October Beauty Favorites

October has been an eventful month, and a month of spending on makeup, because of my birthday. I know I've been going crazy over The Balm Cosmetics, and I've reviewed a few of their products and had a Wishlist Wednesday dedicated to them. I've reviewed most of these products featured in this post, so without further ado:

I reviewed The Balm Instain Blush (Toile) and the Bahama Mama Bronzer here. The shade Toile is a hot pink, more dedicated to spring and summer, but it's a gorgeous shade that suits my skin the most. The Bahama Mama bronzer is matte so it's perfect for contouring, and easily buildable to how much sculpting you want. The Instain Blush (Houndstooth) is a mauve shade, perfect for fall. Cecilio gifted it to me for my birthday (along with the Balm Jovi Rockstar Face Palette and the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Express...I know, he spoils me. I feel so blessed! I'll review these products soon).

I reviewed The Balm Meet Matt(e) Hughes (Charming), and all I can say is that it's the perfect dusty rose shade for me. I've searched high and low for a gorgeous Kylie-esque shade for my skin tone and that I can wear on a daily basis, and Matt(e) "Charming" is it. It's a very fall shade too!

I've heard great things about the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, so I have been eyeing it to see it would be great for my dark eye circles. I got the shade Ginger, which is a medium shade with golden undertones. I am happy to say that it does the trick! I like to dab it over the Tarte CC under eye corrector and swipe with a concealer brush, and set it with translucent powder.

And I've been eyeing the Maybelline Brow Drama because it's affordable, and a no-fuss eyebrow product. Seriously, it's eyebrow mascara! On days when I'm in a hurry and don't want to whip out powder and brush, I just need to take this out and brush away. It takes less than a minute or too. Easy! I got the shade Deep Brown.

Last but not least is the Burt's Bees Natural Acne Solutions Clarifying Toner. I reviewed it here. It has witch hazel, so it has helped me with irritation after my facial and eyebrow wax jobs. I have found that is has also helped with my milia.

What have been your favorite beauty products this month?

Romantic dinner date at Il Fornaio.

To wrap up my birthday festivities, last night, Cecilio took me out for a belated dinner date at Il Fornaio, an Italian chain restaurant. Il Fornaio has 21 locations all around California, and we went to the Downtown Sacramento location. The restaurant is based inside Wells Fargo Center, across the Capitol Building. When we do our occasional fine dining, we usually go to French restaurants (Cecilio's favorite cuisine), but this time, it's my turn for Italian (my favorite European cuisine!)

We made reservations for 7:45 through Open Table.

We walked inside marble interiors and classic Italian-inspired decor, but our waitress led us to a gorgeous indoor patio with lots of greenery and lights all around (see top picture). We were greeted with bread and olive oil. When it came to drinks, I definitely needed that Sauvignon Blanc.

For appetizers, we split the Polenta Formaggio alla Griglia, which was grilled polenta (Italian cornmeal, a staple in the Northern region) with primo sale cheese, porcini and champignon mushrooms and white truffle oil. It was small, but it hit the spot, especially with it's rich cheesiness.

Then we ordered soup. Cecilio ordered minestrone, and I had zuppa mista di legumi (a creamy bean soup). It was definitely comforting, especially because I was very hungry and suffering from a headache (I skipped lunch due to the insane pressures at my now-former job).

Now onto the star: the entree. I am a HUGE fan of pasta. Whenever I tell Cecilio that it makes me miss Italy (I went to Florence for 1 night and Rome for 3 nights in 2013), he always teases me and tells me,"Oh, you're one of those people who can actually say they wish they could go back!" (Don't worry love, we will go, and we will go to Paris, I promise). I ordered Pennoni alla vodka. What is that, you ask? Pennoni is a larger and wider version of the regular penne noodles. There was bacon and vodka cream sauce...yum! It was super-rich, but luckily a small portion, but I was still able to take some home.

Cecilio ordered beef tenderloin (Tagliata Chianina).

And how can we leave without the dessert? We had tiramisu! Even after eating I was getting a headache, because I didn't have lunch and because I was so stressed and distraught. I was mentioning to Cecilio,"hey, I heard caffeine reduces headaches?" (I said that because tiramisu contains a little bit of caffeine. My headache decreased after eating some tiramisu, but I don't think it's from the caffeine, but because of the fact that there is more food and nourishment in my system.

All in all, we both had a wonderful time dining out in a beautiful setting and delicious food. Eating out is our joy and a way to connect. I almost didn't want to go at all, especially as we missed the 6:30 reservations because I was still crying. But I'm so glad I was able to let out some steam and go, now I am in a much better mood. It's God's blessing in disguise.

If you live in California, I definitely recommend Il Forniao (21 locations, click to find out the closest one to you) for a classic and romantic dinner date or wine and dine time with friends! They have a wide variety of Italian dishes, such as pasta and pizza (of course), and meat/poultry/seafood dishes. As for dessert: whether you have a soft spot for tiramisu, are craving for cannelloni, or lusting for sorbet, you're bound to find something that ties up your taste buds.

Feelin' 26.

