2016 Beauty Favorites

2016 Beauty Favorites, Too Faced Semi Sweet Chocolate Bar, Becca Backlight Priming Filter Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation, L'Oreal True Match Lumi, Too Faced Peanut Butter & Jelly Palette, Anastasia Beverly Hills Bahama Mama, ELF Blush Palette, NARS Dolce Vita, BECCA Opal, Laura Mercier Translucent Setting Powder, L'Oreal Voluminous Mascara, Rimmel Scandal Eyes Retro Glam Mascara, ABH Craft, ABH Catnip, ABH Kathryn, Milani Bellissimo Bronze, Benefit Precisely my Brow, OPI I'm SOOO Swamped, Marc Jacobs Highliner Crayon

I only had December Favorites for my first year of blogging here. For 2015, I had just the roundup of my beauty favorites here, as I will be doing for 2016. Honestly, I did not expect to buy as much makeup as I did (oops!), but working across the mall helped me get into Sephora's VIB Rouge status. I am thankful that Cecilio has no qualms about my collection, as some men are a bit controlling about what their girlfriends/wives' expenses...but I know that I will not be able to buy as much makeup once we are married and have to pay rent and our own expenses. I will spend once in a while as long as I manage it well. If anything, we laugh about my collection and he says "I know you're just spending to get all of this out of your system before we get married"...in the way some brides and grooms have bachelor/bachelorette parties to celebrate their last moment of freedom (with strippers involved)...no thank you for me. We are thrilled to spend our lives together.

I couldn't just pick one product for each category! Ready to grab a cup of coffee as you read through, and possibly get tempted for more beauty products than needed? Okay.

Last Sephora Haul of 2016 (& Hello VIB Rouge Membership for 2017!)

Too Faced, Tarte, Sephora, Too Faced Sweet Peach, Too Faced Sweet Peach Palette, Too Faced eyeshadow palette, Sephora Cream lip stain, sephora burnt sienna cream lip stain, sephora burnt sienna, sephora rosewood cream lip stain, sephora rosewood, Pearly Girl Vegan Teeth Whitening Pen, tarte teeth whitening pen

As I was shopping for Christmas gifts, a few of which were in Sephora, I found myself having $80-something left before becoming a VIB Rouge member. I figured, I may as well go all the way. I honestly never expected to join the top ranks of beauty addicts, but here I am.

Noelle the Christmas Champion

Christmas is a time to get together with loved ones, and there are countless memories attached to the season and the people you spend time with. Those people are the warmth in the midst of life's cold, blustery moments. Which is why when a loved one passes away, holidays aren't the same anymore. I know how much it was a struggle to have Father's Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas without my dad.

Clinique Pop Matte Lip Colour + Primer

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I'm very familiar with Clinique, since my mom has worked for them in Manila, back in the 80s. Most of her skincare and makeup was from Clinique, when I was growing up. She felt like she had an allergic reaction to other eyeshadows except from them (until she discovered Urban Decay's eyeshadows).

As for me? Other than their skincare and face powder, their makeup has never appealed to me. It always seemed like they were geared towards women in their 40's and older with their safe muted green packaging. Their lipsticks were also on the more sheer side. 

3 Bible wedding readings from the Book of Common Prayer (& their meanings to us)

wedding, wedding readings, Bible, Episcopal Church, Christianity, Book of Common Prayer, bible verses

Oh my gosh, can you believe that it is 3 MONTHS before Cecilio and I say our vows...to love and cherish each other forever...time flew by. Last year, we had just booked the ceremony and reception sites, and we were just meeting with the church wedding coordinators around this time. 9 years ago, we were just freshmen at Sacramento City College, finishing our finals. We were in the school newspaper together and after submitting our journalism clip books to our advisors, we took the light rail from to Downtown and walked around the mall and Old Sac. I was with someone else at the time, and Cecilio was just a very good friend. I am always so thankful that the previous relationship didn't work out because I wouldn't have this wonderful man now, this man who loves me and treats me so well, who I have so much fun with.

2017 Pantone Beauty Gift Guide

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Who's excited about the 2017 Pantone Color of the Year as I am? Everyone who knows me knows well that green is one of my favorite colors. I did not particular care for this years' Pantone duo colors (Rose Quartz and Serenity), and it took me a while to warm up to 2015's Marsala (which, by the way, is one of my wedding colors along with blush pink and gold). So why not include these yellow green-inspired beauty products in your last minute Christmas shopping? Or as a treat to yourself?

December 2016 ipsy Glambag: Carp P.M.

I've resubscribed to ipsy since August for the 3rd time...yes, I cannot make up my mind about them. But this is the first time in a while I have done a review about them. And I have to say that I am really satisfied with that stash!

The theme of this month's bag is Carp P.M. The concept is to go all out with your style and beauty routine in the midst of holiday parties. The bag is super adorable, and has got to be one of my favorites. It's a fuzzy hot pink bag that almost doubles as a clutch! It's different from the patterned bags they usually have.

Anyway, let's talk to the products, shall we?

The PERFECT holiday lip in every formula

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I don't know about you guys, but I immediately think of red lips when holiday glam makeup comes to mind. I always look to Pinterest for Holiday or Valentines makeup ideas that DON'T involve a red lip...and honestly, it doesn't feel right to go nude. Even though I understand it's to balance out your smoky eye and sharp contour. Plus, I rocked Stila's All Day Liquid Lipstick in Bacca during my Christmas party last week, and while it's not that classic punchy red, this berry shade made me feel festive. Close enough, right?

