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.