Yep, today marks my birthday, isn't it funny how I am 26...on the 26th? Okay, maybe not so. I am entering the transition from mid-to-late 20's. I am so so thankful for another year. I can't wait for many more years, experiences, highs and lows that come with age.

I am entering "the real world". 26 is scary because it's the age where I am kicked out of my mom's healthcare plan so we have to buy a plan for me until I can find a full-time job with benefits. I especially need it because of my lupus. Also, I start paying student loans next month.

I consider myself a late bloomer. I mean, I'm still living at home, and you would think this is the age where people would already have their crap together right now. Yes I still live at home, but I have my reasons: 1. I went to community college and then transferred to the state school nearby rather than moving out, to save money. 2. I have lupus, and my history of seizures have required someone to be with me, but thank God I haven't had a seizure in 16 months because I religiously take my medications now. I have not been sick or flaring up in ages. 3. I help my mom a lot a great deal around the house, something I honestly never did much of until my dad got diagnosed with cancer, and then passed away, so I carry some of her burdens especially since she works a lot. 4. My younger sister has autism so we definitely have to take care of her at all times, especially because my dad used to be the primary one taking care of her. 6. It's not weird in Asian culture to stay home with your parents until you get married, 2 of my cousins in Vancouver married at 28 and 32 and were still living at home, and they had university degrees and great jobs too. 7. Did I mention I am getting married at 27 anyway? 8. Even though I did focus on the people (like my childhood friend or Cecilio's classmates) that graduated from UC's and are super-educated and had the full college experiences, I had a ton of classmates who were my age and even way older.

I guess, throughout my 20's (which aren't over yet!) I've felt horrible existential crises, especially while I was going to school. I kept comparing myself to my friends or Cecilio's friends, thinking about how much they had the times of their lives because they already graduated college, are traveling a great deal, have decent jobs, and are getting married. It felt like they were having the time of their lives. I had the case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). It didn't help that I missed out on jobs and internships because I couldn't drive last year because of my seizures.

But I look back on 2015 and can't help but smile. I got my break too, from getting my license back to Cecilio proposing to me in NYC, to graduating college, to now balancing a part time-job and internship. I may have been behind my other peers, but I am slowly developing a better attitude in life and creating the life I have dreamed of. It doesn't matter how slow or fast you go as long as you are going through the process and you're trying. And it's ok to want to feel like a kid at times, especially at heart. Of course life is going to throw you more serious curveballs, but just take heart. And just breathe.

I am looking forward to many more years and decades. Life is too short not to get out there and enjoy. And that's all I want to be able to do.

Early Birthday Haul.

Sephora products

So my birthday is tomorrow, and what better way to treat myself than going on a little spree after work? That's exactly what I did on Thursday. There's a mall literally 5 minutes away from where I work, freeway driving distance, and it is considered the nicest mall in the Sacramento Metropolitan area (Westfield Galleria at Roseville). Here's some of my loot:

Anastasia Beverly Hills lip gloss Petal

I first went into Macy's to check out the Anastasia Beverly Hills lippies, and my mom gave me her $15 gift card. I tested a few of the liquid lipsticks, and I really fell in love with the shades Carina (a bright warm pink) and Spicy (reddish orange). Unfortunately, Carina was out of stock, but Spicy wasn't, however I decided to try some of the lip glosses instead. I got the Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Gloss (Petal), which is also a hot pink, similar in shade to Carina, just a glossy formula and not matte. It was $16, so I just had to pay $2 in cash. I know it's a color suited for spring and summer, I don't care, I love it. I'm definitely on the hunt for the liquid lipstick Carina, and I am for sure going to buy Spicy!

NARS Lip Pencils

If you are a beauty insider at Sephora, I'm sure you know that this year's birthday gift is the NARS One Year Bolder gift set, which consists of the Satin Lip Pencil (Rikugien, top) and the Velvet Matte Lip Pencil (Cruella, bottom). I thought I would be "meh" about them, but I'm actually pretty impressed. The shade Rikugien is described as a rose pink. I don't usually like pinkish nudes because they wash my skin out, but I can make an exception to this. This is the perfect my lips but better (MLBB) shade, and it looks and feels natural. A lot of light pinks and nudes honestly look very fake on me, and like they blend with my skin. Also, the shade Cruella is a scarlet red, and it is a matte formula, but it's super comfortable and not drying! I forget that I'm wearing it, which is something I can't say about most matte lipsticks. That's how lightweight it is. It also gives you a sexy stain.

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer Ginger

Last but not least is the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer (Ginger). I got color tested and this was the shade that was best suite for my dark under eye circles, which is a golden undertone for medium skin. I have the Tarte CC Undereye Corrector, but it's just not working out for me because it does not last at all. Or maybe I can use it under the Radiant Creamy Concealer to see how it works out. But I'm excited to try this because I have pretty bad dark circles. The color expert recommended for me to blend it with the Sephora Pro Airbrush Concealer Brush #57 for a natural finish, which I did end up buying. The bristles are super soft, so I'm sure it'll blend like a dream. It's $24, and I wasn't going to buy it because I wanted the Glimmer In Her Eye Brush Set, which was a set of 5 travel-sized eyeshadow brushes and cost $22. It's still on my wishlist and I'm definitely going to get that soon too.