In one of my upper division graphic design classes, we learned about semiotics (the study of signs and symbols, and their interpretation): the signifier and the signified. The signifier is the object/subject that give the word meaning (ex: the word or the image), and the signified is the concept or meaning behind the object. For example: the word, Christmas is the signifier. When you think of the word Christmas, you usually think of the colors red, green, white and gold (the signified). So to be more specific, the word "holiday makeup", is the signifier, and it's natural to think of gold glittery eyeshadow and bold red lips. Those are the signified elements behind holiday makeup.

Anyway, back to the main topic of this post :) You've seen so many "holiday red lipsticks" post, but have you considered the different formulas beside the matte lip? It's not for everyone, but there are so many other options there that are just as bold, pigmented, yet more comfortable. It may be more annoying to reapply, but it's better than baring flaky lips to other party goers.

Here is a list of my favorite red lip products, one in each formula:

Spiked Peppermint Hot Cocoa

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I hate cold weather, but I love using it as an excuse to sip on hot, comforting sweet drinks. And once it's December, I go crazy on the peppermint. When bags of Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark or Candy Cane Hershey's Kisses hit the stores, I immediately run and treat myself. And let's not forget that I make every excuse I can to order a Peppermint Mocha, especially because I get a ton of Starbucks gift cards for my birthday.

A few weeks ago, Cecilio and I were wondering what to have for dessert. There was no way in hell I was going to eat ice cream in this freezing forecast, so we went to the grocery store to look for some hot chocolate. Of course, the Smirnoff™ Peppermint Twist vodka was calling my name along with all of the other holiday treats. I recall my 21st birthday 6 years ago, and buying a bottle of peppermint schnapps as my first legal drink. I felt that sense of nostalgia, and knew how much it would go so well with our hot chocolate.

This is your classic holiday drink, all grown up. 

2016 Christmas Wishlist

I love doing wishlists for my birthday and Christmas. Sometimes I feel guilty about it, but at the same time it helps people to know exactly what I want than to guess only to find out that I am not using it. Well, I did give my mom a wishlist one time and she gave me what I wanted, but most of the time it was a surprise.

I wish I could be practical in the sense that I could get bill and student loan money for Christmas. But I have my indulgences too. Like...

Holiday Gift Guide for 4 types of Beauty Girls

We have 2+ weeks before Christmas, but that doesn't mean that you want to laze around last minute and then frantically haul yourself to the mall (and fight for a parking spot!) 

If you're reading this blog, then chances are, your mom/friend/sister/cousin have a knack for beauty products too. And you would be thrilled to add a lipstick or a lotion in their stocking (and earn more Sephora Beauty Insider points for yourself!) But wait: before you drive to your nearest beauty store or click "Add to Cart", try to remember what taste the lady in your life has. Is she a "no-fuss" type of gal or does she love painting her face? That's why I narrowed this Holiday Gift Guide tailored to 4 types of beauty girls: The Minimalist Babe, The Instaglam Gal, The K-Beauty Junkie, and The Eco-Friendly Chic. This takes away the guesswork and makes shopping an easier process.

Winter Dry Skin Essentials

Winter is not the most wonderful time of the year for your skin. The cold air sucks moisture, leaving your body looking ashy and your face feeling tight and uncomfortable. Let's not get started on lips: it's already bad enough that I have flaky, chapped lips all year round (no matter how much I exfoliate and wear heavy duty lip balm...thank you Plaquenil!) But winter pumps up the dryness by 1000x, and having the heater on when you're inside makes it worse. 

Midwest Travels (Part III): Chicago

Chicago, Illinois, Millennium Park, Cloud Gate, Navy Pier, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chi town, Windy City, Chicago IL, The Bean, Chicago Bean

The last leg of my Midwestern trip included Chicago. Now, I have relatives (on my mom's side) that lived there after moving from the Bay Area 15 years ago. So we've been saying for years that we were going to visit but never got a chance. My mom and I were even invited to my cousin Sha Sha's wedding 4 years ago, but we backed out at the last minute because my dad was in the peak of his cancer and chemo treatments and we could not leave his side. I felt so bad for Sha, especially because my family and I went to my other cousin's wedding (on my dad's side) 2 months before in Vancouver. The thing of it was that I was a bridesmaid, and my mom was a sponsor (in Filipino weddings, sponsors are the new sets of godparents who will guide the couple throughout their marriage and life). The sad thing was that my dad couldn't go to that wedding either, especially because it was his niece, because he was just too weak at that point. 

Like with the Milwaukee trip, our itinerary to Chicago was cut short. Luckily, we spent the whole day hitting up the major sights. And for sure, this will not be my last time there. Cecilio and I will come back, and not during the colder months either. We are looking forward to visiting the famous landmarks, trying the foods specific to Chicago, chilling at the parks, and having my relatives take us around.

If Milwaukee is Midwest's Seattle, then Chicago is Midwest's NYC. The 2 often get compared anyway: in terms of sports, pizza, hot dogs, architecture, parks, arts/culture, public transportation, etc.

Midwest Travels (Part II): Milwaukee

Milwaukee, MKE, Milwaukee WI, Brew City, Brew Capital

I never expected Milwaukee to be listed as one of my "must see" places to visit, until I met my mom's fiancé, Bart, who was born and raised there his whole life. They both went in August, and I saw some of the photos she posted with envy. It is such a cute, charming town! I was getting more and more excited for my visit.

How can I describe Milwaukee? I would say it's [almost] like Seattle of the Midwest with a European flair, and Chicago's forgotten cousin. There is a vibrant arts and shopping culture, and though the city is underrated, I fell in love. It seriously puts Sacramento to shame. It's also prevalent with German-inspired architecture, which is not something you see in the West Coast.

Why am I comparing it to Seattle? Because of the gorgeous waterfront (Lake Michigan) makes for fresh fish catches. Though Milwaukee Public Market is much smaller than Pike Place Market, it still has thriving eateries (restaurants, and seafood/meats/cheese abound), bars and gifts.

