shouldn't get so caught up in it, but between that, the loss of my dad and the health issues I have right now made me in this mental state right now. But I want to overcome things. It is easier to wallow in self pity and let your inner demons destroy you. Right now I am going back into journaling and praying.

Have you struggled with bullying, depression, low self-esteem, chronic illness, etc? How do you not let it get to you so much? How do you force yourself to do the things you love, or the mundane even when you don't feel like it? I would really like to hear your input and advice so I can apply these things to my own life.

This verse gives me comfort, and I hope it does for you too, Christian or not (not trying to evangelize because that's totally not my thing):

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)

50 Things That Make Me Happy

I follow Paula from Thirteen Thoughts and she just posted a list of 50 things that made her happy, and tag anyone who would be interested. I guess day to day I get so caught up in the mundane and the blahs (who doesn't?!) that I forget about the things that make me smile. And she's right, we do focus on the negative and things that stress us out. I am a HUGE worry wart (I get it from my dad...) but let us not forget the things that make our hearts flutter!

1. My fiance. I'm so happy to call him that and I can't wait to call him my husband. Every moment with him is precious, from the little quiet moments at home to our adventures and excursions. Here's us at Battery Park before we hopped on the ferry to go to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

2. My family, however crazy they are and no matter what issues they have. My mom says that the issues we have help us rely on God's strength more because who knows, we could be cocky otherwise.

3. These cute dogs. Well the one on the right is Sandie, my sister and niece's dog. They are so adorable and cuddly, but can be vicious (small dog syndrome?) Flora (the one on the left, which I named my blog after) smells so bad right now because she killed 2 birds in our backyard this morning but I'm still letting her cuddle with me before I take her to the groomer today.

4. Fresh rain.

5. Sleeping. Lots of sleeping.

6. Whenever my doctor says "would you like to taper your prednisone?" which is very rare these days...here's to hoping someday I won't have to take it ever again. But I doubt it.

7. Coffee.

8. Museums.

9. Dancing. I wish I took more dance classes and took them seriously as a kid. I've taken jazz and ballet class on and off and I hope one day I can be consistent with it and go on pointe. I even did cheer for 1 year at my community college.

10. Eating out at different restaurants.

11. The Davis Farmers Market.

12. Driving again. It's annoying but I'd rather have my freedom than be miserable and depressed from not driving and feeling normal because of my past seizures.

13. Planning the wedding with Cecilio, even though I am freaking out about the cost.

14. Yoga/pilates/barre-based workouts, those that give you long/lean muscles even though I don't look lean at all because of prednisone. But I had really slim limbs and physique during summer 2013 when I was just doing yoga, treadmill and Ballet Beautiful DVDs. I hope to get that slim, 120 pound body again.

15. San Francisco. I grew up in Daly City, which is just right below, so every trip back takes me back to memory lane...and wanting to live there again, even though it's crazy expensive.

16. The Episcopal Church. I love their teachings about Jesus and theology, and how loving and inclusive they are. I grew up in evangelical and conservative churches so this one is totally different. The Episcopal Church is beautiful and serene, and they are also based on scripture, reason and tradition.

17. Photography.

18. Disney movies I grew up watching.

19. Memories of my dad.

20. Fall and everything about it—pumpkin spice everything (I'm not basic though), the cool-ish weather, leaves, my birthday in October, scarves, boots, darker lipstick.

21. Flaming Hot Cheetos.

22. Finding an outfit or piece of makeup that looks bomb on me.

23. When my doctors tell me lupus is doing really well (except for when they don't taper off my prednisone).

24. A nice long massage.

25. Mexican food.

26. Swimming.

27. Animals. I especially love dogs, cats, farm animals (sheep, cows, pigs, chickens, etc.) and aquatic ones.

28. Floral minidresses.

29. The 90s, my childhood!

30. Traveling. The above pictures I took are of the Notre Dame Cathedral (Paris) and Chrysler Building (NYC). I definitely want to travel more, it's the only money you spend on that makes you richer. And Cecilio and I want to go to Paris and Barcelona for our honeymoon.