So yes, tomorrow I turn 26 on the 26th! Isn't it crazy? I mean, I still don't feel that old...but in other ways I am going through uncomfortable growth pains of adulting. I'm scare, but thrilled and excited for this journey called life.

The Balm Goodies: Instain Blush (Toile) & Bahama Mama Bronzer.

The Balm is one brand I've been obsessing over and talking a lot about in this blog. I reviewed the Meet Matt(e) Hughes liquid lipstick (Charming) and I even had a Wishlist Wednesday last month dedicated to their products. I was just in luck when Hautelook came out with The Balm items for 50% off! I bought the Bahama Mama bronzer for $20 $10, and the Instain Blush (Toile) for $22 $11. I've been trying to do low buy but it's been hard because of my birthday coming up, but I ordered these at the end of last month and received them 2 weeks ago. No way would I have splurged if they weren't on sale.

Anyway, let's talk about the packaging first. I love the vintage type feel of The Balm products, and I feel like the artwork and designs resemble the vintage illustrations than Benefit Cosmetics do. It's mostly 1940's and 1950's inspired, but the Instain blushes have a more 60's vibe with the packaging resembling a fashion magazine. Even the barcode is placed on the bottom, like a typical magazine design. How cool/cute is that?!

These products have a magnetic opening. Keep in mind that they come with a sleeve protector that looks exactly like the cover, but I discarded them because it's inconvenient. Here's what I mean:

Now, let me talk about the actual shades.

The Instain blush shade I got is Toile, which is a strawberry pink. It reminds me of the Too Faced Love Flush (How Deep Is Your Love?) which Sephora describes as a watermelon pink. I guess because they are both hot pink and are similar to fruits? Remember how I said that the Instain blushes have their concept design after a 60's fashion magazine? Well, their shades are named after fashion patterns. The real toile, is a fabric, French for "linen cloth" or "canvas". The pattern is actually called "toile de jouy", which is a complex decorated pattern, usually of flowers. You can see around the blush the flower patterns. The Instain blushes have other shades with names such as Houndstooth (a very 60s pattern), Pinstripe, Lace, Argyle and Swiss Dot. Check them out here.

The Bahama Mama is a matte bronzer. Since it's cool-toned and there's no shimmer, it is perfect for contouring and sculpting the face. You can build it up to the amount of illusion you want on your cheekbones. It gives a natural glow without looking like an oompa loompa.

One thing I love about The Balm's blushes, bronzers and highlighters are teeny tiny and thin, which makes it perfect for travel. The Bahama Mama is 2" x 3", almost the size of a business card. However, it has 7.08 grams of product, and the Instain blushes have 6.5 grams. Not bad huh?!

The only thing I don't like are the protective sleeves I mentioned above, but you can easily get rid of it if you want, it's your preference.

Now, time for the swatches! You can build up to however much pigment you want, which is good because you don't want to look like a clown.

Other makeup I'm wearing (haven't done this in a while):
Maybelline Brow Drama (Dark Brown)
Rimmel Scandleyes Waterproof Gel Liner (black)
Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara

Do you guys have this product or any similar products relating to The Balm? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Wedding Planning: All about the B-List.

On Monday, Cecilio and I were sitting down at a local coffee shop, sipping black coffee (for him) and Mexican hot chocolate (for me), trying to think of what to plan for our March 2017 nuptials. It's so far ahead, so we really don't have much to plan at the moment!

Except when we realized that we needed to meet a minimum amount for our food/beverage fee for the reception (otherwise we would still have to pay the difference if a few guests don't attend, and don't meet that minumum), we decided to come up with the B-list guests.

What are B-list guests, you ask? They are the guests you do invite in case a few of your A-list (definitely inviting) list don't RSVP or show up. Now, being on the B-list is not necessarily a bad thing. Megan Finely, writer from Offbeat Bride, explains why she absolutely loves being a B-lister. In fact, when we started writing down the list of my friends, Cecilio's high school friends and co-workers, I was saddened...because I really would not mind having them come at all. They're on the B-list due to space and budget constraints, but you would totally put them in the A-list in a heartbeat! And it makes your heart hurt not being able to do so. But, the A-list has obligatory invites, especially if your parents are paying for the wedding (even if it's partially). Megan states that some of the A-listers aren't really the "better people", but the "necessary people" or "the people that would cause the most turmoil felt for years to come if they aren't invited."

Case in point: I have a few people I don't really want to invite, but I absolutely have to have them on the A-list. I don't want to get into specifics, but they are the type of people who would stop at nothing to make my life a living hell if I don't invite them, even though I'm not close to them anymore and haven't seen them in years. To me, they are a D-list at heart.

But who am I to judge? I'm not perfect either. I'm sure I have my things that my relatives can easily pick apart.

In weddings, there is on average a 65-85% acceptance rate (maybe up to 95% if you are having an intimate celebration and every guest is local). Even if there is that rule, etiquette states that you have to assume that 100% of your guests will come, and prepare for them. But when the time comes and some of our guests regretfully can't make it, then that B-list will come in handy.