Unfortunately, we only dedicated 1 whole day in the city (on Black Friday) because we stayed in Bart's sister's house in Mequon, which is 20 minutes away. And much of our time was spent going to Barts' family and friends' houses. But take a gander at some of the photos of this beautiful city!

Midwest Travels (Part I): Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin, Wisconsin Dells, The Dells, Waterpark Capital of the World, WI, Midwest, Lake Delton

I haven't ventured into many states in the US, except for mostly the West Coast (not counting California, I have visited Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona), Hawaii, and New York. It is a dream of mine to visit all (if not most) 50 states. So when my mom started going steady with Bart (my future stepdad), who hails from Wisconsin, I was down to go. I have never visited the Midwestern part of the US before, despite having relatives in Chicago. I wasn't familiar with Wisconsin except for Madison, Milwaukee, and Green Bay. I also knew that Wisconsin as full of beer and cheese (and beer-cheese foods). 

Bart has been wanting to take us to Wisconsin Dells ("The Dells" for short), aka the Waterpark Capital of the World. It is located north of Madison and near Lake Delton. The Dells is basically Disneyland for Midwesterners: there are multiple waterparks galore, attached to some of the resorts and each other! Because it is obviously freezing, the outdoor waterparks were closed down. Luckily the indoor waterparks are open all year round for those who still wanna splash around.

November Beauty Favorites (+ a few life updates)

Holy crap, did 2016 happen in a blink of an eye?! It just seemed like yesterday when we were ending 2015: I was in my last days of my internship at Make-A-Wish®, and my mom and nephew went to the Philippines for Christmas and stayed there for 3 weeks. Now, 2016 is coming to a close and there are 107 days left until the wedding. Last year, we were doing rough drafts of the guest list, booked our ceremony and reception sites. Now, I am just starting to design our invitations, buy gifts for the wedding party, and buy our rings. We have a lot more to do: Cecilio renting his tux (as well as his men), getting my dress altered, finalizing details with our vendors, more DIY projects, honeymoon planning and doing our private dinner tasting!

I didn't get a chance to post a lot last week due to being on vacation (I went to Wisconsin Dells, Milwaukee, and Chicago), but my next few posts will consist of photos of those trips.

Top 5 Fall Nail Polishes

Fall offers a wide range of shades to choose from. Unlike spring and summer, when you gravitate towards brights or pastels, anything goes in the fall. Want a vampy varnish? You got it. Not feeling it? Oh, embrace the nudes! You can even get away with bright colors too. Cool-toned colors (like blue and violet) don't come to mind when you think of fall polish, but when they're muted, they pop against the leaves and go well with that olive-green jacket. Here, I will showcase some of the nail polishes I have been sporting for the season.

The Blogger Tag

I got this tag from Katie from Beauty from Katie here and I haven't done a general beauty/lifestyle one in a while...so here goes! Here's how you guys can get to know me better!

My first experience with eyelash extensions

Now, during my 2 years of beauty blogging, I have not done a single review about mascara. Sure, I would round up my favorite mascara in any of my monthly favorites post, but I have not gone on an in-depth review and analysis. Maybe because I find it easier to swatch a lipstick, and test it out all day. And there are so many mascara wands that it overwhelms me. Finally, I have felt like I could not take an good photo of my lashes (the selfie mode for the iPhone is terrible for detailed shots). Until I learned a trick from Youtube star Chrisspy (I can't find the video): basically, for detailed eye shots, you take a photo of your eye, but you're not doing it in selfie mode. Instead, you have a mirror in front of you, and you take a picture of your eye with that mirror. The photos above are taking with my iPhone 5C in front of my Tartelette in Bloom Palette mirror.

I don't wear false lashes either. I did one time for Halloween last year, and I think I did a good job putting them on for the first time, although it became loose by the end of the night. I'd just rather wear a really, really good mascara like Too Faced Better than Sex or L'Oreal Voluminous. I did try false lashes during my wedding makeup trial and I loved it.

As you can see, I'm not a big eyelash person. I love mascara but I don't go crazy about it the way I do with lipstick. Yet I want to make my eyes pop even more. Oh, the dilemma. So when my mom's boyfriend Bart gifted us a voucher deal to get eyelash extensions, I jumped at the offer.

Sephora Fall 2016 VIB Sale Haul

'Tis the season for the Sephora Beauty Insider sales! It's like having Christmas twice a year: one in April and one in November, where you can purchase anything for 20% off (10% if you're only Beauty Insider). The Beauty Insider sales are for those are are a Beauty Insider member: it's free to join, but if you spend $350/year you get upgraded to VIB Status, and $1000/year gets to VIB Rouge Status. Each higher up membership earns you more perks, such as early access to the sales, custom makeovers, extra points, and beauty classes. 

I have been able to pick up a lot of goodies, not just with stuff I personally bought but a reward using my points, some samples, and my birthday gift. Here's what I purchased!

My Concealer Collection

Concealer was one of the few makeup products I've been curious about since I was a child. I bought a makeup/fashion book for tweens when I was in 6th grade, and I've always wanted to use it to hide the moles on my face (until I realized that I can't hide them forever, and I still don't like them but I'm trying to embrace them). I was lucky to have skipped the acne phase when I was a teen, but it really bugged me when I did get the occasional big pimple that was on my chin or nose for everyone to see, Whatever concealer I was using did not not help. Or maybe it was because I wasn't doing the right technique. Hell, the only makeup I wore was lip gloss, lipstick, black eyeliner, mascara and brightly colored eyeshadow. 

Fast forward a few years, I've learned that there are different types of concealers that work for different purposes. I struggle with dark circles (due to my lupus, medications, and poor sleeping habits) and skin redness (due to lupus, again). I've searched high and low for concealers that would miraculously hide my blemishes. Though nothing is perfect, I have found the following that does just the job for me.