31. Ice cream and gelato (especially come these summer days).

32. Being a child of God.

33. Christmas.

34. Long walks with the dogs and taking them to the dog park.

35. Drawing. I've never been the best at it so I would get frustrated, but I did improve. When I got accepted in the graphic design program, I was such on a creative high for the summer , but then I started doing my school projects and stopped. I want to get that creative mojo back so I can stay inspired and redo my projects again. The above was just a few fun sketches of garlic. I also used to love painting.

36. The beach, mountains and forest.

37. Wearing my engagement ring with pride.

38. When Cecilio calls the moles on my face "stars" even though I hate them and always felt I was ugly because of them. But no, he absolutely loves them.

39. Music.

40. New makeup.

41. Italian food.

42. Smoothies.

43. Long showers.

44. Walking around and exploring big cities with Cecilio (SF, NYC, a bit of Seattle and Vancouver).

45. Drinking lots and lots of water. Plain water too.

46. Cheez-Its.

47. My friends. I have a solid group of them. I've never been one to be super popular and partying all the time (ok, maybe during our early 20s and got super excited about drinking but I think we all toned down) but yeah, I'm happy and thankful that they're in my life :)

48. Blogging.

49. Always being on my phone.

50. You, whoever is reading this, thank you for taking the time to do so!

I tag whoever is interested in this!

MAC The Matte Lip Collection: Persistence and Studded Kiss

I went to Arden Mall with Cecilio yesterday in search of a new pair of shoes. Lately I've been battling a cold and feeling lightheaded. I've been feeling under the weather because the weather has been so strange: it was 104 degrees on Monday, got cloudy on Tuesday, showered yesterday and now it's back to 97 today. And it's going to continue to get hot. I've been having headaches and just not feeling good too: maybe because I've also been exercising a lot more, and therefore I get hungry, so I have to eat to regain my fuel. After I got my shoes, Cecilio and I stopped at Hot Dog on a Stick and shared a corn dog, fries and lemonade. I went to the MAC store and picked these up and he said I completely perked up after I came from there.

I bought these 2 shades Persistence and Studded Kiss, which is a part of The Matte Lip Collection which consist of 22 shades, some that are already established shades but are being repromoted (Velvet Teddy, Ruby Woo, etc.) and 14 of the shades are new. So I decided to pick these two up.

I was torn between Persistence and Whirl (since the lip liner Whirl is really popular, I figured it was going to be a holy grail as a lipstick someday) but I picked up Persistence because it was less brown. I was looking up #macthemattelip pics on Instagram or #macpersistence and someone compared the Persistence swatch to MAC Taupe (which I also have), and said that if you have Taupe, you don't need Persistence...I disagree. Taupe is a little bit lighter and only shows up a little bit on my lips. Persistence is described as a peachy cinnamon. Yes, it is a warm rosy brown, but not too brown. I love it especially under natural light. On my bathroom lights though? It shows up as a more grayish. Nevertheless, this will be a staple of mine. This is one of the few nudes that look good on me.

Then I also got Studded Kiss, which is described as Dark Oxblood Red. It is definitely a 90s type or fall shade, but it's a unique dark berry red and I can see myself wearing it often. It's not as dark as it's described though, therefore not as intimidating. You can wear this with any outfit, even if it's just perking up a casual one.

Swatches of Persistence and Studded Kiss

MAC Persistence

Let me say that the matte finishes from MAC aren't my favorite because they're so drying, but I am pretty impressed with the shades so far! Next time I get these, I definitely want Whirl and D for Danger. Has anyone shopped for the new shades from the Matte Lip collection? What are your favorites?

May Favorites.

Well, it's already the beginning of June...so I literally missed the last day of my May favorites. Oops. I would say May was quite the busy month, especially for graduating college. So let's talk about that first!