But that's a lesson in wedding planning that transfers to life: even if you don't like someone, you learn to be civil with them. That's a part of maturing: learning to get along with others. When I was younger, I'm sure I let it be known if I didn't like, or hated someone. I was brash and hard to get along with too, but over the years I went through the refiner's fire of drama with friends and family, and started mellowing out. It's especially important to learn to get along with people at the workforce: my career-driven mom would always remind me to get along with others at work and to not be so sensitive, because some people will make minced meat out of you. Plus, who knows? Sometimes people surprise you and you may become close years down the road.

It also teaches your partner to be civil with your family and vice versa, because you're not just marrying them, you're marrying their family!

Burt's Bees Natural Acne Solutions Clarifying Toner.

These days, I don't like experimenting too much with skincare, because I don't want to keep breaking out. However, I ran out of my Body Shop Vitamin E Toner, I decided to go to Ulta and get something else. I was looking for nothing too expensive, and I came across Burt's Bees Natural Acne Solutions Clarifying Toner.

This toner cost around $15 at Ulta. I've always been a fan of Burt's Bees because of their use of all-natural ingredients. This comes in a 5 fluid oz container, and says it's 99.5% natural. On the product description, it contains 1.0% salicylic acid, which is the ingredient you need if you have acne and want to reduce your pores. Now, when I realized that it contained 1.0% salicylic acid, I was worried that it was going to break me out or dry my skin because my Murad Time Release Acne cleanser already has 0.5% salicylic acid. Plus, even though these products have "acne" in it, I really do not have acne, except for some pores, whiteheads and oiliness in my chin and milia (teeny white bumps) on my cheeks. However, I have to say I'm pleased with this product.

The Burt's Bees Acne Solutions Clarifying Toner also contains witch hazel, which is great if you have sensitive or irritated skin. This is perfect for after I get my face waxed and I have a lot of red bumps and irritation.

Keep in mind though that alcohol is the 2nd ingredient, so when you wipe it across your face, it will sting a little bit. 

I have found that after a few uses, the milia on my cheeks have shrunk. Not bad, huh? I use this after my cleanser and before applying serum every night. And in the morning, I use it before applying day moisturizer.

This product not only gets rid of acne, but prevents it from happening. It also gets rid of the traces of the makeup that the micellar water and cleanser wasn't able to completely get rid of. It's also noncomedogenic, so it will in no way clog pores.

So even if you have little to no acne, this is still a great toner to keep your face clean on a budget. 

Do you have this toner? Any thoughts?

"I do...not?" Story of a broken engagement in Sacramento.

Metropolitan Terrace @ The Citizen Hotel — Photo courtesy of KCRA 3

It's funny, but not in a laughing way, but an ironic way, when your city gains national (and international, aka through Daily Mail) attention. First it was with that stint with Cara Delevigne being interviewed at Good Day Sacramento (or as people called it...Bad Day Sacramento)

It's even more shocking when it's about a cancelled wedding at one of the most upscale hotels in your city. Even extra shocking? That's the same hotel Cecilio and I are going to have our wedding reception.

All over the news reports a couple, Landon Borup and Quinn Duane, about to marry at The Citizen Hotel in Sacramento last Saturday...until, he got cold feet and called it off a few days before. Imagine the shock and the horror Quinn's mom had when her daughter called her about it. What were they to do, when everything (guest list, decor, food, etc.) was completely finalized? Thankfully, Kari had a wonderful idea to turn their would-be reception into a dinner event for the homeless.

I'm sure that it was a devastating event for everyone involved. I'm sure Quinn's world went crashing down. But to be able to stay courageous, and have her mom get involved helping the less fortunate...wow, I have no words. Especially because Sacramento does have a large homeless population (I wish I could find the latest statistics, but there is none). How many people would do this, especially in the "all about me" wedding mindset?

Honestly, I was shaken when I first found out about this (Cecilio works at a local news station, but his station didn't report this story). Of course, this just happened a few weeks after we put down the 1st deposit! They were about a year older than us too. To top it off? They were going to go to Belize for their honeymoon, which was one of the destinations I suggested to Cecilio (although we are leaning towards Mexico).

I've heard stories about couples getting cold feet throughout the engagement process, and calling it off. It's scary, and I always hope and pray to God that it wouldn't happen to us. It's tragic when it happens. Entering a marriage can be very scary. You're putting your trust and your whole life out there in the hands of someone else. I know and trust that Cecilio loves me unconditionally. I've always felt that his love for me reflects that of Jesus' love more than other "Christian friends" I knew. He never let my lupus or hospitalizations stop him from loving and wanting to be with me. He knows that autism runs in my family, but he still wants to have children with me. How many guys can you find like that?

I love him to death too and I can't wait to spend my life with him. I can't wait to walk our journeys together, throughout the good, bad and ugly. Still though, there's in the back of my mind from time to time, worrying about cold feet. I've heard so many stories about people's broken relationships, and have experienced them myself. Of course, (almost) everyone will never fail to remind you about the 50% divorce rate.