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick

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Sometimes I just want to take a more laid back approach to my makeup routine. Not that you can't do so with liquid foundation, but usually you apply it with a brush or a sponge. With a cream stick foundation, it's actually preferred that you apply it with your fingers. And when you're traveling, it's so easy to stick it in your toiletry kit without worrying about the glass breaking or liquid spilling all over. If you want to put it in your purse or carry-on, you're free to do so without needing to put it in a 3 oz. ziplock bag. I'm thinking about my upcoming vacations (Milwaukee, Wisconsin Dells and Chicago next week, and Mexico honeymoon in March!!) and how I can make packing my makeup bag as easy and light as possible.

I've been wanting the Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick for a while, and I added it to my birthday wishlist last month. It was one of the many gifts Cecilio gave me for my birthday (thanks love!) This cream foundation stick does not come cheap: it is $46 for 0.31 oz. in a small, retractable tube. It comes in 24 shades, with different undertones. I rely on Findnation to find the best foundation shade for me based on the foundation shades I already used. The shade 4.5 (Warm Neutral) suited my skin tone best, and they were not at all far off.

Why I finally (and reluctantly) created a Facebook page for my blog

There's no doubt that blogging is a lot of hard work and grinding. If your goal is to have your personal diary, you can do what you please and write whatever and whenever you want. But if you are serious about growing an audience, fostering a sense community, and even working with brands or earning money, you have to go the extra mile. And that mile includes being active on social media.

Style Tribute to Michelle Obama

fashion, Michelle Obama, FLOTUS, President Obama, politics, FLOTUS style, First Lady

It's time to say farewell to President Barack Obama after his 8-year tenure. 

The 2016 Election has been a huge deal in the US because Donald Trump is officially the 45th President. I am heartbroken. As a woman of color with a medical condition, I am the exact type of person that Trump would marginalize. Thank goodness I grew in California, especially in ethnically/racially/religiously/socioeconomically diverse areas such as the Bay Area and Sacramento where I didn't experience discrimination for my skin color. I hurt for those that live in different regions of the US (such as the South and ultra rural parts of the Midwest) that experience mistreatment and discrimination.

I try not to talk about politics here, especially because it's a sensitive topic and I'm still learning. Okay, I have to confess: I didn't pay too much attention in high school. I have been learning a lot more thanks to being engaged to a former PoliSci major and to experiencing the one issue that is extremely important to me: healthcare. I honestly don't know how I would be able to thrive health-wise or even graduate college if it wasn't for Obamacare. As someone who is suffering (and has love ones who suffer as well) from a medical condition, it was extremely important to me to elect someone who advocates free (or low cost) healthcare for those with pre-existing conditions, mental health issues and low-middle incomes.

Okay, enough of my political rambling...that's not the point of this post. This post is to pay homage to First Lady Michelle Obama's style over the past 8 years. (much more positive and lighthearted than this circus of an election, isn't it?!)

Fall Favorites Tag

A huge thanks to Shelleen from A Blushing Beauty Blog for tagging me in this! It's been a while since I got to participate in a fun tag, and I especially like fall and all of the cliche things that come with it: pumpkin spice, cinnamon everything, clean crisp air, fresh rain, leaves, diffused lighting, fall fashion...and of course, my birthday happens to be in the fall (which was a week and a half ago).

Anastasia Beverly Hills Master Palette by Mario

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I've been crushing hard on Anastasia Beverly Hills products this year (except for the Cream Contour Palette). They have some of the best liquid lipsticks and lip glosses. Cecilio got me the Brow Express kit for my birthday last year, but it's been a while since I touched it. I have never tried any of their eyeshadow palettes, and I missed out on the Modern Renaissance palette (unless whenever it comes back in stock!) So when I found out about the Master Palette by Mario being released, I needed it. ASAP. As soon as it came out on September 29, I rushed to the ABH website to order it.

The ABH Master Palette was created in collaboration with Mario Dedivanovic (my cousin got to take a makeup workshop with him in Chicago—super jealous!) He is known for being Kim Kardashian's makeup artist. He also has clients such as Chrissy Tiegen, Jennifer Lopez, Ciara, Christina Aguilera, and of course, the Jenner sisters.

October Beauty Favorites

What a month October has been! And Happy Halloween! I always spend the end of October every year, having a Halloween combined with a belated birthday party at my house or at my sisters house, with all of our family and friends. This year, I was a box of crayons at our Saturday party:

I'm so blessed and thankful for the friends that I have, and how much thought they have put into thinking of me, and spending time with me. I got some pretty neat birthday presents too (expect more reviews coming your way!), but the most important thing is the relationships with my loved ones.

My love/hate relationship with Filipino food.

I have a deep, dark, confession to make.

Forever 27

Today I am 27. I have officially entered the "late 20s" realm. Wow. There's a part of me that still feels (and looks) like I'm still in my early 20s.

Makeup tips + hacks for eyeglass wearers

When I was as young as 8 years old, I would purposely dim the lights while I would read or do my homework so that I could be able to wear glasses. I wanted to appear smart. That carried on in 8th grade when I bought fake glasses from Claire's and took an awful school photo with them, with pigtails! I was in such an awkward phase. Then, when freshman year of high school rolled around, I had a poser-punk phase where I wore black, fishnets, heavy black eyeliner, safety pins, and thick black-rimmed fake glasses from Hot Topic (a rocker's dream store). This was while I was (still am) living in suburbia/uber-family-oriented land aka Elk Grove (10 minutes from Sacramento). Yeah. I was hardcore. SMH.