1. Officially a Sacramento State alumni: On May 23, 2015 I officially graduated college. It was a bittersweet moment. During my time at Sac State, I struggled. A LOT. I transferred during Fall 2010, thinking I was going to get accepted into the graphic design program Spring 2011 and then graduate in 2013. Well, life got in the way...illness between my dad and I, and being rejected from the program in 2012...then finally getting accepted in 2013. I was so happy, especially because I still want to be a designer. I just had so many hardships during my time in the major. I knew coming in that it would be an intense program (one of the most demanding majors at Sac State), but I didn't know that I would also have to struggle with my lupus and not being able to drive on top of that. It (being depressed about all of those issues) all really affected my work performance in school, and although I didn't do too bad, I feel remorseful of not trying my best. I have to believe I can still redeem myself though as I am on the search for applying for a job and building my portfolio.

2. NARS Audacious Lipsticks: These are love at first swipe. Seriously. One swipe packs PIGMENTED PUNCH! I fell in love with the shades Jane and Audrey. Jane is a cross between coral and nude, and you can read my review here. Audrey is a cool-toned berry red, that's more suited for the fall but I still also love wearing it this time of year. Unfortunately, these come at a hefty price tag for $32...and yet I still find myself drooling for more. Well, not really. I'm trying to restrain myself. These babies also feel super soft and yet they are 

3. Too Faced Natural Matte Palette: After getting the Sugar Pop Palette, I wanted to get the Natural Matte Palette to complement it (both are apart of the Summer 2015 collection). Other than the IT Cosmetics Naturally Pretty Palette, this is my only other all matte eyeshadow palette. The colors here are gorgeous with strong pigment and a soft texture. These suit all skin tones. I know this will be a regular staple of mine.

4. Benefit Majorette: Summer is coming and it's time to whip out the cream blushes for that more natural, flushed feel. I actually bought this and the Dallas bronzer when I went to get my brows waxed at the Benefit Brow Bar for my graduation...yep, I am a sucker. The ladies at the brow bar tried different blushes on me (such as Dandelion and Coralista), and this was the one I liked the most because it actually shows up on my tan skin. Same reason why I chose the Dallas bronzer over Hoola (which seems to suit more the fairer skin tones). What can I say? I am a sucker for cute packaging and the color gives me a glow.

5. Barre workouts: Now that I graduated and am transitioning to finding a job and getting married, I am trying to get back into shape. Barre workouts have always appealed to me, because I like the promise of long lean muscles (although a lot of fitness experts would say this is a myth) the low impact way. Barre workouts are a fusion of ballet, pilates and yoga and they all come from Lotte Berk's technique. I can attest those ballet-girly workouts work for me: when I wasn't on prednisone, I was doing Ballet Beautiful (trainer is Mary Helen Bowers: she trained Natalie Portman for Black Swan and a few celebrities and Victoria's Secret models) and I really slimmed down to 118 pounds. I know, people say that lifting heavy won't make you bulky but it sure does for me, plus I have rather sensitive and weak joints due to my lupus. So enter Bar Method and Physique 57. I actually became a member of the online Bar Method workouts because the fee for the 1st month is $15 and you have access to various 1-hour workouts (with a couple of mini-20 minute sessions), but I'll cancel because it's $35 after the first month. Sad because I really liked it a lot, it worked my body and made me so sore without being rough. I ordered the Physique 57 set (which comes with 2 30-minute DVDs and a 57 minute DVD, and a ball) and man I get really beat from that. Physique 57 is seriously one of the hardest barre DVDs known to fitness enthusiasts. I know I want to be strong and healthy despite lupus and have a great quality of life with my future husband, Cecilio. And I want to look good in the wedding dress. But I have to be super careful with Physique 57 because sometimes I feel like I have to pass out. It's that fast paced. I have to rest, eat more and drink more water.

6. Smores Frapuccino: Okay, so this is the COMPLETE opposite of the barre workouts I mentioned...that's why I get them only once in a while. I'm a huge fan of marshmallows (which are mixed in the drink) with the graham cracker bits on the whip cream. But like I said, I only get this once in a while, and I get the mini cup (which isn't much smaller than the tall, but it's thinner in diameter and satisfies me well). I know that the mini cup is only temporary, but I think it should be a permanent part of Starbucks for the health conscious, those who can't finish a tall frap (I sure can't), and the little kids.