I posted about it on Facebook, and my mom told commented, saying: "You can't compare other people's experiences to yours, honey...just bask in your love for each other. You know you are soul mates." It does give me comfort because our story is our own and not anyone else's. It means that just because we witness others have marital problems, it doesn't mean we will have the same. Of course we will have tough times. We aren't expecting this marriage to be a fairy tale. But as each other's best friends, we wouldn't have it any other way.

Cecilio and I have strengthened our communication skills over the years, especially during arguments. No matter what, we always come back together and start laughing and smiling at the end of the night.

I know marriage isn't supposed to be taken lightly. We're both not perfect. But as long as we keep walking the same path together, and put in 1000% for this marriage, we will be more than alright. Even though life is hard, I still believe we can AND will have that romantic, everlasting love.

I know there will be moments where we won't always feel like "loving" or being romantic. But deep, true love is way more than that. It means putting the good of the other person fist. Their problems will be your problems, but their joys will be your joys. But to love even in or because of the difficult times is a whole new level mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." (John 15:9-12)

"Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate."-Barnett Brickner

"A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person."
-Mignon McLaughlin

I hope Quinn finds her new soulmate, one who will vow to love and cherish her for the rest of her life. And even though Landon is painted as a bad guy, I hope he does find someone he will absolutely with no hesitation spend his life with either. 

And I absolutely can't wait to spend my next 50 years with Cecilio. I love you, baby!

October 2015 ipsy Glambag: Alter-Ego

Middle–end of each month means that my ipsy Glambag arrives so it's always due for a review! This month's theme is "Alter-Ego", and I have received 5 items as usual. This month's bag is a plastic sparkly gold one...not very special if you ask me, but pretty. Just doesn't blow me out of the water. Here's the run-through of each product:

This is the Royal & Lagnickel Medium Eye Shader Brush. It's pink with pink brush ends, made of synthetic fibers...how adorable! It's cliche to say this, but it is very cute and girlish, but maybe because I'm used to the sleek, black brushes...it is also water-resistant. I need more brushes in my life, so I'm pretty thrilled to have this in my bag.

Now, onto The Balm Meet Matt(e) Hughes liquid lipstick in the shade "Committed". This mini version is 0.04 fluid oz, compared to the regular size that is 0.25 fluid oz. I have been REALLY getting into The Balm, and I even recently wrote about the shade "Charming" here. "Committed" is described as a pinky nude. I like it, but I don't love it. Like I mentioned in many posts, not many nudes look good on me. I am jealous of those who have very fair or very dark skin who can pull this off due to the contrast of their skin tone and lip color, but this one just seems to blend with my skin.

Here is the MICA Beauty Cosmetics Cream Shadow in Bronze. Now, I'm not really into cream shadows but I can see this being a lid or a transition shade. It is a gorgeous shade that goes well for summer and fall, and it's ipsy exclusive!

Now onto skincare: The Nourish Organic Pure Hydrating Argan Face Serum. Made with Moroccan argan oil, apricot kernel oil and rosehip oil, this is supposed to give softer, smoother skin. It's also fragrance-free, gluten-free and vegan. Now, I'm pretty set on using my Murad serum, but I'll give this one a try.

Last but not least is another eco-friendly skincare product, Beauty Without Cruelty (BWC) Hand and Body Lotion. It's fragrance-free, paraben-free, and vegan. I like how this product comes with a tip here, saying, "For a spa-like experience, add a few drops of your favorite essential oils such as lavender, sandalwood, or rose to the lotion." That would sound heavenly! I have to admit, I have a lot of hand creams that I don't use, so I'll give this one a try. It's great to just put in your purse and use as needed!

My overal impressions
I honestly like how I'm getting more eco-friendly skincare and beauty products, as it helps me be more conscious of what I put into my face and body. However, I do have a set skincare routine and I don't want to keep switching around products. So if you're new to ipsy or you have an account but would like to slightly adjust the items in your glambag (I say slightly...because you have completely no control of what you get), you can take (or retake) the beauty quiz here, and select or deselect the type of products you want. I opted out of getting skincare. I am not crazy about the shade "Committed" for the Meet Matt(e) Hughes liquid lipstick, it seems to blend in my skin. Maybe if I had one of the darker shades I would be happy. I am loving the brush, and I definitely need less makeup and more brushes in my life, because they make or break how your makeup looks.

Did you receive the October 2015 glam bag? What are your thoughts?

Versatile Blogger Award

Well, don't I feel special! This is the second time I've been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by the beautiful and fab Cynthia from Dulce de Mango. Not bad! It makes me feel good knowing out there read and love my posts :) even though I don't promote it as much as I could, and I'm nowhere near as visited or popular as other bloggers. I appreciate every single person who comments this blog.

Here's my first Versatile Blogger Award :)

So! Here's the rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you.
2. Link their blog to your post.
3. Write 7 facts about yourself.
4. Tag/nominate 15 people to do the same.

Not bad huh! Anyway, here's 7 facts about me:

1. My current job is an hour commute, especially with the first 20 minutes of traffic. After I drive by the connecting freeways and switch to another freeway, the traffic is fine.