Birthday Beauty Wishlist Wednesday

Wow, can you believe that I will be turning 27 exactly next week?! There are a few things I have been wanting for my little beauty arsenal, but I have been modest about spending on makeup this month in favor of wedding items (postage for save-the-dates! Now it's time to do the decor and buy envelopes for the invitations!) and bills. Cecilio has been asking me to make a wishlist so that he doesn't buy me something I would hate. I've just been saying, I just want your love... or pay a bill... because even though I have my guilty pleasures material-wise, I am trying to be more practical. Of course since it's going to be my special day, I do deserve of those pleasures. We all do. So what have I been eyeing?

3 MAC Lipsticks I want to empty

As I was sorting out my makeup to store in my new organizer, I found a few full bags of lipsticks. Then I started hating myself and regretting how much lip products I bought, especially when I haven't been using them that often. But I will use that energy to actually use those damn lipsticks.

Things to do + remember while you're job hunting

Searching endlessly for jobs that matches your skills, qualifications, experiences, applying, submitting your resume and cover letter, only to get rejected for an interview (or landing the interview only to not get the offer) is demoralizing. It's especially so when you grew up being told "if you go to university and get your Bachelor's degree, a job will be waiting for you and you will be making bank" only to have mounds of student loan debt and applying for entry level jobs. So how do you cope?

Fall Berry Lip Dupe: Anastasia Beverly Hills vs. L'Oreal

It's time to break out the berries in this chilly autumn season! While I adore the Anastasia Beverly Hills liquid lipsticks, I don't adore the cost. Which is why I try to steer clear from it. One of my favorite shades is Craft, which is described as sangria. In other words, it's a medium–deep plum. I love this shade because it is universally flattering on all skin tones and is not too purple, so it's definitely wearable on the regular. But if there is no Sephora available or if you can't/won't spend the $20, I have an alternative option: L'Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Gloss in Forbidden Kiss.

Our weekend getaway to Los Angeles

Cecilio and I have been talking about wanting to go to LA year to visit some beaches, Disneyland, Griffith Observatory, and to visit his lifelong best friend Carlos (who works at Disneyland!) We were actually supposed to go in August, but all of those plans went down the drain when his 2004 Honda Civic started overheating and went to pot and had to buy a new car, so there was no more money for Disneyland.

We actually planned to go to LA this past weekend because I have been trying to get an office assistant or office technician job with the California state government. But in order to even apply for those state jobs, you have to take an exam first and rank high to qualify for your desired position. There was an exam in LA on the 8th, and I was on the page 15 minutes before clicking to self-schedule the exam, and what do you know? The link was broken, and I called Human Resources, and the automated message told me that all of the exams were full. For those of you who don't know, trying to get JUST an exam to apply for a state job in California is like trying to go through the eye of a needle (unless if you're applying for a position that has an online exam). It is especially competitive for those trying to get an office assistant position.

So even though I was not able to get into the exam, we still booked our hotel days prior, and we were determined to have a blast. LA is a 6 hour drive from Sacramento, and it's a straight drive going from I-5. It's long, but easy (until you hit the infamous LA traffic). I even drove for an hour while Cecilio took a nap until my stomach started to hurt and I needed to stop to use the restroom. Here's a little photo travel diary for our 2 nights in SoCal:

Fall Blush Faves

Those days of coral and hot pink blushes are over...for now. Now that fall is here, it's time to whip out some of the deeper, plum-like shades of blush. But just because you're not feeling a vampy kind of flush, doesn't mean you can't rock other shades this season! Nudes, mauves and golds are also all in the range. I've got enough cool-weather blushes to write this post AND to keep my from buying more (although I have been eyeing the NARS shade in Outlaw...), but writing this post will give me an incentive to use these babies and even hit pan. And it can give you an idea of what hot shades to get during this season if you're looking for a new shade in your arsenal!

Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in "Project Chimps"

I've always been a fan of Kat Von D's liquid lipsticks ever since I got my hands on the shade Berlin last year. Well, some shades are hit or miss for me. Like Lolita (it did not look flattering on me, but I did end up buying Lolita II), and Double Dare (it was too light for me, so I just gave it to Cecilio's sister as one of my Christmas gifts). Other shades, like Bauhau5, I have been eyeing on. Well, when I found out last month that Kat Von D was releasing a limited edition shade, Project Chimps, I needed to get my hands on it. This warm brick red is everything, and came just in time for fall.

September Beauty Favorites

September has been a bit of a slow month for me...I'm quite a bit at a standstill with wedding planning and job hunting. I'm in one of those moments where I am wondering if I'll ever get anywhere. Hmph. That's what happens when you have a lot of time on your hands. I actually didn't get picked for a position I applied for, not even an interview. What sucks about it was that I applied for the same exact position and got picked for an interview in January. However, my mom has assured me that this is the season I am in right now, and in God's will I will find a job. But right now, it's not meant to be because I am here to help my family out. I'm like a small housekeeper+babysitter. They couldn't do this without me. I just have to trust God's plan for my life even if it means waiting.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Fall Mini Lip Gloss Set

Anastasia Beverly Hills Fall Mini Lip Gloss Set

I've been going crazy over Anastasia Beverly Hills' lip products. Their liquid lipsticks (though quite drying) and lip glosses are top notch quality in terms of pigmentation, longevity, and packaging. I have been obsessing over the lip gloss in the shade "Warm Bronze", which I have featured in my July Favorites and favorite lip glosses. Warm bronze is a dark dusty pink that works on all seasons, especially fall. When I saw that ABH released their Fall Mini Lip Gloss Set, I was floored and needed to have it. I know they had a Summer lip gloss set, but I wasn't too hot about the colors.

How I am getting in shape for the wedding

Cheers to 6 MONTHS before our wedding! On March 18, 2017, Cecilio and I will be saying our vows and promising each other a life of love and faithfulness till the end!