2. I intern for the local chapter at Make-A-Wish Foundation. I love the staff there, I love helping my manager with web and graphic design, and learning about the wish kids that have life-threatening conditions and are getting their dreams come true. It really warms my heart.

3. One of my fondest memories of my dad and I bonding was when I was 8 years old and it was summer vacation, I spent my time playing Playstation. He worked an evening shift and would come home around midnight, and despite being tired, he would come and play Tekken 2 with me.

4. Ever since I became a U.S. Citizen in February, I became much more interested in politics. I registered as a Democrat, and I can't wait to vote next year for the president who will best run our country and work towards helping the people (and not just the super rich).

5. Someone I know from high school works at the DASH store (yes, the one owned by the Kardashians) in LA. Won't say who though. And now they have a show on E! about the employees, called Dash Dolls. It's so funny to see someone you knew on TV and how they shot up to fame! Now I have 1 degree of separation from the Kardashians.

6. My fiancé, Cecilio, and I are getting married on March 18, 2017.

7. I've always been obsessed with farm animals since I was a kid. In 2nd grade, we took a field trip to Hidden Villa Ranch, an organic farm near Santa Cruz. We got to check out the chickens laying eggs, pigs, sheep, cows, etc. I seriously cried when we left! I also loved the book Charlottes Web, about a pig named Wilbur. When I started taking photography classes, my favorite shooting subjects were the cows and sheep nearby.

I nominate:

Lipstick Lupus Mommy
Paula (Thirteen Thoughts)
Tanja (TanjaWhatsername)
Pam Scalfi
Angela (Chocolate and Lipstick)
Jodie Loue
Miriam (A whole lot of Serendipity)
Kay (Shoes and Glitter)
Jen (Rainy Days and Lattes)
Shireen (Reflection of Sanity)
Misia (Go Wash Your Face)
Whitney (Macarons and Mischief)
Anett (Bella Pummarola)
Kayla (Sheer Beauty)
Narhee (Made in Mauve)

My perfect dusty rose match: Meet Matt(e) Hughes! Isn't he "Charming"?!

The Balm Liquid Lipstick Matt(e) Hughes

Dusty, muted pink lipsticks are all in the rage as we already knew. Thanks Kylie (by the way, did you hear about her upcoming lip kit?!) I know beauty lovers go nuts over Kat Von D's Lolita (the pink batch). There are some other popular shades too...like Stila's Patina. While I do have some of the popular shades in my stash, I want to tell you how much I love The Balm Meet Matt(e) Hughes Long-Lasting Liquid Lipstick in "Charming".

When I was browsing around Kohl's (which is 5 minutes away from where I live, I went straight to The Balm in the cosmetics section. I tried on "Charming" and fell in love. What can I say? I call this "love at first swipe". Problem is, it was out of stock. I checked again a few days later. Still not there. Finally checked yesterday, 1 left. So of course, I snatched it.

Matt(e) Hughes "Charming is described as a rich mauve shade according to The Balm website. Last month, I had a "Wishlist Wednesday" for The Balm products, because I always was curious about it. I love the sassy names and the vintage packaging, which mimics the actual illustrations of the 40's–60's than Benefit Cosmetics does.

The Balm Meet Matt(e) Hughes is based of a fictional character, obviously Matt Hughes, and is a collection of 8 liquid lipsticks, with shade names based off of his characteristics. In the wishlist, I wanted the shades "Adoring" and "Honest". Well, I am getting "Honest" in this month's ipsy glam bag and I absolutely adore the "Adoring" shade (no pun intended) because it reminds me of a better version of NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream (Monte Carlo). What I want you to know is that for the first few seconds of application, you'll feel a minty sensation. Not everyone will like this, but I love how it feels. The summary of the products here says that they are vanilla mint.

Of course, like most liquid lipsticks, these dry matte and are very long lasting. I was eating a big bag of Hot Cheetos and drinking lots of water, I had dinner, and my dogs were licking me and they still stayed. I have lots of liquid lipsticks but I shy away from them because of how dry they are. But I will make an exception to this.

dusty rose liquid lipsticks
The more "popular" dusty rose shades that don't look good on me: Stila's Patina, NYX Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick (Soft-Spoken), Kat Von D (Double Dare), and Sephora Cream Lip Stain (Marvelous Mauve)

Finally, I have to say that Matt(e) Hughes is my perfect match for dusty rose lipsticks. This liquid lipstick is hiding in the shadows of Lolita and Stila's Patina (probably because it's only sold online and in Kohl's), but it really goes well with my NC 40 skin. The other so-called dusty rose shades are too light pink and I have to convince myself that I like them, when they hardly get touched. But Matt(e) Hughes will be used A LOT, mark my words. The other shades wash me out and look like the blend with my skin. But I'm not here bash those shades if you have them and love them. I'm just saying they personally don't work for me. My mistake was that I bought them online without watching or testing.

Here's the comparison swatches:

And here's me! (Excuse my brows, I am overdue for waxing, and my shiny face, I wore day moisturizer with SPF 30 AND my Neutrogena tinted moisturizer!

Do you have this shade or any other shades from Matt(e) Hughes? Which ones would you like to get? What's your favorite dusty rose shade?