Throughout the course of our engagement, I've written blog posts about being self-conscious about my body while having lupus and taking prednisone, which has affected how I felt about myself during our engagement party and dress shopping. As my health has been getting better, my prednisone is tapering and I am currently taking 3 mg. I surprisingly started losing weight when I tapered down to 8 mg last year, from 158 to now 140 lbs. and hopefully reaching my goal of 120–125 lbs. I am all for self-love and positivity, but it's not mutually exclusive with wanting to reach a goal or better yourself. 

There's an unspoken ritual that once he puts a ring on it, you as the bride-to-be start running or going to the gym to look fabulous in your dress and you know that all eyes will be on you, taking endless photos (and sometimes not in the most flattering angles). 

Makeup Remover Menu

One of the most annoying things about makeup is having to take it off at the end of the night. I admit to sometimes being up until 3 a.m. because I am procrastinating and feel too lazy to remove it, and we all know that wipes alone won't suffice. And is it just me, but it seems like no matter how much remover (in water, oil, or cream form), it never seems to come off? And just when you think you've gotten a bunch off, you spray your face with toner and pat cotton balls on your face and STILL find patches of foundation?

I've fell asleep with makeup on if I just have some blush or a very light BB cream, I admit. But going to bed in a full-face is a no-no (though I've heard stories of women sleeping in their makeup so that it lasts for the next few days). As much as I hate going through the act of tediously wiping it off, I LOVE how my face feels afterwards. And if you don't remove it overnight, you'll start to break out, get more pores, and age your face. Who wants that? Thankfully there are also removers for specific types of makeup (eyes and lips).

What are some of my makeup remover essentials?

Micellar water is all in the rage, and for good reason: it's water made up of micelles, which are tiny molecules that attract dirt and oil and get rid of the skin's impurities. You can find them from the drugstore to luxurious department stores. I love the Simple Micellar Water because it's super affordable, and my face feels so clean and refreshed afterwards. Simple even has micellar-based wipes!

Whatever the micellar water (or makeup remover oil or cream I am using at the moment) doesn't get rid of, I use the ELF Makeup Remover Cleansing Cloths to wipe off the excess makeup. Of all of the wipes, I prefer using ELF because it is one of the cheapest at $3 a pop. Other brands start from $5. I also use these even after cleanser or toner to get rid of even more gunk.

I've never been able to get deep into removing mascara until I received a sample of the Too Faced Mascara Melt Off Cleansing Oil on one of my Glossybox subscriptions (I subscribed for 3 months and then left it). It is oil-based and infused with green tea extract, and has microscopic bristles to brush and melt off (no pun intended) regular and waterproof mascara. I also like using this to get rid of my brows and eyeliner.

If I use only water or wipes to get rid of my lipsticks, my lips become a bloody patchy mess. I was using a Sephora lip remover oil before it got discontinued, but thankfully I found the NYX Be Gone! Lip Color Remover. It gets rid of even the most stubborn liquid lipsticks (for me, those are the ABH or ColourPop ones). It is infused with vitamin E for extra conditioning.

Skincare also plays an essential role in removing traces of makeup. I have been using the Murad Time Release Acne Cleanser for over a year, and it does a great job in removing whatever the wipes or micellar water can't. I bought a new toner, Andalou Naturals Blossom and Leaf Toning Refresher for even more help. It is also wonderful for my dry skin, and it is very gentle (unlike a lot of other toners, this does not sting at all).

What are the makeup removers you use on the daily?

Pink Lipsticks for Fall

I'm happy to report that it's actually getting cooler here in Sacramento, and it is starting to feel like fall. Though I don't like the wind (It's windy outside right now), I'm welcoming the lower temperatures and happy to escape the heat.

Fall is the time to break out the mauves, browns, nudes, and deep reds. But what if you can't seem to let go of your pink lipsticks? Usually, pink is associated with spring or summer. But I believe that you can still wear them. During the fall season, I reach for deep berry wines or muted pinky nudes. I try to steer clear from hot pinks (though 2 years ago, I did do a review of MAC Candy Yum Yum—so break the rules if you so wish!)

What pink lip colors will you see me sporting this season?

Mini-Travel Diary: San Francisco, CA

San Francisco always holds a special place in our heart for Cecilio and I. Our first time going there together was 4 months before we started dating to an In Flames concert with 2 of our friends at The Warfield. Then, 1 month before we started dating, we drove again to reunite with my best friend, Rebecca, whom I haven't seen in elementary school. Since then, we would drive up as frequently as possible to get away. One day in 2009, it was so unbearably hot in a Sacramento afternoon that we impulsively drove to the City to escape the heat and feel the fresh, cool air. We arrive for concerts, anniversary dates, visits to see Rebecca, or just plain because. For us, this is like Disneyland.

August Beauty Favorites

We are now 2/3 into 2016! Can you believe how time just flew by?! Honestly, I could say that I was busy from May–July, but this month I've just been so "blah" and unmotivated to blog. I did my best though. I have a lot of worries and anxieties in my mind that sometimes prevent me from doing the things I want and need to do.

During my short summer job at the Fair, I was loving earning money and I subscribed to a few beauty boxes. I even resubscribed to ipsy, and hey, 3rd time is a charm because I have been liking their products this time around! Let's see, I subscribed and unsubscribed to Allure Beauty Box and Glossybox. I have had Play! by Sephora since May and have not reviewed any of their boxes.

Right now, I am currently subscribed to ipsy and Play!, and on the fence regarding whether to keep or get rid of Play! I worry that if I unsubscribe, I will have to go back on the waiting list, and it is really long, since so many people want the box.

Anyway, with my lack of motivation to blog comes with lack of motivation to put on makeup, but I do have a few staples that I have been reaching for:

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation: This has been my go-to foundation since April, especially for photos. I've mentioned this a lot, and almost thought of using this for my wedding makeup. However, I did use it for my engagement photo session, and it turned out wonderful.

 It is light enough for everyday but gives enough coverage for photos! It's no surprise that this is the 2nd time I have featured this in my "monthly favorites"!

Tartelette in Bloom Palette: This is my latest and greatest toy that I've been playing around with. I love the versatility, creaminess, pigmentation, and the smell! Like I have mentioned in my review, it smells like marshmallows!

Rimmel ScandalEyes Retro Glam Mascara: As I am looking this up on Google, I am shocked to see the low overall ratings at Ulta and Amazon (However, it is rated as 4.5+ on the Walmart, Walgreens, and Rimmel websites). This is supposedly a dupe for Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara, which I love but do not want to spend $23 every 3 months for it. The Rimmel mascara is just as good, and gives me the thickening and curling that I want.

BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector "Opal": My first BECCA highlighter was the Champagne Pop which was collaborated with Jaclyn Hill. Before Champagne Pop came out on the market, Opal was a cult favorite among Jaclyn and many other beauty enthusiasts. Opal has finer particles, and therefore, makes a more subtle glow. It is flattering on all skin tones, especially on tan skin like mine. I was sold immediately when I was purchasing stuff at Sephora and this beautiful cashier had a gorgeous glow on her cheekbones, and I had to know what it was. It was Opal. And she was tanner than me!

Givenchy Dahlia Noir Eau de Parfum: I needed to have this as I was searching for a signature scent for the wedding, and read the description. The scent is so so fitting with the location and environment of my wedding, and dahlias are one of my main flowers. Specifically, burgundy dahlias. Though, there are no dahlias, because dahlias have no scent. Oh the irony! But more on that in another review.

IT Cosmetics No-Tug Waterproof Gel Eyeliner: I got this in the August ipsy glam bag, and it does not disappoint. I have been let down with a lot of pencil eyeliners...they have been fading really fast, or maybe because I am getting oilier eyes. It has staying power, and great pigmentation!

What has been your favorites in August? And what fall beauty and/or fashion staple are you looking forward to?

Tartelette in Bloom Review

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Womp womp, I'm late to the party.

The Tartelette in Bloom (AKA Tartelette 2) released at the beginning of 2016, and I recently purchased it last month from the Tarte Friends and Family Sale. Originally $45, I got it for $31.50! However, I had to purchase a lip gloss so that I wouldn't have to deal with shipping. -__-;

The Tartelette in Bloom is a spin-off from last year's Tartelette Palette, which was 12 all-matte shades and leaned towards the cooler temperatures. TiB, however, provides mixtures of mattes and shimmers with more rose gold shades (think Urban Decay Naked 3).

The square shape of the palette, gold casing, and abstract design is what makes this palette feel luxurious. It helps to have a huge mirror so that I can get up close and get really detailed upon applying. I will admit that it is a bit hard to open though.

One thing I noticed (and loved), especially when Paula from Thirteen Thoughts mentioned it, was the smell. It is sweet, and to me, smells like marshmallows. That's a pretty strong scent considering I have a weak sense of smell!

Lets just talk about how I love to fondle the shades, and I don't mean to be disturbing about it. The mattes are so rich and buttery along with the shimmers. They are super pigmented that I have to be extremely careful to not pack too much color.

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Here are the shades from top to bottom (I swatched from top left of the palette zigzagging to the bottom right):

charmer: matte creamy ivory
jetsetter: matte cool medium beige
rocker: shimmer pale pink
smokeshow: cool deep brown
flowerchild: matte light nude
smartypants: matte warm medium beige
firecracker: shimmer rose gold
activist: warm deep brown
funny girl: shimmer champagne
sweetheart: matte muted rose
rebel: matte warm deep pink 
leader: matte  deep plum

This palette is super-versatile: you can wear it to work, interviews, strolling around, a night out, and even a prom or wedding! It is also versatile in for all skin tones.

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I'm more of a Too Faced girl, but I think I'm sold with the Tarte palettes, especially if there's more pigment and less fallout. Here's to hoping that they will create a Tartelette 3 soon!

Do you have this palette or the original Tartelette?

Wishlist Wednesday: Sephora Edition

I am happy to say that I haven't stepped foot in Sephora for a while. When I was working at the fair, the mall was across the street, so it was easy for me to go after work and shop till I drop, especially as I was earning money. But during the 17 days at the fair, I was working 10 hours a day that I didn't even have time or energy to think about shopping. Plus, why wear makeup when I was baking and sweating outside?

I did order 2 things online though, expecting to come this Tuesday. Still, there are quite a bit of things I have been eyeing for a while but have thankfully been able to practice restraint. Maybe I will splurge for my birthday in October or during the VIB Sale. So what have I been eyeing?

Chanel COCO Eau de Parfum: I actually took a whiff of this in Ulta and I loved the strong, warm, sexy scent. If you are someone who likes to smell like cupcakes, then this isn't for you. When I think of this scent, I think of elegant and bold. It reminds me of apple cider and fall sunsets.

Benefit "Hello Flawless!" Powder Foundation (Honey): I actually had this 3 years ago and would wear this instead of liquid foundation whenever I was feeling lazy. Unfortunately, it crushed in my purse when I went to the Philippines. It has buildable coverage, and it was so easy to travel with. I wore this during a lot of our European excursions and it felt almost like nothing on my face. And even though powder foundation is more matte (hence, for oily skin), this worked well on my dry skin.

Kevyn Aucoin The Contour Book The Art of Sculpting + Defining: Kevyn Aucoin is a legend in the celebrity MUA world, so its no surprise that there would be a contour kit in his name. It comes with directions too so that I can perfect my contouring technique. A lot of the reviewers rave about how diverse it is, and how you can also use it for eyeshadows and brows.