Dressing up for your dream job.

Since I've been job hunting, I've been conscious about how I dress. I've been buying pieces from TJ Maxx to Forever 21 to Macy's, or I raid my own closet or my mom's closet ;) I always want to make a great first impression. 

I've been job hunting since I was 16, with much luck to getting a few of them. My mom would always bug me about getting my nails done, eyebrows waxed, hair trimmed, nice outfits, and I would get super annoyed about her nags and lectures. But I totally understood what she meant because she is a career woman, and has been strong in the workforce for almost 19 years, a few years after we moved from the Philippines. She really struggled to make it to where she is, especially with working amongst people who have MBAs whereas she didn't have a degree. She would always tell me, "You need to polish your physical appearance, because we live in a visual world, and first impressions are important. If there were 2 people vying for the same job, and they had the same experience, education, etc. the one who looks more presentable will more likely be the candidate. Plus, the focusing on the physical aspect is the easy part, so get it out of the way so you can focus on the mental aspects (figuring out your interview answers, questions to ask them, etc.)" Turns out moms are always onto something, right?

Well there are some exceptions to that rule. My first interview was a tutor for a computer lab on campus, and when I submitted my application, I had an interview on the spot wearing an Abercrombie cardigan with a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers! Since it was a super casual environment and I had the skills, I got the job. Plus, the creative industry doesn't call for stiff black suites and pants. My mom works in healthcare, so her dress code is a bit more formal.

I am happy to report that I just landed a part time job at a marketing agency that specializes in salons and spas. I am a graphic designer there. I think it's going good so far although I'm not a fan of the commute (it's an hour, but would be 45 minutes if it wasn't for morning traffic). Although it's a very casual environment (my boss wears yoga pants and tells me she's going to go to the gym for an hour! And my co-worker, another graphic designer wears shorts!), I made sure I looked as neat and presentable as possible. I take Mom's nuggets of wisdom regarding work very seriously.

My hope for this post is to give you outfit ideas for when you land that job interview. I understand how tough it is to get a job. For me, sometimes I would doubt myself and wonder if I will ever get one. But trust me, you will find the job for you at the right place and right time. In the meantime, here are some outfits I created on Polyvore to inspire you. You want to make a lasting impression, but you want to express bits of your style. Don't forget to research the company and dress up for whatever the environment you think they will have!

Look #1: Business Casual

Interview Style: Business Casual

Interview Style: Business Casual by hannah-ucol featuring sports jewelry

This is the style I ALWAYS lean towards, especially because the creative industry doesn't require super formal style. My go-to outfit is usually a button down or a tunic top, followed with straight pants. I wear flats to tie this look, and you can also wear loafers (like above) for a more polished look. For the interview for my recent job, I wore a pink tank top from Topshop (Nordstrom) with a purple/black tweed blazer on top.

Look #2: Timeless Chic

Job interview attire: Timeless chic

Job interview attire: Timeless chic by hannah-ucol featuring plus size skirts

This is more for the formal environment, but I created this look so it wouldn't be so stuffy and uptight. You can never go wrong with classic pieces like pearls, pencil skirts and kitten heels! Add a neutral colored blazer, so you can have some color without being too loud.

Look #3: A Touch of Femme
Touch of Femme

Touch of Femme by hannah-ucol featuring a leather wallet

You want to show off your girlish style without being too flirty, and you want to give the impression that you take the job seriously. Well, this look is for you! A colorblock dress will give you a clean, streamlined look and the statement necklace adds a more formal and feminine touch. The beige pumps match the dress and tie in this whole look.

These are some rough ideas, but just also make sure you dress comfortably too. Happy job hunting and I hope you find the right one out there for you!

Wanderlust List: The U.S.

Travel is something I always enjoy and something Cecilio and I definitely want to do more often, especially before the kids come...well, even when we have kids, we still want to explore and for them to experience the wonders of this world, and this country we live in. Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer. I grew up right next to San Francisco, so I got to experience life in one of the coolest and most cultured cities in the U.S. (not to mention most expensive!) I also of course, visited other parts in California like Santa Cruz, Monterey, LA, San Diego, and Cresent City (bordering Oregon). Las Vegas and Reno are just around the corner so I've visited those cities too...I frequented Reno because it's just an hour an a half drive from Sacramento, and it was my dad's favorite city because the drive and Sierra mountains reminded him of growing up in the Isabela province in the Philippines. 

I've also had the privilege to visit the Grand Canyon, Seattle (mostly because it's a 2 hour drive from Vancouver where my relatives live, but I love it) and NYC (which always has a special place in my heart for obvious reasons). And I totally cannot forget all of my trips to Hawaii, one of which happened this year

Cecilio and I played a game one time creating 2 lists of places we wanted to visit: In the U.S. and International. We created it on our Day One apps (a journal app for the Mac and iPhone). So lo and behold, here is a list of places I want to visit in the U.S. and I know we will be able to someday.

1. Chicago, Illinois: Well, after NYC and LA, people think of Chicago when they think of big city life. I guess I want to go there because my relatives on my mom's side live there, however crazy they are and however reluctant I am to invite them to our wedding. I'm mostly lusting for the food: deep dish pizza and hot dogs. I definitely want to see Sears Tower, Lincoln Park and Chicago Theatre.