Smashbox Insta-Matte Lipstick Transformer: I have a lot of cream lipsticks in shades that I love, but transfer really easily (like the Urban Decay Vice lipsticks in the cream formula). This mattifies your lips, making sure your lips last long. Sure, I can use the translucent powder trick, but it's really inconvenient and not portable. I could easily pop this in my purse.

CosmoCube Original Makeup Organizer: If I had to get ONLY 1 thing in this wishlist, it would be this. Sure, all of the other products are fun, but I have more makeup than I don't know what to do with and I've been so messy with it. It's overwhelming! Sure, I got a makeup organizer from BH Cosmetics for $40, but I barely have space to put anything in there. The CosmoCube is super duper expensive but with the amount of money I spent on makeup, this would be really good to put to use.

Stila Perfect Me, Perfect Hue Eye & Cheek Palette (Tan/Deep): Oh, I've been eyeing this for a while! I was debating on getting the Tan/Deep or the Medium/Tan shades, but I found that I liked the shades in the Tan/Deep Palette better. I could see myself using everything, especially the blushes.

Smashbox Always On Matte Liquid Lipstick (Big Spender): I tried this in Sephora and loved the warm rosy shade! It flattered my skin tone so well. And it does describe me (Big Spender). 

Marc Jacobs Shameless Bold Blush (214–Promiscuous): I actually almost bought this pretty pink shade during the April VIB sale and I regret that I didn't. This is the same price as a NARS blush too!

Sephora Collection Dry Revive: Dry Body Brush: I've always been curious about the benefits of dry brushing, how it exfoliates your skin and minimizes the appearance of cellulite (oh, I really hope so!) But I have not committed yet. This $14 is affordable and is probably good for beginners like me.

Moschino Fresh Couture: No, it's not 409 spray. This is actually a perfume. Okay, I'll be honest, I'm mostly buying it for the novelty. Either for myself or my mom, because she is all about cleaning and is obsessed with keeping the house neat. So this would be so her.

Wedding Cake/Dessert Bar Tasting

Hello to [less than] 7 months out before the wedding! Or should I say in technical terms...208 days. After taking a month of from planning, we are back in full swing in August. On August 6, Cecilio and I went to our cake tasting appointment.

After figuring out where to get our cake tasting among the many delicious bakeries in Sacramento, we ended up in Freeport Bakery. We both decided to go there because 1. It was listed under our reception venue's Preferred Vendor list (all of our vendors, except the DJ, have not been in the list but have worked in our venue) and 2. It has a bit of meaning to us, since it's close to the community college Cecilio and I attended and met. Freeport Bakery is a few blocks away from Sacramento City College, and he, I and other friends would hop on the light rail and have lunch at a few other eateries there, and would always walk by Freeport. I think we've only been there once, and I've had my 24th birthday cake from there.

Upon arriving in both appointments (the cake and dessert bar tasting were on separate days), we were greeted with complimentary coffee and waited for our consultant, Lily, to take us to a separate room where all of the wedding treats were made. We talked about colors, shapes, textures, how many cakes, cupcakes, etc. we would want. We initially wanted a smaller cake with a sheet cake in the back to save some money, but ultimately we decided to include cupcakes instead.

Lily gave us a plate of 2 cake flavors and 4 fillings based on what my flavor/filling preferences among the check list when I filled out the form online.

We picked golden buttermilk and rich fudge flavors. Among the filling were: strawberry buttercream, chocolate mousse, vanilla buttercream, and cream cheese.

My favorites were the strawberry and vanilla buttercream fillings. When I think of vanilla, I think "tastes good, but not bland or out of this world." Boy was I wrong here. I was all over the vanilla buttercream. I was thinking about it (paired with the golden buttermilk cake) hours after our tasting appointment. That's usually a pretty good sign, right?

Ultimately, we went with the golden buttermilk flavor on the bottom and middle tiers (with the bottom tier having vanilla buttercream and the middle having strawberry buttercream). Our top tier is the rich fudge with the cream cheese filling.

I gave Lily moodboards so that she can design the cake based on our colors and motif, and she would give me the sketch for our next tasting (the dessert bar tasting). Here was the final result:

I am completely in love. I requested for burgundy dahlia sugar flowers since that will be one of our main flowers. The final piece will be a darker shade of burgundy with some shading to add dimension. And one of the things Cecilio has been insistent on was having a Lego cake topper, which we will start looking for and constructing online :)

For our dessert bar tasting, Lily sent out a chocolate chip cookie, lemon bar, chocolate mousse tart, and some macarons. Again, this was based on what we wanted to try upon filling out the form.

Everything was to die for. How can something as simple as a cookie be so darn scrumptious? And I don't usually like tart desserts, but I loved the lemon bars too! Unfortunately, I could not finish everything because my teeth have been insanely sensitive to sweet things, and I have some cavities that I need filled.

Cecilio and I ordered 3 flavored mini macarons with mint, mocha, and hazelnut cream fillings. The color of the macarons will all be based on our wedding colors: the mocha/chocolate macaron will be burgundy with chocolate drizzle. The mint macaron will also have a mint flavored shell and is the blush pink with no design. And finally, our hazelnut macaron will have edible gold luster painted on it.

We also ordered the chocolate mousse tarts, lemon bars, cookies, and added flourless brownies because my best friend/bridesmaid Rebecca is gluten intolerant (she's not jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon, she really does have bad sensitivity to it).

Love is sweet, isn't it? These tastings are something we have been looking forward to for a while. Now we are waiting patiently for our last tasting in January: our dinner tasting where we pick out the hors d'oeuvres, appetizers, and entrees. I will for sure blog about that!