2. Boston, Massachusetts: Another East Coast place I've been dying to visit to its historical roots, big city meets old charming buildings, and all the seafood! Even though Cape Cod is a bit ways away, I'd love to visit there too.

3. Miami, Florida: I've never been to Florida before, but what better way to visit by going to one of the hottest beaches in the country? I'd love to check out the calm, turquoise waters with white sand because although here in the West Coast, our beaches are gorgeous but too cold and rocky, and not swimmable!

4. New Orleans, Louisiana: Cecilio and I have been talking about wanting to go there for months. We were actually going to book for December, but the airfare was too expensive and we dropped our 1st deposit for the wedding venue, so we might go next year. I've been dying to go and check out the cute little French inspired buildings, and go to Cafe du Monde, their famous coffee shop with pastries and beignets...until I saw that his former co worker went there, who I'm not too fond of (don't ask, it's a long story) but I won't let that stop us from wanting to go there. We both still really want to go.

5. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Minneapolis is one of the more underrated cities in the U.S. but is also very beautiful with booming arts and culture. Ok, I'll be honest: I first wanted to go there because of Mall of America. Haha! 

6. Washington D.C.: Another historical and educational place to visit! I could've gone in 8th grade but for whatever reason, I passed on the opportunity. My parents and sister got to go in 1987, 2 years before I was born. They had pictures in front of the White House and with a cardboard Ronald Reagan!

7. Portland, Oregon: Well...I like the healthy restaurants and the artsy culture of Portland, but I think their hipster culture is a bit too overboard. Trust me, I know San Francisco has lots of hipsters, but Portland takes it to a whole new level. I get so annoyed at the show Portlandia. Haha. But my future in laws went there this summer and it looked like they had a great time, and they even brought me the ever famous box of Voodoo Doughnuts!

8. Austin, Texas: Basically the only "liberal" and hip city in Texas, Austin is booming with music, art, culture and food trucks! It's another area where hipsters galore. The only thing I don't like is that my last ex's name is Austin.

9. Orlando, Florida: Two words: Disney World. Too bad Cecilio doesn't really wanna go, saying that we Californians already have Disneyland, which is the original one!

To my domestic and international readers, have you visited the U.S.? What states and cities have you visited or are dying to go to? 

Maybelline "The Smokes" Palette

With the rise in popularity of luxury eyeshadow palettes from brands such as Urban Decay, LORAC, and Too Faced, the drugstore beauty brands are following suit to create their budget-friendly version. Maybelline is no exception. I've been really wanting the Urban Decay Naked Smoky Palette, but I opted for Maybelline's "The Smokes" Palette because I am trying to be smart about my budget. I also wanted to see if it was up to some par.

I bought this for $12 at Walgreens (which also sells their Nudes Palette, while Target sells the Brights and Walmart the Blushed Nudes). It consists of 12 shades, a combination of matte, shimmer and metallic. 

To be honest, I loved the shades in the palette. They all looked so beautiful and unique, and it's not a set of colors I have. I wanted to bowl over it, and I will still use it on the regular. BUT, I am so disappointed with the pigmentation...or lack of. What looks so jeweled on the pan hardly shows up when you swatch. I had to really keep rubbing down on the pan to get it on my arm. Case in point:

The top row. That shimmery champagne shade swatches well, but I want to use it for my brow bone, but it hardly showed up. I absolutely adored the matte plum shade 2nd to the right, but again, it you can see how light it is.

Bottom row. The matte brown shade on the far left is the most pigmented in the palette.

To be fair, the more silver shades show up, especially the middle bottom ones. And they are beautiful on the lids. But as you can see, most of the shades aren't as pigmented as shown on the pan, AND they are very hard to blend. There is a lot of fallout too. I would highly recommend a primer (well, I'd recommend it with any eyeshadow, but this especially) if you want the pop of color. Want extra drama? Spritz some water or MAC Fix+. 

I'm not the only one with reservations about this palette. Musings of the Muse reviews it here, and says even if something is cheap it shouldn't skimp of formula, and while it's a beautiful palette, it's very patchy. Anica Fashionista calls this one a miss. Indian Makeup and Beauty blog calls "The Smokes" palette to be the worst of Maybelline's 12-pan palettes.

Sorry to be negative, but like I said, the silver shades are beautiful and pigmented, and the ones I will be wearing normally. It's also light and easy to travel with, and the packaging is sleek. It's a great option if you're on a budget and you wanna experiment with a smoky eye look. The neutrals and nudes make it wearable for everyday. But you want rich pigmentation, buttery texture and sexy metal packaging? Splurge for the Urban Decay Naked Smoky Palette. I wish I did, especially because it's my birth month, and I still might get it. This is one of those instances where you get what you pay for.

And here is how it shows up on me...you can hardly see the matte plum or brown as the crease and outer lid.

Do you guys have this palette or any of Maybelline's other palettes? (such as The Nudes, The Blush Nudes, the Brights) What are your thoughts?